What They Say:
Tatara makes it to the semifinals, but it’s the first time he has competed in four consecutive dance styles and his physical stamina is quickly approaching its limit. Sengoku sees this and tells him to sit out on the Variations. Tatara is devastated, realizing how inexperienced he is compared to the other dancers. Then Hyodo appears with one word of advice for Tataraâ€¦
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the past week, I read the six volumes of the manga that this anime was adapted from that have been released in English so far. Judging by the adaptive pace of the anime, it seems likely that it will end at about that point. And I can say that the manga is as great as I had hoped for, far more than this anime has ever been. Now that I’ve actually read it, I can finally say what’s really keeping the anime from being as great as it should be. To be fair, it does get better as it goes on. The current issue of the female characters, especially Shizuku, lacking agency doesn’t last much longer, and is even acknowledged fairly directly by future dialogue. It does already seem more extreme in the anime, though, which doesn’t necessarily bode that well. Similarly, some of the fanservice and other sexual themes seen in the anime is less much lighter or nonexistent in the manga, so there are certainly some different priorities in presentation that cause me to prefer the manga just from some of the basic content that you’d expect to be the same in both mediums.
But the real difference comes from how each work utilizes its medium. In a series like this, the anime should have at least as much opportunity to shine as the manga. Its subject matter is based around motion, after all. And yes, occasionally the anime has some very nice cuts of animation. But all too often, it actually feels less animated than the manga. There are far too many still frames instead of the beautifully pieced together dancing sequences that we should be seeing. On the other hand, the manga makes the most of having to actually exist within still artwork. The artwork is already much better than you can expect in animation, as the characters have to be simple enough to move around in each frame. Then again, given the number of still frames in this anime, they could probably add a little more detail. But what really adds the intensity in the manga is the use of huge, dramatic panels often spread across the page split. When the anime tries to replicate this intensity, it just ends up feeling too absurd, which is probably a combination of that simply working better with your mind having to fill in the blanks in the manga and the fact that everything already feels a little off in the anime. Everyone loves to talk about the giraffe necks in this show, and considering the manga designs don’t feature anything so ridiculous, it does seem like a strange choice to introduce into this adaptation.
Now none of this is specifically about this episode, but it is important to bring up not only as a general commentary on how this series could be better but as an introduction to the different perspective I’ll have now that nothing about the story will be a mystery to me anymore. This piece of the story is primarily a bridge, seeming like it might not be the most important entry at this point but leading into some major developments. There’s only so much that can be done with it in the anime; what’s to come will be the real test, although from what we’ve seen so far, the chances of it living up to its source material seem low. Several of my comments did relate to things I specifically noticed in this episode, though; the girls did feel less like characters than their manga counterparts in this same period, and the focus on Marisa’s voluptuousness was a bit overblown.
Having read the manga up to what will likely be around the end of this adaptation, I have a newfound perspective not only on where the story is going but on the issues the anime has in doing justice to the original work that is quite excellent. While not the most eventful episode no matter what, the general inferiority of the performances as displayed by the anime despite the resources available to animation continue to hold it back and keep stuck in the “just good” category so far. Additionally, some depictions of the female characters at an already trying time for their usage doesn’t inspire as much confidence as I’d like to have in the future of the series.
Streamed By: Anime Strike
Roku 3, Sceptre X425BV-FHD 42″ Class LCD HDTV.