In my years of watching anime, sometimes you can just sense quality from a cover. You should not judge a book by its cover, generally, though this isn’t an absolute rule. If your series has a cover that conveys everything that it embodies, complete with “a soul,” that’s a good very early sign. Dance Dance Danseur was the latest new(-ish) series that intrigued me from appearance alone.
After three straight re-watches, this is the first new series I’ve seen this December. And after watching (almost) four series in roughly eleven days, my desire to ingest is starting to slow. As such, my posting quantity will be a tad less frequent from this point. (In fact, I could have finished this series and written this post on Sunday.) I’ll continue to put the same sort of fun energy I always do in my posts, regardless!
“Danseur noble–a ballet dancer qualified to dance the role of the prince. Second-year junior high school student Murao Junpei was fascinated by ballet as a boy, but gave up on dancing after his father’s death, as he had to become a man. However, one day, a beautiful transfer student named Godai Miyako appears before him. Miyako takes notice in Junpei’s love of ballet and invites him to dance with her.
“Along with Miyako’s cousin Mori Ruou, he begins his career as a full-fledged ballet dancer, with the aim of becoming the world’s best dancer–the Danseur noble! Only those who have sacrificed everything are permitted to stand in the beautiful and harsh world of classical ballet. What will be the fate of a total beginner like Junpei?!“
Those who have read my reviews for a while know that animation isn’t terribly important to me. When most people collectively agreed that One Punch Man‘s second season was far inferior due to the (noticeably) worse animation, I shrugged. Then I watched it… and ended up liking it more. As important as animation is in animated media, I’m far more interested in execution of story and characters. I can excuse some paltry movement or generic labor (within reason).
So it is with this context that I’m going to praise Dance Dance Danseur for its emphasis on animation. Generally speaking, it’s not so gorgeous that every frame is a work of art. Yet the ballet scenes, the integral moments where you, as a viewer, are supposed to be enthralled with what’s occurring, are usually captivating. Ballet isn’t something I’m terribly fond of, and even I was occasionally awestruck by the grace of it all.
Of course, the animation is only one aspect that make those emotions bubble to the surface. Atmosphere helps splendidly, as does the expressive attention to wonderment present in the characters. What I may love most about the entire series is the way it conveys passion. Sparkles and bubbles and eccentric, flashing lights emerge around the eyes of characters. A whimsical giddiness illuminates their eyes, compelling them forward as they attempt to register themselves.
All the better is that this doesn’t occur constantly. More often it’s shown with the main character due to his circumstances with being “new” to the sport, but others have it happen sporadically. It’s great representation to the flightiness of emotions—those powerful, overwhelming emotions of motivation and sublimity that erupt upon specific stimuli. These moments within the series stand out due to the timing of its appearance. When it happens, everything else is a blur.
Flowing back to animation itself, along with art, this is a bit different-looking due to its Shoujo-ish design. (Very slim, tall boys; enlarged eyes and facial features; heavier emphasis on bishounen designs.) Like the subject matter of the plot, there is a heavy gentleness to characters’ appearances and style. Characters, on occasion, almost fall into a trap of looking too much like one another, though different hair and eye colors help.
Again, integral scenes (such as ballet performances) tend to boast a higher quality of animation than in general, but they certainly achieve a wondrous high. Color plays a substantial part in setting moods and hinting at underlying feelings. A lot of it comes together to create compellingly dramatic or borderline horrific instances of grandeur, much like the appeal of theater overall. If nothing else, Dance Dance Danseur is wonderful opera.
Alas, like opera, there are some issues to be dealt with concerning its execution. The largest blemish comes from its fairly short runtime. Only eleven episodes means the pacing quickens quite a bit at regular intervals, especially early on. One moment, the male lead is trying to learn the basics of ballet. The next, he’s on stage preparing to play the prince in Swan Lake. One episode is dedicated to the bullying of a fellow dancer who won’t retaliate, followed by everyone sort of just accepting the male lead is now a dancer.
Like the tide, plot points and dramatic tensions tend to rise and fall at a smooth pace, occasionally proving anticlimactic. Specific instances, like the growing romantic tension between characters or the reputation of the male lead (which is the entire synopsis to the story) are brought up, dealt with, and forgotten. Not to mention, for someone who almost never practiced ballet professionally, he sure is rising through the ranks like mad against those who have practiced all of their lives…
Then there’s the drama itself. Dance Dance Danseur is categorized as “Seinen,” which is sort of a copout term for a series that appeals to older boys that doesn’t really have a firm genre designation. Other sites I’ve seen label it as “drama,” as “sports,” and as “slice of life.” It’s more a combination of all of them (though SoL is sort of a stretch), but what certainly sticks out most is the first adjective.
Particularly near the end, this story gets very, very angsty. Such can be seen coming given the hints provided concerning the past of a specific character, whose temperament was molded through an abusive upbringing. How this is “resolved,” I suppose (it sort of left it up in the air by the end), leaves a lot to be desired… and I would argue unfairly disregards the feelings of one character. There’s theater and then there’s Gothic terror. Try and choose one or the other.
Even with some faulty story beats, this is a series I would gladly recommend based on the strength of its themes and characters. I’m not sure I can recall a single character that I disliked (entirely), and there was even one character I wish was featured more. With the open-ended nature of the series’ end, it’s a great recommendation for the manga source. If a sequel series doesn’t ever come to fruition, it’d be a disappointment, but I’m glad some portion of it exists.
This is what it feels like to be… satisfied with a series, right? With all the duds that came before it this month, I was beginning to suspect I could never be happy. Thankfully, Dance Dance Danseur has provided a very thoroughly entertaining, albeit sloppy, story that thrills at a thousand miles an hour. If I wasn’t such a fat, out-of-shape idiot, it may have encouraged me to dance around in my living room at times.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
For more anime reviews, check out the associated archive.
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Thank you for your time. Have a great rest of your day.