Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

Welcome to the Ballroom has us mired in a large ballroom dance tournament. But, behind the winners and loser of the tournament is a clash of ideologies.

Tatara Fujita and his dance partner Chinatsu Hiyama have entered the Tokyo Metropolitan Sports Dance Competition. If they lose, though, they have to end their partnership. Thankfully, the two have made it to the final round of the Competition. However, their dancing is no longer a matter of how well they present themselves to the judges: It’s a clash of ideologies with their main rivals.

This clash of ideologies for Tatara and Chinatsu comes in two unique forms: “traditional vs. progressive” and “wanting to be seen vs. not wanting to be seen.” It’s fascinating when you think about it because these principles are diametrically opposed to each other. Even better, though, is Tatara and his rival, Masami Kugimiya, are a beautiful representation of both.

The clash between traditional vs. progressive dance styles comes down to how Tatara and Masami are trained in ballroom dance. This isn’t about learning the basics or their fundamental understanding of dance, but rather what it means to have a beautiful routine.

Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

For Tatara it has a lot to do with adjusting to his partner and making her look good while they dance. It’s antithetical to what we’ve been told in the series about how the male is supposed to be focus in ballroom dance.Yet, this works for Tatara and has brought him moderate success. We’ve seen this with the character Mako Akagi when they won the Ballroom Queen award and even with Chinatsu as he fine-tunes his style to fit two leads. It’s new, different, and something we don’t see with the other male leads in the series.

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With Masami, though, it’s simply how he wants to present ballroom dance in it’s most traditional from. As in taking it back to it roots in high-class European society. As such, he focuses on the ballroom dance fundamentals. As in Masami’s dance emphasizes good form and simple routines. This preservation of traditions is a method of showing you don’t need to do much to present a beautiful dance routine. It’s as if he’s showing we’re attracted to ballroom dance not because flashy routines, but because we enjoy the idea and beauty of high-class European society. However, this is it’s deemed old-fashioned by spectators and other competitors—not as something to be praised.

Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

Consider Masami’s dance in these terms. For as much as the sport of ballroom dance evolves, at its core ballroom dance was and still is used (to a degree) for the entertainment of the social elites. Thus, flashy dance routines aren’t needed. And that’s the effect Masami is trying to evoke among the judges and spectators.

We get something far different with how Tatara and Masami want to be seen vs. not be seen. This actually has less to do with dance and more to do with their mindset and mentality. Take Masami, for example. He treats dance as a method to shut out the rest of the world; it’s a place where only he exists, criticism disappears, and the people who want to encourage him do. It’s not because he’s an introvert either. He does this because his parents, particularly his father, treated him as a failure from a young age. So, ballroom dance provides Masami an outlet for him to shield himself from the outside world and, in his mind, not be seen. It’s why he see’s other dances and by proxy the spectators as dark clouds. They’re a manifestation of all he thinks is wrong in his life and by blotting them out they cease to exist.

Tatara, in turn, is the exact opposite. Remember back in the first episode, he’s captivated by ballroom dance because it felt to him as if the dancers are saying, “Look at me.” And Tatara wants that himself. He want’s people, outside of his immediate family, to acknowledge his existence.

Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

However, Tatara is still too shy to metaphorically put himself on the dance floor. So, instead he shifts the focus onto his partner. Thus, by proxy people are looking at him as well. It’s best visualized in the 21st episode when Chinatsu is breaking barriers for Tatara. Rather than do it himself, he needs a little extra push of confidence to get him to do it. So, while Tatara wants to be looked at by the spectators, judges, and other people, he needs someone there to help him along. And once he achieves that confidence he’s able to tell people through his dance, “Look at me.”

While it may seem like a trophy is going to determine who’s dance style and mentality is “superior,” it’ll just fan the flames for Tatara and Masami’s love of the sport. And that’s what we really want to see from the two characters. We want to see the loser say, “I’m going to prove to you my way is better.” And that will drive our hero, Tatara, to do better and hone his dance style and strengthen his mentality.

Welcome to the Ballroom is streaming on Amazon Anime Strike.

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