Fight, fight, fight!
— When Kokoro sees Ikuto, she wants to run up and greet him like a friend, but Chiyuki holds the designer back. And instead of letting the guy hold the door open for her, she insists on holding it for him. This makes me laugh, ’cause it reminds me of a mindset that you might find in the NBA. If an opposing player gets knocked down, you’re not supposed to help them up! You need to have a killer instinct! You need to see them as not just your opponent but your enemy! I dunno, I’m not like that. I’m not a very outgoing person in general, but I can’t pretend to not like someone either.
— Sure enough, Ikuto’s family is here to support him. Unfortunately, they don’t get to sit down. Considering how Yuriko just had an extended stay at the hospital, it’d probably behoove her to get all the rest she can get… but maybe I’m just a worrywort. Still, I wouldn’t put it past this series to play yet another illness card someday just to drive up the melodrama.
— The show has finally started! And the first outfit is… kinda whatever.
— After spending an anxious moment in the restroom, Ikuto returns to find Kaoru barking orders. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. No, Hazime isn’t her father, but it does appear as though he has played a large role in influencing her designing philosophy.
— Kaoru then turns and tells Ikuto that she will crush him. Hm, alright. A little aggressive, but nothing in this anime is subtle.
— In any case, it’s her turn to show off her collection. The girl’s obsessed with leather, but to make herself stand out, she tries and fashion kimonos out of leather. I can’t really picture how that would work considering how thick leather can be… but I’m not a designer. Take my thoughts with a heavy dose of salt.
— Finally, it’s Ikuto’s turn to present his collection. The first outfit is incredibly loud. Like geez, dude.
— But after that, his clothes look very, very boring. They look like something you could literally wear to the coffee shop. That’s not how a fashion show should work. Nobody wants to watch a TJ Maxx collection, y’know? Nevertheless, the judges are entertained by Ikuto’s global influences. He’s borrowing from as many cultures as he can. Well, as many Western cultures as he can.
— Midway through the collection, both the judges and Ikuto’s model marvel at the fact that his outfits are designed with the wearer in mind. Our sensitive protagonist cares so much about people! Buuuuuuut that’s not how you win a fashion show.
— Some outfits are a little more daring… but nothing too out there.
— Apparently, this is an American look. Um… I don’t think so.
— Ikuto’s tenth and final outfit is just everyday clothes. The good news is that the pants here are inspired by a pair he once sewed for his mother. What we see now is just the perfected version. So y’know, if we’re going for “awwww” points, he would probably score a 10 outta 10 here. Now let’s get to the bad news. How should I put this… you can cook the most perfect burger in the world, and it’s probably super duper delicious… but it’s still a burger.
And that’s not a knock on a burger by any means, ’cause I certainly love to eat them. But let’s face facts: art is supposed to push boundaries and haute couture is no exception. Sure, the progression of Ikuto’s collection is certainly unexpected, but the garments themselves are nothing special. If you just want to sell clothes, then fine. March those plain ass pants down the runway. But that’s not what we’re here to do. We’re trying to be on the cutting edge of fashion. It’s not that Ikuto’s bad at what he does. It’s that he doesn’t even understand what they’re trying to accomplish with this fashion show.
— At this point, it’s pretty clear what the narrative is trying to do: getting us ready for Ikuto’s complete and utter loss. And y’know, this is what I kind of expected.
— First, Toh is a pro. Hell, not only is he about to go independent, he’s trying to distinguish himself from his grandmother. Don’t forget that she is apparently the best designer in the Runway de Waratte universe. So y’know, at this stage of the game, it wouldn’t make any sense for these amateurs — these students — to be able to compete on Toh’s level. That would be ridiculous. He should absolutely win unless there’s some stupid technicality that disqualifies him. Or if he straight up quits in the middle of the tournament. I dunno, we’ll just have to wait and see. Otherwise, I would peg his chances of winning at 99%.
— Kaoru’s not gonna win. Her chances of winning has to be zero. She’s just here to be a secondary rival to Ikuto, and I bet she has maybe… hm, a 60% chance of finishing above the guy. I don’t buy into the idea of leather kimonos — I think it sounds pretty dumb and gimmicky — but her vision is definitely more daring than Ikuto’s sisterhood of the traveling pants.
— Finally, we get to Kokoro. She needs this win. If she doesn’t blow her agent Yu’s mind, she’ll be forced to stay as a model for some bizarre reason which I refuse to understand. I still think the idea of an amateur beating Toh is dumb, but I dunno… maybe Chiyuki is the x-factor. No one else has a special model but Kokoro, so who knows! Maybe shortie can put Kokoro over the top! As a result, I give her the final 1%.
— Yeah, that’s right. I don’t think Ikuto has a chance. Like I said, his collection is boring. But there’s also the fact that this is just how these series work. This is only Ikuto’s first tournament, and it’s not about the destination. When the hero sets out on their journey, they’ll undoubtedly encounter hardships. Afterwards, they pick themselves up and ultimately prevail, but that’s still a long way off. I have no clue if Runway de Waratte will get another anime adaptation, but Ikuto’s journey has barely begun. It took Ash forever to finally win a damn league, so I don’t expect Ikuto to walk out of this arc with anything but a good lesson about how little he truly knows about fashion design. Passion alone might carry you to the finish line, but don’t expect first place without putting in the hours and hours of work.
— Oh well, we got to watch Yuriko cheer for her son from the sidelines. In a way, her tears of happiness — and the fact that she can even stand here and watch her son compete — is a victory in its own right. When Ikuto loses — and I’m pretty sure of this — his family will be there to pick him up. And maybe Chiyuki as well.