by Bob Johnson
Crawling through this season’s anime chart is no easier of a slog this time than any other. Just searching through the A titles yields two notable loads of bishi-bait – A3! (Dull!) and ARP Backstage Pass (drama buoyed by peppy J-Pop while also boat-anchored to CGI dance numbers, and dripping with BL subtext).
On the flip side – things that are actually good – in yet another triumph of meta-anime, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! has steadily become the talk of the town. I don’t disagree with that, it plainly belongs up there on Mount Weebmore with your Shiro Bakos and such. Just don’t miss the forest for the tallest tree, either. There’s at least one other show this season worth watching.
Smile down the Runway is a classic tale of two misfits who are propelled by a mutual love of fashion. One suffers from the weight of disappointment, never growing to the height needed to model clothes in the usual way. The other toils in obscurity, patching together viral clothing designs from odds and ends laying around, but is held back by economics and inexperience. With an odd wisdom before their years, both realize that with their handicaps, they might only have one shot to break into the big time. So they give it their all.
The simple mechanic where our leads take on the specific challenge before them has produced a show that is both joyful and practical. This is what you need to do, what kind of job you need, what you need to do to get through the day. And when someone tells you that you can’t do something, you do it anyway! In this way, it’s entirely different in tone from other fashion anime – Princess Jellyfish (zany antics punctuated by desperation plays that in true comedic fashion, always lead to the protagonists failing upward) and Paradise Kiss (a melodramatic slide from innocence into a struggle in a grey and jaded world).
Now granted, most Americans caught their fill of this sort of thing sometime early in the previous decade. But if you haven’t already been over-Tyra Banks-ed, you might weave this show into into your tapestry.
Maybe check it out:
Smile down the Runway (Runway de Warette)
Based on the manga by Kotoba Inoya
Produced by Ezóla, Licenced by Funimation