Monday, April 25, 2022

Watched Lately: My Dress-Up Darling

  • Have you ever felt that you had to hide something that you're passionate about out of fear that other people would not understand you? For me it was comics books, anime, manga, role-playing games, video games, miniatures.... I've certainly had my fair share of hobbies that I didn't feel confident discussing with others until I could find like-minded people to share with. And lucky for me that I did. Not everyone is. That's where we find our protagonists at the start of My Dress-Up Darling.

  • Wakana Gojo is a high school student with a true passion for traditional Japanese hina dolls. Ever since he was young, he's been enamoured with the porcelin beauties. But he has also carried the memory of his young friend berating him for showing interest something girly things. And up until high school, he has kept mainly to himself, bemoaning his loneliness, but afraid that someone might discover his secret.

  • Marin Kitagawa is, in many ways, Gojo's opposite. Outgoing and confident, Kitagawa is an otaku through and through. And she completely owns her passions, unafraid to stand up to anyone who might belittle the things she loves. The only thing she can't do is make her own cosplay, try as she might.

  • When the two finally meet and reveal their passions to one another, it is like two complimentary pieces coming together. Marin, instead of ridiculing him for his fascination with hina dolls, identifies with his passion. Wakana finds himself lowering his defenses, promising to use his talent for making doll clothing to help her achieve her cosplay dream.

  • Over the course of the series, the pair contend with the challenges of making cosplay and coming to terms with their emotions. Wakana barely believes that this girl could even have the time of day for him, much less enjoy his company. Marin, for her part, finds that her unexpected emotions have built to a point that she has trouble keeping her cool around him. But they face their challenges as we explore the world of fandom together.

  • According to her creator, Shinichi Fukuda, Marin is meant to be an ideal girl for fans to fall for. At the same time, she has some faults that test Wakana in ways he is not prepared for. One of which is her predilication to providing copious fan service for Gojo and the audience. There is a whole other blog post coming about that, but I have to temper my high praise for the show to set proper expectations.

  • And my praise for the show is high, indeed. My Dress-Up Darling is one of the best anime I have seen in years. From the lovingly rendered characters, to the perfectly cast voice actors, to the highs and lows of the story, and more. I didn't fall in love with Marin, as her mangaka hoped. I fell for this cute couple helping each other learn and grow together. And they reminded me that I could be fearless about my passions as well.

  • Also, I'm this close to asking my mother-in-law to teach me how to use a sewing machine, because how cool would that be?