That was certainly eventful!
All things considered that was one of the busiest anime episodes I’ve seen in a while – maybe too busy, truth be told, though it was certainly exciting. It’s not every day you see breast pads explode onto a dance floor causing a multi-couple pileup, and for that not to be the craziest thing that happens. But (and I often found this to be true with Haikyuu!! as well) it befits a show like Ballroom e Youkoso that thrives on the “Seishun!!” high-energy vibe for its appeal – the runaway emotional freight train of adolescence and all that. It’s that whole floppy-eared beagle driving a sports car thing…
We now know that Tatara is about the same size as Sengoku was the latter was thirteen – because Sengoku-san has lent Tatara his 10 year-old tux for the Tenpei Cup, and revealed his age to be 23 (he must be related to Leorio). Undersized or not, Tatara has plenty of martial spirit for this fight (Sengoku seems almost disappointed to find out he wasn’t traumatized by the Prince Mikasa Cup nightmare). He’s even tried to shave his own neck – which even if you’ve got some experience with a straight-blade razor is almost never a good idea. But nicks or not, Tatara is clearly ready for this – emotionally, anyway. He’s up to the challenge.
As to whether Tatara’s skills (and experience) – or Mako’s for that matter – are up to the challenge, that’s another matter. I think his dress-picking skills are – the yellow one was definitely the right choice – and he’s rather good at defending Mako’s honor as well. I’m trying to give Gaju the benefit of the doubt here, but he’s making it awfully hard. I think what bothers me most about him the most is how dismissive and abusive he is towards his sister. When she finally does unload on him later in the episode, it has the same kind of feeling as when Tamaki-san (is it me, or is it odd that she and Banba/Tomochika wouldn’t be in attendance here?) whacked Sengoku. Welcome to the Ballroom may be full of characters who you want to punch, but at least they eventually do get punched.
I knew as soon as Mako-chan showed up with those ridiculous fake melons (in response to Gaju’s “washboard” snark) something bad was going to happen, though in hindsight it sort of ended up being a winning strategic move since it took out every other couple during the tango. Before that, though, there are the prelims to survive, with their waltz and foxtrot. For the former Tatara once more relies on Hyodo’s choreography, which certainly catches Gaju’s attention (and unnerves him, judging by how harshly he mocks it). It catches Shizuku’s attention too – her “How nice” comment can’t have felt good for Gaju to hear.
I don’t know much of anything about competitive dance (not even David Ross could get me to watch “Dancing With the Stars”) but it seems pretty obvious that Gaju/Shizuku are superior to Tatata/Mako by any measure. The latter sort of scrape through the preliminaries, while the former are the ones everyone’s eyes follow every time they’re on the floor. The key moment is that quickstep, where (following Sengoku’s lead) the chibis veritably sprint to a corner of the floor in front of the judges, seeking out space to dance, but Gaju and Shizuku do the same – and after the resulting collision it’s Gaju who loses his cool (though apparently not enough to be disqualified). It seems as if this is when Gaju’s air of invincibility is broken a little, at least in Tatara’s eyes (and Mako’s, too) though I know I wouldn’t bet against he and Shizuku to win (thus keeping Mako and Tatara together).
Complicating all this considerably is the arrival of Hyodo-kun – which would itself be complicating enough, but there’s clearly some history between Sengoku and Hyodo’s mother Marisa (Yuuko Kaida). a seemingly well-known dancer of Russian descent. She’s a celebrity judge, and she’s brought her son with her, and Kiyoharu certainly isn’t going to be expecting to see Shizuku partnered with Gaju. Pretty much every major player has an interest in what’s going to happen with Kiyoharu does find out who’s dancing with who, and that promises to make the next episode just as frenetic and “Seishun!!” as this one.