Smile Down the Runway Series Review: There is No Impossible

Original Run: January 11, 2020 - March 28, 2020
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Drama
Based on the Series Created By: Kotoba Inoya

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Smile Down the Runway. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Ever since she was young, Chiyuki Fujito (voiced by Yumiri Hanamori) has wanted to be a model. Although she has trained tirelessly and has all the right proportions, Chiyuki’s dreams have been blocked due to her short height. But she refuses to give up.

Despite her drive, Chiyuki has been in a rut. That suddenly changes when she meets Ikuto Tsumura (voiced by Natsuki Hanae). To Chiyuki’s surprise and delight, Ikuto has a knack for designing clothes. However, Ikuto doesn’t believe he is in a position to pursue his passion.

Not wanting to see someone abandon what they love, Chiyuki introduces Ikuto to many of her connections in the modeling industry. Now, as a team, these two are fighting their hardest to prove that they have what it takes to reach the very top.

Series Positives

Without hesitation, I can tell you that I liked Smile Down the Runway. However, I liked it the same way I do sunsets. Like your average sunset, this show was terrific. Unfortunately – in a way – it lacked anything notable that allowed it to stand out from all the other superb anime/sunsets I have seen in my life. This series was well-done. Nevertheless, it was a fully paint-by-numbers sort of project.

I admit that it is nonsensical of me to be disappointed by a very good show. After all, Smile Down the Runway was one of those series that caused me to lose track of time. There were a few instances where I became entirely invested in what was happening. Had I watch this show as it was airing on television (an episode a week), it would have kept bringing me back, no question.

Something Smile Down the Runway did amazingly was its depiction of a person’s passion. All the central characters in this show had something they loved to do. There was Ikuto Tsumura with his designs and Chiyuki Fujito with her modeling. To these two, they didn’t just have hobbies. They had things they wanted to get better at and master. They invested much of their time, energy, and pride in these pursuits. They were knowledgeable and familiar with the nuances that went into their respective crafts.

When Ikuto and Chiyuki worked, you always got the sense that they were enjoying themselves; they were never close to losing their drives. Still, that didn’t mean they didn’t feel the pressure. Ikuto’s lack of experience caused others to look down on him, and Chiyuki’s hight often barred her from ever showing off how good of a model she was. These difficulties were challenging, yes, but they weren’t unbelievable. Thus, it made Ikuto and Chiyuki’s victories all that more enduring because they had actually accomplished something.

These struggles, setbacks, and small wins helped culminate in the climactic fashion show in this series.

And I think this is as good a place as any to mention: I know nothing about fashion. To be honest, a lot of “high fashion” I see looks gaudy and impractical. That said, I can appreciate the amount of work and talent that goes into making a piece of clothing. I can patch together a hole in my jeans, but ask me to craft a shirt from scratch, and I would be lost. So, it wasn’t hard for me to get what Ikuto was doing was impressive.

As for Chiyuki, I’ll admit, the idea of walking down a runway as being something difficult rarely pops into my head. I don’t have any issues accepting that my thoughts on modeling could be ignorant. Therefore, I don’t want to simply disregard the amount of effort Chiyuki put into being a top-model. I mean, I found myself rooting for her as much as I was with Ikuto. Consequently, something must have resonated.

In the end, Smile Down the Runway did its job. It was a fun show with plenty of heart that I would encourage everyone to check out. Be that as it may, I can already tell this will also be a series I will not remember in time.

Series Negatives

I won’t blame you if you assume Smile Down the Runway is the story of a young model trying to make a name for herself and a passionate fashion designer who is unsure how to make his love into a career. This series certainly set itself up as though that was what it was going to be.

For about one episode.

Smile Down the Runway was Ikuto’s narrative, and sometimes Chiyuki got involved. Whenever this series transitioned between the two, it was awkward, sudden, and never natural. For long stretches of this show’s runtime, it would solely focus on whatever Ikuto was doing. It got to the point where I forgot Chiyuki was in this story.

I don’t remember the last time I saw a series sideline a main character as this one did.

Chiyuki only became relevant again when Kokoro Hasegawa (voiced by Ai Kayano), a high profile model trying to break into the design world, began to overtake the co-lead role. That was something since Kokoro started as a throwaway character herself.

And then let’s talk about the predictability of Smile Down the Runway, particularly in regards to Ikuto’s narrative. There were absolutely no surprises in this show. Everything fell right into place as you would expect them to. Fortunately, this series followed a formula that has worked time and time again. However, that is also why I doubt I am going to remember it.

Smile Down the Runway played a very safe game. It even gave itself openings that would allow everyone to get what they wanted. There was little risk in this series, and tension was nonexistent. Nevertheless, this show built up its entire finale to be this ultimate do-or-die situation, which rested, not on Ikuto, but Chiyuki. And remember, Chiyuki had so little to do with anything.

In a way, it was as if Smile Down the Runway was two separate stories that were forced together. Luckily, they shared many of the same themes, and they weren’t incompatible. And yet, one was clearly favored over the other. 

Going back to my original comparison: Think of all the sunsets you remember. Do you remember them only because the view was awe-inspiring? Or, do you remember them because you were either doing something meaningful or spending time with someone you care about?

Smile Down the Runway, although it was good, wasn’t at all spectacular.

Final Thoughts

I can’t deny that it sounds like I’m saying this show was good, but not good enough. Hell, even I don’t know what that implies.

This series was quite excellent in many ways. It had fun characters, the story was interesting, and it was easy to get wrapped up in everything that happened. If you ask me that is the mark of a good show.

The only thing I’m trying to get at is: Even well-made series can fail to leave much of an impact.

That notwithstanding, Smile Down the Runway has earned a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Smile Down the Runway? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you’ve liked what you read and want more anime content, please follow me at LofZOdyssey Anime Reviews or on Twitter @thelofzodyssey.

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