Can you believe that My Dress-Up Darling is already one-third of a way through the season? Seems like it just started yesterday, right? I’m thinking that the anime will remain a lot more PG than the manga. That’s just fine by me. I find that the adaptation is doing a great job at highlighting the charm f the story.

So let’s talk about episode 4.

One thing I will say is that the episode did a great job at bringing across Gojo’s self-imposed stress and exhaustion. I even got a little claustrophobic while watching it. Not just in the great way they were drawing and animating Gojo. For some reason, I really like when anime characters get dark circles. And his movements were both slower and more jagged. Good attention to detail there. But also in the way that his thoughts were starting to spiral.

Gojo’s one important connection throughout his life has been his grandfather. And although the fall was not that serious in the grand scheme of things. It still has to be weighing on Gojo quite a bit. On top of that, he’s trying to navigate his first real friendship with a girl he happens to think is very pretty. That’s a landmine right there. Anyone would be a little stressed under those circumstances. Add in the normal pressure of exams, the lack of sleep, the disturbance in his diet and it’s actually surprising he didn’t collapse himself.

And yeah, it’s pretty silly to push yourself quite so far for a costume. It’s also a basic romance trope to have the leads not communicate so that a simple misunderstanding ends up having overblown consequences. But it felt kind of fresh here. Maybe because no one got mad. Or maybe because even throughout the misunderstanding, everyone was acting with the other person’s happiness in mind.

Follow me for a minute here. My Dress-Up Darling is a show that is at least in part preoccupied with making us, the audience, attracted to Marin. It’s sort of important for the story to work as it should. We have to at least agree that people would normally find Marin attractive. So it’s very endearing that through the fanservice and more silly scenes (of which there were very few this week) the one feature of Marin’s that the cinematic language really insists on highlighting, is her smile.

Marin smiles often and exuberantly. And when she does, the scene does everything it can to make sure we are staring at that smile. The cameras linger on it, the light shuffles our eye line to it and the score frames it as something great. Marin is a pretty girl all around and she has a really great smile!

Taking all that into consideration, it’s telling that the first time Marin seems to look at Gojo in a bit of a different light is when she notices his smile. In My Dress-Up Darling, it’s smiles that make people really beautiful. And you know, that’s a very sweet sentiment. One that I am here for.

And of course, those smiles aren’t in a vacuum. It all relates back to Gojo’s grandfather telling him that the smiles of his customers are what keep him going in his craft. Smiles are simply a symbol of happiness. So what My Dress-Up Darling is actually saying here is that both Marin and Gojo are at their most attractive when they’re happy. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

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