Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor
Wakana Gojo was denounced for his passion for making dolls by a classmate in grade school, calling him a freak. This traumatic experience resulted in Gojo keeping to himself, leading a lonely existence throughout his young life. That is, until one fateful day when he has to use a sewing machine at the high school he goes to. Much to Gojo’s dismay, Marin Kitagawa, a popular girl at his school, discovers his hobby. Instead of being ridiculed like before Gojo is confused by Marin’s thrilled reaction. Turns out, Marin wants to be a cosplayer and since Gojo can sew, they can work together to make outfits of her favorite characters.
One of the main factors that makes this anime come to vivid life is Marin herself. She’s confident and comfortable in her own skin. How often do you see anime heroines who aren’t insecure of their bodies or interests? Most female characters are either angry, nagging love interests, underused side characters, timid doormats and/or weepy weaklings allergic to the simplest of problem-solving communication skills to set the record straight. Marin, thankfully, is nothing like any of those aforementioned, overused character tropes. She’s unabashedly an avid fan of video games and anime and won’t hesitate to show it. She’s an outgoing, goofy and loveable character from start to finish.
Gojo also deserves credit where credit’s due as well. From the beginning, he starts off as a wimpy, soft spoken boy who is insecure about his interests in doll making and sewing. But Marin appreciates his skills. He grows more confident as a result and is more comfortable with dressmaking too. In addition to that, the relationship between the two leads feels natural and genuine. They show appreciation for each other and find common interests in dressmaking and cosplay. Gojo grows as a result of Marin’s encouragement and he becomes something of a fan of anime and video games as well.
I can also appreciate that “My Dress Up Darling” is more than just a silly teen romance. It delves a lot into the specifics of cosplay and what goes into it. Even someone who is more interested in cosplay and cosplay photography can get enjoyment out of it. The show also pays homage to a lot of classic anime in the titles Marin watches, like the “Precure” series and “Sailor Moon.”
Another thing to appreciate is the show dodging a lot of the typical rom-com tropes you would see elsewhere like romantic rivals and miscommunications that result in a rocky relationship. The only conflict to be had is Marin coming to terms with her own feelings about Gojo, and it's not exactly a hard internal battle for her to fight. There’s a wild amount of liberal fanservice without feeling exploitative of the characters. As strange as it sounds, it's both spicy and wholesome.
However, the season finale isn’t satisfying in the slightest. All it does is lead you to think there's going to be a confession, only to bait the viewer with a second season that thankfully is coming. Overall, “My Dress Up Darling” is a feel good, refreshingly heartwarming anime that will sure to inspire you to stay true to what you’re passionate about and have tons of fun along the way.
“My Dress Up Darling” aired from January to March of this year and can be streamed now on Crunchyroll.