Welcome to the Ballroom made it’s anime debut this past weekend at Anime Expo 2017.  The world premiere was held on July 2 in the Main Events room at the Los Angeles Convention Center where thousands of fans gathered to watch Episode 1. The premiere was brought to AX by Pony Canyon, Kodansha, and Production I.G, the companies behind the Attack on Titan anime adaptation. Director Yoshimi Itazu, Animation Director Takahiro Chiba, and Producer Tetsuya Kinoshita also made an appearance for a fan Q&A after the screening.

Based on the blockbuster manga by Tomo Takeuchi which has sold over 1.5 million copies, Welcome to the Ballroom follows a middle school boy entering the exciting and emotional world of ballroom dancing, competing to reach the top.

Feckless high school student Tatara Fujita wants to be good at something – anything. Unfortunately, he’s about as average as a slouchy teen can be. The local bullies know this, and make it a habit to hit him up for cash, but all that changes when the debonair Kaname Sengoku sends them packing. Sengoku’s not the neighborhood watch, though. He’s a professional ballroom dancer. And once Tatara Fujita gets pulled into the world of the ballroom, his life will never be the same. (via the manga)

Our friend Alex Chov attended the premiere and reported back with his thoughts on the animation, main character, ballroom sport and episode 1 in general.

Charlotte: I’d love to hear your initial thoughts right after seeing episode 1:

Alex: “I think (if people) go into Welcome to the Ballroom hoping it’s the next Yuri on Ice they will be disappointed. This doesn’t mean it will be bad! It’s just a different story. Similarities are a niche sport and slicked back hair! [Laughs.] But instead if an older competitor, (we get) a totally poor newbie who doesn’t know what (he wants) in life. The very nature of ballroom as a two-player sport adds a different dimension between guy-girl pairs. But that wont stop the fujoshi from imagining some yaoi action between the enamored Fujita and the suave Sengoku!”

C: Fangirls will pair just about anyone! Is there anything worth talking about? Anything you really liked, disliked? Anything the team talked about worth mentioning?

A: “As someone who used to do ballroom, the parts that show dancing are good. Although, I wish they would have shown more of it! I think the themes will be strong – ballroom, due to the nature of costuming and associating with fabulous balls – has a sort of bourgeois connotation attached to it. So accurately depicting main character as poor will be a good foil to that. His house has (piles) of garbage, his bathtub has stains, he lives in a tatami mat house with a low res TV, etc. 

(Another early theme is that) people are different inside than what they appear on the outside; (like a “don’t judge a book by it’s cover situation”). I thought there was weakness when the main character falls in love with ballroom. The scene where he watches a DVD and falls in love with the sport was (cliche and) cheesy but it does move the story along. Overall, it’s a (series) carried by the characters and story instead of the animation; of the niche sport and unique character relationships. I’ll be watching all of it. Twenty Four Episodes! Unfortunately, there wasn’t much the (production) team talked about.”

C: How did you feel about the animation for WttB?  Do you feel this is going to have a strong presence in the anime world as well?

A: “I think it was average. If I were to compare to Violet Evergarden, the other premiere I saw, it pales in comparison. But that feels like an unfair comparison. [Laughs]. I think we have yet to see the animators flex. There was a part where I thought we were going to see some dancing but it was just a tease. [Laughs].”

Thank you Alex for attending the premiere and giving us your thoughts! You can catch Welcome to the Ballroom this Summer on Anime Strike on Amazon Prime Video.

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