14:26 - 22nd June 2016, by Tom Smith


Country girl Mayuko Tokita’s love of fabric borders on the obsessive. From its production, to which materials work best together, she has an encyclopaedic knowledge of it all. In pursuit of her passion, the wide-eyed 20-something hits the ground running when she’s accepted for a job at a designer lingerie boutique in Ginza, Tokyo’s high-end fashion district. However, she soon finds out that if she wants to succeed in the cut-throat industry, she will have to make some fundamental changes.

We came into Atelier with low expectations. The first episode begins with the cringiest theme song this side of the millennium. The lead characters (overly innocent Mayuko and her Cruella de Vil-like boss) are so extreme in their differences that they appear almost like caricatures instead of real people. Throw in the fact that the Japanese title is Underwear, and that the setting is a lingerie store, and suddenly all the ingredients are there for the worst (best?) fanservice series ever.

Once things get going though, all such fears are left behind. Mayuko’s transformation from newbie to pro-fashionista is truly heart warming to witness and relatable to anyone who’s been ambitious in the workplace, or clashed with bosses. It’s also a lot of fun watching the previously flat cast members slowly blossom into fully fledged three-dimensional individuals, each with their own needs, independent of the protagonist’s. Also refreshing is how the setting has been handled, with no cheap tropes or gratuitousness flesh shots (it is rated PG after all!).

Atelier is a sweet drama that is easy to watch, inoffensive, and may or may not have left this particular reviewer with a lump in his throat on several occasions.
SCORE: 4/5
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