Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru [My Dress-Up Darling] (2022) Tasteful Underboob: Your Daily Dose Of Dopamine May 11, 2022 08:00
Wakana Gojou is a socially awkward teenager who spends his free time trying to perfect his crafting of hini dolls. Marin Kitagawa is the hot popular girl and social butterfly who spends her free time professionally modeling and obsessing over her favorite anime and manga characters. When their two worlds collide will it be a perfect fit or a hot mess?
Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru aka My Dress-Up Darling, is my first foray into the more romantic comedy niche of anime. The twelve episodic series follows socially awkward teenager Wakana Gojou whose life consists trying to keep a low profile while going to school and spending all his free time making hina dolls, an obsession he acquired from his grandfather who makes and sells them for a living. It was this obsession that led him into a somewhat reclusive existence when a childhood friend basically called him a freak for liking hina dolls. This experience seemed to scar him and ever since he's kept his passion a secret and decided he was better off not trying to make friends for fear they might too reject him.
That's all about to change when the class hottie (Marin Kitagawa) walks in on him in the school sewing room making clothes for his hina dolls. He freaks out thinking she's going to make fun of him, but instead she freaks out that he knows how to sew and begs him to help her make a cosplay outfit that she's been working on to no avail. He reluctantly agrees to help her and so begins what appears to be at first a rather one-sided friendship based on Marin's desires to do the "perfect cosplay". Ironically this occurs not long after a scene where Marin tells Gojou that other students are taking advantage of his kindness and he should learn to say no to them.
But as the story progresses Marin discovers she may have feelings for Gojou, and Gojou learns that there's more to life than sitting in his room painting dolls all day and in the process discovers a talent that he didn't know he had by bringing joy to people through his cosplay outfit design skills. It's a standard teenage trope story-line with a slightly different spin.
My Dress-Up Darling seems to receive a rather split response. On one end many people seem to love it, while another group of people seem bent on panning it for its use of fan service and "ecchi" scenes. I have to take issue with both opinions.
First off for the casual viewer fan service in the anime realm is typically referring to female characters in skimpy outfits or outright nudity in more extreme cases. And ecchi is a tag for a sub-genre of anime that features playfully suggestive, or sexy scenes, typically these center around a male character getting awkward around beautiful female characters who are dressed in skimpy outfits. In the case of this series there is a fair amount of each but not to the extreme of many other series that are also considered "ecchi".
Also in the case of this series these scenes actually appropriately fit into the story line and would accurately represent reactions that the characters would have. Let's not forget My Dress-Up Darling is about a teenage guy who up to this point in his life has had relatively little interaction with anyone other than his grandfather and he's thrown into an uncomfortable position where the hottest girl in school, who moonlights as a professional model, is begging him to help her.
She's not shy about her body and he's shy around everyone, and now all of a sudden he's making sexy cosplay outfits for the hottest girl in school... none of the mostly tame fan service scenes are out of place or a stretch in this case. In fact they add most of the comedic elements in the series because Gojou is such a innocent and shy person he's not used to being exposed to someone like Marin, and his reactions to her overly aggressive personalty is genuine and accurate for a teenager in his position. So I would assume a majority of people slamming the series for this are women who don't understand teenage male hormones.
On the flip side I don't quite agree with the rave reviews either. While I'll agree the series has some top of the line art, music and dubbing I did not find the story to be anything overly amazing. The plot of socially awkward guy who breaks out of his shell with the help of the popular hot girl is nothing new, and it's not approached here in a way any better than I've seen it done many times before. In fact after a while Gojou's ongoing awkwardness around Marin even after they've spent weeks hanging out together gets a little tiresome, especially in situations where it's not even needed like him simply sitting next to her in a Manga Cafe. If Gojou is still that nervous around a beautiful girl who by this point clearly likes being around him it's almost impossible to believe he can even step outside his house on a daily basis without having a panic attack.
With that said it will be interesting to see where the series goes if it gets a second season. I'm not sure how much more they can milk the cosplay angle as that too gets a little played out near the end. And while this is tagged as a romantic comedy, the only real romance is between Gojou and his dolls and Marin and her anime characters. Marin does "fall in love" with Gojou halfway through the series but never acts on those emotions and Gojou is too naive to catch on, I mean he can't even sit next to her without breaking out into a sweat! So calling the series a romance is a little of a stretch, still there is a decent lesson that is pounded into the viewer as Gojou learns that everyone has insecurities they deal with no matter how popular or successful they are. Again it's not an earth scattering discovery and something that really shouldn't take twelve episodes to flush out, but it's something.
In the end, I did enjoy My Dress-Up Darling, it's a fluffy moderately naive teen story that definitely managed to hold my attention, and provide a decent diversion. Is it the best anime ever? No, but for what it is it's a nice palette cleanser. The series also ends in a spot where if it doesn't get a second season at least you're a not left with a cliffhanger. While I would have liked a little more main character growth it's a satisfying ending and I don't regret watching it if it simply ends here.