REVIEW: ‘Dance Dance Danseur,’ Episode 3 – “What Does it Mean to be Manly?”

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Dance Dance Danseur
Content Warning: Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3 contains scenes of bullying.

Dance Dance Danseur is a seinen anime produced by MAPPA.  Feeling threatened by how much better Luou is at ballet, Murao struggles with returning to ballet school. But in Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3, when Luou begins attending classes at Murao’s high school, the young man soon finds himself struggling with how to interact with his rival when Luou finds himself the target of bullying by some of Murao’s friends.

Approaching sensitive topics like bullying is a tricky proposition. Anyone who has experienced it, whether firsthand or through the lens of someone close to them, has their own take on the situation. How it is addressed in a work of fiction must be nuanced and delicately balanced. And while I think the ultimate conclusion that Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3 comes to is the right one, some aspects of its approach to the conclusion are not the greatest.

Shortly after Luou arrives at school, he finds himself in the crosshairs of several students. Beyond just the simple fact that he is the new guy, he doesn’t talk to anyone, some of the students quickly discover an embarrassing element from the young man’s past, and Luou is disinclined to stand up for himself. All of these factors quickly make Luou’s school life a living hell.

Throughout the entirety of Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3, Murao is appalled by his friends’ actions toward Luou. However, where Murao chooses to lay much of the blame for his rival’s current predicament is where my struggle with this story lies.

Rather than being purely angry at his friends, Murao points much of his resentment at Luou. Acting as if his failure to retaliate is at least partly to blame, Murao’s judgment of Luou is pure victim-blaming. The attitude that Luou has brought this upon himself by not succumbing to societal pressure and behaving as he should honestly made me angry. Even when the story comes to its close and Murao primarily does right by Luou, this aspect of Murao’s opinion is never addressed or acknowledged as being unfair or hurtful. Even if one can infer that Murao must feel bad for his earlier opinions about the situation, it would be nice to have it openly acknowledged by the show. As it stands, the episode leaves you feeling like if the same situation played out again, Murao would hold the same feelings about where the blame should lie.

Throughout Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3‘s uncomfortable narrative, the show does a great job of delivering its story in a way that gets its point across while never pushing things too far. I never felt like any element was done for shock, and the responses of those around the situation felt genuine.

The animation throughout the episode only enhances the power of the narrative. The superbly dramatic camera work continues throughout this story. The viewer is forced to truly see what Luou is experiencing in a way that does not shy away from discomfort. This harshness also helps to further accentuate the beauty of dance during one moment late in the episode.

As the worst of Luou’s struggles come, MAPPA delivers one of its best dance sequences yet. The beauty and elegance of the sequence feel both relieving and shocking compared with the harshness surrounding it.

When all is said and done, Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3 does its best to address a difficult topic. While I don’t think it fully sticks the landing, it nevertheless properly imparts the weight and impact such situations can have.

Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.


Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Dance Dance Danseur Episode 3 does its best to address a difficult topic. While I don’t think it fully sticks the landing, it nevertheless properly imparts the weight and impact such situations can have.