Despite having spent very little time as an athlete myself, I have a big love for sports anime and manga. Kuroko’s Basketball, Haikyu!!, Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, Yuri!!! on Ice, you name it. Needless to say, I was intrigued earlier this year when Kodansha Comcis began localizing one of the most unique sports manga I’ve seen yet: Inouesatoh’s 10 Dance. It’s the first dance-based manga I’ve ever read, as well as one of the greatest romances. Sugiki and Suzuki’s sexual tension is captivating, and the character work thus far has been top-notch. Vol. 3 is out this week, and it collects chapters 11-15. The pair’s dancing gets more explicitly flirtatious than ever, and they hit in a major milestone in their relationship. So, is this installment good?
Artistically, Inousatoh continues to bring the manga’s world to life beautifully. The sense of motion to the characters is fantastic, especially when they dance. It’s a difficult art to convey effectively with still images, but this volume is brimming with energy. Dance scenes and particularly emotional moments make frequent use of sparkly patterns, which is both aesthetically pleasing and a source of comedy when the characters break the fourth wall to comment on them. The facial expressions are every bit as emotive as the body language, and a lot of the characterization comes from the main pair’s silent reactions. The page compositions are also very well-done, both maintaining a pleasant sense of balance and leading the reader’s eye along from panel to panel effortlessly.
The volume’s first chapter depicts a practice session in which Sugiki and Suzuki get much more racy with each other than ever before, and it’s hilarious. The two men are still closeted and in denial enough that they won’t acknowledge how turned on they are by their flirting, but the tension is off the charts. It also results in the usually stoic Sugiki saying things that make even the playboy Suzuki blush, awkward as his delivery is.
With that said, the duo’s dancing throughout can also be intimate in a more emotionally earnest, less teasing way. There are multiple scenes with them dancing outside together late at night in what are more or less rituals for them at this point. It’s really poignant to watch. Even if the pair aren’t yet being completely open about their feelings for each other, they’re still enjoying the act of spending time physically close to one another and reacting to the other’s energy. They are, quite literally, clinging on desperately. This longing results in the pair taking a dramatic step forward in the volume’s final chapter. Without spoiling what happens, I’ll simply say that it’s one of the manga’s most poignant scenes thus far.
There’s very little to complain about here. Some passages throughout are a bit confusing visually, but they’re generally rather short so they don’t disrupt things too much. The pacing can also get a little rushed in spots, but again, this doesn’t last for very long.
All in all, 10 Dance Vol. 3 is a poignant read overflowing with energetic visuals and sexual tension. Sugiki and Suzuki’s relationship continues to be riveting, and this volume moves things forward in a major way. There’s almost nothing to complain about here, and I’m as eager as always for the next installment.