Episode 10 – Dance Dance Dancer

I’m currently mad at a bunch of children thanks a very emotional entry in Dance Dance Dance‘s canon where literally no one comes out of it with what they want. Shifting the perspective to Miyako (and near the end, Luou) was a welcome change but paired with an extended flashback and little breathing room for all the emotions to settle, this episode is hard to process.

Blanks are filled in as we see Miyako and Luou’s relationship slowly grow during his time living with his grandmother. We also get some perspective from Miyako ‘s mom Chizuru and it ‘s easy to see how her childhood her mirrors Luou ‘s quite closely. Ballet has wrecked this whole family and it all starts with dear ol’ grandma and her fixation on Russian ballet superiority. Like a notorious matriarch from Dance Moms, she attempted to stuff her failed dreams into her offspring. First, Chizuru who she quickly abandoned in favor of cultivating some of those Russian genes instead. Then, Mazuru whose ballet abilities were supposedly natural and unmatched but who rebelled against her mother her to become an idol and then fled the country. Luou is his grandmother’s last chance at “greatness” and so, as we’ve seen, she physically abused him for years.

Miyako lives a life that, comparatively, is quite comfortable, but emotionally unfulfilling for her. This is perhaps the first mark I have against this episode because while I appreciate some of its attempts at emotional nuance, I ca n’t be gone into pitying Miyako because her parents her did n’t apply enough pressure. She wants to be urged by those around her to pursue ballet because she thinks that ‘s a form of acknowledgment of her skill level her. So, because her parents her are empowering her to choose to pursue it at her own liberty instead her, she thinks it does n’t make a difference if she does ballet or not or she lacks amazing talent that she needs cultivated. She even questions if her grandmother’s abuse of Luou is “worth it” because he’s the most graceful dancer she’s ever seen.

I understand Miyako, both her feelings about wanting attention for her skills and her child-like simplicity that “the ends justify the means” even if it’s wrong. I can also understand Chizuru ‘s motivations her to raise her daughter her differently so she does n’t have a twisted and unhealthy relationship with ballet, even if Miyako does n’t. That bit in the opener sheds some light on why Chizuru and Ayako are at philosophical odds about teaching ballet, and even Chizuru ‘s own insecurities her as a teacher and dancer. Much of this also highlights the confused mess that is Luou, a boy repeatedly abandoned, beaten, and only praised due to the product of his own abuse his. Of course he has an unhealthy fixation on Miyako.

But.

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I’m likewise frustrated that Miyako has taken up a sort of emotional support blanket status in the story and that Jumpei thinks he can just hand her back to Luou to stabilize his mental state and bring him back to ballet. I’m also frustrated that this is framed as a part of Jumpei continually learning how to be considerate of others. Trying to break up with Miyako for this very reason is the opposite of being considerate of other people’s feelings. It’s heartbreaking that, as brief as it is, Miyako cries on the beach about how happy she was to date Jumpei and felt like she could live out her own wants her, something she ‘s not that great advocating for in the first place. I don’t like that at the end of the episode we see Luou indulging in his possession of Miyako, taking on the role of Rothbart. I don’t want Luou to become some sort of twisted villain when so many people around him want to help him, even if they’re doing it wrong.

That’s a lot to not like, but I want to reassure readers that my issues with the story beats aren’t due to poor execution or unbelievability. I’m watching a drama with characters I care about and I think they’re making poor choices. I’m sitting here at my computer yelling “nooooo” because I want them to be happy, especially Luou. Dang it.

Rating:




Dance Dance Dance is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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