I could wax on about how Inouesatoh’s 10 Dance is my favorite currently ongoing boys love title, or about how it represents excellence in sports manga. Either discussion, however, would be too narrow; 10 Dance is one of the best comics out there, period. The last installment saw the two Shinyas’ feelings intensify well beyond the point of plausible deniability, and Vol. 4 depicts how they act upon that truth. How are these character developments handled? Is this volume just as good as the three that preceded it?
Like Vol. 3, Vol. 4 heightens the quality of the two Shinyas’ romance by diving deep into each one’s memories and social circles. Suzuki in particular has a lot of page-time devoted to flashbacks of his growing up in Cuba, surrounded by the large family he now works hard to support. Besides expanding upon Suzuki’s motivations, these scenes also harken back to how he first came to love dance in the first place. There’s a clear arc to follow that makes him all the more interesting to read about while still leaving some details ripe for further exploration.
This volume also introduces a number of other professional dancers that the two Shinyas have personal histories with, thus providing a glimpse at what their relationships to the dancing world at large were like prior to meeting one another. Seeing elements from the leads’ pasts and presents bump up against each other helps demonstrate how profoundly the last several volumes’ events have affected their lives. All in all, this is effective world-building that doubles as character development.
The visuals also continue to bring the manga’s world to life with lots of energy and emotion. Scenes of the characters dancing are particularly impressive thanks to a variety of page compositions that shift and flow to match the music and contortions of bodies. Strings of musical notes act as links across panels focusing in on various body parts, often to sensual effect. Panels depicting nothing but close-ups on the Shinyas’ eyes and mouths are particularly evocative and convey meaning more boldly and directly than much narration or dialogue ever can. Whether mid-dance or while characters are just standing around and talking, the body language throughout is impeccable.
Fortunately, the rest of the writing is largely up to par with the world-building and art. The two Shinyas’ voices continue to be distinct and the pacing of dialogue shifts effectively to match both frantic and more relaxed moments. The buildups of tension and their resulting climaxes are all given proper page-time to breathe which is especially important as the characters take on an all-time high level of frankness about their emotions. My only real qualm with the volume is that there’s a slow spurt roughly three-quarters of the way in that doesn’t feel like it’s contributing enough to the plot or character progression. Fortunately, the excitement picks back up by the end.
Overall, 10 Dance Vol. 4 continues the series’s high quality streak. The artwork is emotive and matches the sensuality of the characters’ dancing, and the world-building is also great. There is one slow spot a ways in but the book doesn’t take long to pick back up. I would wholeheartedly recommend 10 Dance to anyone.