Nardio Manga Review
IS Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 1 WORTH YOUR TIME?
WHAT DID I THINK WITHOUT SPOILING IT?
Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 1 is a refreshing take on the sports manga genre with fun bits of teenage slice of life mixed in.
I had no idea what to expect when I came across Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 1. I was just shocked that Japan made a ballroom dancing manga. I remember picking up the book at Barnes & Noble with a chuckle before putting it right back on the shelf. I love manga, but I have zero room for physical media anymore.
Fast forward to an Amazon recommendation randomly as I was shopping and bam, I was curious, but then came the shocker of the manga’s $9.99 digital price tag! That is three times the price of other first volumes of digital manga. After hemming and hawing a bit I decided to bite the bullet and try it.
Was it worth the money?
Yes. If only for the mind boggling beautiful art. I haven’t seen art this detailed, different and glorious since Berserk. Don’t worry there is more here to love than just the art. The story is also really enjoyable.
Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 1 has us following Fujita Tatara, young teenager who is finding himself feeling directionless as to where he wants to go in life. Everyone around him seems to know what they want to do but sadly he does not. He then stumbles upon ballroom dancing, competition and a beautiful woman and things get interesting.
Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 1 manages to feel fresh and interesting, all the while feel familiar thanks to the approachable and likable lead that is very easy to sympathize with. Fujita Tatara is a somewhat typical teenager that doesn’t feel cliche by manga standards. He is shy, but not annoyingly so. He has a healthy interest in the opposite sex, but doesn’t come off as perverted. He has moments of bravery, but it doesn’t feel contrived. In fact they are few and far between, because he is still just a kid. Whenever he does get nervous or shy it makes sense. Fujita Tatara, feels and looks like a dozen other manga leads, but better. He reads almost like a real person. I love that. The artist/author Tomo Takeuchi deserves heaping praise for this.
The rest of the cast is also interesting and likable. They all feel like well rounded characters even though there isn’t much known about them yet. Tomo Takeuchi really avoids cliche characters and I love it. Praise must also be heaped upon the story that is taking place throughout the manga. I found myself heavily invested in the story, stopping only to zoom in and stop to appreciate the mind blowing art that feels fresh and beautiful on my iPad screen. This reads like a refreshing sports manga and I am more than ok with that.
Lets get back to the art for a moment.
The pictures are regal and mind blowing most of the the time. Even the traditional manga artstyle on most of the panels seems to pop more than I see with every day manga. The art is just better. Mind bogglingly so. If I could become an apprentice to the artist, I would immediately fly to Japan. It’s that good. I found myself loving my iPad’s ability to zoom into the manga. The art is so detailed and intricate the more I zoomed, the more I would find glorious little details that would pop out and surprise me. The artist/author Tomo Takeuchi is amazing
Now while I lavish deservedly loving praise upon the book there are a few things that irked me.
- Who ever did the digital version of the book dropped the ball. The beautiful art is marred by lines on the two page spreads. For a manga of this cost and art of this high quality it’s unforgivable and lazy. It detracts from the experience and makes this premium priced manga feel like a rush job. This is inexcusable in this day and age of digital manga publishing. If illegal digital rush scantilators can get this right, this professionally published, offical release has no excuse. This volume costs three times what other series intro volumes cost and for that price I want perfection. Kodansha Advanced Media, you need to fix this and have better quality control in the future.
- Some of the wording felt off. Again another area where the publisher and more importantly the editor dropped the ball here. It doesn’t happen often, but at this price it’s inexcusable. Also, again it ripped me out of the experience.
- (SPOILERS) (SPOILERS) (SPOILERS) The scene where Fujita Tatara danced all night was so mind mindbogglingly impossible it ripped me out of the story. It was annoying to see a character who was created to be so life like to behave like Naruto with impossible levels of shonen stamina and inability to feel pain.
All that said, the first volume is a wonderful introduction to the series. It’s story was great, the art was amazing and the way it ends is perfection. I am going to buy the second volume soon, and I look forward to what this series has in store for me. From my understanding the second volume released in English very recently and there is enough content to justify six more volumes afterwards. There is even an anime in the works! I only hope Kodansha Comics does a better job in translating and making the digital version the rest of the story. They have a great story with marvelous art here, I just want them to do it justice. Especially at this price point.
Agree? Disagree? Write your comments below.
- Amazon: Kindle for $9.99
- Amazon: Paperback $12.99
- Barnes & Noble: Paperback $12.99
- Barnes & Noble: Nook $10.99
- Author: Tomo Takeuchi
- Genre: Sports Manga/Slice of Life
- Kodansha Comics Twitter