Winter 2022 was quite an eventful season for anime, but nothing stood out more like My Dress-Up Darling. Equally loved for the adorable romance between the main characters Gojo and Marin and critiqued for the over-the-top and excessive fanservice, this anime has had fans talking since Episode 1.
Now that the final episode of Season 1 has aired, it has been critically acclaimed as a pretty true-to-manga adaptation. Still, nothing is ever perfect, and there are some small changes within the anime -- so what changed exactly from the manga to the anime?
The first change occurs right away in the opening of Episode 1. In the anime, we see a young Gojo looking up and admiring his grandfather's doll, mesmerized by its beauty. In the manga, there's no sign here of a young Gojo, just a younger version of his grandfather telling an off-panel Gojo about how he too can make dolls one day, before abruptly showing the traumatic moment in his childhood where his former friend disowns him for his "feminine" hobby.
Obviously, this is only a minor change. The first major change in the first episode is the manner in which Marin and Gojo first interact with each other. In the manga, she merely bumps into him and apologizes, but in the anime, Marin's encounter is more over-the-top. She is seen literally flying through the air and landing head-first on the corner of Gojo's desk, which honestly looks very concussion-inducing. A moment later though, she reveals that she is completely fine. This change was probably added to set up the outlandishness and comedy of the show.
In Episode 5, the anime cuts a scene that occurs while Gojo is taking Marin's photos as Shizuku-tan for the first time. In the manga, Gojo is visibly flustered after Marin states she didn't bring any clothes to change back into. This scene is exchanged in favor of a simpler smartphone photo montage. Similarly in Episode 8, during the beach scene, a fan-servicey panty shot scene is replaced in favor of a bird stealing Marin and Gojo's lunch. In contrast, the iconic love hotel episode is adapted to the tee with no changes whatsoever, much to the excitement of manga fans.
The final episode of the series has the most manga to anime changes. It starts off right away with a minor change. In the manga, the episode opens with Gojo working on his next cosplay project, while in the anime, he is working on a doll. The biggest cut in this scene is the presence of Marin's father. In the manga, he comes home to check on Marin and is upset when she reveals that she hasn't been doing her homework, which prompts her to study with Gojo. In the anime, this conversation is reduced to a phone call, and viewers never see Marin's father on screen.
Another huge change is the order of events. In the manga, the events occur as follows: the encounter with Marin's father, the school pool scene, the fireworks festival and the scary movie sequence. However, in the anime, the movie scene is split in two and bookends the episode. It occurs as such: movie, pool scene, festival, then concludes with Marin calling Gojo about how scared she is in the post-credit scene after watching the movie's sequel by herself.
Understandably, the writers wanted the season to end on a happy note, so they likely changed things around so that Marin could end the season saying the long-awaited "I love you" to Gojo, even if he didn't actually hear it. The season ends with Marin looking directly at the camera and saying "See you later," which is probably intended to be a heartfelt fourth wall break.
Evidently, the anime follows the manga quite closely, and besides some minor cuts and chronological changes, there are no major plot differences from the manga to the movie, which has pleased manga fans. With such a great first season, will the second season be able to hold up? There is no announcement for the second season as of yet, but judging by its success, there will no doubt be an announcement sometime soon.