[Newcomer] Smile at the Runway by Inoya Kotoba

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A hot new rookie on Weekly Shounen Magazine, Smile at the Runway, starts with the story of Fujito Chiyuki, an aspiring fashion model and daughter of a fledgling Modeling Agency, Mille neige. Ever since she was little, Chiyuki’s dream was to be the star model of her dad’s agency and perform at Paris Fashion Week. With great looks and a gifted environment, it seemed like she was on the right track to fulfill her dream, but she soon found herself faced with a seemingly insurmountable wall when her height stopped growing at 158cm (5’2″), hopelessly too short to be a professional model.

Although Chiyuki still kept on believing in herself for years despite everyone telling her it’s impossible, Chiyuki’s resolve starts to crumble as she enters her last year of high school. This is when she meets Tsumura Ikuto, a lame classmate with a surprising talent for designing clothes, who is also considering giving up his dream due to unfortunate circumstances. Together, they begin the journey of doing the impossible in order to realize their dreams.

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Smile at the Runway (Runway de Waratte) is a brand new serialization on Weekly Shounen Magazine (WSM) by Inoya Kotoba, who is a fresh new author that did the oneshot Hoshini Negaiwo. It has been heavily promoted by WSM, starting with a whopping 63 page long first chapter, followed by 42 and 32 page second and third chapters. It is a slice-of-life series about a tale of two teenagers trying to break into the Fashion industry, one as a model and the other as a designer.

Having read up to the latest Chapter 5 so far, the series has quickly become one of my favorite weekly serialization right now, and the one I look forward to the most on WSM right now, along with Hoshino me wo Tsubutte. It gives you the “epic” feeling of seeing a prodigy developing into a professional in a similar manner as Hibiki, but with a more “human” feeling thanks to the characters. (Some potential hints of romance too)

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While the story begins off in the first chapter with the narrative focus on the heroine, Chiyuki, the spotlight quickly shifts to the real protagonist, Tsumura Ikuto, in the subsequent chapters. Ikuto looks like your average no-good protagonist at first, but the author, Inoya, does a great job bringing his character to life. He’s weak-minded in public, but his struggle of choosing between supporting his beloved family and pursuing his passion for fashion is very genuine.

While he doesn’t mind sacrificing his dreams for the sake of his younger sisters, he gets serious when it comes to fashion and his clothes, and is able to speak his mind when he feels things he care about are at stake. More importantly, the incredible raw talent he possess and the definite development we see in his character each chapter makes you can’t help but to cheer for him.

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At heart, Smile at the Runway is about the struggle of pursuing one’s dream despite all odds. Chiyuki’s obstacle is her small height that is detrimental for pursuing a career in modeling. Tsumura’s hurdle is the financial situation of his big family, which makes it impossible for him to get specialized education in college, making it very difficult for him to work in the competitive industry with just a high school education.

The two meet when they were about to shut away their dreams, and their encounter help them reflect on what they really want and push each other to keep believing in themselves. We get to see their chemistry slowly develop, and while we have yet to see any real romantic developments, it is hard to imagine the series not moving in that direction.

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All in all, this is a series I am very looking forward to right now, and I do expect great things from it if the series continue to keep up with its current pace.

Smile at the Runway (ランウェイで笑って) [Manga]

  • Author: Inoya Kotoba
  • Genre:  Slice-of-life, romance, fashion
  • Serialized In: Weekly Shounen Magazine (Weekly)
  • Status: Ongoing (Manga: ch.5+)   | Scanlation: NONE

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