This is the only ending that makes sense. Ikuto never should’ve allowed someone else to get their hands on his muse.
— Right at the start of the episode, we learn what Toh is trying to accomplish. When his grandmother was a student, she got fifty-two inquiries from buyers after a competition. She wants her grandson to try and break that record. This is only fitting. Why would Toh be competing against younger students? Why would Toh be competing against amateurs when he’s trying to launch his own brand? His only real competition has been the woman he’s been looking up to since he started taking an interest in fashion design. In a way, you can almost say it’s arrogant of Ikuto to think that he can beat Toh. Sure, sure, I get it. The latter told him that he had no talent, so our dopey hero has to try and prove his doubter wrong. But let’s be honest… let’s be brutally honest: if a high schooler — not even an actual student from a design school — could beat Toh, then he should hang up his… uh, sewing needle? Well, you get my point.
— But as harsh as I might sound, there is obviously more than one way to win in this game called life. Back in the present, Ikuto actually meets a buyer who is interested in his clothes. It’s just one buyer, but hey, he’s a high school student! What was I doing at 17 or 18? Jack shit, I’ll tell ya what. I certainly wasn’t making any money off of my own creations. I’m not even sure if I even had a creation. Plus, his family is proud of him. And last but not least, he stood shoulder to shoulder with people older than him. This is his first fashion show. Do you expect to hit a hole in one in your first golf tournament?
— Anyways, Toh’s show is about to begin, and it’s about as pretentious as you can get. Not only does he read some silly monologue to the audience, he even has them close their eyes before his models hit the stage. Why close their eyes if there’s nothing to even see in the first place?
— Oh yay, already shoving your brand in people’s faces.
— So Toh’s design philosophy is to juxtapose everyday wear with the avant garde… I guess if you consider this frou frou dress on the right to be haute couture. Look, I don’t know a damn thing. I just know what seems impressive to me, and nothing in this entire series has really wowed me. Then again, I’m the resident anime curmudgeon. I’m always hard to please. It’s just my disposition.
— Phew, someone likes belts as much as Tetsuya Nomura.
— C’mon, that’s just a night gown.
— I guess you just have to accept the anime at its word. Everyone’s impressed by Toh’s designs, so it must be true. Kokoro doesn’t even think she has a chance, and unless she takes the whole contest, her dreams of becoming a designer is over. Ikuto is particularly impressed with Toh’s technique. Obviously, this isn’t something we can judge as a viewer. It’s like watching Top Chef. I can’t taste the food. I just have to hope that Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi aren’t lying to me.
— One shortie sings another shortie’s praises.
— Almost as if the story is hoping to blunt Ikuto’s inevitable pain of losing, we suddenly see him gain two new buddies. Ryunosuke invites him to enroll at Geika, and Kaoru asks for honest opinions of her designs. If she didn’t respect Ikuto as a peer, she wouldn’t care about his feedback.
— Nevertheless, it’s time for the judges to announce the results, and boy does Shoko start things off with a whole lot of caveats. What’s particularly important is that they are judging the clothes from the “artistic perspective” that they’ve been cultivating at this school. Since Ikuto doesn’t actually go to Geika, isn’t he already at a big disadvantage? Of course.
— Then bam, Kokoro is the winner. Wait, really? She beat Toh? Well… not exactly.
— Before we get to that, we get to see Yu’s jaw hang in stunned silence. Kaoru gets seventh, which seems lame, but she’s at least in the top ten… which is more than we can say about Ikuto. In fact, he only managed to beat one person: Toh. So how did Toh finish last? Because he withdrew from the competition. Again, he was never here to put a beatdown on a bunch of students. He is only here to beat his grandmother. All this time, Ikuto was trying to beat a guy who wasn’t even concerned about him. It’s like a high school batter trying to show up a pitcher who’s about to get drafted first overall.
— Ikuto’s critiques are pretty accurate. Still, Chiyuki believes in him, so she keeps things in perspective. I mean, it’s the same thing Shoko said onstage, but it never hurts to hear things delivered in a different way.
— And honestly, this result is just fitting. As the cliche goes, the journey to become a top designer (or model) is a marathon, not a sprint. This isn’t the anime series where teens get to beat the adults and save the world. This is a show where Chiyuki has been told over and over that her dreams are stupid and unrealistic. So how silly would it have been to turn around and give Ikuto the grand prize? If he’s serious about becoming a fashion designer, he will have to take the same hard knocks that she went through.
— You know what’s lame? An adult running away with her tail tucked between their legs. Yu has spent all series long shitting on Kokoro’s dreams. Now that she has been proven wrong, she doesn’t even have the guts to admit it in person. How pathetic is that? Your client just won the biggest prize of her life — a prize that validates her as a designer — and you send a text message? That woman has issues to work out in therapy.
— Toh’s helpers show up outta nowhere and drag Ikuto away. They want to talk about how one of Toh’s outfits didn’t make it onstage because none of his helpers had the talent to fix the problem. Alas, if only Ikuto had swallowed his complete pride to work for someone else’s dream. Jesus Christ, how deluded are these people? But this is one of the few things that gets over amplified in anime. Cults of personality obviously exist, but anime always ramps it up to the max. Like how a pretty boy at a school won’t just have admirers. No, he has to have his own militant fan club. In this case, Toh’s workers have nothing better to do but to berate someone else for not working for him.
— We also get a quick look at how the judges came to their decision. If Toh hadn’t withdrawn himself, he would’ve finished first easily. For whatever reason, Sara was the only person who didn’t have him as her top choice. I’m not gonna try and imagine why. Nevertheless, Shoko points out that only Toh and Ikuto have garnered any interests from buyers. Granted, Ikuto only had one person come up to him, but success comes in many forms. Maybe he won’t blow everyone away at a fashion show, but he has actually made money. None of the people who finished above him can say the same.
— As for Toh, he takes his defeat in stride. His grandmother gets on his case for not being original enough. But as soon as she tries to encourage him, he tells her that he won’t go independent just yet. After all, he did lose their bet. I dunno, though. First, he tied her record. He didn’t beat her, but tying her should count for something. Obviously, there’s a huge demand for his clothes. Second, if his biggest problem is that he didn’t distinguish himself enough from his grandmother, wouldn’t it stifle his creativity to continue working under her brand? Isn’t this now the time to go independent? Whatever.
— We’re still tying up some loose ends, so bear with it. Shoko tells Ikuto to apply to Geika, so if this show ever returns with a sequel, we’ll get to watch our hero attend classes. Won’t that be exciting!
— Chiyuki also shows up to deliver the good news: her efforts today caught someone’s attention, and she’s gotten her first big gig. That’s cool, I guess. Nevertheless, her main goal here is to pick Ikuto up and encourage him along.
— Finally, during the credits, we get to see everyone in their transitory phase. Kokoro looks at a list of doubts in her notebook, and she eventually crosses them all out. The big win has really juiced up her self-esteem. Chiyuki has never needed help with her self-esteem, and now she actually gets to do the modeling she always knew she could do. Finally, Ikuto learns that Hazime will now work for Aphro I dite, which means… uh… Ikuto should go and intern for them too? I guess that’s how it works. He and Toh can be best buddies all over again even though the latter doesn’t think that the former has any real talent other than pattern-making.
— Alright, let’s try to sum things up. I said it before, but I still feel like the series pulled a fast one on me. I decided to follow Runway de Waratte after the first episode, because I thought that the focus was gonna be on Chiyuki and her attempts to become a short supermodel. But it quickly became the Ikuto show, and I honestly just never warmed up to him. I don’t like characters with his archetype. As a heroine, Chiyuki’s attitude is just more appealing to me.
— As the series continued, I also wasn’t a big fan of all the melodrama. The whole thing with Ikuto’s mom potentially dying, his oldest sister yelling at him for not responding immediately, so on and so forth… it just felt like I was watching a bad Korean drama.
— The nonsense between Yu and Kokoro never felt authentic either. Maybe I’m just not empathetic enough, but the idea that someone would give up on their dreams because their agent insisted otherwise is ludicrous to me. The same can be said about Toh not going independent just because he couldn’t beat his grandmother’s record. If you want something, you just go out and do it. You’ll fail along the way, but you keep pushing. Maybe that’s why I really wanted Chiyuki to be the main protagonist of the show. She didn’t stop pursuing her dreams even though people had been (and still are) raining on her parade for years. Meanwhile, it felt like Kokoro’s friends had to drag her to the finish line. Had she never met Ikuto and Chiyuki, she would still be a depressed model.
— Did Runway de Waratte teach me a thing or two about the fashion world? Eh, a little. Would I watch a sequel? Sure, why not? Yeah, it’s a pretty milquetoast response, but honestly, the show’s kinda milquetoast.