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Anime Review: My Dress Up Darling – Characterization of Costuming and Cosplay

It would have been easy to devote an entire anime to fan service when the story centers around a
“cute girl who cosplays and average guy who makes her costumes”. Instead of taking the easy
route where our hapless protagonist-kun gets into many shenanigans concerning waistline
measurements and bust implants, My Dress Up Darling takes a more human approach.

Wakana Gojo is a young man who has a passion for crafting hina dolls which feature elements
of traditional Japanese culture. Though he excels in creating outfits for the dolls, he has difficulty
with painting faces due to his own insecurities with people. Wakana fails to establish
connections with people outside his grandfather due to a painful childhood memory where a
friend rejected him for his craft. Being a craftsman is Wakana’s identity, hence why the rejection of it from a friend was so painful and scarring for him. The subject resonates with anyone who has a passion or identity that isn’t always accepted, but My Dress Up Darling takes this a step further.

This sets up a nice dynamic when popular-girl Marin Kitagawa steps into Wakana’s life.
Marin makes extra money by modeling and with her outgoing personality she latches onto
Wakana after discovering his sewing skills. Like Wakana, Marin also has difficulty finding others
to engage in her passion of cosplay.

My Dress Up Darling takes a refreshing approach to this dilemma as both these characters
have strengths and weaknesses to build each other up. The extraverted Marin helps build
Wakana’s confidence in himself and his craft through encouragement and support, but also
pushes him out of his comfort zone in positive ways to help him experience life outside his dolls.
This helps Wakana understand people and expressions better, which he had trouble with
in his craft. Marin, on the other hand, has lofty expectations and is fast-paced. This causes her
to fail to realize when she causes undue stress on Wakana due to poor communication, which
in turn motivates her to be better at listening. Due to her tendency to be boisterous in her own
opinions, it has given her strong roots which are helpful to lift Wakana up, but Wakana’s more
down-to-Earth nature brings Marin’s exuberance to a more balanced level.

The two work harmoniously together despite the learning curve and the hijinks that ensue make My Dress Up Darling so endearing.

Photo Credits: My Dress-Up Darling CloverWorksStudio