I watched the original Japanese version of Shall We Dance, and aside from a couple tedious parts, I quite enjoyed it on the level of a modern fairy tale. However, when it tries to anchor the story in some modestly modern psychological terrain, the movie drags and becomes less enchanting; I thought the principal characters, Mai and Mr. Sugiyama, start off selfishly and don't grow much beyond that starting point, even if they connect or reconnect with some aspect of their lives that had previously been missing. Still, as long as it stays within the fairy tale mode and concentrates on the dancing, the film is especially charming.
The Japanese trailer (I did find an English-language trailer, but the voiceover is really annoying and the one I'm embedding actually gets across the gist of the scenes, I think, which shows that the visual storytelling of the film is really strong):
Some miscellaneous thoughts:
1. I wonder how current or accurate are the film's generality about Japan's cultural dislike for ballroom dance, since I get the impression from SYTYCD that ballroom has a decent foothold in Japan now. Digging around a little, this interview with one of the stars of the film mentions that Shall We Dance sparked an apparently enduring social dance craze.
2. The character of Mai is supposed to be a champion-level ballroom dancer, and she is played by Tamiyo Kusakari, an actual dancer. The thing is, she's a star ballet dancer, which begs the question, How good are the ballroom performances?
3. People who were turned off by Ashleigh's face-pulling in season 6 should check out this dude:
Guy is an absolute fright on the dance floor. (Pro dancers don't gurn and gasp like he does, do they?)
Indie rating: Josie and the Pussycats – "Shapeshifter"