The Most Stylish Shounen Since Jojo – Smile Down the Runway

The Most Stylish Shounen Since Jojo – Smile Down the Runway


Pizza and Pineapple. Cheese and Chocolate. Ice-cream-dipped French Fries. This world is full of such seemingly contradictory
yet surprisingly complementary combinations. And as of this season – or, uh, a lot earlier,
if you’re a manga reader – we can now add “shounen anime and high fashion” to
that list, thanks to the absolutely BRILLIANT Smile Down the Runway. Or, Smile AT the Runway, if you wanna go with
the almost English in the official logo, like those weirdoes who call “The Eotenna Onslaught”
“Attack On Titan.” Actually, I kinda prefer the Japanese title,
“Runway de Waratte.” It just rolls off the tongue real nice, y’know? But I guess that wouldn’t be super marketable
to an English language audience, and this series is niche enough already, so it’s
probably for the best that they trans- right, supposed to be talking about the anime, not
its title. Anyway, Smile Down the Runway, or whatever
I want to call it, is pretty friggin great. It’s not the first anime to borrow parts
from the shounen hype train and incorporate them into a less traditionally masculine vehicle,
but it’s one of the best I’ve seen by far. It gives me everything I want from a good
shounen sports anime – the moments of intense hype and triumph against overwhelming odds,
coupled with detailed breakdowns of the real-world skills and techniques that the heroes are
applying, and of course, the loveable underdog heroes themselves. It’s got plenty of those. But at the same time, it’s managed to deliver
some truly gripping, tear-jerking moments of drama and tragedy, that somehow hit with
full force and alarming regularity without ever derailing the… metaphor I already used
in this paragraph. GET IT TOGETHER GEOFF. Say your mantra. This video is sponsored by Bookwalker, Kadokawa’s
official ebook store, where you can buy and download hundreds of English language Manga
and Light Novel volumes to read on your phone, tablet, or PC. That, naturally, includes Smile down the Runway,
the entirety of which is on sale from now until March 30th, for 50% off! And if that deal isn’t good enough for ya,
new bookwalker users can sweeten it by using the promo code Basement when they check out
to get an additional 600 yen off ANY order. *deep, satisfied sigh*
Feeling better already. What I’m trying to get at here is that even
if you don’t think a show about Runway Fashion is for you, –you should give this one a
shot. Especially if you’re a fan of shows like
March Comes in Like a Lion or Your Lie in April. It’s one of my favourite shows of the season
and year so far, mostly because it’s made me and yazy cry, like, A LOT. But also it’s taught me a lot of things
about textile work, and how the fashion and modeling industries operate both globally
and within Japan. It’s really good at making fashion interesting,
not just by pushing it through a filter of tried and true shounen clichés, but by highlighting
the things that are interesting about it. The creative and practical challenges that
arise in every step of the production process from conceptualizing an outfit to sending
it down the runway, and the unique and difficult skills one needs to master in order to be
an effective model form the backbone of the series’ conflicts. And it’s every bit as exciting to see the
show’s heroes overcome those challenges as it is to see the boys pull off a dramatic
down to the wire victory in Haikyuu, or to watch teenagers murder and assault people
in most other anime. Thanks largely to the strength of the heroes
in question. Smile Down the Runway has not one, but two
plucky, underdog protagonists with big, seemingly impossible dreams that they refuse to give
up on no matter what life throws at them. One of those protagonists is Chiyuki Fujito,
a beautiful, headstrong girl with a passion for modeling, who’s dreamed of representing
her father’s fashion brand, Mille Neige, at Paris Fashion Week for most of her life. Having grown up in the fashion industry, and
trained under professional models from a young age, Chiyuki has poise, grace, intensity,
and everything else a model needs to stand tall on the runway… except for, the, uh,
the tall part. Chiyuki stopped growing at 5 foot 2, a good
6 inches short of the industry standard minimum height for supermodels, and while there’s
still plenty of work to be found for models of her height and abilities, her dream of
walking the Paris runway is cruelly out of reach. Chiyuki’s not the type to take “it’s
impossible” for an answer, though. She KNOWS she has the skill to stand with
the best models in the business, and pushes relentlessly, through failed audition after
audition, to get her father’s agency to recognize it. And right when she’s on the verge of thinking
about maybe giving up after another hundred tries or so, she makes a breakthrough, with
the help of a classmate who’s in a similar boat. Ikuto Tsumura is a boy with a passion for
fashion, who taught himself how to make clothes at a young age, driven by the simple joy of
seeing his family and friends happily wear his creations. But passion doesn’t pay the bills. And with his mother in the hospital, two brilliant
sisters looking at bright futures in academics and sports respectively, and one more – the
cutest one, obviously – just starting school… Ikuto has a HELL of a lot of bills to pay. He hasn’t let that stop him from pursuing
fashion design as a hobby, doing the best he can with scraps and old clothes in the
school sewing club, but once he graduates, he knows that’ll have to end. No respectable brand will hire an untested
teenage amateur, and he can’t afford to go to fashion school in order to earn the
right credentials. Fashion is a Rich Man’s game, and talent
will only take you so far when you can’t pay to play. He catches a lucky break when Chiyuki asks
him to make an outfit for her weekly audition, which ends up going viral after a magazine
photographer grabs a street snap of Chiyuki outside the agency. Inside, Chiyuki finally manages to impress
her modelling senpai by wearing the SHIT out of that sweater, and that’s enough for both
of them to be given a chance. But even after their skills have been recognized,
the pint-sized model and poor fashion designer have a long uphill road to climb toward their
dream. The series – rightly – frames the fact
that Ikuto struggles to do a job he’s good at and loves because he wasn’t born with
enough money as being EXACTLY as bullshit as Chiyuki failing because she didn’t grow
her bones right. Both are clear injustices produced by arbitrarily
unfair manmade systems that need to change because they suck. And Smile Down the Runway’s biggest payoffs
are built on the inherent satisfaction that comes with seeing those seemingly insurmountable
odds be overcome. But – and this is key – nobody in the
show does it alone. Chiyuki is only able to work to her full potential
as a model because Ikuto knows how to make clothes that suit her body and her soul, and
Ikuto’s clothes only end up on the gram because Chiyuki knows how to ABSOLUTELY FUCKING
ROCK THEM. They both have impressive talents that are
indispensable to their collective success on the runway, whether they’re working with
each other, or other skilled and passionate individuals. And the anime does a wonderful job of drawing
those skills out. In their first show together, both Ikuto and
Chiyuki end up working for Hajime Yanagida, a gruff but soft-hearted young designer – and
former apprentice to Chiyuki’s dad – who’s launching his own brand at Tokyo fashion week. Hajime isn’t thrilled about pinning his
hopes on a tiny model and an amateur dressmaker, but he also isn’t in a position to turn
down help, so he asks Ikuto to alter one of his outfits for Chiyuki’s frame. In the 15 minutes before the show starts. Also the outfit hangs off Chiyuki like a parachute,
and it’s made of really tough material. So, no pressure. Despite these challenges. Ikuto bodges up a bold and beautiful outfit,
one that takes advantage of its own cobbled-together nature to create a stunning on-stage transformation. But that outfit only makes it onto the stage
thanks to the production crew’s quick thinking in slowing down the tempo of the show, and
that transformation only works because Chiyuki is a fucking BOSS under pressure. A heel breaking on stage would be an utter
disaster in any show – let alone one meant to launch a brand that’s being hyped up
as “the future of fashion” – but when it happens here, not only does Chiyuki catch
herself and manage to walk the rest of the show on that busted heel without anyone noticing,
she owns and hides the fumble with a confident – and controversial – smile. Smiling on the runway is taboo – maybe you’re
seeing the significance of that title now – conventional wisdom holds that clothes
look best on cool and confident model. But then, it also holds that they look best
on girls in very narrow height range, and we already know that’s bullshit. Ikuto’s playful, outsider artist design
sensibilities and Chiyuki’s finely-honed ability to sell confidence with every fiber
of her being combine to turn a total accident into a fashion statement so powerful that
it moved at least one short girl watching to tears. Also me, watching her watch the show. That girl, Fumiyo Niinuma, is an aspiring
writer, currently stuck working for a fashion magazine when her real passion is literature. Fumiyo – being a shorty – always felt
that fashion wasn’t for her, so seeing Chiyuki up there made her feel welcome in that world
for the first time in her life. Chiyuki inspires her to work toward her own
dreams as a writer, but also gives her the confidence to try something new, and give
fashion writing a real shot. Smile Down the Runway – appropriately, for
a show about fashion – revels in the emotional catharsis that comes with being SEEN. That moment with Fumiyo captures how powerful
and moving it can be to see yourself represented in a space or medium where you previously
felt excluded. Chiyuki’s passion comes from a desire to
have others look past her appearance and see the truly GREAT model that lies within. And Ikuto’s entire drive to be a designer
is rooted in a desire to see the fruits of his labour being worn, and to see how people
react to seeing themselves in his clothes. Every hero and supporting character in this
show struggles with circumstances and expectations that pressure them to be something they’re
not. And they’re only able to overcome that pressure
by banding together and helping each other. The show’s antagonists, meanwhile, look
out for themselves first and foremost. One, unable to go it alone, caved to that
pressure, and grew embittered after compromising on her dream. The other was lucky enough that he never really
had to face that pressure, and as a result, he overprizes his own skill, and diminishes
the accomplishments of those who have struggled. There’s a lot of complex and interesting
character writing going on in Smile Down the Runway, and few anime out there have managed
to make me so thoroughly ADORE every member of their cast. Ikuto’s family is just… wonderful – his
sisters look out for him just as much as he looks out for them, but even as tight-knit
as they are, they still don’t always see eye to eye, and the familial friction between
them makes for great drama. Chiyuki’s dad is really harsh and stern
with her, but you can tell from how he talks about her that he DEEPLY cares for her, and
wants her to achieve her dreams. I think a lot of that harshness comes from
wanting to prepare her for the vicious rejection she’ll face elsewhere in the industry, and
that he leaves the opportunity open for her to audition as often as she wants because
he knows that if the door is open even a little, she’ll find a way to force her way through. Naturally, those two central character are
the most well realized of the bunch. Ikuto has a quiet confidence about him that
grows with Chiyuki’s encouragement and his own accomplishments, while Chiyuki is more
bold and brash, like your typical Shounen hero. She’s the Naruto to his… Hinata? Although that comparison doesn’t quite work
at this stage of the story, and that’s kinda great. the thing I really LOVE about these two is
that they’re buddies above all else. Chiyuki says she sees Ikuto as a rival, more
than anything. Someone who pushes her to achieve her dreams
as she pushes him. The show has its fanservice scenes – it’s
shounen, remember – that make it clear Ikuto is ATTRACTED to Chiyuki, but also, she doesn’t
really seem to be bothered by his gaze, and in fact, she barely notices it, because she’s
used to modeling work, and she doesn’t see him that way. At least not yet. I can definitely see this growing into a really
strong love story. They do have good chemistry and good reasons
to end up together, but I really enjoy how things are between them right now – their
friendship feels real, and its good for both of them, and while it could go further, it
doesn’t feel like it HAS to for their relationship to be meaningful. And that’s a nice thing that doesn’t happen
often in anime, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts. As the show works its way into a tournament
arc toward the end of season one, it introduces an array of compelling rivals to test Ikuto
and Chiyuki’s resolve, each with their own believable personality and a strong, well-justified
motivation to win. And that’s not the only place where its
Shounen side shines through. See, in addition to knowing how to pose and
walk, the truly great models in this series have an AURA about them that brings whatever
clothes they wear to life, which adds some much needed ANIME FLAIR to what is otherwise
a fairly realistic and down to earth depiction of girls walking back and forth on a stage. On the subject of realism, one thing you might
have noticed about this show is the impressive fidelity of its background art – the “Sets”
have enough life clutter strewn about them to feel lived in, and the materials that make
up the show’s environments are rendered in great detail. Which makes sense – the show is about textile
work, where the differences between fabrics can and do have serious plot significance. A lot would be lost were its world presented
in a more abstract or cartoony style. Because it’s so important to show the differences
between materials, and the main way to do that is by depicting how light hits them,
the series also, by necessity, has absolutely FANTASTIC lighting. Which it leverages to enhance the mood of
its hardest-hitting scenes, and to create some absolutely stunning shot compositions. And on top of all that – likely also out
of necessity, given the physical subtleties of modeling – the character animation is
frequently expressive and lively. Smile Down the Runway isn’t always a looker,
sadly. Some of its cut corners are pretty frayed,
and it has a few really obvious seams showing, but in the right light, at the right time,
and from the right angle, it has more than enough visual panache to take your breath
away. That is, if you have any left to take after
all the sobbing you’ll be doing as you watch it. Sometimes for sad reasons – but even more
often for happy ones. This is a show about overcoming emotional
hardships, and it wants you to smile through your tears, just as its characters do. I think that’s why it’s able to get away
with being SO GOSH DARN FEELSY, while still consistently delivering those FUCK YEAH! moments
of pure Shounen hype. Many shounen anime have struck gold by sticking
to what works and “playing it safe,” but Smile Down the Runway is proof positive – in
more ways than one – that the bold and unconventional will always stand out from the pack. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. And if you haven’t read it yet – and gotten
to appreciate all those gorgeous panels – remember that until march 30th, the entire manga is
on sale for 50% off on bookwalker. And that you can use the promo code “Basement”
when you check out to get an additional 600 yen off. Links in the dooblidoo if you wanna hear more. Lemme know in the comments below what other
unconventional shounen anime are your favourites and why. And while I’ve got you here, if you’re
looking for something to fill the time as we’re all stuck inside because reasons,
make sure you checkout my list of nice, long anime to self-isolate with. I’m Geoff Thew, Professional Shitbag, signing
out from My Mother’s Basement

100 thoughts on “The Most Stylish Shounen Since Jojo – Smile Down the Runway

  1. Anime has taught me that anything can become badass by mixing in a little competition. Cooking? Badass (Food Wars). Ballroom dancing? Badass (Welcome to the Ballroom). Karuta? Badass (Chihayafuru). And now fashion design and modeling is badass.

  2. I hope people give this anime a shot. This anime gives it direction relatively early and stays on track so I think people can get a feel for it for a couple of episodes and then decide if they want to watch it. I'm happy you gave it a shot and made an entire video about it. I hope more people watch this because it's such a gem!

  3. Also, a question to anyone: how would you compare its source material with the manga of "Princess Jellyfish?"

    "Kurage Hime" does a fine job about exposing the twisted and corrupt side in the world of fashion.

  4. Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for reccomending Kaiji in your older videos. Just started watching it and it's awesome.

  5. Commentator: Completely finishes argument, in its entirety, before doing a cliche Pause and Redirect.
    Me: "Meh, wait…" Re-reads title. "Oh. I'll never watch this… Continue."

  6. The manga sooo good it actually give u some info about the fashion industry, the manga is also very detailed and iheir emotions is very understandable and over all very inspiring, the anime is good but they cut some of the best parts but seriously both r good but u guys should try to reading the manga

  7. One thing I love about this show is the healthy friendship dynamic and since that’s so rare in shōnen I really want them to remain friends

  8. As a photographer who recently got into fashion photography, and knowing someone that designs for fashion shows, I need to binge this show like right now! I started when it first aired on the first episode, but I wanted to wait for the season to play out before really watching it.

  9. This is THE one series that was tailor made for KyoAni. I think they would’ve done an amazing job with the characters, lightning, backgrounds and music. Not that the adaptation we got was bad, but could’ve been so much better.

  10. Just clicked on like button
    Coz you are reading ONE PIECE

    That in itself is good for me

    Take your time to grasp the insane detail of this not-so Shounen manga

  11. Currently in fashion school and worked backstage in a couple shows (sister's a model) and can confirm: feels like a Shonen battle anime.

    Half my department was convinced we'd still be going back to school during quarantine because we have 6 months to design and make 10 outfits🙃
    Shouldn't have dropped out of engineering, things were calmer there.

  12. For fans of Runway or just anyone looking for unorthodox shounen anime, there is Kono Oto Tomare, aka Sounds of Life. Like Runway, it suffered from poor production values and lack of interest from the anime community even though its an emotional, dramatic, hype inducing shounen story. Very sad to see these type of series get treated so poorly by both anime producers and consumers alike. It makes me fear for Act Age's eventual adaptation.

  13. If you guys like Runway de Waratte, you will like Act-Age even more. Acting manga which is running in Weekly Shonen JUMP.

  14. Unless they've got models doing blow and making themselves vomit in the bathroom stall it's not realistic enough for me

  15. I disagree that the fact that you need to be tall in order to be a successful model and you need money in order to be a successful tailor is unjust and evil. They explain in the series that tall girls are able to show the clothes. It’s the girls’ jobs to show off the clothes and tall girls are able to do that easier. Same thing with Tailoring. With money, you have the capacity to buy higher quality fabric, as they show in the series. It’s the tailors’ job to be able to make high quality clothes to be shown by models and sold to an audience. However, as shown by the series, it’s not impossible for people who don’t fit to be successful. It seems unjust because we see it from our protagonist’s perspective. And while if it was unjust, it would make our main characters seem stronger in the end because they defiled an unjust system, I think it still works without it. Because by the end it shows that talent belongs on the runway, regardless of where it comes from.

  16. 15:53 Not anime but manga "Tsuki ga Michibiku Isekai Douchuu" its a unconventional shoujou isekai manga of a mob looking that loves japanese archery its summon to another world by a shitty goodlooking god that abandon him in this basycally planet that make you have a common decent life if you looks pretty and finnally he survive and make good and weirdy adventures (sometimes make a civilization, open a shop, help people, kill people, or destroy a town with their habitants, other times make friends, or discover new powers and create an interdimensional space to live peacefully)

  17. I'm gonna be honest, I don't really watch a good 30% of the anime you watch but I watch the videos anyway cus you're a really good writer/narrator

  18. Okay, I'm sold on it.
    I never thought that I will want to watch fashion anime (as a person of minimalist /stoic-ish views, I could not care less about beauty industry).

  19. I actually thought this was a shoujo haha, only the few fanservice scenes really differentiate it. But yeah I am loving it so far 🙂

  20. Tbh I don't think smiling on the runway is as much of a taboo as this series says it is. It all depends on the designer's decision. Some of them, like Betsy Johnson for example, ask the models to have fun and show more personality. It's an art form after all, so there isn't one correct way to do it

  21. This seems interesting! I wish the animation didn't look so boring… But I understand that the budget is always a problem

  22. After seeing your video about Mairimashita! Iruma-kun and really enjoying it (I think it's one of the first recommendations of yours I've actually seeked out immediately after watching), I'll be quick to check this out as well.

    Given everything that's going on, there probably hasn't been a better time.

  23. At the beginning if the video: I’m not gonna let Jeff convince me this time. I’m not watching a fashion anime.
    30 minutes after the video ends: loud sobbing

  24. At the beginning if the video: I’m not gonna let Jeff convince me this time. I’m not watching a fashion anime.
    30 minutes after the video ends: loud sobbing

  25. I nearly overlooked this one because I care as little about fashion as I do about sports – but I'm glad I didn't. In spite of not caring about the same things that the characters do, the characters are so passionate that you can't help but root for them. As you say, it is very much an underdog story and that is something that I can wholeheartedly relate to.

  26. Are there any fanservice heavy anime with decent animation? What I mean by that is, when the girls are headed to the bath in a lot of anime it seems like it's almost always just a still shot of the girl with the camera moving a little bit to give a sense of motion… That seems a bit like cheating. What ever happened to, you know… actually animating things…? 🙂

    And by "things" I mean boobies of course.

  27. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER :

    But I cried when he brought his design! 😭 balling it was the best thing that could happen after then entire episode. And it made scene 😭😭😭😭

  28. Ok, when the first sentence of a video is "Pizza and pineapple" you know you are off for a controversial video.

  29. Wondering if you would ever consider doing a what is an op on the fate/zero openings or the fate/stay night unlimited blade works op?

  30. Given the mention of March Comes in Like a Lion, does that mean you have finally watched it and if so is there the possibiltiy of a video on it at some point.

  31. I've been telling people to pick this show up SINCE THIS SEASON STARTED! Thanks for giving this show some love!

  32. This anime has a similar formulate from other animes. Take an activity people dont know too much about, put passionate people on the team who know what they are talking about, and just let the story flow. Some of my favorite animes are about passions spoken by passionate people

  33. I am so happy to learn this exists. I've always wanted to get my mother into anime, especially because we share a love of Sci-fi (Picard), Fantasy (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Witcher) and even some Superheroes (Her favorite super movie is Hancock starring Will Smith, and we watch Runaways together), but she never really liked anime because it was 'too cartoony'. She even likes subtitle shows due to her love of Korean dramas, so subs wouldn't be an issue.

    Then my brother made her watch Neo Yokio. And she loved it. Couldn't stop watching.

    Apparently it's because she really liked the fashion jokes in it. Which makes sense because she works in fashion.

    So Smile Down the Runway might be the perfect way to get her into anime. It appeals to her sensibilities, and it's something we could watch together. Well sort of together, we live in different cities due to quarantine laws. But it's something we could watch and talk about.

    Thank you MB. I hope this helps me introduce my mother to a medium I really want to enjoy with her. The same way rewatching old anime like Inuyasha has helped connect me with my younger brother, through nostalgia. I had no idea how much of an old school weeb he could be-he remembers Law of Ueki! I didn't think anyone remembered that!

    Please keep up the great recommendations. But please, the bookwalker recommendations are gonna eat a hole in my wallet-I got all of Infinite Dendrogram volumes because of you and I'm now impatient for volume 11!

  34. Project runway is better than this so. Sorry I just couldn't get into it and I love fashion shows. The art style is so flat, and the drama just doesn't get to me. :/

  35. Wait, what? The show is Shonen? Did not know that. To be fair the Fashion World feels amd seems more cutthroat as much if not more than Good vs Evil.

  36. You start with pineapple on pizza and then that it's complimentary, I can't take you seriously for the rest of the video, but I actually planned to check the show anyway 😀

  37. My second favorite anime of the season. Such a great surprise. I don’t even know why I gave it a chance but so awesome. And now you’re making me want to check out March comes in like a lion and your lie in April

  38. Real life is littered with plenty of short runway models and poor students break onto the big scene every time so these are not remotely impossible or even rare. Outside of the long established labels that have been here for decades, most recognisable breakout fashion labels are from designers with humble background. The runway is populated by tall, short and even plus size models these days. This anime paints a false picture of the industry

  39. I'm a guy but I watch ANTM and Project Runway and made me realize how cutthroat the fashion industry is and not to be taken lightly and also greatly shown by this anime the struggles and triumphs of both models and designers.

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