Episode 8 – My Dress-Up Darling

Now I just want to open this review by saying that episode eight is probably the best-looking episode of My Dress-Up Darling so far. I don’t just mean that from a general animation perspective, although there were some very nice character animations as is usual for the show by now. But more than that, certain shots and backdrops in this episode were far more detailed compared to what we had seen before, and coupled with the use of color and lighting as well as the overall shot composition, the episode manages to perfectly convey how some of these characters were feeling in the most subtle of ways. Considering the fact that this is apparently Yusuke Kawakami‘s first solo directed episode (he was an assistant director for an episode of Wonder Egg Priority), I think he and his team knocked it out of the park with this one and I would be very happy if he returned for future episodes.

Speaking of shot composition, this episode is basically broken down into three parts, with the first one serving as an introduction to both Inui’s younger sister and some of the technical, non-costume-related that come with cosplaying such as photography. You don’t have to be exceptionally good with photography to be a cosplayer or vice versa, but if you are trying to manage things on your own, it does help to have an idea of ​​what you can do to maximize the effectiveness of some of your shots. Plus the gag about how expensive all of this equipment can be every bit as accurate as it is depressing as someone who still cosplays using only a smartphone from home.

Part two goes extensively into Inui’s history with cosplay and why she got into it. She’s already mentioned before that she mostly only cosplays for herself, and it’s interesting that it’s her sister who saw the beauty in her cosplays and felt the need to share that with a lot of people. As for why Inui mostly cosplays for herself, her reasoning of turning such an innocent dream as wanting to be a magical girl as a kid into the contextualized fuel for wanting to literally step into the shoes of a character that means so much to you hit surprisingly close to home. We know that a lot of these characters are fictional, but the emotions that they evoke in us are every bit as real as we are, and sometimes one of the best ways to show off that love or appreciation is by donning the lock of the character themselves – imitation is the highest form of flattery after all. Plus that connection to Gojo’s relationship with Hina dolls highlights how showing off this love and hoping that other people fall in love with your own creations is a form of artistic expression that isn’t just relegated to cosplayers, but a universal desire that I think all creative people share and can come together on. That said, I’m not a big fan of how all of that heavy drama and emotion was undercut with a joke. If it were me I definitely would’ve let that scene breathe a bit more before doing such a hard cut, but it is what it is.

The last half of this episode is arguably the most unventful and superfluous if you’re only interested in the cosplay side of things, but I got to be honest…I just really like Gojo and Kitagawa doing things together. I like how Kitagawa gets wrapped up in her own pace and doesn’t realize things around her, and Gojo continuously coming to the realization of who exactly he’s working for is every bit as funny as it is endearing. You could even argue that there is some romantic progress here with Kitagawa being a bit more forward about what she wants even if she doesn’t really get into her intentions behind wanting to spend the summer with Gojo. And while it’s obvious that Gojo will take every one of her signals as a kind gesture and not read more into it, it does make me wonder if Kitagawa will continue to be bolder with her desire to get anything closer to the man that she continues to grow feelings for. Overall I love this episode and I think it perfectly encapsulates everything good about this show, from the introductory level technical aspects to the emotional explanations to those cute charming romantic moments.

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My Dress-Up Darling is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

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