The Tenpei Cup is over and the future lies completely open to Tatara. Where will he go from here now that he really caught the ballroom dancing bug? Is it good?
In comparison to the previous two volumes, Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 5 is a much slower and more relaxed tale. There’s no competition going on and the story instead focuses on how Tatara has been doing after his first official competition and how his life changes as he moves on to high school. There’s very little dancing in the manga, outside of Sengoku dancing and some shadow work. As such, the story isn’t as exciting or energetic as it was before — though, thankfully, the volume more than makes up for that in the character and story growth department.
This whole volume focuses squarely on Tatara and how he has been doing, showing him realistically thinking about his hobby and where he wants to go now with it. He absolutely loved competing and dancing with others and wants to continue with it for sure, but he feels very self-conscious about his abilities after his
defeat and then seeing his actual performance on video. However, with encouragement from Hanaoka and later Hyodo, he is determined to face them again. Later, when he is in high school, he even admits to liking ballroom dance and stands by it, even when he is mocked for it. His determination to keep moving forward and showing backbone goes to show how much Tatara has matured, seeing his hobby as a new path for him. Ballroom dancing has boosted his confidence, his athletic ability, and changed how he perceives things, even acting like Hanaoka did when the two first danced together. This teen has really grown not just on the dance floor, but in life as
I had a friend like that once. Ended breaking the desk by doing that.
Everyone else in the cast has less development than Tatara, but there are minor points that did show growth and progression with the cast here that was good. Despite the final scene of her crying in the bathroom last volume, we didn’t follow up with Hanaoka. While disappointing, it did show us that the experience changed her opinion on Tatara, seeing him as a worthy challenger who made Mako a bigger star than her. Gaju is much less hostile to our lead, friendlier, and willing to talk dance with him after Tatara enters his high school. Mako only appears in a handful of scattered scenes, but the experience dancing with Tatara definitely left an impact on her, pushing up her own confidence and making it almost seem like she has a crush, or at least a desire to dance with him again. With Sengoku, a slight mystery has built regarding why he wanted to train Tatara in the first place, since he never did something like this before nor is he charging him for lessons. While he remains the same personality-wise, giving the teen a hard time and messing with others, he’s definitely come into his own as a teacher and offers up some rather sage-advice and wisdom you wouldn’t expect from him.
We’re also introduced to two brand new characters as well: Chinatsu Hiyama and Chizuru Hongo. Hongo is Sengoku’s dance partner and almost his female mirror duplicate. She’s just as good as dancing, but is also a jokester, willing to get physical in an alteration and quite mean or aggressive at times. She is a perfect partner for Sengoku and a lot of fun to read about since she can bring a lot of laughs, like when she first meets Tatara and calls to him to come over to her like a dog. Hiyama is interesting, but we’ve barely scratched the surface with her character. She’s one of Tatara’s classmates in high school and while initially dismissive of his love for ballroom dance, it turns out she knows a lot more about it than she lets on. She’s even a big fan of Hongo and amusingly, both of their appearances when they’re dressed casually mirrors one another with how their hair flows, how their jackets are worn. However, despite all of that, she doesn’t appear comfortable at all with dancing and doesn’t want anything to do with it, which makes you wonder what her deal is. There’s almost a subtle hint or theory tossed out about why she may not be a dancer anymore, but we don’t know for sure. Either way, she’s a character to keep an eye on going forward, especially since Tatara is on the hunt for his own dance partner now.
The artwork looked as good as always, only with less dancing than you may want unfortunately. The characters are drawn pretty well, very expressive and convey a lot of emotion and weight in how they hold themselves or look at once another. Probably one of the best drawn scenes of the entire series, even including the dancing, is when Tatara tries dancing with Hiyama. Just the looks and body language depicted in these few pages say so much about the mood, tension, and state of mind each has. The only time the characters look off is during the dancing, where they suddenly look a good decade older and have decayed, wrinkly-looking hands. The layouts are pretty well crafted, sans the occasional empty void for a background, and the amount of detail put into each character, location, and the rare dances are sight to
behold. This is a beautiful-looking book, regardless of how often there is dancing or not.
Is It Good?
Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 5 is a slower, more reflective turn for the series. It’s not as energetic, bombastic, or even as dramatic as some of the latest books, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. It’s still quite a pleasant read, taking its time to dive into the mind of our lead as he picks the direction with
where he wants to go with his life. Backed up by terrific art as usual, this volume marks a new change and turn in direction for the series, one that I’m eager to see play out in the coming volumes.