- Titles: Dance Dance Danseur
- Genre: Sports!, dama, romance
- Episodes: 11
- Studio: MAPPA
Junpei is a manly boy. He does his best to take care of his mom and sister. At 14, he’s already well on his way to becoming a Jet Kune Do master under his uncle’s tutelage, and he’s surrounded by friends at school who admire him. Maybe someday he’ll follow in his father’s footsteps and become a stunt man. There’s just one little thing that’s gnawing at him. Junpei wants to dance. He’s always wanted to dance. Ballet to be specific. And what a coincidence, the prettiest girl in class happens to be the daughter of a ballet instructor. However ballet isn’t something you can just puck up and as Junpei is about to find out, it also isn’t something he can just put down.
So, here’s the story with Dance Dance Danseur. I started the manga. And by started, I mean I barely read a chapter and I thought to myself, this would make for a really fun anime. I got as far as Junpei making it to the dance studio for the first time. And then I looked it up on Anilist and realized that an anime was being made and it was going to come out in the next season. So I put my manga aside and decided to wait for the show instead. And then I decided to wait after the season to binge it which was really the right decision for me! And here we are!
I am starting to really dig MAPPA as a studio. Their shows aren’t necessarily luxurious or breathtaking as far as animation goes but they are often very distinctive. There’s a personality that comes out in the production aspect of MAPPA’s shows which I really admire. And Dance Dance Danseur is no different. It’s a show which you can’t mistake visually.
Dance Dance Danseur uses a slightly modernized but nevertheless classic shoujo aesthetic. Some scenes look like caricatures of shoujo visual tropes. And it combines that with striking eye designs, impossibly long limbs which are at least somewhat justified in a ballet school setting, and really smart animation.
Ballet isn’t easy to animate. There’s a lot going on and the movements are varied both in choreography and in scale. To pull this off without having most of their animators die from exhaustion (I hope) MAPPA does some classic tricks like pulling the camera off the dance to the audience. That way we the viewers fill in the missing movement and it doesn’t feel like any compromises were made. They also slow down the pace and linger on jumps. It makes the jumps look more impressive, breathtaking even. A fantastic way to make the viewers connect with the action. But it also means that you can use one image maybe slide it a bit along the screen, for a large number of frames.
The bottom line is that the animation looks great. It really feels like you are watching dancers practice ballet. If you still down and carefully analyze each frame, you might pick up on little tricks here and there that the studio used to lighten the load but that doesn’t make the end result any less impressive. And I bet most people will never pick up on it.
Also, I want to mention the OP. The opening sequence of Dance Dance Danseur is amazing. I don’t know if the music will become hugely popular although it’s definitely not bad. However, it’s the visuals that are really stunning. The entire sequence is in first-person perspective, which is already cool, and it also skips from one character to another. You have to pay a little attention to properly follow what’s happening and it’s a great payoff.
Story & Characters
If you have read my Princess TuTu review, you already know that I like ballet. I actually really like ballet and try to catch a few performances a year. For several reasons I once spend a few months living with the director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and learned a lot about it. In case you are wondering, I have never even attempted to do ballet. I have yet to master walking properly, and dancing is a bit beyond my skills.
The point is that right off the bat, Dance Dance Danseur was scoring points with me just by the setting. I like the idea of a show about ballet and making it contemporary with modern characters was a good way to make the premise feel fresh.
There are two main plot points in Dance Dance Danseur. The first is Junpei discovering his love of dance and admitting it to himself as well as his journey to embrace it. Junpei’s father was well-meaning but a little old-fashioned when it comes to notions of masculinity. Although he really was fine with his son learning ballet, he didn’t quite get it. And after he passed away, Junpei put that interest aside and concentrated on becoming what the world sees as a traditionally masculine man.
This isn’t a huge part of the story but it comes up a few times. Junpei’s friends don’t understand, he has to get over his embarrassment at wanting to learn ballet and all that. I don’t know if ballet is still seen as a “girly” interest in general, but I do know that it is one of the most gruelling sports in the world and very few people are even physically capable of doing it well. What you need to put your body through to do ballet at a competitive level will most likely scar it.
So Junpei has to do his little mental journey while trying to catch up to students that have been dancing for years. And it’s incredibly difficult. There are a lot of scenes of Junpei just practicing the same moves over and over again until they’re almost instinctive. Of people doing stretches that seem like they should break something. There is a certain reverence for ballet throughout the show.
The second plot line is a love triangle between Junpei, Godai the pretty girl in his class that basically introduces him to ballet and Luou her cousin and a prodigal dancer with a traumatic past. Those of you who know I really like ballet might also know I really dislike love triangles and sadly, that stays true.
For a while, there is a bit of a subversion as the initial love triangle shifts and instead of competing against each other for a girl’s attention, the two boys start to become something like friends. Luou is still deeply traumatized from a long childhood of abuse, and he has a lot of difficulties creating any sort of connection with other people. At some point, Junpei realizes that and wants to help him. And he does. It’s not magical, they don’t become best friends and suddenly Luou is cured. But they do from some type of bond and whether he admits it or not, it does help Luou a lot. I liked this aspect and for a while, I thought this might end up being a rare example of an engaging love triangle for me.
Unfortunately, the last act of the series really pours on the melodrama in that aspect, and they lost me. I would have preferred if the romance storyline was left out altogether. Especially as they treat it so callously when it comes right down t it. But that’s me. I’ve never had much patience for romance or drama for that matter of fact.
While these aspects of Dance Dance Danseur didn’t appeal to me, the rest did. In a big way in fact. I was honestly excited to get to watch more episodes whenever I had a few moments, and I would watch a second season whenever. In fact, I’m seriously thinking of picking up the manga again just to find out what happens next. If you enjoy drama and romance, then I think you’ll love this one.
You might like this anime if:
You were in the mood for a shoujo sports anime
My favourite character:
It’s actually Yamato. He’s just so optimistic in a cast full of moody characters
- Every time the little kids make fun of Junpei – take a sip
- Every time Junpei blushes – awwwww
- Every time anyone mentions Jet Kune Do – flex
- Every time anyone bursts into spontaneous dance – dance also
- Every time we see Junpei’s dad – pour some out
- Every time anyone loses their pupils – that’s not good!
- Every time Godai san plays piano – take a sip
- Every time we see sparkles – take a sip
- Every time there’s a Luou flashback – brace yourself
- Every time Junpei gets called a monkey – take a sip
- Every time Luou speaks in Rusian – Na Zdorovieh
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.