Anime Corner: My Dress-Up Darling Review

I wuv wuv wuv this show!

What’s the Story?

Wakana Gojo is a high schooler with a passion, he wants to becomes a kashirashi – a master craftsman who makes traditional hina dolls. It’s a unique passion and not one a lot of people share, that’s why Wakana has a tendency to keep to himself. This means he doesn’t have any real friends at school and he’s super awkward in social situations. Honestly, it feels like the popular kids, such as Marin Kitagawa, live in a completely different world. Then, one day, Marin happens to find out about Gojo’s passion and reveals that she has one of her own, cosplay! All she wants is to become a character she adores from a raunchy game, she just doesn’t have the skills to make the dress. Gojo does though. So opens up a whole new world for Gojo, filled with magical girls, cute succubi and the glorious underboob! Marin has a lot of characters she wants to cosplay as and, who knows, Gojo might just learn a thing or two. And, what’s this? Could that be love in the air?

The Review:

How necessary is it for a character to be relatable? Honestly, not very. Speaking as a devout lover of sci-fi and fantasy I don’t need to be able to relate to something in order to be invested in it. Your story can be about dragons, spaceships, transdimensional techno-gods or even fruit flies, it doesn’t matter. My suspension of disbelief can encompass all of that and I don’t particularly have to see myself in any of them to care about what happens to them. That being said, while being relatable isn’t necessary, it does have some serious advantages. Speaking personally, characters make a story for me and if you can find some characteristic that I can empathise with then you’ve just greatly increased the chances of me investing in your story. If you can create a character that resonates with me on either an emotional or a personal experience level, well, then I’ll follow your character until the day I die. Why am I bringing this up? Because My Dress-Up Darling has two of the most relatable characters I have yet to come across in any story.

Now, on paper, both Gojo and Marin are not only worlds apart from one another, but from me as well. Gojo is a socially awkward high school student obsessed with becoming a master hina doll maker (I didn’t even know what a hina doll was before I started watching this show). Marin on the other hand is the popular girl, super friendly and energetic she will do whatever pops into her head and pay no mind to the consequences until they’re right on top of her. There are some aspects I can emphasise with in both characters, but it’s in how they treat their passions that I can see a reflection of myself.

At the start of the series Gojo is very nervous about sharing his passion. He has a bit of childhood trauma around a friend telling him hina dolls are for girls and that puts him off telling anyone else. I can relate to that, as I’m sure a lot of anime fans can. I’m sure we’ve all been in that phase were you don’t want to be judged for what you like and the easiest solution was to just not to talk about what you find interesting. That was me in secondary school, and college for a bit. Marin on the other hand is just so exuberant about what she loves, she’ll tell anyone and she doesn’t care. You ask her what a series is about and you’d better strap yourself in for an hour-long lecture about every detail of the plot and characters. Yeah, I’m definitely that kind of anime fan nowadays, as I’m sure many of friends will wearily admit. I get both of these characters and, as such, I will happily sit and watch them do anything. Whether it’s shopping for fabrics, having a home date bingeing some old school anime or sitting on a beach talking, I will stay with these characters until I die.

Of course what raises this series up even more levels is the fact that this show has so much more than just a couple of relatable leads. While I see bits of myself in both Gojo and Marin, I also think they’re two stellar characters. Their chemistry is off the charts, whether it’s all of Gojo’s hilarious reactions to Marin’s exuberant antics or just the many internal meltdowns Marin has over how much she loves Gojo. I don’t really consider myself a shipper, but I ship these two so hard I want to be invited to their wedding and, yes, I do picture them getting married (one day, when they’re older). Throw in a bunch of other smartly written and fun characters and we’re in A* territory here.

Lastly I can’t end this review without mentioning the animation because, my god, this show is gorgeous. It looks great throughout, from the lighting to the scene composition, but what blows my mind is all the little details. When Gojo is studying the magical girl anime, the little clips they show look exactly like a late 90s/early 2000s magical girl. It’s uncanny, I’d swear this was a real show if I didn’t know any better. The same with the horror film in the last episode, the style completely changes for the clips and it’s unbelievable how good it looks. Then there’s all the little movements and bodily reactions that they throw into the animation. Seriously the scene in the love hotel was damn near electric I could feel the tension through my laptop screen. A standing ovation for all of the animators that worked on this series.

The Verdict:

In the end, My Dress-Up Darling completely blew all of my expectations out of the water. With that title and an ecchi tag I was seriously avoiding this series until I heard other people talking about it and I’m so glad that I eventually watched this. At its core this is a sweet little romance about a boy and girl who find a common passion. The leads are two of the most relatable characters I’ve come across in any series and their chemistry is electric. Throw in some top notch animation that really pays attention to the details and you’ve got an unmissable anime to my eyes. So what are you waiting for? Check this out!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

8 comments

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  4. AK · July 16

    Yeah, you hit on exactly what I liked about this series. Wakana and Marin were clearly made for each other, and it’s nice to see a series that doesn’t try to complicate that too much. I look forward to the next season (which I’m guessing is coming considering how popular the show was and rightfully so.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jack Scheibelein · July 17

    There is definitely a lot to like about this series, especially how real of a character Marin feels in the way she expresses herself. The dynamic between her and Wakana is a fun one, to be sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • neverarguewithafish · July 17

      Speaking as a writer, making a character feel ‘real’ is one of the hardest things to do, but it has such an impact when a show gives you that feeling. This series must makes it look so effortless and I’m honestly jealous.

      Liked by 1 person

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