The Next Era of Romantic Comedy Anime

My dear in disguise is, without a doubt, the most prominent debut of the winter 2022 anime calendar that has already ended, and there are many reasons for it. Shinichi Fukuda’s original manga series has been one of the quieter hits since it first launched in the pages of Square Enix. young gangan magazine in 2018, but like many recent hits, the series really started to gain steam thanks to the success of its official anime adaptation debut. In fact, the manga is now better than ever, as there was a huge increase in copies in circulation thanks to all that new interest.

With My dear in disguiseThe debut of the anime has come to an end, the main question now is whether or not the massive response from the fans was really justified. Introducing fans to a different kind of romantic couple at the center of it all, My dear in disguise marks the beginning of a new era of romantic comedy anime. The genre has steadily become stale in recent years (beyond the outliers that provide romance for different audiences). All of that changes here, as this series injects a much-needed overhaul to its core dynamic that not only gave us all a reason to tune in to each new episode, but had production to really hammer that home.

(Photo: CloverWorks)

My dear in disguise introduces us to Wakana Gojo, a shy boy who has spent his life mostly avoiding telling others too much about himself due to his main artistic dream. Inspired by the Hina Dolls his grandfather makes, he was stunted at a young age when a friend of his thought his hobby was gross. Years later he meets his classmate, Marin Kitagawa, who finds him sewing clothes for dolls after school. Instead of further insulting him as he feared, she praises his craft and enlists his help in achieving her dream of dressing up as some of her favorite anime, manga, and video game characters.

It’s quite a refreshing premise when compared to the litany of other romantic comedy (or harem romance) anime released each year. From the beginning, it is clear that their dynamic is based on mutual respect. Although he has been shown to have the same type of drives that a teenager usually has in these types of shows, he also doesn’t push these physical drives into any sort of uncomfortable territory. In fact, after a few episodes, although Gojo still has those little moments of physical attraction, he is also very dedicated to the job.

Marin pushes Gojo further out of his shell, and while at first it seems like he might border on wish fulfillment, as the episodes progress, many deeper levels are revealed for both of them. In this sense, the romance is reversed and the romantic feelings begin to emerge in a natural and surprising way for both the fans and the main characters, as they realize how much time they spend together through this shared work. But that’s not really the main focus either, as much of the series is devoted to the art of cosplay itself.

(Photo: CloverWorks)

This series has a lot of very detailed explanations of little tricks of the trade that cosplay artists use for each of their jobs, and it really helps to show how much artistry goes into each cosplay. Every part of the process is covered especially well, from the concept (like choosing which character), to the time it takes to build each costume, the motivations of each artist, and what happens after each cosplay is made possible. That’s a lot of turntables that the series has in motion at once, and the most impressive thing is that everything hits the mark in hindsight.

My dear in disguise has relatively low stakes as Marin and Gojo spend their days working their respective trades, and it’s through these little moments that the two grow closer. It’s a budding romance that isn’t in your face with big developments, discussions, or changes really, but it doesn’t need them. It’s a series where something “happens” in every episode, but it’s not exactly a game-changing type of event that stands out compared to other romance anime. However, what this show excels at to make up for this is how it accentuates and emphasizes its smaller moments to make them seem huge.

The series is relatively attuned to the sexuality of its main characters, and thus never shies away from the fact that there are all sorts of “other” feelings that can swirl around a young romance. This leads to a fair amount of “fanservice”-like material when it comes to Marin herself, but there’s honestly something special about the way she My dear in disguise pull this off. Because she’s not shy about this kind of material, and has a heroine who is naturally effervescent in this way, as she’s totally focused on her dreams, these moments feel like a natural part of the story between the two of them rather than something that feels forced into production. It’s all just part of Marin’s personality without feeling too exploitative (beyond the second episode, possibly).

(Photo: CloverWorks)

That production is also part of the series’ successful emphasis on the smaller moments. It may be a relatively low-stakes story in the grand scheme of things, but each episode feels huge when you watch each part come to life. The character designs are packed with a ton of little hidden details that really pop in certain scenes. The expressions are illustrated and animated with a level of attention to detail that is truly marvelous. This, of course, includes their fan service items, and that’s just a bit of added flavor to the package, too. If that’s what you’re looking for, there’s no better example here.

Finally, My dear in disguiseThe anime debut of was the kind of hit that will really take off with fans as more experience and discover it as the years go on. It can be hard to recommend because of how it rolls out the door early on, but it’s an experience that really comes together when all is said and done. It’s the kind of first season that if there never is a second, it’s the perfect kind of summary of what this story wants to tell about how Marin and Gojo will continue to influence each other’s lives. It’s a breath of fresh air in so many different ways, romantic or otherwise, and it’s going to be hard to get over it as the year progresses.

Rating: 4 out of 5

My dear in disguise it is now streaming with Crunchyroll and Funimation.