Who doesn’t love the flavor of the month? It seems almost every season there comes along a character that just takes the fandom by storm. One that is everywhere and anywhere. Such is the job of the ‘best girl.’ A female character who will make the entire anime community fall in love with, and produce oodles of merchandise, memes, and of course, fan art. But is there any other reason why people might like these characters, or more specifically the most recent iteration? Well after the cut, let’s take a dive into My Dress-up Darling’s Marin Kitagawa and find out.
On the surface, it is very easy to see why people love Marin so much. It isn’t hard to understand what makes people declare a ‘best girl.’ Have her be good looking, a sense of humor, a badass if it’s an action show, or just make cute faces and you’re halfway home. Marin is able to have many of those. Blessed with great animation, Darling is able to take what would have otherwise been another run of the mill ‘gal’ character and make her pop in all the right places. She is funny, cute, sweet, and of course, absolutely sexy. Mixing all of those together, coupled again with good animation is enough to make any anime fan swoon, as apparently everyone did.
But beyond those things, there is more I think that makes Marin strike a cord for people. Things about how she acts and what she represents that have pulled people so deeply inside her sphere of influence. I can only speak for myself, but when I look at Marin and her attitudes in the story, she in many ways represents what many men find attractive in a woman. She is passionate about her hobby in a way that feels authentic and real. She is comfortable with her own body and isn’t afraid to look and be sexy when she wants to be. But most importantly of all, she is confident in herself and who she is. Marin is a woman who is proud of herself and holds her head up with pride. She’s not a girl constantly justifying her own existence and she doesn’t feel she has to prove anything to anyone. She is just herself, and gets to embrace her hobby and passion without judgment or scorn. This isn’t a woman riddled with anxiety, victim complexes or daddy issues, but a healthy, vibrant woman who has a level of faith and self confidence in herself that anyone can admire.
Of course this is an anime, and in the interest of fairness, Marin has benefits that people in the real world, especially young women, may not have. That should be acknowledged, but it shouldn’t be the reason we dismiss why people love this character. There is something sexy and attractive in a confident woman, one who is afraid to show who she is, but isn’t a complete arrogant ass about it. It should also be noted that Marin is in many ways, an idealized version of this concept, one again that is allowed to flourish in a safe and happy environment, but it shows again why people adore her so much.
Finally, I would be remiss to mention Gojo, the story’s leading male. Some have wondered what Marin sees in him, or why their relationship is even a thing. Putting aside the fact that he is good at his craft, there are many reasons why Gojo makes Marin herself swoon. He is an attractive man for one, but also a man who respects her hobby, treats her with grace, and respects her boundaries. He maintains a level of professionalism when creating her costumes, despite being nervous in her presence, and does his best to make her dreams a reality. He is also a grounded and level-headed man and like anime’s best pairings, having him bounce against Marin’s quirky fun loving personality makes for excellent chemistry. I can’t say how refreshing it was to see that Marin was the one going gaga for him instead of the other way around.
My Dress-Up Darling’s Marin Kitagawa will no doubt fade away as the year goes on. Like the march of time, the hunt for the next ‘best girl’ will continue. Others will come and go and the attention of the anime fandom will shift to the next new thing. Marin isn’t the first and she won’t be the last. But I think she’ll be remembered for being more than just a flavor of the month. A character who displays traits that any man or woman could fall in love with. There is something to admire about her, whether it is her passion, her zeal, or her looks. Even if she is a fictional character, she really is our dress-up darling.
At least that is what I think.