Smile Down the Runway
Episode 4

by Lynzee Loveridge,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Smile Down the Runway ?

The fashion show debut is over and Ikuto has some big questions to think on in an episode that is just a little overstuffed. Our aspiring fashion designer has to take over the main assistant duties after Hajime's last assistant passed out during the runway show and with these new responsibilities comes a paycheck.

Ikuto's got three school-age sisters at home, a mom in the hospital for overwork, and an absentee dad. His sisters have aspirations of college and professional sports and Ikuto wants to support them while achieving his own dream. However, I guess he never told them what he's doing out late at night which makes Honoka feel guilty--it looks like Ikuto has given up on fashion design to work and support them. Understandably, this makes Honoka feel like a burden. No one wants to see someone they care about sacrifice their dreams for their sake. Meanwhile, Hajime has Ikuto wrestling with why he wants to be a designer in the first place. Smile Down the Runway isn't quite ready to come up with an emotionally resonant answer here or dedicate the time to flesh it out; Ikuto settles on the most selfless answer instead. He wants to make clothes to bring happiness to others.

Which is very sweet and I don't doubt that there are plenty of people who are driven within their careers because of a service it can provide for others, it just doesn't make for a very compelling reason. I guess I prefer "I'm gonna be the best!" shonen-flavor over the "I'm the nicest guy in the room!" Anyway, Ikuto settles thing within his family unit by finally telling them that he's earning money for them by doing something he loves and then he's off to an expo with Hajime. I found this part particularly interesting as it's a side of the fashion industry I haven't seen before. I'm familiar with how magazines go about opting designs for shoots, but the expo is where brands have a chance to market themselves to boutiques and major retailers to get their pieces into stores.

It's another area of the story that could have been fleshed out. If Ikuto had a lunch break or something and walked the floor, he'd have a real opportunity to see what other designers are doing and how they market their clothing to potential buyers. Instead Hajime gets an order pretty quick and the goal is moved to mass-producing his designs for the upcoming order in a studio that is down to 2 (TWO) people. The principal of a fashion design school steps up to the plate to offer her students as labor in exchange for Ikuto producing something for the school's upcoming show. That's when we meet fashion prodigy and Ikuto's new recruit, Toh Amano (I can't believe all of this happened in 25 minutes) and designer-model Kokoro Hasegawa.

Amano is impressed with Ikuto's natural eye for design and has his sights set on eventually launching a brand with Ikuto in tow. Despite the harshness of the fashion industry, things are looking pretty good for our hero. His design change during the runway caught the attention of best fashion school's principal and will get him a chance to show his own designs in a major way despite not actually being a student. He has two promising designers set to fight over his loyalty. Hajime is much more chill now that he doesn't have a show on the horizon and seems to have noticed Ikuto's natural sense even if he's self-taught. We're shown in the last segment that even though Amano could quickly draw up a pattern that works for Hajime's choice in fabric, he let's Ikuto try. He sees his talent as something worth putting the time in to train even if it takes more time.

The plot beats of this episode felt rushed. A question as important as "why do I want to spend the rest of my life in this difficult career" deserves a little more care than "it makes my sister smile." I also want to see more clothes than Hajime's red everything. That aside, new additions to the cast are welcome since Chiyuki is taking a backseat for now and neither Ikuto or Hajime have enough personality to fill in the blanks on their own. Toh's mischievous nature will spice things up a bit around the work room.


Smile Down the Runway is currently streaming on Funimation.

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