I respect the hell out of Dress-Up Darling for not making Marin and Wakana’s love hotel, er, experience, like, a big thing. In fact, it’s not even mentioned this week! What happened happened, but it didn’t change the fact that these two kids absolutely adore hanging out with each other, no matter what they’re doing…or not doing.
An ominous “HELP ME” text from Marin sends Wakana to her place, where she’s just trying to get her summer homework done. He learns, and is amazed, that she works as an amateur magazine model, and we learn she’s been doing more shoots in hopes of affording a DSLR.
This finale to what I’m hoping is just the first of at least two seasons of DUD is All Marin and Wakana, all the time, with the cosplay aspects that dominated so many other episodes fades to the margins as they simply hang out and learn more about each other.
For instance, Wakana is weary of the scary movie Marin wants to watch, but ends up delighted and inspired by its wardrobe and makeup effects while it’s Marin who gets legit scared. I noted that there wasn’t an attempt for either of them to continue what was started in that love hotel bed; clearly that’s not quite their speed yet!
When Marin realizes she left her math homework at school, the two take an unscheduled trip there to pick it up, and both think the empty dark school is particularly creepy after watching that movie. Then Marin spots the sun-dappled pool and wants to dip her toe in, and ends up falling in and sinking right to the bottom.
The physical details of how Wakana gets Marin out are skipped in favor of Wakana learning another new nugget about Marin: despite loving the beach and water in general, she can’t swim for shit! To Wakana it’s like him loving Hina dolls while still not being the best at making them; you don’t have to be good at something—or even know how to do it—to love it.
By the same token, you don’t have to be actively looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend to end up with one. While cosplay brought these two together, what has kept (and will keep) them together is their effortless chemistry and sincerely kind and beautiful souls. Bottom line, these are two very good kids who deserve each other.
And while watching them just hang around her place is perfectly fine, I’m glad Marin does get all her homework done so they can go to a festival together. Marin learns it’s the first time Wakana’s been to one; he’s used to viewing the fireworks from a distance outside his window while he’s home. She also learns he’s a nape guy, and so she tries to keep her nape in his line of sight at all times.
While no official announcement or delcaration of their being a couple has ever been expressed, this festival date makes clear that such formalities are irrelevant. All that matters is that Marin and Wakana just work together, and no matter what it is they’re up to, be it cosplay or a festival, they’re exceedingly fun to watch interact.
It’s fortuitous that Wakana’s first taste of fireworks at such close range, where you can really see, hear, smell, and feel them, came with Marin beside him. Of course, he wouldn’t even be there were it not for her taking him by the hand and expanding his once-dusty horizons.
When he glimpses Marin’s face intermittently lit by pink, purple, blue and green, it’s as if the spell of the fireworks is compounded by the spell of Marin. Then their eyes meet, and hold on each other for what seems like an eternity…and then Marin sticks out her tongue, turned blue from her shaved ice. It’s a sweet subversion of the “eyes meeting” archetype, and 100% Kitagawa Marin to boot!
Marin may have an expansive and diverse wardrobe, but she’s not used to her geta, and ends up with bad sandal burn after a whole night in them. Wakana offers to get some bandages at the store, but Marin says that’s too much trouble; he can just carry her on his back.
While on his back, Marin laments how they were having so much fun, but when things like sandal burn happen, “things get sorta ‘meh'”. Clearly Wakana doesn’t feel that way, and I don’t think she does either! Sandal burn sucks, but because of it, she gets to be carried by the guy she wuvs. They even commit to not only going to the festival next year, but trying to go to as many in the Kanto region as they can.
After the end credits we get one more lovely, intimate scene. Summer has been winding down, but their relationship is on the rise. Marin is scared after watching the sequel to the scary movie they watched. She was fine with the first one because he was right there beside her, but she’s too freaked out by watching the second alone, and so asks Wakana if he’ll just talk to her for a while.
She even says he can just have the speakerphone on while he dozes off, and that’s exactly what happens. We know Wakana says what he normally wouldn’t when he’s nearing sleep. But while there was definitely an opportunity for him to say something else, he ends up just saying the year was a lot of fun, with the implication that it was fun because Marin was in it.
After that, all Marin hears is his gentle breathing, which is when she decides to say “I love you” out loud. By then he’s nodded off and can’t hear, which is probably why she had the courage to say it to begin with. But it’s good practice for something I hope we’ll get to see an a second season: these two continuing to grow closer not just as cosplay collaborators, but as an official couple. The way has been well and smoothly paved.