Ballroom e Youkoso Anime and Manga Spoilers

Damn those necks.

Okay, so with Ballroom e Youkoso my arguably most anticipated anime of the year was released and we’re 5 episodes in and far enough to say something of substance.

First of all, I love the art direction. I know, the necks are a little bit too long, but overall I think it looks absolutely gorgeous and the animation quality is pretty nice. I was hoping for fully animated dances in the same way Yuri on Ice fully animated the figure scating programms, but that’s very unusual for anime, so I guess I kind of knew this wouldn’t happen? It’s still a tiny bit disappointing, though.

They make use of freeze frames quite a bit and while that’s not unusual in anime at all, the manga does such an amazing job of capturing the movement and power of dancing, I actually think the anime looks a little bit too static sometimes. I’ve seen much worse, don’t get me wrong, something in me just screams: “This is not right.” when the manga is creating better movement with still images than it’s animated counterpart. It’s still good! I just think it could be better.

It’s been such a long time that I’ve seen the start of the story, it made me realize a lot of stuff and it’s really funny seeing all the new people react to the characters, who you know will not be what they seem to be when they are introduced, but first things first.

I noticed I’m really missing Chii-chan so much, not just because she’s one of my favorite characters and I totally ship her with Tatara, but also because she’s giving Tatara a real challenge and brings out his worse. She makes him suffer, she makes him question his ablilities, but she also makes him move forward the absolute most. Right now in these first 5 episodes, everything came so easy to Tatara, he’s basically been given everything on a silver tablet with the best wishes from the Chef so far and it will continue this way until Chii-chan arrives and messes with everything Tatara thought he knew.

Tatara is a total beginner and yes he first struggles a bit with the Waltz, but he gets his lessons for free, he is taught by literally the best dancer in Japan, he gets his suit for free, he gets to dance with two very experienced and advanced girls to learn from and has the ability to learn extreamly fast by seeing and remembering basically everything about dancing. Explaining doesn’t work very well for him, but seeing it does.

I really didn’t notice it that much when I was reading the manga, but Tatara is very priviledged – and has the balls to try and go after Shizuku as a partner, because he has a crush on her, even though she’s partnered with Hyodo. I don’t want to sound too mean, because he’s still training a lot, even at home, but I stand by my words, he has it very easy at the start and it takes until Chii-chan arrived that he’s actually forced to struggle for real for the first time.

I guess having it easy at the beginning makes up for all the struggle he has to go through with Chii-chan, because once it starts, it’s not going to stop. Tatara learns to suffer and is forced to face his weak spots, but creates something very unique together with Chii-chan. In a way, Chii-chan is the 3rd experienced & advanced girl he gets to pair up with, but she’s his first real partner and unlike Mako and Shizuku, Chii-chan has a whole damn lot of learning to do herself, because she always danced the male part and never the female part. So, you end up with a beginner who doesn’t know how to lead and an advanced dancer who doesn’t know how not to lead. Perfect combination for trouble. Awesome.

It’s actually even more awesome that in recent chapters they’ve started to discover a way to work together and bring out both their strenghts in their dance. I hope they can move forward from being the dysfunctional couple in desync to being a real unity, because in the rare moments they were, they were freaking unstoppable. They complement each other so well, there’s no way I want to see Tatara leave her for Shizuku at one point. If that’s ever going to happen, I’m dropping this manga, Tatara and Chii-chan absolutely need to stay together.

Talking about staying together, I love Hyodo and episode 4 made me realize again just why. This manga/anime has a great talent and that is: introducing an antagonist as some evil guy, that ends up in a friendly rivalry with the main protagonist. It happend with Hyodo, who’s some kind of mentor/elder brother to Tatara in manga right now and it also happend with Gaju. It’s so funny seeing all the people watching the anime complaining over Hyodo, wishing he would break up with Shizuku for Tatara’s sake and now they’re upset about Gaju “snatching Shizuku away” from Tarara being the mean guy… when it fact they all have their partners, they all will stay with their partners, Tatara will get his own partner and they will all become pretty good friends.

They are still rivals, but I love that they’re friends at the same time in a very healthy way. They do shenaningans, they mess up, they tease each other, but everything is on friendly terms and they rely onto each other when needed, too. In case of Hyodo, these could very well be his first actual frindships and Gaju? I mean, he’s even messing with Tatara in school all the time, they’re partners in crime.

In shounen, and Ballroom e Youkoso is a shounen, you usually have the main protagonist and his close ring of friends, his nakama. In case of Tatara, his “nakama” are his rivals, wich is kind of cool to be honest. I’d be interesting to see if Masami joins this ring of friends/rivals as well. So far, he tried his best not to and be the long wolf. He’s a very different type of guy and I think he might always stay more reserved, but I think he could very well become friends with the rest of the group.

And by the way, Akira is pretty ingenius as a comic relieve. She’s not just funny in the way she interacts with Chii-chan, there’s a very serious background to all of this and I hope to see more of her. Not because she’s gay for Chii-chan, remember I ship TataraxChii-chan, but because of her great dynamic with Chii-chan.

Before I finish this, I need to get this out of my system: You don’t teach Slow Foxtrott to a beginner. You… don’t. It’s too hard, even the basic steps are long and complicated, it’s a dance for advanced dancers and nothing Tatara should learn after Waltz as his first dance ever.

Advertisements

A few thoughts

Okay, first of all: Where’s Yuri on Ice season 2? WHERE IS IT? I need my gaylicious babies.

tenorApparently, everything was planned from the start and nothing was changed in favor for a possible second season. I’m not entirely sold on that, but whatever. From what I heared a second season will be made, if the DVD/BluRay sales are good. Judging by the huge waves the TV broadcast made, I’m hoping sales will be good enough. Since Yuri now lives and trains with Victor in Russia, this is the perfect opportunity to get more background on Victor, who’s still more of a walking mystery than anything. Also: more Victor skating, please? God, this man is just too delicious for his own good.

 

Akagami no Shirayukihime. I mean, I love this manga. Contrary to what I initially believed, I absolutely love it. It’s one of the sweetest romance stories I’ve read in a while and quickly advanced to become one of my favorite romance manga. If Yuri and Victor are a pair of sexy gay deliciousness, Shirayuki and Zen are a cute bubble of innocence. I love seeing them together, even though I think it’s quite ironic Shirayuki flees from her home country to escape from a prince who wants to marry her and ends up in another country in tumblr_nuom06w3vx1qfjlbzo2_500the arms of another prince who wants to marry her.

Either way, the latest chapters are great and all, but I really miss my cutsey dose of Shirayuki/Zen love. I get it: Zen is trying his best to be able to stay with Shirayuki permanently together in the castle where his mother is currently “ruling”, taking over her place. This needs time and preparation. Yeah, but… I remember getting impatient when we haven’t seen Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist for half a year after he was massively injured and the story focussed on something else, before he gloriously reappeared (seriously, that was freaking amazing, but that’s FMA for you), but if I’m not mistaken we’re getting close to 1 & 1/2 years since Shirayuki was sent on her mission away from Zen. They met somewhere in between and currently the focus is more on the aids and as much as I adore Mitsuhide and Kiki and their own little love story, but I really really really miss Shirayuki and Zen being lovely dovely.

 

Shokugeki no Soma took a very sudden turn in events and now it looks like it’ll be over relatively soon. Judging by the popularity of the manga, I’m a bit surprised by that and I’m not liking the decision of this new Shokugeki. I mean, that’s just bending the rules to have some plot convenience. I know that happens a lot in shounen, especially in long running a2bac6b4ce94598a5870839c7355ca76sounen, but it still kind of bothers me. It’s like saying: by the way, the ultimate weapon against all of our problems have been there the entire time, if someone would’ve just been nice enough to bring it up, which strangely never happend. Yeah. Stange, isn’t it?

Saibas backstory was pretty cool, though. Why do I seem to like the backstories of father figures in shounen so much? Isshin had a damn awesome backstory in Bleach as well. On the other hand: Isshin as well as Saiba are some pretty cool dads. I don’t think Saiba has been a very good father, though. He’s cool, but not a good father. He loves Soma, sure, and it’s not like he did everything wrong, but some of his decisions regarding Somas upbringing are very questionable.

 

Ballroom e Youkoso is back to a regular release and it’s as great as always. I don’t even know what else to say. It’s back, that’s awesome! And the two chapters released since it’s comeback have been awesome. Not much dancing, but more character and the right dose cdmkwwcuuaejszeof humor sprinkled in here and there. I love Akiras and Chii-chans relationship, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of it, even after this competition is over. Furthermore we got a glance at the possibility how easy it is to loose for Chii-chan and Tatara. Rememeber: they promised to break up, if they don’t win and winning will be a miracle, if they don’t get it together soon. Thank you Hyoudou for ripping Tataras shoulder apart, so instead of being too stiff he’s too loose now. … great…

Ballroom e Youkoso will be back!

raw

After more than a year on hiatus, Ballroom e Youkoso is finally comming back! Apparently the manga-ka is healthy again and a new chapter is supposed to be released January 6th, which is about 2 1/2 weeks from now.

celebrate

Strangly, after such a long time of waiting, 2 1/2 weeks feel very long now that I know it’s finally happening. And yes, I know, most of the fandom has no idea this is happening, but I freaking love this manga and this is literally the best news in a loooong while for me.

waiting-so-long

Romance in Ballroom e Youkoso

It’s finally done: the latest chapters have been translated and now the big wait begins. Apparently the manga-ka is ill and therefore the manga has been on hiatus ever since. Let’s hope he makes a full recovery.

tumblr_o0pp0zPbp31soj3yeo8_1280

The lastest two chapter 41 and 42 heavily focussed on the background of Akira and Chinatsu and apparently Akira is in love with Chii-chan. Ever since grade school she wanted to be her only partner and refused to learn the male steps, so she can funktion as Chii-chan’s only female partner when the other girls became interested in other things. Chii-chan on the other hand wanted to dance the girl part as well, but Akira wouldn’t let her.

tumblr_o0g7259mkw1tk1u0yo1_1280Even thought the current relationship between Akira and Chii-chan seems to be very bad, Akira is still in love with her former partner and boils with jealously over her relationship with Tatara. What brings me to my personal highlight: since I’m shipping TataraxChi, of course I fully support Akiras jealously, after all, if there is nothing going on and everything’s safe, there’s no need to become jealous. After only 4 months Chii-chan and Tatara have already developed a better and much more dynamic relationship than Akira and her partner and arguably even a closer relationshion than Akira ever had with Chii-chan.

Back in their grade school days, Chii-chan hated boys and she said it was disgusting to dance with them or hold hands. Now she’s finally dancing the female part she always wanted and even though she still has trouble not being the leader and accepting Tataras dance, those two have come a pretty long way already and in some rare occasions of unity their dance is simply astonishing. There’s so much insane potential in this pair, I would cry in frustration if they broke up – and they promised to break up, if they don’t win this competition. They can’t do that!

Tatara has already evolved so much, he’s not the same person he used to be when he danced with Mako. While they used to be a good couple, I don’t think they would fit that well anymore. And yes, Mako has a crush on him, but it’s guaranteed that’s not going anywhere. Tataras crush on Shizuku is a more serious matter, but even though I shipped them before Chii-chan came into play, I would rather have her and Hyoudou funktion as rivals for Tatara and Chii-chan rather than breaking the couples up and re-arranging tumblr_nzd9akXjch1soj3yeo1_1280them.

To sum it up, so far we have these confirmed romantic interests:

  • Mako -> Tatara
  • Tatara -> Shizuku
  • Akira -> Chinatsu

Throw Gaju into the mix, who’s protective over his sister, Makos jealously over Chii-chan, Akiras jealously over Tatara and Chinatsus own very unindentified feelings, we have a nice bag  full of teenage love problems. I think it’s interesting to see where Shizuku and Hyoudou are going. I’m rooting for them, they’ve known each other for a very long time and their inner timer clicks the same. As for Tatara, I personally think his crush on Shizuku is a result from his admiration for her as a great dancer.

Manga of the Year

76797

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime

Manga of the year is a lot harder to do than Anime of the year. A manga can be completed in Japan, but is still published overseas or the scanlations are not that fast. Also, if it’s not by a famous manga-ka, a new manga is usually not even translated starting chapter 1. Scanlators and official publishers alike usually pick popular manga to translate, so there’s a lot of stuff I can’t possibly have read, simply because there’s no translation available – and in some cases not even raws.

Another problem is the longevity of manga. Of course there are great short manga, but more popular manga tend to run a lot longer than your average anime (12-24 episodes), especially when the title is published semi-monthly (Fruits Basket) or monthly (Fullmetal Alchemist) and the magazines sometimes skip a week/month, too.

To make a long story short: I’ve read way too much to remember everything I read, you usually don’t start reading a manga starting from the first chapter published in Japan, especially when you don’t live in Japan and long runners such as Conan or Ippo will probably still going in 10 years from now, so I’m just going with whatever I still remember I read this year. I’ll try choosing titles that left an impression on me.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso already appeared on my anime of the year list

large

Ichi Ni No San!

and it’s here again. I’d like to mention this one, because I rooted a lot for a happy ending, even though I knew it would end up having tragic ending. It was well done and you need some guts to kill off a main character.

Shokugeki no Soma has also been on my anime of the year list and I started reading the manga because of the anime. Especially in recent chapters there’s been a lot going on and when Azami took over the school, it feld like every new chapter came with a huge new surprise and that was very cool.

Diamond no Ace Act II started off on the really wrong foot with me, so it’s mostly negative memories I have with this one. It’s still more Furuya no Ace, even though every idiot should see just how much Sawamura is worth. The manga-ka is in love with Furuya and that’s super annoying. That’s the reason it was even more satisfying when Miyuki “said” about Sawamura: “Make them realize that you exist!” in chapter 13 and in chapter 14 Sawamura delivered a flawless game, exceeding the expectations from every single person in the stadium. That was cool. Unfortunately the focus is yet again on someone else…

Hirunaka no Ryuusei is a nice Shoujo with a surprising twist at the end. Suzume is in love with her teacher, an old childhood friend of hers, and I have to admit in most manga like this, the girl gets her man. However, in this case, even though he fell in love with her as well, he pushed her away and she got together with another guy. He realized too late, that she won’t just come back and in the end, she decides to let go of him an stay with her current boyfriend. While the end was disappointing for me, because I was rooting for the teacher, it was nice to see a manga actually going for this route.

160912l

Sakamoto desu ga?

Sakamoto desu ga? will soon be over and there haven’t been that many chapters scanlated this year, but I’m super excited every time I see a new one. It’s a manga I enjoy a lot, because it’s a great parody of the perfect guy every girl falls in love with. It’s so overexeggerated that it’s absurd and it’s one hell of a joy to read that. It doesn’t even follow a real plot, it’s just Sakamoto reacting to everyday life situations or dealing with jealous guys.

Blue Sky Complex is a yaoi manga I recently discovered and I like it especially because it’s less about two guys being in love as opposed to two people being in love. The former hetero partner doesn’t care at all that his new partner is a guy, because he fell in love with the person and not the gender. It’s also quite funny the delinquent ends up as the uke and the more serious and silent former hetero guy is the seme.  You’d expect it the other way around.

My two top contenders for Manga of the Year 2015 are Piano no Mori and Ballroom e Youkoso. A story about a boy who learns the piano and another story about competitive ballroom dancing. That’s just so much like me. Both manga are being scanlated, but both are behind in recent chapters. Ballroom saw a few more scanlations lately, but I’m desperately following

ballroom-e-youkoso-6604057

Ballroom e Youkoso

the raws as well. The characters and energy this manga delivers are amazing. I’ve done ballroom dancing myself and it’s really hard, so I can relate to it. Piano no Mori on the other hand was finished in Japan this year and the scanlations still have a long way to go, but it was a great and very satisfying ending, even without understanding a single world. Let’s just hope the actual translation won’t ruin it for me.

After all, I guess Ballroom e Youkoso makes the cut and is my manga 2015. I’ve been obsessed with it from the day I discovered it and I would love to see a proper anime  adaptation – that usually means more popularity and faster scanlations.