An anime about modelling and Paris fashion week? Yes, please! SMILE DOWN THE RUNWAY is one of this year’s unique series that will no doubt offer the audience a bit of zen and positive vibes.
Meet Chiyuki Fujito. She might be a high school student but she is determined to become a ‘Hypermodel’ at Paris Fashion Week one day. But her dream doesn’t just stop there — she also wants to be the face of her dad’s modelling agency ‘Mille Neige’ and showcase the fashion range to the world.
She might be blessed with beauty, proper body proportions, the can-do attitude, and industry connections. However, there is just one issue — her height. Unfortunately, with her height being 158cm, Chiyuki is automatically excluded from auditions, fashion runways, and photoshoots. Is Chiyuki’s dream over?
But with Chiyuki’s stubborn and competitive spirit, nothing was going to stop her and derail her worth as a person or model. After years of dedication and hard work, she refuses for her hard work to be dismissed and will do anything to make her dream come true.
So when she models an outfit made by her friend Ikuto Tsumura, things start to change rapidly when she gets papped on the street by a photographer. This photo soon sends social media into chaos as Chiyuki’s photo gets noticed by bloggers, influencers, and fashionistas. With the photo shared by millions of people, Chiyuki automatically becomes an overnight sensation.
But of course, they’re still in high school. Since that day, both Chiyuki and Ikuto has been offered opportunities that they have never dreamt of. But it’s not all rosy as it seems. Whether you want to be a model, or a fashion designer, or a pattern maker; the fashion industry is a harsh world out there.
From start to finish, Smile Down the Runway portrays the fashion and modelling industry with confronting accuracy. Yes, a lot of people do shoot to stardom because of social media. However, you have to invest a lot of your own money in trying to make money for yourself. It’s also not about beauty or perfection. If the potential employer sees something that doesn’t meet their brief, they’ll decline you despite your portfolio.
But regardless of Chiyuki’s height or what people think about Ikuto, they’re both trying to defy the odds. In this anime, we absolutely adore the platonic relationship between Ikuto and Chiyuki. Ikuto is one of the few people that recognises Chiyuki’s aura and talent, and his presence is a constant source of strength and hope for her. In return, Chiyuki is protective of Ikuto’s dreams, and serves as a source of motivation and fashion encyclopedia. Without their ongoing rivalry and fun banter, this series would not have done well at all.
But as much as we love the concept of Smile Down the Runway and the interaction between the characters, the anime disappointingly rushed with its storytelling. We had hoped that the anime would strongly focus on teaching us about modelling and pattern-making, but in the end, we ended up with a few tips here and there.
The story of Smile Down the Runway eventually geared towards Ikuto and Chiyuki preparing for the Geika Festival but the preparation stage was brushed over rather quickly and putting a lot of emphasis into exploring Kokoro’s character and her problems. In addition to this, we also see Ikuto encountering family health issues, blackmail, and hate from fellow people in the industry. Again, these events played out too quick and we felt the actual core of the story got lost in the middle of the dramas.
While the overall animation and character design is average, we do like it how Smile Down the Runway often highlight the characters’ designs, especially their facial expressions. Chiyuki is an obvious example. Whether it is Chiyuki’s soft expressions or her fierce looks, Chiyuki’s character design is portrayed so delicately and beautifully. We also love the emphasis on the way she walks down the runway — it’s almost dreamy and mesmerising. Personally, we wish there were more of these beautiful aesthetic moments, but alas, we cannot complain.
Overall: We need to give major props to SMILE DOWN THE RUNWAY. Everyone has a story to tell. Whether they want someone’s approval and/or perhaps prove they can achieve success through hard work — this anime is very relatable with its audience in many ways.
As a result, there is a heartwarming feeling of kinship between the viewers and characters of this story. If you’re looking for a unique addition to your anime list, Smile Down the Runway is definitely the one.
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