It’s probably a good thing that the appeal of My Dress Up Darling in episode one was the two main characters because from a plot point of view episode 2 moves at a nearly glacial speed. The whole episode is essentially finishing the scene in the sewing room where Kitagawa explains the ‘plot’ of the game that the character is in that she wants to cosplay as, she then visits Gojo at home on the weekend to get her measurements taken, and finally she leaves copies of the game with Gojo so he can research the pattern for the outfit.
It could all be duller than dishwater and yet they somehow manage to pull it off almost charmingly (though not quite reaching the heights of episode 1).
My Dress Up Darling will live or die depending on how much you like these characters.
I’m going to look at each of the three parts of the episode separately given each really added something a bit different to the characters.
Firstly, My Dress Up Darling had Gojo ask Kitagawa about the character she wanted to dress up as at which point she went into a zone that is known by obsessive fan everywhere. She began to describe the plot of the game in detail adding a whole pile of extraneous detail that Gojo really didn’t need to know if the goal is to make an outfit and yet I’m thinking Kitagawa couldn’t have stopped herself if she’d tried.
And while this could have just been a cute bonding moment, instead the audience and Gojo learn that the contents of the game Kitagawa is obsessed with is a little on the risqué side which at first confuses Gojo, then he wonders if she’s making fun of him, before he takes a good look at her and realises she’s deadly serious. And points to him for not just mocking her but rather really listening and looking at her and understanding how important this game is to her. Even if some of the words she was throwing around were definitely sending off red-flags for Gojo.
We transition then to the weekend where Gojo’s grandfather conveniently leaves the house to go buy the new sewing machine meaning Gojo is alone when Kitagawa ambushes him at the front door with cake and decides they should get the measurements done as soon as possible. This brings us to phase two of the episode and it takes up the longest chunk of the twenty minutes.
Now, on the one hand, this could just be a case of over-sexualising a situation as Kitagawa displays herself in a revealing bikini and Gojo does that usual anime boy freak out about potentially touching her while taking her measurements. And on the surface that is exactly what the scene is and My Dress Up Darling extends this scene for longer than you would suspect it actually needs to.
There are two things that kind of make this scene work for My Dress Up Darling though. One is Gojo as he moves between freaked out teen anime boy and more serious dress maker to get the majority of the measurements done. The second is that just as he’s thinking Kitagawa is totally unfazed, as she’s been acting relaxed and confident during the whole session, on the final measurement she does indeed blush.
Clearly Kitagawa had resolved herself before rocking up to a boy’s house with that bikini on to get her measurements taken and she managed to bluff her way through most of the session. She wants this outfit made and this was the necessary first step. Actually, it makes perfect sense she’d prefer to get this done on the weekend rather than after school on Monday.
The final sequence in the episode involves Gojo playing the game that Kitagawa leaves him as reference material. Now we know he’s playing and watching to design an outfit, however his grandfather doesn’t and when he sticks his head in and overhears a somewhat interesting bit of dialogue, he makes the natural assumption.
As much as it is kind of a throw-away end of episode moment, I think most fans of anime will be able to relate to this moment of My Dress Up Darling. Someone walks in while you are watching anime and 9 times out of 10 the characters will choose that moment to be in a bathroom scene or something similar.
Where My Dress Up Darling really works is in Gojo’s non-reaction. He’s not at all concerned about what the characters are doing and is entirely focused on taking notes about the outfit he’s been asked to make. All of which leaves you smiling as the end credits roll.
In honesty, episode 2 of My Dress Up Darling didn’t have quite the wow factor of episode 1, but I like that it is developing these two characters and the interactions between them have so far been very solid. What I suspect though is that this anime won’t be the pure sweet treat that I was kind of wanting but it is does seem like it is going to be fun.
Images from: My Dress Up Darling. Dir. K Shinohara. CloverWorks. 2022
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