My Dress-Up Darling by Shinichi Fukuda is a very popular manga that has sold over 8 million copies. In Winter 2022, a 13-episode television anime adaptation was produced by CloverWorks. The anime was a smash hit, and a sequel has already been announced.
The story follows Wakana Gojou, a high school boy aspiring to become a craftsman who makes hina doll heads, and Marin Kitagawa, a gyaru who loves cosplay. They connect through unconventional circumstances and gradually become closer through cosplay.
We bring to you the English translation of the behind-the-scenes interview with My Dress-Up Darling director Keisuke Shinohara, released by Febri in June 2022.
Considering the feelings of the original creator and fans was essential.
First, I'd like to ask about how you came to work on the anime adaptation of My Dress-Up Darling.
Shinohara: Animation producer Mr. (Shouta) Umehara reached out to me about it. Previously, I'd worked on Kiznaiver with Kazumasa Ishida (Character Designer & Animation Director) and he recommended me for the job. I left most of the staffing decisions to Mr. Umehara, but in the case of the assistant director Mr. (Yoshihiro) Hiramine, I reached out to him myself because he is a trusted friend and I knew we needed someone highly skilled.
What were your thoughts when you first read the original manga?
Shinohara: Honestly when I first started reading it, I thought it was just eye-candy for guys (laughs). But as I continued to read the story, I saw how earnestly Marin and Wakana approached cosplay, and I realized the appeal of the dramatic aspects, like how the two grew as characters. In volume two (anime episode four, "Are These Your Girlfriend's?"), there's a scene where Wakana is crying as he makes a costume. I remember empathizing with him a lot, as at the time the work was really overwhelming, and it felt like we had synced up.
When reading the manga, which moments did you feel were particularly interesting?.
Shinohara: My Dress-Up Darling is told from the perspective of Wakana at first, but when Marin realizes her feelings for him, her inner thoughts also start appearing. If you're reading from the perspective that it's a romantic comedy with a male protagonist, the fact that the heroine's feelings are known is really interesting. Marin is already pretty unique, and having a heroine with her emotions so clearly depicted is special, and reading it was a pleasure. Marin and Wakana are both clumsy when it comes to love, so it can be a bit frustrating to watch. However, they are also really relatable. I think this too contributes to the series' popularity.
What were you most conscious of when adapting the original work?.
Shinohara: The most important thing was to not disappoint the original creator, Ms. Shinichi Fukuda, or the fans who love My Dress-Up Darling. After it was decided that I would be the director, I checked out social media and store reviews to figure out how this series was viewed, and there were a lot of reviews. I'd known that My Dress-Up Darling was popular, but I didn't realize the extent of its popularity until that moment. I felt a lot of pressure, and I also did not want to dishonor the series through my involvement when Ms. Fukuda had spent so much energy creating it, and it had brought so many people joy.
Did Ms. Fukuda have any special requests for the anime adaptation?.
Shinohara: She didn't really. I was really grateful that she left a huge portion of the decisions to us. But if I had to pick something, I'd say she cared about how Marin spoke and her facial expressions. Whenever her face would get gloomy or when we had to add lines that weren't in the original story, she would sometimes say "Marin's words don't feel right." When we'd go back to adjust it, I'd notice that she was right. After that, we worked hard to meet Ms. Fukuda's high expectations for Marin.
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Interviewer/Author: Yuhki Saitoh
Translator: Taylor Drew
Interview was conducted in Japanese and has been edited for clarity.