First Impression: Dance Dance Danseur

Junpei is your typical 13 year old boy, obsessed with looking cool and teetering on the edge of falling for the mysterious, beautiful transfer student with the mole that he likens to “the sound of a premonition”. Umm, so maybe he’s not your typical teenaged boy. Anyhow, he’s trying really hard to be your typical teenaged boy, and that means impressing his classmates with his Jeet Kune Do moves, laughing mockingly at his sister for hinting he may have once been into ballet, and declaring that he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps as a martial arts stunt co-ordinator for action films. Only, when the transfer student, Miyako Godai, turns out to be the daughter of a ballet teacher, and comes calling to recruit him to their new studio after having rightly identified his supposed flying kick as a balletic 540, he finds himself drawn back into the world of dance. Can he win over the fierce dragon that is her mother? And more importantly, can he overcome his fear of not seeming manly enough (ho boy) and admit to himself that he loves to dance? 

Hold your horses there, cowboy!

MAPPA. Do I need to say more? Well, normally I wouldn’t, but actually, I was a little disappointed with the animation in places, with some underwhelming early dance inbetweens, though overall the design elements (characters, backgrounds, lighting, color) are stunning as usual. (That is, apart from the weird white arc in people’s eyes. Why? It’s so distracting.) Things did pick up with Junpei’s moments of dance though, and the comedy elements are handled really well (Mrs Godai’s fierce face evokes genuine fear). The story is nicely set up, with an element of mystery (who is Luou-kun and why has he locked himself away?), and plenty of room for character growth for the MC. Junpei is actually pretty rude (especially to his future mother-in-law ballet teacher) and has some growing up to do, yet remains a sympathetic character in that it’s clear that his tough kid act comes from the pressure he’s felt to “man up” after the loss of his father. He’s awkward with his emotions, as any teen is at that age, and I look forward to seeing him learn to open up to others and himself and own his passion for ballet. (In this, he reminds me a little of Yatora in Blue Period.) Junpei’s momma is also a very perceptive lady, and it’s nice to see a parent—especially an overworked single one—who is actually present in her children’s lives in a meaningful way for once in anime. In short, this is a solid teen drama that will appeal to viewers interested in coming of age tales, masculinity, and dramatic character arcs. And sparkles when dancing. Let’s not forget those.

Ah yes, the Dark Past of Dance. I know it well, my friend.

Dance Dance Danseur can be streamed through Crunchyroll.


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