Acceptance is a wonderful idea. To be received, and included, as you are. This message resonated with me, as I hope people in my life feel accepted. The idea of acceptance, is explored in the anime My Dress Up Darling, Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru. I just watched the first episode on VRV / Crunchyroll. It’s also on Funimation.
Wakana Gojou, helps with his family’s business, which involves the tradition of making Japanese Hina dolls. Gojou puts a lot of effort and passion into designing the dolls, and has become proficient in sewing and creating their traditional costumes. He wants to improve his skill with making their detailed faces, like his grandfather, who is an expert at making them. He’s been in the business for 48 years!
An unpleasant childhood experience, made Gojou feel that his passion for doll making was not acceptable to his peers, so he’s since withdrawn and prefers to keep to himself. He feels awkward around other people and doesn’t want to be judged.
The first few scenes show a memorial alter for Gojou’s parents, and his grandma. He and his grandpa live together. Families can be all sorts, as long as they love and support one another, celebrate each other’s successes, and help each other as they go through the challenges of life.
Over breakfast, Gojou and his grandpa talk about doll making. Gojou’s grandpa wonders if he is lonely and asks if he has friends. Wanting to assuage his concern, Gojou tells a fib.
Almost choking on soup, leads the viewer to think the answer is no. Which is confirmed moments later.
Gojou and his grandpa both mean well. But, at the moment Gojou does not have friends.
The animation in this series, is vivid. Looking out the window, you can see how incredibly detailed the tree is.
This beauty is in Gojou’s life, right outside his classroom window, but it seems he can’t see it. He’s missing it. Which makes this next moment, even more heartbreaking, as he thinks it would be better if he didn’t exist. You don’t have to “do” anything to feel worthy of life. Your presence is a unique imprint upon this world, that only you can bring to this realm. Your soul expression is one of a kind.
Gojou is having unhealthy thoughts. If he was someone in real life, I’d encourage him to talk about his feelings. And there are resources too, and websites like https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ that can help.
However, Gojou is distracted by a loud ruckus. Looking up, he sees his classmate Kitagawa flying in from stage left and then banging her head on his desk. I was worried she’d fly right out the window if it wasn’t for his desk there.
She said his name, which means she knows who he is. Kitagawa was concerned for his well-being, even checking his arm. My first impression is she seems pleasant, and is a ball of energy. As Gojou continues his observation, we learn she’s his complete opposite.
Kitagawa’s friend shares a story about them getting their hair done, and a cute guy waited after his appointment, for an opportunity to talk to Kitagawa. He was unsuccessful in winning her heart, but we the viewers, got to learn more about her character.
Quick pause here: Her friends imply she never hangs out with them after school because she always runs off somewhere, so I’m curious where she goes!
I like that Kitagawa has a strong sense of self, is confident, and holds her own. Despite the feedback she gets from her friends regarding the incident, she knows it was the right action for her.
If Kitagawa is an ice queen to people who hit on her, why is that? Is it the type of guys that tend to approach her? Is it their manner? Does she have an ideal type? Or does she question their motives? Do they seem shallow? By accounts so far, she is cheerful and approachable. I’m curious why she has a different demeanor with others. But the same could be said for most people. I wouldn’t be as relaxed around strangers, or people I just met.
True. I wonder if he was trying that “negging” approach? Although I am guilty of roasting people, but only my nearest and dearest. Never to someone I just met, and surely not as a flirting attempt!
This moment, really resonated with Gojou. Although he is sitting in the back of the classroom, he is able to hear their entire conversation. Gojou was judged in his youth, for his affinity for dolls, and it’s affected his ability to interact comfortably with others. Meanwhile Kitagawa, seems to be taking a different approach when being judged for her preferences. Why? Is it because she’s older? Versus Gojou being a younger child when he had the experience? Does this happen to Kitagawa often, so she’s developed a tough exterior to handle these situations? Or is it because she’s an attractive female, so society treats her differently? Or could it be a different scenario, where Kitagawa is hit on often, and she finds holding a firm line is the best way to handle it so she’s assertive in establishing a boundary? Sometimes we want to protect our hobbies and passions. Keeping it to ourselves might keep the energy around it more positive, or we assume that to be the case. Less judgement, less defending, less explaining. Other times, we want to share our passions, and spread the good word! Haters be damned. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes here. Have you ever had a judgement against a hobby or passion you had? Or did you find a supportive environment, or community? Was the reaction based on external factors? Maybe it changed over time. Why do people react the way they do? Do they think the hobby is too consuming? Perhaps they dislike the attention it takes away from them in your life. Maybe it adds to the quality of your life. Perhaps they just don’t understand.
In this scene Kitagawa attempts to explain her anime passion, and her love of this particular character, so her friends might understand.
In Gojou’s eyes, he lives in a world where he is not accepted for who he is. He even continues to hide his ink mark on his arm, while sitting at his desk. But he imagines the world that Kitagawa lives in, where she is accepted as she is, must be really comfortable.
Gojou runs into Kitagawa later that day. He is stuck with clean up duty, and his classmates who were supposed to help, have bailed on him. All except for Kitagawa. She can sense his true feelings, and calls him out for not standing up for himself. But she does it in a way, that reminds him, he is worth standing up for and his feelings matter. Kitagawa’s integrity and inner strength reminds me of Hori, from Horimiya.
It’s awesome that Kitagawa sees Gojou, can sense his true feelings, and also encourages him to be authentic. You can already tell she’s the type of friend you’d want in your life, someone who encourages you, and lifts you up. But also tells the truth, even if that may be uncomfortable at times. Because ultimately, she wants you to be happy. Her words stay with Gojou, and he reflects upon it later, as he’s working.
There’s something to be said for the people in our lives, that see things as they truly are. The ones that see behind our forced smiles, our eyes that don’t shine as they normally do. They give us permission to let our guard down, to be ourselves. We never needed their permission, but their presence, and their words, were the reminder we needed.
I’m so excited to see where this show goes, and I hope these two have a lot of growth, fun, and friendship in the future! Also, I guess the mystery of where Kitagawa goes after class has been solved! If you’d like to watch My Dress Up Darling, check out VRV / Crunchyroll or Funimation.