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Wandance Volume 1 Review • Anime UK News

In 2012, dancing became a compulsory part of the middle school curriculum in Japan. Today, there are over 2,000 middle and high school dance clubs, with over 6,000 members. 5% of this number are boys. 95% are girls.

Kaboku Kotani has struggled all his life to express himself in words; he has a speech impediment and stutters, especially when stressed. So starting high school is going to be a challenge, even if he’s kind of accepted his problem, even if he’s resigned himself to living with it. But then he sees a girl with pink hair dancing alone and, transfixed, he can only look at her with admiration. He discovers that her name is Hikari Wanda – and that she is in his class! Inspired by her example, he bravely goes to the school’s dance club – which is almost exclusively female. Encouraged to join the warm-up session by the club’s president, On Miyao, he soon realizes that he is beyond his reach. Everyone is doing great – and I suck! But Hikari is there too, and she has a way of helping him believe in himself that leads him to experiment and express himself. His large size is ideal for basketball, making him the most obvious club choice for him, but he can’t stop thinking about the dance club and Hikari. Will he be able to overcome his embarrassment and audition with Hikari to participate in the next competition?

“If normal is the best I can hope to be, no matter how hard I try…then I’d rather do what I want, even if it makes me weird!”

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Any manga set in the world of dance, theater, music or art will always hold my interest and BaguetteThe premise of is intriguing. Online advertising compares it to Blue period and, I suppose, it bears some similarities in that it features a high school student discovering that he has a talent for – and a need for – self-expression that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for him.

Coffee also creates ecchi manga/doujinshi under the name Mame but this is the first of its manga to be published in English. He devotes many panels to the portrait of young dancers; the images are both sketchy and flowing, deftly giving the reader a vivid sense of movement. From time to time, we learn alongside Kaboku the techniques and styles employed by the most experienced dancers like the captain of the club: hip-hop, popping and locking, waacking… From time to time the music used is named: “ Lost in Japan” by Shawn Mendes & Zedd or “Finesse” by Bruno Mars – and it’s great to see how the members of the dance club (and Kaboku) pay so much attention to the music that inspires them. And even though some of the show’s publicity talks specifically about hip-hop dancing, Hikari is referred to by her peers as an original, someone creating her own moves, freestyle, just like the club’s president, On- chan that drives. members with lots of helpful advice from his own lived experience.

Baguette (WonDance in the original version) is translated for Kodansha by Kevin Steinbach who also provides three pages of very useful and detailed translation notes at the end after the bonus chapter: Kotani-Kun of the Dance Club Stutters. Nicole Roderick’s lettering is clear and delivers the different modes (speech, thoughts, sfx) very effectively. The text includes a two-page spread with individual photos of all the dance club members and a step-by-step breakdown of a move called “The Crab,” as demonstrated by On-Chan. There are also four attractive color pages at the start that feature Coffee’s lively and striking dance-inspired art.

Baguette is an ongoing series currently at eight volumes in Japan; the second volume has already been released from Kodansha, with the third due October 2022. After such a lively start, it will be fascinating to see where Coffee takes its two protagonists into the world of freestyle dancing.

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