Its hard to deny this was a pretty good season for anime. From my personal favorites of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken and Dorohedoro to returning series like Haikyuu and My Hero Academia. Standing out amidst this crowd of new and returning anime was going to be difficult. With an acclaimed Manga at your back and a decent amount of fanfair though you would think a series might have a chance. Sadly that is not the case for Runway de Waratte. Even going so far as to say the odds were stacked against it from the start doesnt really explain the trainwreck that is series. So what happened? Was it that this was only Studio Ezolas third production? It probably isnt Director Nobuyoshi Nagayamas inexperience this isnt his first rodeo. Or does it go deeper all the way to the source material? Lets dive in and find out shall we? Disclaimer: This review contains minor spoilers for Runway de Waratte. I am also working to make 50 the new average. 70 is not an average score people. 70 is above average. You can also find individual episode write ups and comment on this review on my Star Crossed blog Carry on. Art/Animation As always I want to start off with the most obvious part of an anime its Art and Animation. Sadly for Runway though it starts to disappoint immediately. Both when viewed on its own and when compared to the manga its just not that well made. To be fair the artstyle is mostly fine. Runway can be rather colorful and vibrant when it wants to be. In particular when it oversaturates a number of scenes whether in a show or for effect the show really pops. The issue though is that Runway is incredibly inconsistent on this front. Sometimes it appears rather pretty while other times it just comes off as flat and dull. This wouldnt really be an issue though if Runway didnt rely so often on static frames. Depending on the viewer engagement on the scene to sort of hide any issues. Comparing Runway to its mange doesnt do it any favors either. I feel terrible for manga fans here because this adaptation does not do it justice. Everything from the paneling to the faces to the detail on the clothes especially the clothes is forgotten. We need look no further than Kaorus show in the big finale of the season. As you can see above the original paneling and detail work really sold the passion in her show. The passion in her concept which of course augments her as a character since its her work. But the anime just comes off as flat and lifeless. Undercutting her whole segment of the show. And while that doesnt really affect my opinion on the animes production it does leave me a tad disappointed. We will get into it more later but its like Runway fails as an adaptation in every respect. Meanwhile the animation is arguably nonexistent. Thats a slight exaggeration of course characters move and walk etc. But no one is ever going to point to Runway de Waratte as a well animated show. It wont be winning any awards for reused walk cycles. Similar to the art Runwaysanimation isnt bad perse. You just rarely see it and when you do like in the fashion shows its not particularly impressive. One could argue that animation isnt very important for a show like Runway since its primarily about fashion and such. But I would argue thats just a missed opportunity. Runway had a chance to really focus in on things like walking and character movement but didnt. We see this primarily with Chiyuki during her and Kokoros finale show. No amount of telling us she is walking differently will match showing us that is the case. Direction Next up we have the Direction and its incredibly similar to the Animation of the series. Meaning that its dull at its best and indulgent at its worst. To show what I mean by that lets tackle each individually. As far dull goes Runway seems to have an obsession with still and panning shots. As if its trying to use these to substitute for its utter lack of meaningful animation. Normally this isnt necessarily a bad thing. Its not great but it is a valid technique when you are on a budget. The issue though comes when Runway doesnt know how to use them. Panning during what should be stills stills doing what should be pans or zooms. When used intelligently with well made still images it can give the illusion of motion. But Runway rarely manages to achieve that. Meanwhile when I said indulgent I was of course referring to the focus on womens bodies. Now let me preface this with saying its not all bad. Runway pulls this off well in a number of shots. The best one by far is early on in Ikutos first fashion show. Here Runway makes a point of being very blas about it all. Showing the women full frontal with tasteful covering based on the environment or hair. It really sells the lack of modesty required to do the job and how out of place Ikuto is. Runway did a great job here with this scene and with almost every scene involving Chiyuki. She really is the golden child of this show and I loved her. Though like I said we will get to characters eventually. Sadly though even she is not immune to the poor treatment. You see while Runway did a great job with it before its as if the series couldnt resist the opportunity later on. Focusing in and holding long still shots of Chiyuki in various poses. Yes they were stretches and yes its a valid argument. But for me this was when Runway lost some of its footing. Because I find it difficult to reconcile how the series can take such a serious approach to it one moment and then undercut it the next. I have seen arguments of course that since its from Ikutos PoV that its fine its just demonstrating his own personal desire. And those arguments are correct Runway does manage to convey that. I am simply arguing that intended or not I didnt particularly enjoy it. Especially considering Chiyuki is my favorite character in the show. Setting/Story With production out of the way its time to talk about Runways story and narrative. On its surface its a rather solid idea a nonbattlebattleanime about fashion. Similar in a way to series like Shokugeki no Souma with a greater focus on character drama and romance. Early on Runway pulls this off rather well introducing two separate stories within the industry that follow two separate tracks. One exploring the modeling side through Chiyuki someone discounted through no fault of her own by height. The other exploring the designer side through Ikuto held back by circumstance rather than skill. These are both pretty solid ideas and watching them both grow together through the story could have been great. The problem though is that Runway doesnt seem to want to take the time to tell it. Rather Runway wants to take the fastest possible path to the highest levels of the industries. We see this primarily in Ikuto. This is a character with no money and no time to really pursue his dream. He is held back by his circumstances. But rather than really address those on a character level and work through them Runway just gives handouts to him. His dress goes viral on social media and he is immediately offered a job/to have it bought from him. This leads to what is basically an internship with a real designer whom he immediately saves the show of. Which of course leads to being let in to a designer school as a highschooler. All the while Runway doesnt really build up his skillset at all. It doesnt take the time to introduce us to the technical side of fashion or any of the ins and outs of the industry. Instead Ikuto is just a golden boy who gets by on fiat. Meanwhile the arcs themselves are terribly paced. The best example of this is the Fashion School tournament arc. I hesitate to say tournament because there really isnt any competition here. It started off fine enough some good ideas but then Runway immediately has Ikuto skip the 2nd round. Annihilating the underdog nature of the story. Then it proceeds to skip the entire 2nd round that Kokoro had to go through. Just ignoring any potential for development on her character and assuming she would make it through. All the while the prize at the end of this tournament is a trip to Paris of all places. Somehow 1 cour in our lead character is already knocking on the door to Paris. In what world is this good pacing? In what way is this compelling as our lead character is given one handout and stroke of luck after another? What really makes it hurt though is that Runway has a good narrative in Chiyuki. It just ignores her. Every time we are given a Chiyuki arc its great and it only lasts for a single episode. Yet in that single episode we see her actively go out and search for work. Selling herself her business cards begging for jobs no matter how small. Paying her own money to make a portfolio and advertise her best features glossing over her height. This is a compelling story this is an active character this is someone working towards their goal. Its great stuff And yet when she finally gets the Paris Runway just skips over her entire week there. Relegating it to a single flashback before Ikuto comes in to offer her salvation in letting her model for his show. What Runway does to Chiyuki is criminal and wastes all her potential. Characters Speaking of Chiyuki its time to finally get to the characters and oh boy. If you cant guess what I am about to say you havent been reading this review. Long story short Chiyuki is fantastic and every time she is on screen is the best. But she is actively dragged down by the cinderblock tied around her legs named Ikuto. That really goes for everyone in Runways cast but Chiyuki more than anyone else. This is an active strong female character who could easily carry an entire show on her back. And if it wasnt for Runway largely relegating her to support for Ikuto she could have done it. She is assertive understanding driven and proud. She clearly loves the industry and has a clear personal investment in it ala her father. I want her story. But instead Runway gives me the wet noodle Mr.Perfect that is Ikuto. I cannot stress how much I dislike Ikuto. Its not his archetype or his story or anything like that. No as an idea he works. But Runway quickly drives that into the dirt by giving us a character with absolutely no moral or technical failings. This is a guy who learns on the job fast enough to save a fashion show. Who clears his way through tournaments with actual designer students and makes a trending dress. All with absolutely 0 technical training and only homelearned skills. This wouldnt be so bad though if Runway actually managed to challenge Ikuto based on his previously mentioned circumstances. Yet the one time it manages to do that by offering him money to help his mother in exchange for compromising his morals or his dream Runway immediately undercuts it. In a single episode the problem is introduced and resolved. With no effort from Ikuto. This is a character who gets almost no development and instead exists purely to have a male lead. Its a shame to because his interplay with Chiyuki at the beginning was great. Standing up for his dream making her a dress etc. Its just the moment it came time for Runway to start progressing him he stalled. This wouldnt be so bad if he wasnt the MC though and didnt actively bring down other characters around him. Characters like Chiyuki relegated to supporting waifu or Kokoro to supporting harem member 2. If Runway had just slowed itself down and given us more time before throwing him into the deep end we wouldnt have this problem. Let us spend time with his family show rather than tell us about his financial troubles etc. All I see when I look at Ikuto and most of Runways cast is wasted potential. OST/Sound Design Next we have what is probably the most alright part of Runway the OST and sound design. Now sadly as of writing this review Runway de Warattes OST is not publically available. So linking to songs or getting specific tracks names like I usually do is rather difficult but I will try my best. That said there never a particularly memorable track for me from Runway. Of you have the fashion shows and such those are probably the best examples. But at least as far as my taste goes they mostly came off as poppy set piece stuff. Things to fill space rather than because they have any actual meaning or connection to the event. Set dressing basically. And while thats fine its not very impressive and its not an OST I would ever purchase or listen to outside of the series. Music out of the way we get to everything else and this is actually incredibly difficult to write. Not because I dont have words im a wordy bastard and this is nearing 3000 of them. But rather because I cant think of any particular scene or moment that sticks itself in my mind. Maybe I could point to the sound of heels on the runway being memorable. Or Yumiri Hanamoris performance as Chiyuki who was once again the best character in the show. But the fact is at the end of the day I wont be remembering Runway for its sound effects. Its not memorably bad making you want to plug your ears like Berserks CLANG. Nor is it memorable or haunting like Neon Genesis Evangelions Eva Units. They are simply there existing. And you know what? Maybe thats alright. Lost Potential Finally we come to the section where I try to reason out exactly why Runway failed. And from everything I can see the issue inherently lies in the pacing. Runway adapted about 70 give or take 23 or so chapters of the manga. That is enough content for 24 episodes a 2 cour series shoved into a single cour worth of episodes. The last 3 episodes alone adapted about 1215 chapters worth of content just on their own. To put this in perspective most adaptations do about 23 chapters per episode sometimes more and sometimes less based on content. And while Runway tries to stick to this often failing it definitely isnt adapting the 6 chapters per episode that would be required for this amount of content. So the question then becomes where did that content go? Because it definitely wasnt in the anime. Now good chunks of it were without a doubt skipped which is bad enough. A series like Runway lives and dies by its characters. So skipping over development for some of them taking away our time with these characters really hurts their stories. At the same time though some issues are still present in the source material. Issues such as skipping over the entirety of Kokoros 2nd round in the tournament which could have been a big moment for her. Or skipping over 95 of Chiyukis time in Paris which once again could have been big for her as a character. For both we only see the aftereffects through Ikuto. You could argue as the MC that is his purpose but I would argue thats an excuse not a reason. What I am trying to say is while the manga is better by far its not flawless. And it shows. Conclusion So all in all how was Runway de Waratte? In my humble opinion and I can already feel the downvotes its a complete disappointment. Runway started strong with a good premise and Chiyuki is a fantastic character. But as the series continued it started to fall apart in every way. The pacing was terrible Ikuto got handed everything and was never truly challenged and it couldnt even run a tournament arc. There is a lot of promise here there is no denying that. But Runway as an anime at least fails to live up to it. It failed to get me invested in an industry I had no prior knowledge or interest in. It failed to make the subject interesting focusing on halfbaked character drama rather than the jobs themselves. As a stand alone anime Runway de Waratte is mediocre and as an adaptation it fails miserably. Read the manga.
39 /100
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