It's difficult (for me) to talk about Ballroom E Youkoso
The ballroom dancesport focused manga has been written & drawn by Takeuchi Tomo since 2011 (her first serialized manga), and it's one that has quickly found a place in my heart - despite both itself and my typical frustrations for the genre. On one hand, it is absolutely refreshing to see a sport manga with an actively balanced cast in terms of gender, wherein there are always complicated dynamics going on between the young men and women present within competitions. On the other hand, an unfortunate trapping of the genre tends to be that if they do include any women, then sexism & misogyny become near-inescapable additions.
As a short introduction of the manga itself - it follows Fujita Tatara, a 3rd year in junior high with no particular interests or dreams for the future. One day, while putting off forms for high school yet again, he sees that a classmate of his - Hanaoka Shizuku - has also been putting off high school registration. As he walks home, an encounter with bullies leads to him being rescued by the owner of a local dance studio - and against all odds, to find that Shizuku herself dances here.
She is not so welcoming or aimless as he assumed she was when he saw her in the school's office.
From there, it moves along the lines one most expects of the genre - Tatara finds a drive and dream in trying to succeed in ballroom dancesport, and moves along the trials & tribulations demanded of that world. What ultimately makes it stand out as its own story in the genre is rooted in -
- Being about competitive ballroom dancing, obviously, complete with excitingly kinetic art to supplement its tone
- Being about what is a two-person team, tight and focused on particular relationships
- The complicated dynamic that forms main partnership, an intense rivalry between a young man and a young woman who are both talented, but in almost opposite ways for what they are both wanted to be in the dance world.
I say, "I want to sell people on this manga." But I almost feel bad trying to do that. I honestly don't want to convince people to read something that might make them uncomfortable or frustrated. I don't want people to feel like they need to read stressful media, when from what I see of the sport animanga fandom tends to want a chance to chill out with fun & dramatic works, wherein they have the potential to add or remove conflict as they see fit. I think the flaws of this manga can be more trouble than they're worth, for people who just want a break.
So, if nothing else, I'll say this - if you want a sport manga that treats women's issues in the sport world with decent respect, do read Teppuu. Teppuu, while written & drawn by a man, does have a wide diversity in women's body types, is a cast of almost entirely women, and even its "fanservice" isn't anything particularly bad. Ballroom teases such issues, but doesn't sit on them or give them much levity, the fanservice is much more blantantly obvious, it coddles the men in its cast, but - if you can overlook it like me, for the sake of liking series about dance, or the women, or the cast at large, then maybe you'll find something here, too.( I'll chat it up more here at the cut. )