「これは君の物語」 (Kore wa kimi no Monogatari)
“This Is Your Story”

Introduction

Runway de Waratte – aka Smile on the Runway – has been my longstanding guilty pleasure. Although Studio Ezola is a name that doesn’t ring any bells, who wouldn’t be happy to see one of their favourite manga being brought to life? A quick run down of the premise is that Chiyuki Fujito has dreamed of becoming a fashion model since she was a child. However, in spite of her good looks and the fact her father owns a distinguished modelling agency, her short stature poses a significant obstacle to her aspirations. Her father fires her from his agency and everyone pretty much tells her to give up.

Ikuto on the other hand has the confidence and belief of his loved ones, with regards to becoming a world class fashion designer. However, he comes from an extremely poor family. Ikuto cannot afford to save up money to attend fashion college, because his mother’s medical bills need to be paid for, and his younger sisters require immediate financial assistance to further their education. Despite his own dreams, Ikuto is willing to sacrifice himself because his family mean the world to him. To surmise, their meeting and subsequent collaboration allow them to overcome these obstacles – with Mille Neige finally granting Chiyuki an official contract after years of rejection and Chiyuki’s father personally requesting Ikuto to become one of his designers while offering appropriate financial compensation.

General Opinions

What were my initial impressions? Frankly, mixed. But also relieved. It turned out pretty decent and could have been a lot worse.

Let’s get straight to my biggest gripe. They went with an anime original introduction – spoiling that Chiyuki and Ikuto have already succeeded and are fondly looking back upon their journey. None of this ever happens in the manga. At present, 100+ chapters in, there’s been absolutely no hint as to whether they will make it or not. Which is extremely problematic. Viewers will therefore operate on the assumption that Chiyuki and Ikuto have already succeeded 8 years into the future – completely eliminating the high stakes and emotional gravity throughout the story. Their struggles will no longer be trials and tribulations that can make and break their potential career in the fashion industry. And that absolutely sucks. But it is what it is. As such, I can only ask people reading this to consider that bit of information as ‘Fake News’ peddled by the evil animation studios.

My sincerest praise, on the other hand, is how the animators and voice actors have successfully captured the essence of these characters, bringing sparkle and life to their depiction. They captured emotional contrasts extremely well – e.g. when Chiyuki despairingly realises her hypocrisy in telling Ikuto that his dream are probably impossible, so I have extremely optimistic hopes for how they’ll fantastically portray models on the catwalk, as well as the highs and lows that these characters will be going through.

Concluding Thoughts

With the first episode out of the way, I would understand if people dropped or passed up on Runway de Waratte. It isn’t exactly mind-blowing and focuses on a niche interest which isn’t popular in the anime community – excluding the cosplaying diaspora. When was the last time you saw a well-dressed person at an anime convention who wasn’t a cosplayer? Yeah, I thought so too. Not to mention even those cosplays can be undeniably questionable to say the least.

So then comes my task as a massive fan of the source material. How can I sell people on this unassuming story which I really care about? Frustrating as it is, I would probably have to undersell it. Higher expectations generally lead to disappointment, while you can only be pleasantly surprised when you forgo any expectations in the first place – as I did when diving into this series. For that reason I will ask you all to temper your expectations, because your mileages will inevitably vary on an individual basis. However, to explain the over-arching concept: Bakuman but replace manga with fashion. If you’re a fan of character-driven narratives following people who are passionately chasing their dreams, and if you’re open to being pleasantly surprised, then this should definitely be one to keep an eye out for.

7 Comments

  1. I say without the slightest hesitation, that this is the best anime I have seen thus far this season, and may end up one of my favorite of the year, and on a topic that I really have zero interest in.

    hjerry
  2. I’m not sure Bakuman is the best comparison here (though I’d struggle to come up with a better one). Bakuman, at its core, was a classic shonen anime, substituting Martial Arts for making Manga.
    This is a mature series for sure (ie. not aimed at children), but it has far more Shojo elements than Bakuman ever had.
    Kind of like how Ikuto describes our main character, this series very much does a great job of running the balance of a show that appeals to both women and men equally.
    Sorry, kind of got on a tangent there, but in summation, yes, I recommend this series wholeheartedly.

    hjerry
  3. My wife was a model who was recruited into an agency in Milan, and her thankfully abbreviated experience in the fashion industry is something she uses to help our community (not to mention our daughters) dispell the “glamour” of these kinds of careers.

    Simply stated, the fashion industry is not the professional atmosphere an average American might be used to – telemarketers and used car-salesmen have more scruples and morals. It goes hand in hand with the fact that the industry has no Physics to keep it grounded, unlike Military or Engineering. This is the fate of all such “fake” professions that are based on subjectivity and “perception”.

    Sleeping around to get ahead, accepting the advances of agents, fixers, VIPs and executives, knowing that your best friend and colleague was drugged and laid out with a Visual-identity manager holding the garote around her neck as she’s limp in a chair in a 4-star hotel, the entire scene filmed and snapshots passed around the community to be judged on “authenticity” as if this were normal – because in the fashion industry, it is.

    You need only look at the people at the top to understand this, from Lauren to Del Vecchio. Les Wexner is famous for his empire of underlings/fixers/pimps dole out escorts and sex slaves (yes, there’s a distinct difference), culled from his portfolio of star-eyed wannabe models – the dirty not-so-hidden secret being that the most valuable commodity in the world, for sale and negotiating leverage, is not a yacht or a ferarri….

    …it’s a white female sex-slave.

    And yes, Tadashi Yanai is the Japanese version of Wexner for having his own stable of harlots greasing the skids of his empire from Japan to America.

    We no longer watch anime regularly, per se, but we’re well aware of the popular medium in the culture and how it can effect kids – and it’s not a surprise as to why so many Japanese anime have young, blond-haired, blue-eyed females in what is supposed to be a Japanese setting.

    The reason is not subtle.

    Do right by your family and children; educate them especially carefully against the fake smiles and feigned glamour they see on their smartphones and mass media – and guard them especially carefully against the perverted cravings of an industry that harvests young women (and young men) as sexual commodities to exchange for God knows what.

    Jerry
  4. I like the episode, but think it’s rather fast. Would’ve preferred getting to know them a little more and have that ending in the next episode. Looked like Ikuto got his dream already even though it’s probably just as he wrote on his plans for the future sheet.

    Didn’t mind the opening part, but really wonder how it started on the source material. Really thought it went into overdrive at the end.

    theirs
  5. “Let’s get straight to my biggest gripe. They went with an anime original introduction – spoiling that Chiyuki and Ikuto have already succeeded and are fondly looking back upon their journey.”

    My interest was piqued by the premise of this series, and so I checked out the first volume of the manga. And in the official Kodansha English translated version at least, on the very first page is the line “This is… the story of how I, Chiyuki Fujito, become a top model”. Now, grammatically it would be more correct if it was phrased as “I became a top model”, but either way it’s very clear that the main characters have succeeded.

    And honestly, considering the type of manga this is, that being the case is completely expected. The only thing ever left in doubt to the reader for this type of story is the how, not the if.

    GokieKS

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