Warning: If you have not read “Let’s Dance A Waltz: Volume 1” by Natsumi Ando, do not read this review unless you don’t mind spoilers!
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s the manga “Let’s Dance A Waltz: Volume 1” by Natsumi Ando! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Homely and shy, Himé is burdened by the name her mother gave her, “Princess.” Wanting nothing more than to be unnoticed and live a modest life, Himé gets a jolt of inspiration when she tries a dance class where she meets Tango. Her teacher/dance partner, Tango happens to also be her classmate at school. Unfortunately, Tango is desperate to keep his ballroom dancing a secret, believing it will ruin his cool image if anyone at school finds out. Will Tango quit teaching Himé in order to keep his secret or will he be the partner Himé believes he’s destined to be?”
I’ve actually read manga by Natsumi Ando—specifically the “Kitchen Princess” series—in the past, long before I started this blog! I remember enjoying reading that series when I was younger, so I thought it would be interesting to pick up more manga by this specific person. It probably also helped that there is ballroom dancing heavily involved in this series, too, and I admit I’ve been keeping up with this season (Season 25!) of Dancing With The Stars, so that helped spur my interest in this series. Be prepared for tons of dance scenes in this manga!
I was quite surprised to find that Hime was not your typical skinny shoujo protagonist. She’s on the chubby side, is insecure about her weight, and lots of the girls bully her because they don’t like how she’s getting attention from Tango, who is very popular at school (how Hime ended up meeting Tango, well…the summary kind of gives it away already). While I liked that we had a heroine that wasn’t thin and skinny for once, it goes flat when she then later loses about 40 lbs in two weeks by the end of this volume.
I found this part disappointing, because I could relate to Hime about the insecurities she had about her appearance, as well as her weight, but…I know I’m no health expert, but I’m sure that losing 40 lbs in two weeks can be quite harmful to your body. Though I understand that some weight loss could happen, given how dancing can be quite a bit of exercise, I was still a bit worried about the massive weight loss she went through, and I wonder if she’ll suffer any health repercussions later in the manga because of this like how they portrayed, in volume two of “Kitchen Princess,” the weight-loss and anorexia that the character Akane struggled with.
…Because I’ve mentioned “Kitchen Princess” quite a bit at this point, I wonder if I should write a review or analysis for that series sometime. Maybe I should. But back to the dancing for now!
I admit Tango is a jerk and a bit too into his popularity status at school when first introduced in this volume, but gets a bit more sympathetic and likable once he realizes by halfway through that “oh crap, I’ve seriously been a jerk to Hime and that is not cool” and quickly goes to make up with her, catching up with her and even dancing with her as a way of apology after he ditches her at a party. I hope he continues to develop individually as much as he developed in the relationship that’s slowly developing with Hime, and that he does become increasingly less of a jerk over the next volumes.
When it came to Tango and Hime’s relationship development, do I think it was a little fast for the first volume? Yes, especially on Hime’s part. I kind of wish she wasn’t so hugely naïve about her relationship development with him, thinking so quickly that he’s her “destined partner,” but Tango was also a bit of a jerk to her too, and was wishy-washy in how he felt about and acted towards her in the beginning. Hopefully this gets more resolved in the next volume (I’m not sure how long the series is, so who knows how long it could take?).
However, I have to be thankful for two things in this volume that help lift it up:
- A friendship between two female characters that has them being mutually supportive of each other! Even better—they’re not rivals in a love triangle! Hime and Sumire (who happens to be a dancer-friend of Tango that works at the same studio as him or something like that) end up forming a friendship after meeting each other halfway through the book. Sumire even engages Hime in conversation, talking about guys and other things, and generally getting along with each other—heck, when Hime is feeling down, it’s Sumire who gets out the dancer makeup and uses it on her to cheer her up! It was kind of fun to have those scenes, and I really hope this friendship continues developing throughout the series.
- The love triangle that isn’t a love triangle in reality, and how hilarious it kind of is. Let me explain. About halfway/three-quarters through the book, Yusei (another dancer-friend of Tango and probably the love interest of Sumire) is darn determined to bring Tango back into the ballroom dancing competition world. So, he gets Hime to help by having her dance with him at the next event. Hime is down for helping out with this, naturally, but Tango ends up thinking that this is becoming a romantic rivalry between him and Yusei over Hime (which will probably be a very awkward misunderstanding to clear up next volume). From what I’ve seen in the preview for next volume, it looks pretty clear that Yusei truly wants to just dance with Sumire and no one else though, so I think that misunderstanding Tango got will be cleared up pretty quickly.
Overall, I’m rating this volume 3.5 out of 5 stars! I would definitely check it out if you are down for some dancing scenes and want something a little different from your typical shoujo protagonist.
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