The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

10 responses to “My Dress-Up Darling: Whole-series Review and a Full Recommendation

  1. David Birr June 3, 2022 at 17:51

    “It was interesting to see Wakana become increasingly familiar with the anime that Marin are fond of. Far from thinking of Marin poorly, Wakana finds himself engrossed in the series: anime is often seen as a hobby only youth participate in, and adults who watch anime may be counted as immature, so seeing My Dress-Up Darling present Wakana as being open-minded is another reminder that there is a certain joy in being able to share one’s hobbies with others.”

    This aspect of the story reminds me of Haruka Nogizaka’s Secret: male lead Yūto Ayase discovers that the title character, their school’s most highly regarded ultra-wealthy and multi-talented ojou-sama, is a closet otaku for manga and anime. When he doesn’t scorn her for this – it isn’t his thing, but his best male friend has earned the nickname “King of Otaku,” so it doesn’t disgust Yūto – Haruka grows very fond of his companionship … and he starts to share her interest, and be the confidant with whom she can discuss manga and anime.

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    • infinitezenith June 4, 2022 at 09:45

      Now that I think about it, it’s one thing to be counted as somewhat immature, but quite another to ostricise someone for their hobbies, as Haruka experienced. I would imagine that the hostility towards otaku in Japan stems from the fact that several heinous and depraved crimes committed over there were perpetuated by individuals with interests being allegedly similar to that of otaku (e.g. Tsutomu Miyazaki, who was cited as being unstable as a result of having a sizeable manga and anime collection when in reality, he had an obsession with collecting horror works). It’s no different than branding someone as unstable and violent because they’re an avid player of first-person shooter video games. Anime that shows otaku as being perfectly ordinary folks with a particular passion for anime and manga are valuable in this respect because they serve to remind viewers that having a hobby, something one is invested in, doesn’t correspond to criminal tendencies.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. Michael E Kerpan June 6, 2022 at 19:04

    I found it annoying that lots of commenters dismissed Marin as a “manic pixie dream girl” and Wakana as boring. I don’t know what show they were actually watching — but they seemed to be denying all sense of agency to characters who each had their own passions. Marin was not there as a wish fulfillment object for Wakana, and vice versa. Rather, they discovered that each enriched the others life — and supported each other’s interests. These two two characters seem to have an unusual degree of mutuality in their relationship — once they learned to communicate reasonably well with each other. Not sure why anyone would want to pretend a show with such “rich” characters was one with stereotypical ones.

    I found it fascinating that (with a couple unfortunate exceptions) the “naughtiness” in this series was not gratuitous. Almost all of what we saw served either the plot or the mood. Overall this almost never felt voyeuristic (unlike the Akebi manga sometimes did — but the anime did not). I certainly hope this gets another season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • infinitezenith June 8, 2022 at 22:26

      If I had to guess, I’d suggest these commenters are probably folks who complain that every burger out there is identical, lacking the palette to differentiate an 80/20 chuck or 70/30 chuck. In short, they’re either complaining for the sake of bolstering their own stock, or otherwise lack the empathy to appreciate what is going on in My Dress-Up Darling. If said individuals could put together a coherent argument, backed by evidence, I could be convinced to take a look, but in the absence of anything beyond the usual “it’s generic”, I think it’s fine to pay them no mind.

      Since My Dress-Up Darling is meant to capture what Wakana is feeling, seeing Marin’s body was very deliberate, meant to show us viewers what Wakana is seeing. As you’ve noted, there’s a clear reason for it, so in this regard, the anime does well. Conversely, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform sounds like there’s no reason beyond showing us the artist is uncommonly skilled with rendering bodies, perhaps; I’ve not yet read the manga myself, but adaptations do change a few things from time to time. Perhaps here, the director felt similarly to you, and preferred to showcase Komichi’s world as being wonderous by means of the landscape.

      If there is to be a second season of My Dress-Up Darling, I’d certainly watch it in a heartbeat. Beyond seeing Marin and Wakana’s relationship advance, I admittedly are curious to see what other cosplay are made, and what the author has to say about different genres through Marin’s cosplays 🙂

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      • Michael E Kerpan June 9, 2022 at 15:35

        I loved Marin’s comment that she actually had 50 number 1 top favorite characters she wanted to cosplay. I feel much the same when asked what is my favorite this or that (movie, music, etc)

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        • infinitezenith June 18, 2022 at 09:28

          Such is the consequence of watching a large number of shows 🙂 When I began my journey, my favourite character was K-On!‘s Mio Akiyama. Over the years, that list has grown wildly to the point where it is no longer feasible to type them all out!

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  4. AK June 12, 2022 at 15:12

    Excellent review. I think you hit on what made this series so good. I’m also hoping for a second season, and it seems likely considering how popular this first was.

    Regarding those comments about Marin’s depiction being problematic: there’s one of the reasons I don’t visit those forums. And I don’t even dare to step into a place like Resetera, even if I sometimes do miss that old internet forum format. Too often these people I’m largely in agreement with politically are also trying to get anime and games I like canceled for being problematic. In this case, there’s really no grounds for it at all either: Marin knows exactly what she’s doing, and there’s no power imbalance or manipulation in her relationship with Wakana. Aside from the usual puritanical “any lewdness is automatically horrible” take we see from some of these types, which is tired and played out, I don’t see any argument there.

    Also agreed with Michael above about Marin not being that “manic pixie dream girl” type. Comparing Marin to some actual examples of this character type, it’s clear that she doesn’t fall into that type at all. But then, I get the impression from some of the criticisms of this and similar anime I’ve watched that the people criticizing haven’t actually watched the series, or maybe they’ve seen a few clips or one episode and have made their minds up about it, in which case their opinions on these series just don’t count.

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    • infinitezenith June 18, 2022 at 09:40

      Having approached My Dress-Up Darling with almost no expectations to speak of, this series completely blew me away in how it tied everything together. Its successes would show that we’re not the only ones who enjoyed it, so hopefully, a continuation will be on the horizon.

      Anime forums have largely lost their relevance for this reason: I’ve been a member of AnimeSuki for over a decade, and when I joined, discussions were purely focused on anime, plus its criticisms and merits. There were the occasional wisenheimer who thought it was a good idea to lecture others on objectivity versus subjectivity and what makes some opinions more “valid” than others, but that was about the scope of discussions. In the present, almost all discussion is political, and people seem to care more about what’s happening in the United States or European Union than they do about anime itself.

      I would tend to think that Marin acts the way she does because she’s both comfortable with who she is, and because it is admittedly funny to see Wakana’s reactions, but also over time, Wakana himself acclimatises, and as Marin realises she’s got a crush on him, she becomes more reserved about doing these things (a fine example is when Wakana asks not to do a certain cosplay because of how revealing the outfit is, and Marin decides yes, Wakana’s got a point). The interplay between the two is natural and balanced, so I’ve got no qualms here, and arguments against lewdness therefore come across as being a knee-jerk reaction rather than having basis in reason.

      All too often, people will draw conclusions of a work without having seen it, and in this case, I’m going to say that I’m also guilty of doing this occasionally. For the past 15 years, I’ve hesitated to watch Gundam SEED Destiny because of impressions I got from watching a few episodes and reading reactions from anime forums. Last year, when I caught wind of a Gundam SEED movie, a friend of mine convinced me to give Gundam SEED Destiny a proper go. When I came out on the other side, I saw a series that, despite its flaws, was still largely sincere and consistent in its presentation. I feel like I should extend Iron-Blooded Orphans the same courtesy as a result – more often than not, I enter a series expecting to put a hole in it, only to realise there were merits and things to enjoy after all (Yuri Kuma Arashi is another such example). At any rate, I similarly tend to pay no mind to opinions from those with an incomplete experience: people are free to say whatever heck they choose, but we also get to decide for ourselves if they’re worth listening to, and in this case, ignoring such opinions means enjoying what was a solid, touching series 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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