Through my whole ‘career’ an anime fan, I have never once encountered a meganekko (glasses girl) I genuinely like. For some reason, I don’t find glasses as much of a turn-on to me and girls with glasses are usually trapped in certain archetypes that are simply bore me to inception. They are either shy class rep type (the Iinchou from Seto no Hanayome), tsundere strict class rep type (Honami from Rental magica), fujoshi otaku type (Fuji Yoshi from SZS) or the silent type (Nagato Yuki from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu). It’s as if glasses are ice coffins that guarantee to mold your character into set archetype. That is why I never comprehend the logic behind their attraction. There’s also the fact that technically glasses are nothing more than accessories and said traits can still apply perfectly on non-glasses girls. It’s not much a defining trait and appears as stickers on pre-designed character. In fact, one of the main moe points a man can expect from meganekko is the moment when they TAKE OFF their glasses! I mean, what kind of moe point is that if the best part is when they lose the point?
However the world is huge and there is always first time for everything and this season I found my first genuine affection towards one meganekko, Kuribiyutei Gankyo from Kumeta’s nonsensical Joshiraku.
There’s not much too say about Joshiraku itself. It’s basically cute girls doing cute things so viewers can appreciate the girls’ cuteness SAYONARA ZETSUBOU SENSEI STYLE! If you’re ignorant or oblivious about Japanese cultures, jokes, or puns then this anime is a total 20 minutes blackout for your brain. No, I didn’t mean Japanese otaku subculture in the style of Lucky Star or Seitokai no Ichizon, but stuffs from NHK (the channel not the anime) or Yomiuri Shimbun that can even make the most powerful of weeaboo looks like a yankee. It doesn’t help that the ‘access’ we can get at present time is provided from gg who is notorious for their own ‘reinterpretation’ of several lines making the anime as some kind of standup comedy exercise for their staffs.
Anyway, the show features five characters whose names involve some kind of puns and sound ‘rad’ to my ears. They are Buratei Marii (a hyperactive tomboyish girl who’s not right in the head), Harokitei Kigurumi (a cute on the outside, punk on the inside who’s not right in the head), Anrakutei Kukuru (a brooding suicidal girl who’s not right in the head), Bouhatei Tetora (a protagonist who’s seemingly right in the head), and our spotlight in this post, Kurubiyutei Gankyo (a cool beauty glasses girl who’s not right in the head). If I were my usual self, with my strong bias towards yamato nadeshiko type with long black hair, I would instantly pick Kukuru as my fav but this show seemed to rearrange wiring in my brain so for unknown reason, I’m attracted towards the spectacled Ms. Cool Beauty instead. As a scientist I cannot accept something to remain unexplainable by itself so I will try hard (pun intended? Nobody knows) to rationalize my choice.
For starter, I find Gan’s personality to be a rather fresh air from the same old same old meganekko we have gotten used to. She’s a cool beauty but not the typical robot-hearted girls such as Nagato. She can be emotional and prone to breaking down and she’s definitely not shy to express her opinion. There’s also no trace of otaku trait in her character. What I love to see the most is her chemistry with Buratei Marii. Their interaction at the surface looks like the typical cool and hot-headed duo that often appears in most anime however in Joshiraku, the border between the two archetypes is more vague and flexible. Gan is excessively violent that can neither be categorized as tsundere nor yandere trait. She just has that kind of fighter spirit and Marii is her punching bag. Despite all that, Gan is not immune from being the butt-monkey of the joke and she suffered that not as the typical weak and meek character getting picked by the other crazies. True to Kumeta’s surreal style, she retaliates by being devious but not in the typical style but rather absurd style that reaches to a perfect punchline. Her character is also far from the ‘obsessed with perfection’ trait we’ve gotten used to with meganekko. In other words, as a meganekko she’s very flawed and does her job badly and that’s the reason why I like her so much.
Of course, party poopers can always tell me that character X from series Y is also bespectacled yet has Z characteristics. Well tell you what Mr. Festive Defecate, that’s just like saying ‘this Russian I know who lives in Borisville does not like Vodka’ however if you drop me in the middle of Moscow, it’s more likely for me to encounter vodka-drinking Russian than Russian-drinking vodka (forgive me for my cultural ignorance but this example demands semi-correct interpretation). Certainly there are always exceptions to the rule and that’s what makes them so special so it’s worth mentioning. It’s just fate that Gan left greater presence on my mind first rather than Ms. X from Y you mentioned to me.
Glasses also play simple role on Gan’s character. Sure her name is a pun that involves the word ‘glasses’ however that doesn’t make that her only defining trait. Sometimes she wears her glasses and sometimes she doesn’t and the anime doesn’t make that a huge deal. Her character doesn’t change when she’s not wearing glasses and she immediately doesn’t turn as beautiful as bathing Artemis without them thus making her trait seems much more natural. What helps is how the anime itself lampshades this trait. There’s a moment when she took her glasses and her eyes turned 3_3 similar to Nobita in Doraemon series. It’s a simple series and I shouldn’t mind that too much however because of a simple play with the nature of the trait, I found the gag to be quite memorable.
Also by not making the cast and setting in your typical high school age adds plenty of charm to the characters. School setting has become such a staple for slice-of-life anime so it’s no wonder meganekko are trapped to the stigma that persists with them because school is a very limiting set. Other types of fiction can get around this fact by making the school as some kind portal for demon space or organized by secret super society or something but the same cannot be said about SOL because despite no matter absurd the concept of the series is, it always anchors itself to down-to-earth realism. However because Joshiraku is set outside of school setting (with the characters hinted to be in their 20’s) the story can be more flexible with what the characters are doing and discussing without feeling out of place. This is good news for our Gan-san considering meganekko are the most rigid (haha) among the available archetypes in SOL anime. This is more apparent if you take a closer look at her wardrobe choice. At one point she wears gothic Lolita outfit and it looks very interesting to me since doesn’t act squeamish or awkward during that scene and rather treats the fact normally. These simple flexibilities truly add plenty of charm to her character as a meganekko.
Many watchers might find the characters in Joshiraku can be a little inconsistent take for example Gan or perhaps Kukuru who in other episodes tend to act in absurd nature yet in the third segment of episode 7 became the voice of reason (tsukkomi). However I like this treatment as it managed to add richness into their characters making them more unpredictable and therefore lively. If you remember, this can be considered as Kumeta-sensei’s forte since despite his characters first appeared to be in set mold, they are still flexible enough to catch us off-guard. That is why I decided to stick with Joshiraku, despite the fact I usually missed about half of its jokesm just only to see how Kumeta’s eccentricity translates into SOL, a genre that I have long scorned, and in my noble odyssey I found that Kurubiyutei Gankyo is my lighthouse that helps me admire the simple beauty of deviation from same old set standard.