Pinpointing the cutest moments in My Dress-Up Darling is difficult, mostly on account of Marin Kitagawa’s love and enthusiasm for so many different things. She squeals over her favorite anime/manga series, poses in adorable outfits, and goes through a lot after she realizes that she loves her cosplay costume-designer, Wakana Gojo.
As a result, the majority of the adorable reactions on this list would, under normal circumstances, mostly consist of the many times Marin reverts into a cartoonish version of herself to highlight her intense feelings. How she’s rendered combined with the backdrops are diverse enough to make each freak-out memorable. But Marin’s “normal” personality is peppy and unique enough to warrant more attention whenever she’s not overreacting. Moreover, it would be a travesty to not include some of Gojo’s reactions as well as scenes with crucial characters like Juju, because the original My Dress-Up Darling manga by Shinichi Fukuda is just that good.
10 Episode 5: Too Excited To Do It Perfectly
The first time that Marin gets to experience her dream of becoming one of her many “number-one” characters (Shizuku) results in a whirlwind of cute reactions. But it’s when her excitement affects the first photo that Gojo takes of her as Shizuku that tugs at the heartstrings. This isn’t just because Marin can’t help but laugh at herself for looking so ridiculous, but due of the occasion’s importance. Although being incapable of maintaining composure when cosplaying will later turn out to be commonplace for Marin, the fact that this was the first outfit that Gojo made for her and would lead to her cosplaying debut are what made this goofy moment so endearing.
9 Episode 6: Two Completely Different Reactions
This moment is a compilation of multiple reactions from both Marin and Gojo, but they are all in response to the same question. When the famous cosplayer Juju assumes that Marin and Gojo are dating, Gojo denies this while Marin giggles to herself as she dreams of what it would be like if they were. Gojo has many similar fits throughout the first season, but Juju’s expressionless reaction as she withstands his verbal tirade summarizes her character’s aloofness perfectly. For the same reason, and for the sake of diversity, this moment will serve as this list’s only example of Marin’s many daydreams of Gojo like when she later gets excited over the fact that she’ll finally get to cook for him or when she can’t help but obsess over her man while dressing him up at a retail store.
8 Episode 8: “I can’t handle sincerity!”
My Dress-Up Darling quickly positions Juju as a typical anime tsundere, remaining cold and disconnected to most people other than her sister. There are times when Juju’s humanity shines through though, like when she cartoonishly sobs to a confused Marin for judging her for being a certain type of cosplayer too quickly. But, here, Juju’s terrified expression as she makes the futile effort of staying out of reach of an emotional Gojo hits too hard to ignore. Her desperation is more adorable just because of the absurdity of her aloofness when taking into account what exactly she’s so freaked out about. She’s trying to get away from Gojo who is moved by what she said about his work, all while wearing that goofy expression on his face.
7 Episode 4: The Relationship Rules Become Too Restrictive
Although typical in anime romcoms, it’s monumental when the popular girl who connects with a shy boy goes out of her way to be with the boy beyond the very strict parameters their unconventional relationship is based on. Marin’s gesture in this particular case is especially cute because of the circumstances that prompted her impromptu visit, but it’s even more so because her effort fails due to a misunderstanding. Of course, My Dress-Up Darling soon shatters this trope when she admits her feelings for him. But at the time it’s especially powerful. Witnessing Marin truly care enough for Gojo to not only worry about him but to want to comfort him is just too much. And that look of concern on her face could melt the heart of even the coldest viewer.
6 Episode 6: “What is it I’m feeling!?”
This moment is when viewers are basically told that Marin loves Gojo. Of course, the episode makes it official a few minutes later, but this scene stands out because of the shocked look on Marin’s face and her surprised “Huh?!” just seconds before. In fact, this is one of the last times in which viewers get to see her so love-struck before being barraged by overly cartoonish moments. While Marin’s little freakouts are incredibly cute, there’s something purer when an anime shows the true face of a character reacting to something so powerful as love.
5 Episode 8: A Beach Scene The Likes of Which You Haven’t Seen
Episode 8 features one of the most subversive and yet emotionally beautiful scenes in anime with My Dress-Up Darling’s unique take on the ubiquitous anime beach episode. There are no obligatory bikini freakouts or sensual applications of suntan lotion to be had since it’s not quite beach season yet. And while there is a mandatory Marin freakout, what’s truly adorable about her time on the beach with Gojo is when she tells him something that would be incredibly heartwarming on its own if it wasn’t much more. She’s trying to ease Gojo of his many regrets.
4 Episode 5: A Deeper Confession
There’s something about the inadvertent confession, where the confessor isn’t even aware that they did and the one who was confessed to is left dumbfounded. All of this occurs and then some in My Dress-Up Darling when Gojo and Marin are on their way back from Marin’s first cosplay event. But what separates Gojo’s confession from the rest is that he doesn’t say he loves her. He says she is beautiful. This holds much more weight because Gojo told her in an earlier episode that he regards the usage of “pretty” and “beautiful” seriously and only says them when he’s truly moved. The implications of his words are adorable, but Marin’s surprised and embarrassed expression just improves the situation.
3 Episode 12: Fireworks? What fireworks?
What kind of anime romcom would My Dress-Up Darling be if it didn’t feature an episode where Gojo and Marin went on a date at a Japanese festival in traditional Japanese attire? My Dress-Up Darling’s take on this well-known trope ramps up the situation’s cuteness when Marin breaks the romantic tension during a fireworks display in the most adorable way. It’s so Marin, and that’s what makes it perfect. This sudden upset even trumps a later scene when a comment Marin makes about doing the same thing again next year makes Gojo so happy because it implies she wants to keep their relationship going for that long.
2 Episode 11: That Was Too Close
The inclusion of this My Dress-Up Darling scene might be controversial to some because the situation is more intimate than cure. There’s definitely nothing innocent about it since what prompted Marin and Gojo to get into such a compromising position came in response to an erotically mature reaction. The situation, however, began innocently enough since it involved Marin cosplaying as a cute character. Gojo was also so caught up in helping Marin capture a moment from one of her favorite manga series on camera perfectly that his innocent mind didn’t process how erotic their positioning was to get it. Meanwhile, Marin’s wide eyes coupled with how fiercely she clutches her face add a touch of additional innocence to the scene that helps accentuate any and all cuteness considerably. The positioning of this particular moment on this list is also influenced by its significance to the plot.
1 Episode 12: “I Love You”
It might be expected and cliché, but sometimes the execution of a typical romantic comedy scene is so beautifully done that it’s impossible to be unaffected emotionally. Falling asleep on the phone together is, in and of itself, quite touching, especially when it’s the boy who falls asleep first, prompting the girl to revel in his undisputed cuteness. If the first confession is uttered at this time, then the scene in question becomes even more ridiculously cute. My Dress-Up Darling accomplishes this all that and more by figuratively placing each of their beds side by side even though the two of them are in different houses. This keeps the scene innocent enough while conveying the fact that they might be physically apart, but emotionally, they couldn’t be any closer. It’s the perfect ending scene to a perfect first season.
It’s been a good time for fans of anime romance, and few series do it better than My Dress-Up Darling. From just this list alone, it’s obvious that My Dress-Up Darling has contained some of the cutest moments in recent anime.
My Dress-Up Darling is streaming on Crunchyroll.