Smile Down the Runway gives fashion the Shonen treatment
Like all genres in all forms of media, shonen anime as a whole can be described by the sum of its parts. When an anime fan is asked to name a shonen title, they will most likely mention a series like dragonball, Yu Yu Hakusho Where Jujutsu Kaisen. Not just because they’re all owned by famous shonen magazines, but because they embody what the genre is best known for: epic combat showcasing the show’s martial arts system.
Action is a surefire way to grab the audience’s attention, and it appeals to the target audience. However, it would be wrong to assume that all shonen anime are like this. There are just as many where the fighting isn’t part of the story at all, in the typical sense. Smile on the track is one such series. Centered on the universe of haute couture, it seems unsuited to the genre at first glance. Despite this “feminine” subject matter, it has everything a good shonen could ask for, from its characters to the tension it manages to create.
Smile Down the Runway characters face seemingly impossible odds
The fashion industry is very competitive on all fronts, and the slightest mistake can ruin a brand’s reputation. From Episode 1, Smile on the track makes this clear to the public. Before even having a chance in this unforgiving world, the two protagonists face unchanging circumstances in their own way.
Chiyuki had dreamed of being a supermodel since she was a child, but her chances were dashed when she stopped growing. Standing six inches below the standard model’s height, her models bluntly told her she didn’t stand a chance. Chiyuki persisted and was eventually fired as a reality check. Yet she shows up at every audition, hoping to be allowed back.
Meanwhile, aspiring fashion designer Ikuto thought he was fine with letting his dream stay a dream. His mother is hospitalized, leaving him and his sisters to make ends meet without her. Money is scarce and her sewing skills have helped the family earn money. He wants more, but thinks it’s best for his family if he gives up on his dream so his sisters can live theirs. It is only after meeting Chiyuki and being influenced by her passion that he changes his mind. At this point, they share a common trait.
Chiyuki and Ikuto from Smile Down the Runway are determined Shonen protagonists
Stubbornness and determination are such common qualities in shonen protagonists that they are almost a requirement. black clover‘s Asta won’t just be less than the Wizard King, and The promised never-never land‘s Emma won’t stop fighting until her family is free. Smile on the trackChiyuki and Ikuto are the same way about their respective dreams.
Chiyuki embodies this trait in its purest form. Although she’s been told for years that she’ll never have what it takes to be a supermodel, she never gave up on her dream. She works on her walk, tries on different clothes and anything that comes to her mind to show what she can do. Even when employers turn her down on sight due to her height, Chiyuki asks for a chance. This is the world she wants to be in and she will do anything to make it happen.
Ikuto, while still adapting to pursuing what he wants, hasn’t really given up yet. At the start of the series, his age also holds him back. If he had been even a year or two older, he would have had fewer problems than him. Although he proves his talent by creating beautiful clothes, no brand will hire a high school student without formal training. So, he searches for this formation and finds himself plunged into the depths. Ikuto can hesitate and make mistakes, but he never complains or backs down.
Smile Down the Runway’s excellent use of tension and framing
Because Smile on the track hammers home the passion and determination of Chiyuki and Ikuto, the audience can’t help but support them despite their slim chances of success. Although this is the story of them achieving their goals, the process is fraught with pitfalls; either can step forward or backward in a given episode. A new character appears who can help or hinder them, or just throw a curveball through the storyline.
To top it off, the way the scenes are paced and framed matches any other shonen anime. The OP shows the lead pair encountering obstacles and overcoming them in a flurry of furious mode work. Ikuto makes a last minute adjustment and Chiyuki takes the stage with determination, determined to prove herself. It’s the two of them in every “battle” they find themselves in. They race against time, work with what’s in front of them, and adapt when plans fail. Ikuto’s sewing plans can be as intense as Light’s writing in the Death Note, and Chiyuki’s march as powerful as Goku finally joining the fight.