When My Dress Up Darling first announced it would get its anime adaptation, I was over the moon. It’s an amazing manga that combines being about cosplay, the struggles of being a creative and a pretty solid rom com all in one gorgeously drawn manga.
On top of that, the anime is being produced by CloverWorks– by all metrics a great studio for producing good-looking anime.
For those out of the loop, My Dress Up Darling is an anime that centers around Gojou Wakana- a shy teenage boy whose family craft is working on Hina Dolls. He’s downright obsessed with his family trade, practicing painting faces and making clothes for the traditional goods.
That obsession came with a price, as kids from his childhood not only ostracized him, but straight-up mocked him for his hobbies. As a result he’s kept to himself, thinking no one would ever approve of his hobbies.
This all changes when he meets Kitagawa Marin- a girl in every way his opposite. She’s loud, outspoken and a total otaku, and people are just kind of okay with it, accepting this as just a part of who she is.
Gojou learns that Marin wants to get into cosplay, but sucks at sewing. Completely enamored by Gojou’s skills, she asks for his help to make her cosplay dreams come true, kicking off their friendship.
A Story About People First
Just off the bat I really love the setup for Marin and Gojou’s relationship- while Marin comes off as the typical dumb beauty, both the anime and manga are very quick to show off that’s not the case: she’s incredibly observant, and tells Gojou to speak his mind more instead of being afraid of stepping on other people’s toes.
As a character she shows a different side of her for her different interactions, and it’s a big part of her appeal since it makes her so much more than a one-note waifu. It almost reminds me of Sakurajima Mai from Bunny Girl Senpai- to this day fans are still arguing over whether or not she’s a Tsundere when the truth is she’s written more like a real person, hence the difficulty to pin her into a label.
Similarly, episode 1 shows us that Marin is very much a free spirit- even her friends don’t understand her obsession with anime, or why it’s so sacred that she will literally put down guys who try to mock her for it. The way her outbursts are written is also incredibly touching: unlike a lot of rom coms that are just about how close you can tease two characters getting together, My Dress Up Darling comes off feeling like it’s going to have something to say about its cosplay.
It should be noted that a lot of this is mixed from my own experience with the manga- there’s a very good chance that the anime might pull a live action Cowboy Bebop and decide themes about passion and art aren’t important and just focus on the funny cosplay girl.
I mentioned this earlier, but the visuals of My Dress Up Darling are downright gorgeous. It has to be- the manga has some gorgeous art in it too, so any kind of downgrade would have been really rough on the eyes. The series has a nice warm color palette, which really compliments the softer-toned visuals from the manga as well.
There’s one thing that’s hard to not bring up, which is the ecchi nature of the manga. While never anything full-on, the manga is quite fond of its fanservicey shots, as is typical of the shy-boy-meets-gyaru subgenre. The anime is a lot more tame with this, with the ass shots from the manga being more blink-and-you’ll-miss-it frames instead of focusing on it with dramatic pulls in and out with a slide whistle effect.
Personally, I really like it this way- it would have been dishonest to make the anime free of its sexual undertones, especially considering the fact the episode ends with Marin revealing the character she wants to cosplay is from an eroge- but I’m also glad that just like how you can skip over ecchi panels, you could totally miss the fanservicey parts in the first episode.
As a fan of the manga, I’m tickled pink by the first episode of the My Dress Up Darling anime. It’s pretty much looking like all I could have wanted from one of my favorite manga series- and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.