Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

10 Dance: vols. 1 &2 by Inouesatoh

reviewed by jim hepplewhite

Inouesatoh's 10 DANCE enthusiastically delivers shirtless men and gay romance.

The idea of boys love (BL) and ballroom dance always seemed like a great pairing but it never quite congealed (despite AO3's best efforts), until of course, now. Dancing, notwithstanding practice and technique, is about—oh, what's the phrase? A vertical expression of horizontal desire?* Boys love? Often about bottled sexual desire. 

For example: "I can't fall love with him, he's rich/poor/gay/straight/tall/short/talented/untalented/Japanese/foreigner/my butler/my boss/Gendo/Kozo/Kanji/Youske/Ghost/Rae" is a common one.

Cover art for  10 DANCE: Volume 1  ( Kodansha Comics )

Cover art for 10 DANCE: Volume 1 (Kodansha Comics)

10 DANCE, by virtue of being a BL title, can lean into the carnality. The BL genre makes a fantastic partner for the setting. You can put the bodies right next to each other, immediately. You can also do something with that friction, immediately. Speaking of which: One chapter into the first volume, and one character already commented on the size of his partner's penis. Twice.

Inouesatoh writes a pretty traditional plot: rivals into lovers, buoyed by their desire to give the reader what they want quick: shirtless men and homoeroticism so thick I can hardly get my mouth around it. Two male professional dancers team up with the aim of winning 10 DANCE, the foremost international ballroom dance championship. Allegedly fixed each year, the competition asks a duo to dance ten different styles. Five of them, standard ballroom and and the other five, Latin dance.

Inouesatoh's two main characters: Shinya Sugiki, the imperious Japanese-born king of standard ballroom, and Shinya Suzuki the Latin-American born god of Latin dance. I raised at least one eyebrow at the Suzuki, the character from Latin America being the hot-headed one, though I may be reading too much into the tropes.

In terms of technique, there's little to comment on good or bad. There's BL hands (the community's loving descriptor of bad proportional drawing by manga artists), but also a sense of movement crucial to making the setting work in the figures. Rose petals drop from everywhere, as they should. A great translation by Karhys. Their work is invisible.

At bottom: A dirty, if sturdily built romance serial. I await volume three.

*Allegedly George Bernard Shaw, though I read it in Phonogram first.