manga, Manga reviews

Review: My Dress-Up Darling vol. 1

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Story and art: Shinichi Fukuda
Genre: Ecchi, Romance, Slice of Life
Publisher: Square Enix Manga
Synopsis: A high school boy with a passion for traditional dolls and a talent for sewing gets roped into making cosplay outfits for one of the prettiest, most popular girls in his class! As the odd couple grows ever closer, they find themselves in ever racier situations!

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Whilst browsing for new manga to buy, I stumbled across My Dress-Up Darling. I have a weird thing about not wanting to read too much manga that has been adapted into anime, I can’t even explain this hangup, and My Dress-Up Darling looked really cute from the front cover, and it was a story about a cosplayer! Much more relatable to me than anything else I could have picked.

I thought I was in for something cute and wholesome, and whilst not entirely wrong, I was quite surprised when the manga arrived and it was wrapped in celophane. Always a dead giveaway. I then spotted the Parental Advisory warning, and wondered what I’d got myself into. Clearly, I have a problem reading product descriptions properly.

Wakana is a boy who is interested in traditional Japanese hina dolls, and having been teased about it as a child, he is very sensitive about his interests which are generally perceived as feminine. His classmate Marin is a popular and beautiful girl, who is unashamedly open about her interests in anime. Marin catches Wakana using a sewing machine at school, making clothes for his hina dolls. It’s not long before she recruits him to making her cosplay for her current obsession; a character from Saint Slippery’s Academy for Girls – The Young Ladies of the Humiliation Club: Debauched Miracle Life 2 (what a title), which is an eroge (an erotic videogame for the uninitiated), so it’s here where the Parental Advisory warning really comes into play.

Wakana and Marin are polar opposites, and it’s so nice to see the beginnings of their relationship. Wakana is a very sweet, innocent boy, and Marin seems pretty worldly, though admittedly we don’t know much about her from the first volume. Marin helps Wakana accept that it’s okay to accept your interests and that there’s nothing wrong with liking what you like, which is really refreshing and I wish I had someone tell me that when I was growing up.

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The basis of Wakana and Marin’s relationship is really interesting, and it does seem on the face of it that Wakana is giving a lot and Marin is taking, so I’m interested to see how it develops and how things balance out.

I also really enjoyed all the cosplay references, naturally. My Dress-Up Darling is actually surprisingly in depth about cosplay, talking a lot about things like patterning outfits, fabric choices and wigs. It’s actually a relief as it would have taken me out of it a lot if it had been inaccurate.

Of all the manga I’ve accidentally bought, My Dress-Up Darling is up there as one of my favourites.

8 stars

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