The wholesome message behind My Dress-Up Darling

I won’t stop singing the praises of My Dress-Up Darling until you have all watched it. It isn’t just my love of cosplay or the healthy doses of fanservice that have me so excited for this show, though both these things help. No, what really makes me look forward to each episode of My Dress-Up Darling is the surprisingly wholesome message behind the over-the-top antics between main characters Wakana and Marin.

How My Dress Up Darling encourages you to take pride in your interests

When we first see Wakana Gojo, he is a painfully shy high school student, totally lacking in social skills and friends, to the point where his grandfather is worried about him becoming too obsessed with the Hina dolls that the two craft and sell from their home. The reason for Wakana’s lack of friends at school stems from a childhood friend criticising him for having such an interest in the dolls. Despite the fact that he eventually grows to be a tall, good-looking young man, he feels like he has to hide this part of himself from everyone around him, which makes him isolated and, ultimately, lonely.

Marin has had a similar experience in her past. As a female otaku with a deep love of eroge, she often has people who don’t know her try to belittle her interests or tell her she should behave more like her friends at school. However, she has the opposite reaction to Wakana, choosing instead to embrace the interests that make her unique and to celebrate people who show a passion for what they love. She even brushes off the concept that girls shouldn’t like eroge just as much as boys do, because gender stereotypes are for the weak.

The contrast between these two, with Wakana being painfully shy and second-guessing pretty much every social interaction he has and Marin being outgoing and unashamedly geeky, is often played up for laughs, but the central message of the show seems to come from something Marin says in the first episode.

My Dress-Up Darling

“You just don’t go making fun of things people clearly like,” might sound obvious, but it is something that sometimes needs to be said. When Wakana reflects on how much it impacted him to have his friend criticise something he loved, believe me when I say I felt that in my soul.

As someone who had to hide my interests in anime and other normally geeky things when I was growing up because I also happened to play sports, it can be frustrating to not be able to express that part of myself. I can be a massive nerd and an athlete at the same time, thank you very much. You can be a big tough guy and also adore shows like Love Live and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

On a professional level, as a writer that covers a wide spectrum of the video game and anime communities, it can be tempting to feel the need to justify what I love to people, especially when the inevitable “What do you do for a job” conversation comes up. Explaining that I talk about this stuff on the Internet for a living causes more than a few blank stares, but there shouldn’t need to be any justification for it.

I love this stuff, I love talking about it, and I am lucky enough to make it my job. Simple as. (Preach – Ed.)

My Dress-Up Darling's Marin

My Dress-Up Darling gets this theme across beautifully in the opening episode as we see how isolated Wakana feels and how he second guesses every word he says to keep other people from finding out how much he loves making Hina dolls. When he hears Marin talk about how cool it is that he can sew, there is visible relief on his face. For the first time, he feels accepted and seen by one of his peers and it is beautiful.

We all need that kind of support when we go through life. Its okay to like the things that make you happy, even if the people around you don’t share that interest. Equally, it is never okay to try to make someone feel bad for a hobby that brings them joy. In a season that is filled with massive shows like Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer, I hope everyone gets a chance to watch My Dress-Up Darling just for its wonderful message about supporting each other and ourselves.

If you want to catch My Dress-Up Darling, the first two episodes are streaming on the Funimation website, with new episodes dropping every Saturday. The manga is also available on Amazon.

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