[REVIEW] 10 Dance by Inoue Satou

10 dance 110 Dance (テンダンス) Volume 1 by Inoue Satou (井上佐藤) · Not currently licensed in English. Check out 10 Dance’s Baka Manga page for scanlation and publisher information.

From the Blurb

Sugiki, a standard ballroom dancer, offers to teach Suzuki, a Latin American dancer, ballroom in exchange for Suzuki to teach him in return. Their names are similar, but their personalities are totally opposite, just like their dance. When the two meet, something’s bound to happen!

 Commentary

I was immediately drawn to 10 Dance when it started appearing in Tokyo bookstores because of its mature art style and somewhat unusual subject matter. (Admittedly, it was less the idea of ballroom dancing that had me intrigued, and more the potential for a Blades of Glory-style rivalry-turned-unlikely partnership). (Probably without the sibling incest though).

10 dance 2

10 Dance certainly lived up to the romantic comedy trope of rivals with diametrically opposite personalities slowly developing a mutual attraction. Sugiki Shinya is the serious and strict master of standard dance, at the peak of his international career. Suzuki Shinya, by contrast, is content to run his own dance school as the undisputed domestic champion of Latin dance. Freewheeling and casual in both his professional and personal life, the mere mention of Sugiki’s name is enough to curl Suzuki’s lip in distaste. (And vice versa).

10 dance 3You don’t have to be a Literature major to realise that the fundamentals of both men’s chosen style of dance are also emblematic of their personalities and teaching style, and that spending all those late nights learning the other’s forté changes both of them in subtle ways. While I don’t pretend to understand a quarter of the dance jargon being thrown around (never mind the moves), Inoue Satou does an excellent job of making those extended practice sessions feel by turns vigorous and intimate. The panels depicting Suzuki and Sugiki’s shifting handholds are especially lovely.

The humour of the first few chapters leeches away into more serious territory as the story progresses, but Suzuki’s temper and bull-headed advances on Sugiki remain a pleasure throughout the volume (though I could have done without the “no homo” and “gay = princess” undertones that sometimes cropped up). The first volume doesn’t wrap much of anything up story-wise (or contain any explicit sex, if that’s what you’re after), but it does lay strong foundations for the character dynamics in the next tankoubon. Here’s hoping volume 2 maintains quality and maybe even starts using the usual high-stakes competition story arc that American sports movies have ruined me for.

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