My Dress-Up Darling Review: An Unexceptional Show Carried By A Beautiful Relationship

The anime that had everyone talking this season was My Dress-Up Darling, and it is now time to go over it and find out what worked and what didn’t. Let’s get right to the review!

My Dress-Up Darling Overview

My Dress-Up Darling or Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi Wo Suru in original Japanese is a romance and slice of life anime based on a popular manga written series by Shinichi Fukuda. It is being adapted into the medium of anime by Studio CloverWorks, a studio that hasn’t exactly been having the best time of its existence right now. The studio has faced immense criticism in just the previous year for how it handled two anime properties, Wonder Egg Priority and The Promised Neverland Season 2.

Keisuke Shinohara is directing the show. He has been directly involved in the productions of various anime series in the past, including Wonder Egg Priority and Devilman: Crybaby. Click here to read our review of the final episode of the show! We reviewed this show weekly and episodically, and our episodic reviews of the show are available here! Check those out in case you want to know my thoughts on specific episodes or if you’re rewatching the show.

– Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi Wo Suru Review does not contain any spoilers –

My Dress Up Darling Review- The Characters

MArin My Dress-Up Darling Episode 1

It seems fitting to go out on a limb and talk about the heart of this show first, its main characters. Marin Kitagawa has a hold on the public’s consciousness, almost like no other character in anime history, and there are multiple reasons for that. The most important of them is also the simplest one- she is an incredibly well written and complex character who deserves every bit of the shine getting her way. However, the show wouldn’t have been half as good or competent if she didn’t have a capable partner to grow and learn alongside, and you can do much worse than Wakana Gojo in that regard.

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Marin is pretty, outgoing, popular, stylish, headstrong, confident, and several other positive adjectives that many characters of similar shows have tried to be in the past but weren’t successful in. However, all of that isn’t what makes her unique or helps her achieve the level of popularity that she has. The more cynical of us might say that it’s the titillation and sexualisation of a 15-year old that makes that attracts her the fanbase. While this is certainly a fair point and part of it, the real reason is something way less creepy frustrating- she is just a phenomenally genuine and enthusiastic person.

Marin Gojo My Dress-Up Darling Episode 10

She always exudes extremely infectious and positive energy about everything. She is full of passion and love for her favourite characters, and that’s why she wants to cosplay them. She might not know everything, and she sure isn’t the smartest person in the room at any given time, but she cares for people. She hooks you in by wearing extremely revealing clothing, which is extremely creepy because she is only a 15 year old, but you stay because of her force of personality. The icing on the cake is her interactions with Gojo, the other protagonist of My Dress-Up Darling.

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Gojo is an extremely underrated and overlooked part of the show, despite being the central character that the show wouldn’t work without. He is just as passionate and excited about his hobby, Hina Doll Making, as Marin is about cosplay. He is immensely good-natured and hardworking, despite not having much capability to interact with other people besides Marin, who helps him come out of his shell. They both helped each other immensely, and their relationship feels natural. It’s also fun to see the girl be the pursuer for once and the guy shying away every time.

Juju sister My Dress-Up Darling Episode 7

There are a few side characters who are given some attention, including Gojo’s grandfather, who is incredibly wholesome and makes one wish their grandfather was like that. There’s Juju, an experienced cosplayer who Marin is a fan of and for whom Gojo also makes clothes. She is a somewhat generic yet still fun character to watch and serves a vital role in the story, as does her sister. Both of them are used as narrative devices to tell the audience more about the intricacies behind cosplaying and do their job wonderfully.

My Dress-Up Darling Review- The Plot

Hina My Dress-Up Darling Episode 8

My Dress-Up Darling has a standard slice of life plot. It doesn’t do anything to change the status quo and goes on with the beat and pre-set templates left behind by better shows that came before it. Several tropes come alongside this genre, and most of them are here. The show does deserve to be called out for its portrayal of a 15-year-old. The second episode of My Dress-Up Darling was very hard to watch, given the subject material involved Marin getting down to her underwear and thrusting every part of her body into Gojo’s face. It’s fine within the show’s context, but it is weird to anyone with their wits about them.

However, the show also needs to be praised for how it handles the main subject matter- cosplaying. It treats the art with immense respect and lovingly showcases everything that needs to be done and how much effort goes into each step of what most people think of as a hobby. It got many of us who were unfamiliar with the subject matter to dive deeper into it than we had ever thought of before, and it did so in a manner that made perfect sense within its universe and story structure.

Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi Wo Suru Review- Animation and Music

Cloverworks has been worthy of a lot of criticism in the past, but animation has never been one of them. Their shows always look great and are well animated, and My Dress-Up Darling is certainly a shining example. The character design and environment of the show are gorgeous, and it utilises multiple different animation styles in an effort to make a rich and diverse show. There are multiple media universes inside the show that all look unique and have their own style, making the show stand out from its peers. The lighting and shading are also very well done.

The soundtrack is on the more generic side, however. None of the OSTs do enough to stand out and make you remember them after an episode has ended. The opening theme was great for the first few watches, but it was shrill and upbeat enough to get on your nerves after a while. The ending theme also annoyingly didn’t match the animation during the credits sequence. I guess it’s harsh to expect a show to get everything right, and the music certainly wasn’t bad. It just didn’t stand out.

Verdict

My Dress-Up Darling was heartfelt and entertaining, and the strength of its main characters deservedly carried it into the public’s consciousness. It wasn’t perfect and had its issues, but the positives outweighed the negatives by quite a bit.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Plot
Characters
Animation
Music
Enjoyability

SUMMARY

My Dress-Up Darling was heartfelt and entertaining, and the strength of its main characters deservedly carried it into the public's consciousness. It wasn't perfect and had its issues, but the positives outweighed the negatives by quite a bit.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I saw some hateful comments on your epidode 2 review about how a 15 year old being depicted lewdly is uncomfortable. I wanted to say that I totally agree with you. Regardless of the legal consent age, which many seemed to reference, this just doesn’t sit right for a depiction of a minor. The people commenting also loved to mitigate this sexualization as a commonality in this type of anime. However, I have never seen titillation of a minor to this extent before (bar evangelion), only with of-age characters.

    It’s conflicting, because like you I really enjoyed the characters relationships and personalities, especially with Marin. She was a true breath of fresh air; being a confident and outgoing female protagonist with the male character being uncommonly portrayed as shy and reserved.

    You mentioned in the episode 2 comments that you wished they would bump their ages up by a couple of years, I agree with this as well. I know that the show is based off of manga, so the show creators couldn’t have changed anything, but the manga author could have also done this. They could have, for example, been in the last year of high school. This would allow them to be 17-18, and a lot more acceptable to be portrayed in the ways they were.

    I just turned 17, and even I felt uncomfortable thinking about how Marin is 15 after watching those scenes!

    This is a very accurate and well versed review, and the first of yours that I’ve ever read. I will definitely be reading more of your work to find new things to watch!

    • Thank you for your analysis and kind comments. I am glad that we are on the same page here in knowing that just because something is common, doesn’t mean it should be acceptable. Hope you have a good time with my reviews, and feel free to leave comments even if you disagree with me! Hopefully, we will have a constructive discussion on the topic.

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My Dress-Up Darling was heartfelt and entertaining, and the strength of its main characters deservedly carried it into the public's consciousness. It wasn't perfect and had its issues, but the positives outweighed the negatives by quite a bit. My Dress-Up Darling Review: An Unexceptional Show Carried By A Beautiful Relationship