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My Dress-Up Darling

There are minor spoilers in this review.


Gojo Wakana is a high school student who loves hina dolls. I mean, really loves them. He thinks they’re the most beautiful thing in the world and has devoted his life to learning the craft of painting them. But, because of a traumatic experience in his past, he has never felt like he could share this passion with anyone else.

Kitagawa Marin is also a high school student, who goes to the same class as Gojo. She has a strong interest in cosplay and has been trying to make a costume to cosplay her favorite character in. But she sucks at it.

Through a chance meeting that involves Marin literally flying through the air and into his life, they discover this shared interest, and Gojo agrees to make a costume for Marin. Throughout the rest of the series, Gojo makes costumes for Marin, and they begin to develop deep feelings for each other.

Mixed Feelings

I have decidedly mixed feelings about “My Dress-Up Darling“. I liked some things, and of those things, I really, really liked them. And, I didn’t like some things, and those things I really, really didn’t like.

What I Liked

“My Dress-Up Darling” is an anime by Clover Works, the same studio that created “Akebi’s Sailor Uniform”. And much like Akebi, it is very well animated and produced. This studio seems to take a great deal of care with everything they produce. The characters are well-realized, the animation is amazing (though some scenes they obviously paid more attention to than others), and it is well paced, neither too fast or slow.

The studio also made a conscious effort to avoid making the series completely about fanservice. Given the topic, that would have been an absurdly easy trap to fall into. In fact, in the manga there is a character called Veronica who has a very revealing “outfit”, and it pays about two seconds to that costume. There is a beach scene, in which there are no swimsuits. I appreciate this decision, because the actual plot almost demands all the fanservice anyone could possibly want. Well, anyone normal, anyway.

I Learned Something…

I also like it when anime teaches me things, and apart from the cosplay (see below), there were a few gems. For example, Juju said something like “You’re only jealous about things that matter to you”, and that’s pretty insightful. There were also a few gems about how different people are struggling and you just can’t see it. It’s always nice when an anime makes you think, even if just a little.

But I also Learned Something…

I’ll be honest, though. I don’t like cosplay. I don’t understand it, it seems like a waste of time, money, and effort, and I can think of very few redeeming things about it. So, given that this was an anime about cosplay, I was already predisposed to think the plot was a little lame. But it was worse than that – it was one of those “edutainment” animes that are bent on teaching you something. By the time I finished, I knew far more about makeup, cosplay, costumes, etc., than I did when I started. I really wish I had left that brain space for stuff that matters.

In that regard, I finished this anime dumber than when I started.

Other Things I Didn’t Like

I mentioned that they made a concerted effort to keep the fanservice related to cosplay, and while I appreciate that, they treated the cosplay very realistically. I mean, of course, that Marin found the sleaziest, most debauched characters she could think of, and tried to become them. This is, in my experience, quite true to form, and one reason I don’t like cosplay. It was eye candy, but while Marin was obviously a sweet and human character in some ways, I didn’t actually much like her. To me, she was very unsympathetic in that sense.

Perhaps the quintessential example of this is in Episode 11 (if you know, you know). She, along with Gojo, got herself into a very compromising position. And she was so naive about the whole thing that she didn’t even realize how compromising the position was until she got herself into it. But the characters did not reflect on this at all. I mean, it’s a rom-com anime, so why would they be expected to, but… it was a glaring mistake.

And it wasn’t the only one, either. The scene where he had to take her measurements was almost painful to watch. I realize the main characters are fifteen and have no real parental figures present, but those kinds of scenes were still a little uncomfortable to watch.

I am likely in the minority on this. Still, I didn’t like it. And this is my review.


Many folks call “My Dress-Up Darling” a “top-tier” anime, and it gets high ratings almost everywhere. And I can see why. It’s well written, well produced, tries hard not to fall into the obvious tropes, and the characters are very human and relatable. But I just couldn’t get past the cosplay. I’ll grant that’s a “me” thing, so you may enjoy it. If you like cosplay, you’ll love it.

I’ll also say that while I still don’t understand cosplay at all, and still very much dislike the whole idea, I think I have a slightly better understanding of it, and maybe, as much as I didn’t want one and don’t care at all, that’s not a, well, horrible thing.

But, all told, it’s just meh for me. I may check out the English dub out of curiosity, but I’m moving on.

(Edit: I checked it out. The characters are so much more annoying in the English dub. Maybe I’ll take some time to figure out why.)

I’ll rate it a 6 out of 10.,

1 thought on “My Dress-Up Darling”

  1. Pingback: Why “My Dress-Up Darling” is a Terrible Anime - Anime Life

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