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We’re at the mid-point of the Spring Season, and with all of our new favorites in full swing, we’ve got a pretty good idea of which anime are showstoppers and which ones you’re better off stopping. And if we’re going to talk about the heavy-hitters, how can we possibly not talk about Dance Dance Dancer? Adapted from a manga, Dance Dance Dancer is about a boy, a girl, and a school life en pointe. Yes, it’s an anime about ballet; Specifically about a young teenage boy discovering his passion for this classical art, who then goes up against all odds— the perceptions of masculinity, the disdain of his friends, and even his own preconceived notions— just to chase the euphoria of dancing on stage. Of course, ballet isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and some of you may not be so inclined to check out an anime so heavily influenced by classical music and dance, but that’s why you’ve got us! We at Honey’s Anime have been watching with keen eyes, and we’re here to share our preliminary impressions of Dance Dance Dancer, now that we’re halfway through the show! And dare we say, the show absolutely must go on!
The Very Best, That No One Ever Was
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No matter how many different activities it covers, the sports anime formula just has something innately attractive about it. And while ballet isn’t technically a sport, Dance Dance Dancer most definitely follows the recipe to a tee. From discovering passions and aptitudes, to angst-filled nights debating pursuing them, to the liberation of finally following your dreams, Dance Dance Dancer has all the makings of an incredible journey where Junpei Murao must come to terms with his own desires, regardless of how Much they contradict his father’s opinions, peers’ admiration, and his own preconceived notions. Watching our young protagonist grow (at a fairly realistic pace too) is truly heartwarming, inspiring, and downright breathtaking. Junpei is pursuing ballet much later, so we get to follow his journey from the very basics of the art, from when he had to come to terms with what he wanted to pursue, and from the massive reality check that is the prodigious Ruou, all the way through to milestones like his first performance. What’s even better is that rather than simply focusing on the activity alone, this anime gives us a 360-degree view of Junpei, from his friends and classmates, his family, and his potential (read: we’re betting on this) first love .
Clean Moves and Classic Grooves
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So a great story, and a great look at characters. Now it’s time for the real meat of the matter: the ballet. From Junpei’s natural fluidity to Ruou’s refined elegance, this anime is overflowing with graceful movements that are almost surreal in their beauty. And not just on stage, from Junpei’s playfulness to Miyako’s carefreeness, to Ruou’s angst, ballet finds its way into non-dance-oriented sections of the story as well. That and the classical music is interwoven with a more modern score making the anime a stunning sensory experience that is able to cultivate viewers’ interest in classical niche arts, that otherwise would be far from the forefront of our minds.
Feels, Feels, And More Than Feels!
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With the number of times we’ve mentioned this word, it’s time to address it directly: the angst. While the ballet is lovely, and the plot is engaging, what truly grabs you and holds you are the feels. Feelings not just of the characters, but also those from the performances (Swan Lake gave us chills). Dance Dance Dancer is surprisingly emotionally evocative. We feel each character’s pain and angst, and given that they’re teenagers in junior high, there’s plenty to go around! However, rather than turn us off, these heightened emotions (read: feel) add depth and layers to the characters, their backstories, the plot, and the sense of drama in the show. Junpei’s inner conflict, Miyako’s hinted insecurities, Ruou’s… well, his entire existence tbh, are laden with intense emotion and it’s all so heartfelt that one can’t help but empathise. That’s not to say this anime is a heavy watch, with some perfectly timed bits of comic relief (looking at you Junpei), Dance Dance Dancer is a fine balance between heartfelt feels and heartwarming laughs.
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Coming from an animation powerhouse like MAPPA, is it any surprise at all that Dance Dance Dancer is a visual marvel? Honestly, if the compelling storyline, the detailed characterisation, and the evocative tone of this story weren’t enough, we’d recommend watching just for the visuals alone! From stunning line drawing to atmospheric mood-lighting, to detailed character design, to fluid animation, to dynamic perspective angles, Dance Dance Dancer is a work of art. And what’s more, with subject matter like ballet, which itself is an art form, one can truly show off their animation chops. The slow, precise grace of ballet forms and transitions, the rolling fluidity of athletic bodies, and the larger-than-life leaps and turns that seem to defy gravity, all make for a wonderful subject matter for animation. And MAPPA takes full advantage of this freedom to create lively, vibrant animated sequences that serve to make experiencing this story all the more lyrical and all the more poetic.
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Six episodes in and Dance Dance Dancer has got our full attention! From art to animation, from angst to antics, we’ve got nothing but admiration for our favorite ballerinos. The anime kicked off strong, hit us right in the feels, but kept it light too with some superb voice acting; and so far, we’re just as invested as we’ve been from day one, so we can’t wait to see where this story goes next! Have you been biting your nails as Junpei and Ruou leap across the stage? Did the 540s take your breath away? Are you going to grande jête into Dance Dance Dancer if you haven’t already? Let us know in the comments below! We love to hear from you.
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