Sep 28, 2017
Preliminary (108/194 chp)
The first serialized work of the fledgling mangaka Inoya Kotoba, Runway de Waratte (Smile at the Runway) is a captivating work that narrates the encounter between a girl who aspires to become a supermodel in spite of her detrimental stature and an unassuming boy with a hidden attachment to making clothes. As each person finds encouragement in the other to continue pursuit of their ambitions, the two of them confront people who offer both ominous discouragements and impelling guidance. Regardless of hardships, the challenges that the characters took upon themselves are undoubtedly humanizing endeavors where each comes to realize his and her own inadequacies through supplementing for the flaws of others.

“True beauty is born through our actions and aspirations, and in the kindness we offer to others.”

There exists no greater complement to this manga than the words of model and designer Alek Wek. Amidst an era in which violent melees and cheesy romance dominate novels, films, and games alike, Runway de Waratte serves as a cherishable reminder that human virtues dazzle in the mundanity of everyday life with comparable, if not greater, brilliance than fantastical tales and melodrama. In applying a shonen format to a genuine modern industry, the manga has masterfully crafted characters that are both relatable and inspiring within a surreal narrative. Be it the grouchy mentor who stubbornly adheres to his lofty ideals regardless of criticism, or the father who hardens his heart to reject his daughter's ambitions, not a single persona is conceived superficial, nor is he conveniently imposed to shoulder the story line alone. The result of such portrayal of relationships is the blurring of distinction between protagonist and antagonist, between adversity and opportunity. The artistic rendering of thematic scenes and dialogues only serves to further elevate the struggle of the characters beyond mere physical or the mental conflicts, amplifying them into passionate messages that truly speaks at the audience.

Occasionally happening upon magnificent works like Runway de Waratte is what sustains my conviction in manga as a potential medium of quality literature as opposed to a source of cheap entertainment. Indeed, it is a fascinating epiphany in realizing how a well-composed story compels one to care so much for a subject he has no knowledge of. Reading the manga is an experience nothing short of mind-blowing, and I was reminded, yet again, how slight the line between fiction and reality truly is.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9
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