First a new Takagi-san, then a second genuinely heartwarming, sweet, and funny rom-com? Winter 2022 is off to a fast and satisfying start! Main lad Gojou Wakana has always loved the ethereal beauty and dignity of traditional Hina Dolls, but ever since a girl insisted it was “wrong” for a boy to love dolls so much, he’s let his passion stunt his social development.
Now in high school, Wakana loves Hina dolls more than ever, though he’s still pretty much his gramps’ apprentice, and can only really make the dolls’ clothes properly. He also has no friends, just like middle and grade school, because he’s afraid his very niche passion would make things awkward and uncomfortable for others. The fake-out where a classmate grabs him from behind, only to have mistaken him for someone else, is a heartbreaking summing-up of Wakana’s struggles.
On the other end of the social spectrum is Kitagawa Marin, the de facto class idol who, while stylish, has a heart of gold. When her girlfriends tease her about telling off a hot guy at the mall, she reveals her sense of justice when she says people should make fun of something someone loves. Even from what he deems to be a world opposite from his, Marin seems to be speaking to him.
Karin’s empathy and kindness is also demonstrated when she is literally sent flying into his desk while messing with her friends. She makes sure Wakana is okay, even noticing the ink ion his arm and mistaking it for a wound. After school, she gets Wakana to break his stoic façade and say what he really thinks: he doesn’t like the other guys sticking him with cleanup duty. Marin tells him he shouldn’t goalong with something he doesn’t want to do; he needs to look out for himself.
Then the fateful day arrives when Marin learns Wakana’s secret skill. When his gramps’ ancient sewing machine (the same kind my mom used to own) breaks down, Wakana uses the sewing machine at school. He’s doting over the Hina doll head his gramps made when Marin enters, and her initial expressions (Marin’s face game is outstanding) suggest it’s “all over” for him. But he hasn’t been paying attention: Marin isn’t that kind of person.
She thinks it’s awesome that Wakana knows how to sew. She’s so excited by the knowledge, she starts to strip right in front of him, before asking him to turn around. When she’s done, she has him take a look at what she’s been working on, and then shows him a photo of the costume it’s supposed to be.
It is atrocious on every level, and Wakana briefly goes into Sewing Expert Mode pointing out all the ways it is wrong, before realizing he’s making Marin cry and apologizes profusely, asking her to please kill him. But again, Marin isn’t here to have Wakana grovel or pay her for his insolence. She’s not your typical “Queen Bee/Gyaru”, anymore than he’s your typical otaku protagonist.
She knows she’s not good enough to realize the goal of looking like her favorite manga, anime, and game characters. But she figures it won’t hurt to ask Wakana if he’d be willing to make it for her. Having seen her reveal her secret to him, and react to his secret not with disgust but admiration, and being a good guy himself, Wakana can’t say no.
What does he get in return? Well, for one thing, an opportunity to one his skills on a full-size person, his first friend in forever, and who knows, maybe more! Romance aside, becoming friends with Marin could mean making more friends. I’m looking forward to their future interactions.
We’ve got a likeable lead couple, a charming premise, and drop-dead gorgeous production from CloverWorks, and a fresh and eclectic soundtrack. I also have to mention what a phenomenal job newcomer Suguta Hina does voicing Marin in just her third role as a seiyu. Ishige Shouya is also strong as the voice of Wakana (just his fifth role). We’ve got a keeper here!