Anime

Female Characters In Welcome To The Ballroom

I love this show. Or should I say I want to love this show. The first episode was marvellous and I gushed over it. In fact I was disappointed when Amazon was late releasing the second episode.

Then I watched it.

Female Characters Introduced

The first episode introduced us to Shizuku Hanaoka, a young lady who is a training to become a professional ballroom dancer. She partly inspires the main character, Tatara, to join the world of ballroom dancing. There was no mistaking he wanted to dance with her. That’s fine.

You then start watching second episode and you’re greeted with this.

Female Characters - Karen Banba

That’s your view after 5 seconds of the second episode. This is the only view you have of Karen for 18 seconds before the camera pans up to show you her face and introduce her.

What a lovely introduction for a female character.

If you ignore all the boob physics that go on while this woman is stood still then you could explain it as being Tatara’s point of view. Indeed, you’re given a cut away to Tatara during those 18 seconds that implies it is his viewpoint you’re seeing.

Then explain this.

Female Characters - Shizuku Hanaoka

You’ll get a long 3 seconds to take that one particular view in. Seriously, why is this show being spoilt by these scenes?!

Maybe It’s A One Time Thing

Okay, I hear you. Maybe it wasn’t using cheap tricks to embarrass its female characters and instead it was just showing accidents happen?

Start watching episode three and get 4 minutes and 16 seconds in…

Female Characters - Karen Banba

That’s your first view of Karen again! Don’t tell me this is Tatara’s point of view, he’s across the street and she’s waving to him. Oh, you’re using the excuse that he’s a teenage boy and going to be looking?

Female Characters - Shizuku Hanaoka

3 minutes later this is not just Tatara’s point of view. This is not an accident.

With the camera panning up her body in this very static scene there is nothing there other than a very conscious decision to take a one of three female characters and sexualize her.

No, it’s more than that.

Look at how she’s been drawn. She’s very obviously embarrassed. This is not just sexualizing her, it’s humiliating her.

Cheap Tricks Spoil The Show

It’s scenes like this that spoil anime shows for me. Why are these scenes being shown in a series where they have no place?

Ballroom dancing does have a certain element of body showcasing. It always will, the dancers are what you’re looking at and they’re telling a story with their dance. On top of that the women’s dresses are very pretty and the men’s suits make them look very dapper. The Latin dances can be very sensual and we’ve seen some of that in the latest episode. That is to be expected. I expect a certain element of camera roaming as the dancer’s dance. The almost romantic feel between Shizuku and Kiyoharu, for example, when they do the rumba is all to be expected.

What Production I.G have done, however, is taking the female characters and fan-service them. This causes the viewer to be distracted away from a wonderful story about a boy finding his love for ballroom dancing. Instead it becomes a show you wouldn’t recommend without warning people. That’s warning them that the show’s women are treated as being less of a person than the men.

Female Characters Can Have Personality Too

What do we know about Karen? She’s a teacher.

You’re told she’s also pupil and we see her dancing a little bit even if it’s in a teacher’s capcity. When looked at comparatively to other minor characters, this is about the same amount. Obviously her camera is abusing her, but story wise there’s no favouritism to her male counterparts.

What do we know about Shizuku? She’s a dancer.

I know nothing else about her. You know a lot about Tatara as he’s the main character, but comparatively you know a lot more about Shizuku’s dance partner, Kiyoharu, then Shizuku. You know about his family situation, how hard he tries, hand how much he really wants to dance professionally. I don’t know anything about Shizuku save her connection to Kiyoharu. Can you tell me one aspect of her personality or life outside of ballroom dance? It’s like she exists only to be exposed for the camera.

That needs to stop.

2 Comments

  1. It is a shame that such instances of gratuitous fanservice occur in Ballroom. There seems to be little rhyme or reason behind these scenes, too.

    And yes, Shizuki doesn’t really seem fleshed out as a character, but maybe that could change later on.

    1. I did some research these scenes do appear in the manga too. Not that it justifies this at all as I’d be just as disappointed to find that in the manga.

      Each episode I wonder if it’ll stop and I’ll keep watching for the story. I really hope it does change.

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