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Be sure to check out the write-ups for prior episodes!
Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7
Josh Dunham (@Josh_Dunham)
This episode was fairly tame, with emphasis and focus being placed on the story rather than the animation. Granted, this is most likely was planned and penned from the start. With that fact, it is my understanding that this episode was outsourced to the elusive studio Frontier Engine. There’s very little information on the studio at the moment, but what is known is that this would make the second outsourced episode of Welcome to the Ballroom, an unusual practice for Production I.G. who prefers to handle all episodes in-house if at all possible. Just like last time, this lead to heavy corrections from animation directors, in particular Boya Liang.
Liang had to correct all the dancing sequences this episode, but the one that stands out in particular would be the finale.
A relatively simple scene brought to life by masterful secondary animation. Hair and clothing bounce in time with each step, and since the feet are nowhere to be seen in this shot, this secondary animation becomes even more important in having us believe that these two are realistically anchored by gravity. Other dancing couples pass by in the foreground, serving as guideposts for Tatara and Mako as they move through a realistic space. What I found impressive is that these other dancing couples are hand-drawn instead of CG animated. In this case it was the right choice, given the necessity of consistency to envelop the viewer in Welcome to the Ballroom’s reality.
The primary directive of art is to convey emotion. It has always been my argument that visuals are the most effective way of doing that, and this episode is no exception to the rule. If anything, it’s the standard. The bleeding colors and swirl of motion artistically brings us into Tatara’s world. Just as we are unable to clearly distinguish where one dance couple ends and the next begins, so too is Tatara caught in the same conundrum. The random beams of red shoot through the crowd, adding an extra layer to the maelstrom that overwhelms the senses but never completely dominates them. Wispy silhouettes depicted in constant motion yet never truly moving – perfectly conveying confusion in a clear manner. No small feat to be sure.