My Dress-Up Darling, Vol. 1

y Shinichi Fukuda. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Gangan. Released in North America by Square Enix Manga. Translated by Taylor Engel.

Despite the tendency of modern-day folks to say that it’s OK to be introverted and that not everyone needs to be brought out of their shell, there’s no denying that the number of works dedicated to that continue to proliferate. In manga, who the introvert is depends very much on who the series is meant for: in shoujo works, it’s a shy young girl who runs into a brash and outgoing young man, and in shonen or seinen works, it’s the opposite. Since this runs in Young Gangan, you can guess what we have here. That said, as I have always said, just because a story is familiar does not make it bad. Both leads are quite likeable and the whole thing put a smile on my face – despite the M rating (mostly due to frank discussion of a game), so far it’s pretty wholesome, and its premise of “don’t be ashamed of your hobbies even if they are seen as girly” is a good one. Plus that cover is fab.

Our hero is Gojo, a young man who has a deep and abiding love of Hina dolls – those little dolls with the fancy head and hairpeieces – but alas, a childhood friend said that this was a girly hobby and she hates him now, and this led him to lose all confidence and become a shy loner who is constantly doubting himself. Into his life one day comes Kitagawa, a popular “gal’ in his class who has no trouble both saying what’s on her mind and also admitting to hobbies that might be seen as uncool. When she finds Gojo working on a sewing machine one day, and realizes he can make clothes, she asks him to help her cosplay, something she’s been trying but failing to do as she can’t sew at all. There is, perhaps, one catch – she wants to cosplay a character from an ero-game – again, something she’s not shy in saying.

As I said, this title is rated M. Though there are fanservicey shots of Kitagawa in her underwear – indeed, it’s on the first color page – the relationship between her and Gojo is pretty PG so far – she tries to tease him a few times, but is also starting to like him in a way that makes her shy off of that. The M rating comes from the game she loves, “Saint♥Slippery Academy for Girls–The Young Ladies of the Humiliation Club: Debauched Miracle Life 2”. It’s a title that you know a company like MangaGamer would snap up in real life, and, like a lot of these sorts of games, balances out the sex scenes with emotional moments of “love” – dubious though it may sound. Kitagawa talks about this a LOT, and as Gojo plays it and they discuss it, sometimes there are misunderstandings.

That said, the main reason to get this title is the main couple – they’re really cute, bond immediately, and I want to see them open up to each other more. (I do also wonder if the series will earn its rating more in future volumes.) I definitely recommend it for those who like comedic romance with a touch of spice – well, OK, given the game Kitagawa is a fan of, a touch of sleaze.

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