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My Dress-Up Darling

My Dress-Up Darling

Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Shinichi Fukuda

General information

My Dress-Up Darling (Japanese: その着せ替え人形ビスク・ドールは恋をする, Hepburn: Sono Bisuku Dōru wa Koi o Suru, transl. "The Bisque Doll That Fell in Love") is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Shinichi Fukuda. It began serialization in Square Enix's Young Gangan in January 2018, and has been compiled into eight volumes as of October 2021. An anime television series adaptation by CloverWorks premiered in January 2022.

Plot

Wakana Gojo is a first-year high school student who dreams of becoming a hina doll craftsman. One day during his first semester, his popular classmate Marin Kitagawa sees him making doll costumes in the school's clothing room. Marin, who has wanted to cosplay for a while and has observed Wakana's skill in sewing, asks him to create the costume of a character from a video game that she adores. Despite the fact that Wakana had no experience making a costume on a human scale, he was inspired by Marin's tenacity and agreed to make one for her.

Characters
Wakana Gojo

Voiced by: Shōya Ishige (Japanese); Paul Dateh, Jack Britton (young) (English)

A first-year high school student. Being an orphan, he was raised by his grandfather, a craftsman of Hina dolls, who also inspired him to become a kashira-shi (頭師), a craftsman who makes the head of a Hina doll. Wakana has a large physique and is over 180cm tall, but he has low self-esteem and is reclusive due to a bitter memory of being criticized by his childhood friend, who thought a boy should not be playing with girl dolls. Likewise, he hid his doll-making hobbies and had no real friends until he met Marin.

Marin Kitagawa

Voiced by: Hina Suguta (Japanese); Amanda Lee (English)

A girl with the appearance of a gyaru, who has an extroverted personality and is in the same class as Wakana. She is quite energetic and proactive but clumsy with details and is not particularly skillful in handiworks. She is a big otaku with a wide range of preferences, from magical girl anime to adult video games. Wakana develops a secret crush on her.

Sajuna Inui

Voiced by: Atsumi Tanezaki

A cosplayer who presents herself under the name of "Juju" (ジュジュ). She is a second-year high school student who attends a school for girls. Still, her physique does not match her age, with Wakana and Marin initially believing Sajuna was a junior high or elementary student. Nonetheless, like Marin, she is an outspoken and proactive individual who will go to great lengths to pursue her goals. Sajuna is quite protective toward Shinju while she wanted Shinju should be more open to herself as well everyone else.

Shinju Inui

Voiced by: Hina Yomiya

Sajuna's shy and reserved younger sister. Shinju is a junior high school student, but compared to her sister's petite figure, she is so big that she could almost fit into Wakana's uniform. She is 178 cm tall and has voluptuous curves, because of which she is sometimes mistaken as adult. Shinju is close to her sister and holds her in high regard. When Sajuna cosplays, Shinju assumes the role of a photographer, using a camera borrowed from their father. She is also skillful at using a computer, processing and uploading the images she takes. Nevertheless, she secretly wished to cosplay herself but feared falling short of her sister's appearance level.

Media
Manga

Written and illustrated by Shinichi Fukuda, the series began serialization in Young Gangan on January 19, 2018. The individual chapters are collected and published by Square Enix, with eight tankōbon volumes being released as of October 2021.

During the Anime Expo in July 2019, Square Enix announced the English version of the series under the title My Dress-Up Darling and published it under its new publication imprint Square Enix Manga & Books.

Anime

An anime television series adaptation was announced in the ninth issue of Young Gangan, which was published on April 16, 2021. It is produced by CloverWorks and directed by Keisuke Shinohara, with Yoriko Tomita handling the series' scripts, and Kazumasa Ishida designing the characters and serving as chief animation director. Takeshi Nakatsuka is composing the series' music. It premiered on January 9, 2022 on Tokyo MX and other networks. The opening theme song is "Sansan Days" ("Sun-Drenched Days") by Spira Spica, while the ending theme song is "Koi no Yukue" ("Where Love Is") by Akari Akase. Funimation licensed the series outside of Asia. Muse Communication licensed the series in Southeast Asia.

Episode list
  • 1 "Someone Who Lives in the Exact Opposite World as Me". Transcription: "Jibun to wa Magyaku no Sekai de Ikite Iru Hito" (Japanese: 自分とは真逆の世界で生きている人)

Wakana Gojo is an insecure but passionate hina doll tailor, following in the steps of his grandfather, a long-time, skilled hina doll artist. While Gojo loves his hobby passionately, he isolates himself socially at school, as he believes he will be made fun of for what he does. Having not made a single friend throughout his school years, his grandfather worries over him. One day in homeroom, a girl, while jumping around the classroom, hits herself in the head with Gojo's desk. She apologizes to him, before reuniting with her friends. Gojo identifies her as Marin Kitagawa, an incredibly cheerful, friendly, and popular girl from his class, noting that "she lives in a completely different world from his". After school, Gojo stays behind to tidy up his classroom. One of his classmates persuades Gojo to do his schoolwork, which Gojo accepts, wanting to help him. Kitagawa arrives and, worried, explains to him that he is being taken advantage of. She advices him to care about himself more, and to be more aware of his own feelings. That night, while working on his antique sewing machine, Gojo reminisces over what Kitagawa told him. His machine stops working, prompting his grandfather to express his desire to buy a new one. While the new machine arrives, Gojo decides to use one present in his school the next day. He is discovered by Kitagawa, and instead of laughing at him for his hina doll hobby, she expresses her enthusiasm at Gojo and his tailoring abilities. Stunned, Gojo is relieved to have found someone who appreciates his craft. Suddenly, Kitagawa takes her clothes off, and reveals to Gojo a cosplay outfit of a videogame character she had been working on. Gojo criticizes her outfit, pointing out it's multiple flaws. Kitagawa, however, asks him if he may do her another outfit, explaining how much Shizuku-tan, the character, means to her. Gojo, despite not having done clothing for an actual person before, agrees to help her, promising to do his best, delighting Kitagawa.

  • 2 "Wanna Hurry Up, and Do It?". Transcription: "Sassoku, Shiyokka?" (Japanese: さっそく、しよっか?)

Kitagawa explains her desire to cosplay as Shizuku-tan, a female character from Slippery Girls 2, an eroge videogame, leaving Gojo confused. As Kitagawa explains the dirty nature of the game Shizuku-tan belongs to, Gojo asks her if it isn't weird for a girl to enjoy games like that. Kitagawa explains that ones' gender does not matter when one enjoys doing something. Remembering his past trauma of being shunned for his hobby, Gojo agrees with her, and expresses his enthusiasm for working with her. She hands Gojo an instruction booklet on how to do cosplay outfits, which he studies at night, becoming terrified at the fact that he has to take Kitagawa's measurements directly. Kitagawa unexpectedly arrives at Gojo's shop the next day, eager to get going. Gojo explains to her that he is embarrassed that he has to take her measurements while she is naked, but Kitagawa, unaffected, strips down to reveal she came in wearing a bathing suit. He asks her if this experience isn't embarrassing to her, to which she answers that it isn't, making him realize how much the cosplay means to her. He pushes away his indecent thoughts away, and begins taking her measurements as best he can. However, when time comes to measure Kitagawa's bust and inseam, Gojo, despite concentrating, has trouble doing so, as he deems these areas to be inappropriate for him to come close to. However, Kitagawa insists that he shouldn’t be worried, and he eventually manages to get the measurements. Having finished, Gojo asks Kitagawa if she has any references to study Shizuku-tan, prompting her to give him both Slippery Girl titles. Later that night, Gojo plays the games to study and take notes of Shizuku-tan, much to his grandfathers' dismay.

  • 3 "Then Why Don't We?". Transcription: "Ja, Tsukiatchau?" (Japanese: じゃ、付き合っちゃう?)

The night before returning to school, Gojo has an intense wet dream about Kitagawa wearing her Shizuku-tan outfit. He wakes up, feeling bad afterward. At school, Gojo meets up with Kitagawa and her friends, feeling guilty for what had happened. Seeing Kitagawa close to Gojo, several of their fellow classmates begin to speculate if they are going out. Noticing this, Gojo begins to feel even more guilt, and evades Kitagawa for the rest of the day, even with her looking for him all throughout the school. Kitagawa manages to find him at the school entrance as they are about to leave, and asks him to come with her to shop for the materials needed for the outfit, which nearby students listen to. Gojo reluctantly refuses, and runs away, hiding behind a wall. Kitagawa finds him, and asks him what's wrong. Gojo explains that he has heard of the people speculating about their relationship, and does not want her name to be associated with him, as it may ruin her image. Seeing his low self-esteem, Kitagawa assures him that they are friends, and, grabbing him by the arm, runs off to find the needed materials for the outfit. Arriving at the store, Gojo shows Kitagawa his complete study of Shizuku-tan's body and clothing features, stunning her. He explains the multiple things they will need to buy, and guides Kitagawa through the store, using his knowledge to help her select all the appropriate materials. Seeing Kitagawa happy, Gojo is pleased that he is being useful to her. Later that night, they go to a ramen shop, where they embarrass and worry the other customers when they discuss about Slippery Girls in public. Explaining about cosplaying to Gojo, she shows him pictures of cosplayers and how they attend events to showcase their outfits, or post their pictures on social media, like a female cosplayer that Kitagawa likes, whose account goes by the name of "Juju". Kitagawa mentions there is a cosplaying event coming in two weeks while she eats. Seeing the little time he has, Gojo becomes worried.

  • 4 "Are These Your Girlfriend's?". Transcription: "Kore, Kanojo no Toka?" (Japanese: これ、彼女のとか?)

Now aware that the next cosplay event is in two weeks, Gojo becomes stressed, as he calculates it would take him much longer to complete an outfit for a person, than it would for a hina doll. Gojo puts down the shopping bag containing Kitagawa's outfit contents, and upon seeing them, his grandfather falls down in shock, hitting his back with the stairwell. Gojo takes him to the hospital, where he is joined by Miori, the person that Gojo most vividly remembers disliking his hobby when he was a child, and who is also his cousin. Back in school, Gojo explains what happened to Kitagawa. Genuinely worried, she tells him that she wants to help him in any way possible, so they exchange contact information on their phones. Having been unable to work on the outfit for the past couple days because of his grandfather, Gojo begins to worry even more. Kitagawa goes to visit him one night, but he does not answer her, leading her to worry about his well-being. Completely exhausted because of his lack of sleep, Gojo gets distraught, believing he will be unable to finish the outfit, and disappoint Kitagawa. However, he remembers when he was a child, his grandfather explained to him that ones' love for something makes it possible to push through difficult situations. He also told him that seeing his customers happy was enough for him to realize that his hard work had paid off. Reinvigorated, he continues to work through the night, and manages to complete the outfit. Kitagawa comes over to see it, and Gojo tells her that she can now attend the event. Shocked, Kitagawa explains to him that she was planning to wear the outfit once it was ready, as she did not know how much time it would take to make it. She tells him that there are multiple cosplay events each week, and was not planning to attend the one that day. She had believed that Gojo was busy visiting his grandfather, and didn't know that he had advanced in the project. Gojo, falling to the ground from exhaustion, is relieved to know that he still had more time to complete the outfit. However, Kitagawa breaks down crying, as she feels massively guilty for having Gojo stress over her outfit so much. She apologizes to him profusely for her lack of appropriate communication, and for having caused him such an unnecessary physical toll. Gojo manages to calm her down, and tells her that she may try the outfit right away, to check if there is anything that may need more work. Gojo tells her that seeing her happy would make his hard work worth it. She tries on her outfit, and is immensely pleased with the results.

Reception

In August 2019, the series was ranked 6th in the "Comics category" according to the votes for the fourth edition of Tsugini kuru Manga Taishō (次にくるマンガ大賞), organized by Da Vinci magazine from Media Factory and the Niconico website.

The manga was ranked 16th for readers in the 2020 edition of the Kono Manga ga Sugoi! guide from Takarajimasha.

The manga was ranked 3rd in Honya Club's Nationwide Bookstore Employees' Recommended Comics of 2020, a survey that collected results from 1,100 professional bookstore employees in Japan.

Jenelle Catherina reviewed the animated adaption of the manga for CBR, arguing that the show's two protagonists "defy gender norms," and stated that it is hard to "not to love the adorably bold Marin." She also said the series is emerging as "a breakout of the Winter 2022 season."

Timeline

Further reading

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Cover of the first volume, featuring Marin Kitagawa

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