While a lot of the chatter surrounding My Dress up Darling has been related to the bubbly Marin, her partner in crime and co-star Gojo has had a far more lukewarm reception. Part of that is because it is hard to be noticed when standing next to someone who shines brighter than the sun and part of it is because mostly Gojo has been a passive participant in this story being dragged along at Marin’s pace over the last three episodes.
Now episode 1 did give us a spark of what Gojo could be when he began a scathing critique of Marin’s attempted cosplay but he very quickly dialled it back down and apologised. Still, there was definitely some fire there in relation to something he was passionate about. However, My Dress Up Darling is only now in episode 4 giving us a real focus on his character with Marin the one whose screen time was thoroughly reduced this week. Whether you like this development or not will really depend on whether you are watching Darling for the story or for a Marin fix.
My Dress Up Darling gives Gojou’s character some much needed focus.
It is a shame though that the means to getting this focus was pretty much falling back on another standard romantic trope, a failure to communicate. After episode 3 had Gojo avoiding Marin to ensure he didn’t hurt her reputation or to stop rumours spreading, it would have been nice for something a little more inventive to be used rather than just not having Gojo talk through his concerns with Marin. But as much as it is a tired trope, it is used to often because it works.
The basic premise of this episode of My Dress Up Darling is that Gojo is taking Marin’s comment about an event in two weeks to heart and has self-determined that he absolutely must finish making the outfit by then. No thought at all of simply explaining to her how long it should realistically take or how long he needs.
As the episode winds on his stress is compounded by his grandfather falling and hurting his back leaving him staying with another relative and ensuring that Gojo now has to take time to visit him as well as manage the shop and just to throw another spanner in the works it is also time for mid-term tests.
With all of this going on and Gojo having missed school for a day because of his grandfather, Marin actually does trade contact details with him so they could communicate and yet still Gojo powers on alone despite more or less emotionally crumbling under the weight that he has piled on himself.
On the one hand, My Dress Up Darling is painting a picture of someone who is loyal and hardworking. Someone who wants to honour his commitments and not let others down. All of which are admirable traits unless you work yourself into the ground and end up failing anyway. However it is also painting a picture of someone who doesn’t value themselves and who can only find value in his contribution to others.
Throughout the episode Gojo remembers talking to his grandfather as a child about making the dolls and how he practices with the brushes everyday. It’s heart warming and inspiring but I’m sure if Gojo’s grandfather had been at home and watching Gojo working the way he did, he would have told him to take a break.
Where this episode of My Dress Up Darling once again rises above the usual outcome for this sort of failure to communicate issue is in Marin’s response when she’s finally told the outfit is finished and she sees the strain it has put on Gojo. Also, the realisation that he interpreted her words to mean she wanted the outfit ready in two weeks. It was such a heartfelt and honest understanding of the effort he’d put in for her that you couldn’t help but love her all the more and the two of them trying to out-apologise each other was perhaps the most adorable thing I’ve seen in a highschool romance for a while.
Still, My Dress Up Darling doesn’t leave us on tears. The final scene involves preparing Marin’s make-up and her first time trying on the outfit and it is every bit as joyous as it sounds like it should be.
I’m definitely continuing to love My Dress Up Darling and hopefully it continues to help both of these characters realise their dreams because they are both really great people who I’d love to see happy.
Images from: My Dress Up Darling. Dir. K Shinohara. CloverWorks. 2022
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