Wakana Gojo and Marin Kitagawa are two sides of the same coin, heavily influenced by Japanese culture while existing in separate worlds. Gojo is stuck in the past, living and breathing old school traditions in his quest to become a master Hina Doll craftsman, or kashirashiwhile Marin idolizes a whole different side of Japan.
This outgoing otaku girl is obsessed with cosplay and lives more in the present, making impulsive decisions sprinkled with adorable slang. However, even with all their differences, Marin and Gojo couldn’t be more compatible in My darling dressingas one of the cutest anime couples of the winter 2022 season.
Gojo’s world was turned upside down when he was orphaned at a young age and sent to live with his grandfather, Kaoru the kashirashi. He found great solace in the beauty of the Hina dolls made by his grandfather and so decided to dedicate his life to becoming a kashirashi himself. Unfortunately, his peers were unable to see the artistry of his passion, blinded by the lack of “manliness” associated with dolls, and subsequently shunned him from society.
Having spent most of his childhood avoiding children his own age, Gojo’s main companion was his grandfather, and it shows. The youngster later adopted some mannerisms typically used by older generations, from elaborate cooking and traditional meals to his choice of dress (dress, sandals and headband all the way) and uses more formal language as well. The concept of Manga Cafés and video games seems foreign to him, showing how out of touch Gojo is with contemporary society.
Marin, on the other hand, is a fashionable young girl who is obsessed with all things anime and wants nothing more than to impersonate her beloved characters in cosplay. To say that his style of cooking is modern may give the wrong impression, as its technique is less “designer food” and more “icy TV dinner”, but there’s definitely nothing traditional about this cuisine. Her wardrobe, however, scores a five-star rating on the chic scale. Marin is very avant-garde with a strong Gyaru vibe, going so far as to constantly upgrade its look with neoteric colored contacts (nothing old school to see here.)
Marin’s choice of vocabulary is very colloquial and cutesy, especially when she can’t contain it. wow for Gojo. She knows all the relevant Anime lingo and is happy to give anyone a quick lesson in the basics, while probably showing some (unnecessary, but not unrecognized) skin in the process. Marin’s mentality can also be considered relatively modern, as she is openly sex-positive, which is a luxury not all women have been able to experience. Archaic traditions give girls less freedom to express their individuality, especially when it comes to what society considers appropriate dress and sexual conduct.
The Symbolism Behind Hina Dolls
The concept of gifting Hina dolls has been ingrained in Japanese culture since before the Edo period (1603–1868), and they are still highly revered in contemporary society. In Japan, March 3 is dedicated to these lovely creations during a holiday called Hina Matsuri, which aims to honor young girls in every household. Traditionally, Hina dolls, also known as Hina Ningyo, are gifted with auspiciousness when a family welcomes a newborn girl into their midst, then blessing the child with good fortune. These immaculate creations usually come in sets of three to five (or more) figures, and it became very popular to dress the dolls as representatives of members of the imperial court of the Heian period. Then, every year on March 3, these Hina Ningyo are displayed in tiered settings similar to those depicted in Kaoru’s shop at My beloved dressing.
Initially, Hina dolls were not created as toys but as containers to dispel impurities. Those wishing to clean themselves had to make a doll and stroke it along their skin before blowing on it and sending the potentially contaminated package into the river. Due to the doll’s popularity among young girls, this superstitious custom eventually combined with Hihina Asobi (doll play) to create the traditions observed in Japan to this day. Hina dolls continue to adapt, with some contemporary designs no longer adorning traditional Imperial Court outfits but opting for something more fashionable and fashionable, highlighted by modern fabric prints and bright colors. The ever-evolving custom of Hina dolls is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon, especially as their growing popularity thanks to My beloved dressing.
Otaku culture (in Japan)
Otaku, who officially became the oxford dictionary, generally refers to the admiration of Japanese pop culture, usually specified (but not exclusive) to the anime and manga industries. Unfortunately, a level of social awkwardness is routinely associated with anything related to otaku, including its official definition. Marin clearly deflects this stereotype, reflecting the international craze that the otaku has inspired worldwide. This popular Japanese culture has taken the world by storm, helping to transform these previously stigmatized people. “nerds” into acceptable enthusiasts, now celebrated for their passion.
Cosplay is an integral part of otaku, as many anime and manga enthusiasts want nothing more than to manifest their favorite fictional characters. Cosplay comes with its own set of rules in Japan, as performing in public outside of specialized events or venues, such as Akihabara, the otaku center of Tokyo city, is prohibited. This restriction prevents the misrepresentation of the image of brands in the public eye, which could lead to negative associations with the image of these characters. For example, a drunk and disorderly Shinju Inui cosplayer does not comply with the My darling dressing standards.
Marin is the perfect personification of the contemporary Otaku girl, as her passion for Japanese pop culture is so fierce it’s contagious. Not only does this charmer spend most of her free time engrossed in some form of anime, manga, or video game, but it seems the only reason she even has a job is to pay for her cosplay obsession. Unlike Gojo, Marin embraces his passion to the fullest, proudly bragging about his potentially controversial love for such highly sexualized content. His character has become so inspiring that some fans are now cosplaying Marin herself (as well as cosplaying Marin’s cosplays, breaking the fourth wall entirely on another level).
The social impact of My Dress-Up Darling
The real inspiration behind Wakana Gojo shares the success of the Anime, as Yoshiaki Suzuki’s Hina dolls have suddenly become extremely popular in 2022. Yoshiaki Suzuki is the mastermind behind some of the first modernized (and blonde) Hina dolls after discovering that combining the traditional Japanese technique with bolder, more contemporary fabric choices has made its products appealing to older and younger generations alike (and especially among Anime enthusiasts). The Suzuki Ningyo Shop, for which he works as a lead designer, reported that they had sold out all available upgraded Hina dolls, also known as The BELL’S KISS series, by the time of episode 4 of My darling dressing broadcast.
The influence that Anime has officially come full circle, as the correlation between the popularity of My darling dressing and Yoshiaki Suzuki’s creations is indisputable, proving that Otaku culture can have a significant and positive influence on people’s lives (just like Marin). It’s refreshing to see that the origin of these fans’ admiration is also reaping the rewards, and it’s not just the fictional characters and Shinichi Fukuda that are being celebrated. Authenticity is, ironically, an essential part of the successful cosplay mentality, and purchasing iconic Hina dolls from the source of inspiration is one of the best ways to honor this Japanese custom.
MORE: What Dressed Up Sweetie Can Teach You About Cosplay
Sources: Kokoro, Crunchyroll and JapanInsider