No megane, no life!
I’ve mentioned ‘Meganebu!’ a couple of times in previous posts, but as I’ve been looking for an excuse to recommend some of the more obscure anime I like, I’m going to spend a few hundred words raving over this adorably weird show from 2013 that practically no one seems to know about.
‘Meganebu!’ crossed my radar not long after I watched ‘Free!’, when I was exploring other school club-based anime. It appealed for the simple reason that I’ve been a glasses-wearer almost my entire life, and after years of feeling awkward and embarrassed by that, I liked the idea of reclaiming my glasses as something to show off and get excited about.
The premise is basic: an after-school club at a boys’ technical school dedicates their time and effort to developing a working pair of X-ray specs. Along the way, they enjoy some glasses-based humour, bond over their love of glasses (they’re not a fashion accessory!) and teach others about the importance of glasses. Yeah, it’s pretty much all glasses. If you’re not a glasses-wearer, it might seem dumb. But if you’re someone who’s constantly nudging their specs back up their nose, grumbling about how often glasses need cleaning, or getting excited over new frame styles, you might just love this show.
It’s visually very appealing, with a colour palette so bright it hurts your eyes. The vivid pinks and yellows in the graphics remind me of Memorex cassette tapes from the ‘90s, and it’s refreshing to see a show about boys that has such a fun, bright look to it.
There’s a whole spectrum of character archetypes to suit all tastes. Club leader Souma Akira drives the group in their quest to invent X-ray glasses, claiming that he wants to use them to look at girls’ underwear – although (a) there are no girls in this show at all, and (b) his actual reason is surprisingly heartwarming. He’s smart, determined, and a little bit bonkers.
His right hand man is Minabe Yukiya, the real brains of the club. Shy and reserved, with a penchant for naps, Yukiya is the one doing the tech work on the x-ray specs project and every other zany scheme the club gets involved in. Second-year Hachimine Takuma doesn’t do a whole lot except hang out with the other boys and eat sweets, but he’s fun to watch. Kamatani Mitsuki is a first-year and the designated cute one, with a huge crush on Akira. And Kimata Hayato…might not officially be a member of the club, since he doesn’t actually need glasses to see, but he’s as involved in their antics as the rest of the club, despite being such a butt-monkey that a glasses-wearing ghost student is given a higher club ranking than him.
There’s also a couple of glasses-wearing teachers and the obligatory evil student council. Interestingly, any character who doesn’t wear glasses doesn’t even get a full character design, so the school tends to look like it’s populated by bathroom sign stick figures.
The show’s humour is generally light-hearted (aside from the constant exclusion of Hayato and Mitsuki’s occasional violent tendencies), with some fun references to other shows (catch the JoJo posing on the train in episode six). Teachers Shirogane and Hariu get their own episode, proving the adults can be as nutty as the students. The opening theme is a total earworm, along with the ident jingle (‘We are Meganebu-hu!’), and each episode ends with a glasses-related fortune. There’s even a cute dog – a huge fluffy white thing owned by Mitsuki which steals the spotlight more than once.
Casting-wise, the big names are Suwabe Junichi, Yasumoto Hiroki, and Miyata Kouki (aka Nitori from ‘Free!’). Sugiyama Noriaki (Hetalia’s England and Black Butler’s William T. Spears) plays the student council leader, and Toyonaga Toshiyuki (Katsuki Yuuri) pops up in episode three.
‘Meganebu!’ is a favourite of mine because it’s so gleefully weird – once you’re a couple of episodes in, it makes perfect sense that finding a pair of discarded glasses could resurrect the ghost of a dead student, or that an after-school club could build a functioning giant robot (complete with its own glasses). Not to mention the way it completely subverts the usual cool, suave megane-stereotypes. And when you’re least expecting it, the show hits you right in the feels with some surprisingly heartfelt moments.
I will always champion shows that allow boys to have problems that aren’t solvable through fighting, or that put boys in situations that aren’t about conflict, and ‘Meganebu!’ is one such show. It lets boys be friends, hanging out and doing fun stuff together, and lets its grown-up male characters do the same too.
At just twelve episodes, it’s an easy show to dip into, with most episodes having two short plots and a final two-episode arc at the end. With the Summer ‘19 anime season severely lacking in innocent comedy, now’s a perfect time to check out this super-fun show. You can find full episodes on YouTube, and I’d love to know what you think of it if you do watch!
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