Bespectacled: Clearly Seeing the Appeal of Megane

by Shance and Yi.

Megane Reimu Touhou Glasses

Yi: Shance and I are back to chat a bit about another element of anime couture and character designs. In the past, we have discussed Nekomimi and Hime Cut. In this colloquium, we will talk about something just as popular and perhaps with a more relevant tie to real life fashion: glasses.

Shance: Glasses, huh? In my opinion, glasses rely on the same level of fashion sense as someone would for clothes. Couture-wise, we see glasses that cater to a wide range of needs, fashion being one of them. There are glasses that serve their intended purpose, while there are some that achieve this while also looking pretty good.

For example, glasses that have thick lenses and square frames give out a very nerdy look if worn by the youth, but this suddenly changes if an adult wears this as it gives off an aura of professionalism and adult-like finesse. Another example would be the rimless glasses, which give off a very tech-savvy look if worn with professional clothes, but also look pretty good when worn with casual clothing. A subtle change in color on the frames and it can easily denote a person’s personality, favorite color, or even moods. Even the shape of the lenses can be considered a fashion statement.

Yi: In fashion today, glasses are not a mere functional tool. Rather, they can be an important accessory. However, if the accessory role is taken to the extreme, glasses may make an unsavory fashion choice.

Since arriving in Taiwan, I have noticed an unfortunate trend in eyewear. Many young girls, usually in their mid-twenties, are sporting particularly odd frames. The designs of the frames themselves do not raise eyebrows; the oddity comes from the conspicuous lack of lenses in these “glasses.” They are simply a set of frames. As much as I appreciate glasses—and even own a few fake ones—I could not get a taste for this phenomenon.

Glasses without lens

How grotesque and ironic! This nonsensical look makes her look unsophisticated and unintelligent.

The complete disregard for function in this aesthetic is off-putting. It seems even sillier when we realize that most of these ladies are near-sighted. Underneath their glassless frames, they would wear contacts. While eyewear can become fashion statements, they should still retain their utilitarian roots, or at least make a semblance of it. In this case, either the glasses serve no practical function, or is a statement of pretension and cheapness.

Yuru Yuri Chitose Chizuru Ikeda manga megane glasses

Shance: See, Yi, this is one of the fundamental reasons as to why eyewear couture is popular among a lot of people. Much like clothes, they give out a very personalized look based on the person wearing it, regardless if it satisfies the utility criterion. The idea that one might look good if he or she wears glasses actually defeats the actual purpose of why a person needs to buy or get one. This way of thinking has also crossed over to the glasses’ close sibling, the contact lens, in that there are stylized versions of such lenses with no other function other than simply being for show.

Yi: That is a compelling point. However, my other objection to this illogical trend in Taiwan, while again relates to utility, has to do more with what is fashionable today. In recent seasons, we have begun to see a growing appreciation for minimal, pragmatic designs—a gorgeous mesh of form and function. When one is completely one favored over the other, the overall aesthetics suffer. In fact, rarely in the fashion industry has either form or function been so ignored. I am relieved to find out, however, that this curious glasses couture is a dying fad. Its surge to popularity is simply a rare viral event that happens once in a while, much like those hideous Crocs from years back—a case of function dominating over form.

Shance: Fortunately, we don’t encounter this problem when it comes to Japanese visual media culture. The creators of the characters portrayed in various anime, manga, games and similar material tend to really think about the reason why the characters should wear their respective lenses. However, it is quite notable that such megane-kyara (glasses characters) are created to be very meticulous when it comes to how they look and how they are viewed by other people when they’re wearing them, so the fashion aesthetic isn’t disregarded but rather effectively integrated as part of character development, even making it so that a character is solidly pegged to a certain pair of glasses. And every time someone remembers such a pair, everyone will remember that character because of his or her connection as the one who popularized it.

FLCL Ninamori marquis fake glasses

Yi: The role accessories have in anime to build characters cannot be understated. I am reminded of an elegant scene from FLCL. At the end of episode three, a previously troubled character Ninamori reveals—in a minor, but glamorous action on stage—that her glasses are fake. The use of her glasses here is particularly clever. An anime about maturity and coming-of-age, FLCL dedicates the episode to Ninamori’s growth from a young girl with repressed emotions and forced pretension of adulthood to someone who embraces her childish adolescence. Those glasses—the glassless rims—represent her flawed facade. We see her wearing these early in the episode as a fastidious class president. At the end, however, she pokes her finger through the fake, absent lenses as the Marquis de Carabas, a fake personality of Puss in Boots, does. Only now, she has a better understanding of that role, and like the ingenious cat, will enjoy the rewards of the virtues of youth.

Shance: That’s a good way to put it. If I am to note an example of a mega-kyara, a good one comes to mind: Narusegawa Naru from Love Hina.

Narusegawa Naru Love Hina

She is usually portrayed as someone who doesn’t need glasses, let alone wear them at all times. But when she studies or needs to read something, she pulls out a pair of very nerdy glasses. The lenses are circular, large and thick, while the frame is thick and metallic. This logical precedence of use over looks makes Naru exude a very nerdy look with just the glasses alone, no matter what hairstyle or clothes she wore. As long as she had those glasses on, she would really look nerdy. This fits her personality as an overachiever in both her studies and in life.

However, do remember that this kind of observation is only seen when the focus of the viewer is fixed to the glasses, not the person wearing it. If we shift our attention to the actual person, our opinions can change in a moment’s thought despite having the same end result of finding the glasses and the character’s importance to each other.

For this, let’s take a look at another example of a megane-kyara: Manabe Nodoka from K-ON!

Nodoka Manabe K-On Glasses Megane

Nodoka is Hirasawa Yui’s childhood friend, the former getting stuck with the latter to balance the latter’s trait of being a klutz. She’s also a good friend to everyone in the Light Music Club, especially to Akiyama Mio. To top it off, she’s also a member of the student council, making it seem that it’s her obligation to look after the rowdy bunch, specifically Yui and Ritsu. These traits undoubtedly cements her position as one of K-ON!’s well-known supporting characters. With these in mind, we can say that nothing else can suits Manabe Nodoka better than a pair of rimless red. Her role as an important supporting character is embodied by the thick and under-rimmed frame, which supports the lenses much like how she supports most of the main characters (as opposed to over-rimmed glasses, which can symbolize how a character “carries” the rest of a series’ cast or plot with sheer personality alone, a trait mainly seen in protagonists). To make her stand out as a member of the student council, a bright red color is used on the frame. And lastly, to make it so that she doesn’t overwhelm other characters with her presence, she goes with the sleek-and-thin, oval-shaped lenses for a minimalistic touch that can balance with the glasses’ overall look. Pretty neat, no?

But let’s veer off a little on the conventional stuff and talk about what really makes glasses work. To do so, we must find out the answer to the question that presents itself for such a topic: Do the glasses make the person or does the person make the glasses? In order to delve further into this, we need to take our meat and dip it in a different sauce. That is, we need to shift our points of view from the realm of the aesthetic to the realm of the playNow, unlike nekomimi, whose appeal for cuteness is the more noticeable compared to other subsequent attributes, glasses make up for a lot more than just the cute, and it doesn’t necessarily even need to go there. You can say that framing is a factor for this, with differing priorities on beauty and eroticism being achieved by simply wearing a pair of lenses, similar to how the frame of a pair can give differing priorities between preference, need, and fashion. Add a mechanic that brings all of these together and you get the setup you can mostly see in ero-manga or ero-doujinshi; a situation in which the story or plot cannot continue without the character or the pair of glasses, regardless if there is an actual need to wear the latter for the sake of its intended use.

Ciel Tsukihime Glasses Sempai Megane

In order to realize this, let’s observe a certain scenario: the Ciel route from the Near Side half of the TYPE-MOON eroge Tsukihime. As you progress through the route, you find out that despite acting like she needed them, Ciel never had any problems with her eyes, yet she continues to wear a pair and act like any megane-kyara who needs them. However, this clash of aesthetics is bypassed by the ero-scene near the end of her route. By using the realm of the play (and by extension, the player’s decision), we see that an outside element, such as major events, a character’s opinion, or the general point of view, can influence how a megane-kyara is received by fans, hence her famous meme (“Senpai isn’t Senpai without her glasses.”). This example shows us how powerful the relationship between a pair of glasses and the person wearing it can become; Ciel will never be the same without her glasses, and a pair will never achieve such viral popularity if not worn by someone with sultry charms like Ciel. Besides, why would I need a valid reason such as fashion or function if I can make a person wear any pair just because I want them to, right?

Yi: Fair enough. I appreciate how unabashed and straightforward Tsukihime is in designing characters perfectly accessorized for its fans. If Ciel has more appeal when she wears those glasses, then she should wear those glasses. Admittedly, I do not mind that Ciel’s glasses are fake probably because they still maintain an appearance of function and, more importantly, serve a purpose. Perhaps in time, I will also warm up to Nodoka’s under-rims.

Gunslinger Girl Claes

There is much to discuss with glasses. For example, the relationship between them and self esteem merits a look. As well, the change in personality and the masking aspect of eyewear can be fascinating. After all, glasses have become such a major part of fashion accessories and has inspired its own list of fetishes. It is always a pleasure to begin these talks and throw ideas around with you, Shance!

Shance: Likewise, Yi. Likewise. Until next time, folks!

About the Guest Author:
A good friend and a wonderful writer to bounce ideas off of, Shance is a delight to write with.  Our chats and collaborations are always fun and casual with a spruce of sophistication and a taste for anime. Shance blogs at the lovely Rainbowsphere!

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40 Responses to Bespectacled: Clearly Seeing the Appeal of Megane

  1. Pingback: Bespectacled: Clearly Seeing the Appeal of Megane (On Listless Ink) « Rainbowsphere

  2. Wieselhead says:

    I guess I am an megane maniac! not to the extent that I think every person should wear them, of course. Well, Im wearing them myself because I have to and I think I look better with them.
    I think it’s funny to use them as mere accessory, even when someone doesn’t need it, it can add a nice touch to a certain outfit but without any glass in the frame it appears rather senseless 😀

    I like the nerdy model a lot, but what I like even more is the look of girls with big, round… *lol*
    thin frame glasses like in this link kyahh ♥

    I can’t really explain why I like that so much. Maybe because most characters who are wearing these types of glasses are often portrayed as warm and very kindhearted persons or because it is a charming human weakness.
    Well there exceptions, sometimes it is also a part of mishievous and misterious characters.

    The half frame model is a bit too *meh for my tastes, I don’t like this bourgeois and uptight look and behaviour of these characters. You are boring Manabe Nodoka, b-o-r-i-n-g XD

    • Yi says:

      I’m a bit of a maniac myself as well, sort of. I have a love-hate relationship with glasses, and I guess it really depends on the person. Some people just feel so… right with glasses.

      I remember my first time being so enthusiastic about megane in anime was years ago when I watched Read or Die. That also sparked a little bit of librarian fetish in me. To this day, I cannot resist sexy librarians. And glasses certainly help.

      I like nerdy models quite a bit as well, and those frames you posted are wonderful indeed. ^ ^ Personally, I think I gravitate toward the seductive, mischievous, sexual types rather than the clumsy, nerdy types though.

      Agreed about half frames. I’ve ranted about it quite a bit everywhere actually. I just cannot get into them, and they seem to be so popular everywhere. Madoka, Nodoka… A bit boring indeed.

      Anyways, thanks for the thoughts, Wieselhead. I did not know you wore glasses! ^ ^

  3. Marina says:

    Another one that really struck me was Alicia of ARIA. I don’t really remember ever seeing her wear glasses until the very end after she had moved on to work for the gondola association. She looked beautiful and mature, a woman with a new purpose in life. But I couldn’t also help but feel sad looking at her since the glasses seemed to effectively shut her away from her life as an undine.

    Some of my favorite megane characters are ones that go against the strict stereotype, like Mai of Nichijou and Hidenori of Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou. While they do uphold the perceived intelligence of their type of characters, they are also the start of a lot of mischief among their peers. Both of them also have the more boring glasses, which I can’t tell if they’re rimless or have a thin metal frame–yet neither Mai nor Hidenori could be described as boring.

    I find it a bit odd that all your examples listed here are female, but I guess that’s kind of the norm for your couture/character design posts?

    • Shance says:

      Re: Perceived intelligence and mischief through megane, do note that mischief, in its general form, is considered a subcategory of intelligence. There are some characters who sport this type of logic (Sawako from K-ON is one, although mostly unwillingly), and sometimes using the boring glasses helps in maintaining a perfect poker face for jokes and skits, specifically deadpan.

      As for our examples, we used mostly female ones mainly because they’re more prominent compared to male examples. Noriyasu Seta and Urashima Keitaro from Love Hina can be considered as good examples, but that type of couture is for another time. 🙂

    • Fyn says:

      Actually, Alicia also wore glasses on the Blackout episode (I forgot what number)

    • Yi says:

      A sub-trope of megane-kyara is the seductress. As Shance mentioned, intelligence, manipulation, and mischief may all be implied by glasses, and it can be so incredibly sexy when those vibes get across to the audience. (I actually have a huge fetish for the naughty librarian types…) It’s a lot of fun!

      “I find it a bit odd that all your examples listed here are female, but I guess that’s kind of the norm for your couture/character design posts?”

      Oh yes, we definitely have a bias towards female “models.” It may be my own preference that biased our posts this way, or it may simply be that mainstream anime is largely a medium that focuses more on female characters, or it could be because fashion editorials also tend to be more about women. I’m glad you pointed this out though! Thanks, Marina. ^ ^


  4. AXYPB says:

    I’d like to present another example about how glasses, specifically the lack thereof, affects the reception of a character both in-story and by the viewers, similar to the Tsukihime example above. Throughout A Kiss For The Petals – My Dear Prince, Sara believes that Kaede has a natural beauty that her classmates refuse to recognize, which frustrates her throughout the story. Near the end, she concludes that it’s due to Kaede’s large glasses and tightly braided hair, the two traits that Kaede has defined herself aesthetically by for much of her life. (For the purpose of this discussion, I’ll focus on the glasses, although the braid is an equal component of this characteristic.)

    Kaede admits at least once in narrative that this is because of her adversity to social interaction: “The glasses were more like a disguise. They were like a boundary between me and my surroundings, and it puts me at ease.” The braid and glasses combination gives her an air of maturity that distances her from her more youthful peers at school. This extends in part to a meta level; I sometimes see comments from fans who say they dislike Kaede for those very decisions on her part. (As an aside, one could also observe that Kaede takes her insistence on wearing glasses to an extreme, as she’s seen with them in the bath, in bed, and during most love scenes, even those where she has the initiative. However, I believe this was intentional on Peko’s part in order to increase the contrast during the climax of this story.) At the same time, she makes clear many times throughout the story that she isn’t proud of her tendency to do this, but she cannot bring herself to change her image. Sara ultimately does it for her by giving her a makeover. Kaede’s shapely figure makes it a short one, but the changes, minor and short-lived as they are, change Kaede permanently.

    The first thing Sara does is remove Kaede’s glasses. She is so dedicated to the makeover that she threatens not to return them for the rest of the day. Like the characters mentioned in the post, the glasses serve both aesthetic and utilitarian purposes, but the utility in question is different from the usual, as Sara discovers that the glasses have only slight corrective properties to the point that she could do without them. But whereas Ciel did not need her glasses at all, Kaede developed a dependence on them. Taken away, this one change alone completely alters the way Kaede is perceived by others; in Sara’s words, “When your glasses are off, it’s like you’re looking at me directly and it makes my heart race.” Having said this, she continues by undoing the braid and applying a small amount of makeup. Kaede is stripped of her aesthetic sensibilities, that is, she is wearing no accessories of any kind, but the addition of makeup causes her to not recognize herself in the mirror at first. This is the natural beauty that Sara spoke of (makeup notwithstanding).

    However, when Sara watches Kaede suddenly become the center of attention as they walk into school, she learns, in abject fashion, to be careful what she wishes for. Kaede without her glasses looks forward into the eyes of the other students, as opposed to keeping her gaze down with her glasses on, and is showered in compliments for her looks by everyone they pass by, and she feels that she is now seen as an equal to Sara in beauty rather than a mere companion. The other girls envy her. Some of them comment that they would like to become fans of her. One girl speculates that Sara and Kaede could go into a rivalry. Once Kaede starts getting the attention that Sara thought she deserves, that of eros, Sara immediately regrets it and demands that Kaede revert to her familiar look. The presence and absence of glasses produce completely opposite reactions from others. Kaede-chan is not Kaede-chan without her glasses, but this fact acts as the crux of the story. It’s more than a simple design decision by the author to cater to a popular fetish, it’s an important plot point as well.

    There was indeed an exquisite allure to Kaede that her glasses and braid kept hidden, but neither Kaede nor Sara were prepared for it. While they eventually learn to come to terms with the implications of the makeover, the glasses have effectively become a floodgate that controls Kaede’s personality. While Sara very much loves the Kaede that is ruled by inhibition, the longer Kaede is not bridled by her precious glasses, the more the seductive prince within her evolves as the genuine, positive attention she receives from passersby intensifies her emotions and relationship with Sara. Kaede’s glasses are such an integral part of her default personality that in later works, particularly the light novels, even her behavior toward Sara changes with her appearance. In Our Vacation Together, Sara has Kaede try her hand at modelling at a tropical resort far away from home. In The Curtain Call Never Ends, Kaede plays the role of the Prince in an adaptation of Snow White. The cover of the drama CD Kaede-chan Super Mode depicts Kaede enchanting Sara in a hot spring. In the CD proper, they check into the spring’s private inn and Kaede makes an advance on Sara and ends up wearing only black lingerie. All of these scenarios have Kaede with her hair down and glasses off.

    The removal of the glasses, while only part of the transformation, symbolizes her opening up in every respect, not only to the world, but also to herself. She certainly doesn’t appear to have any trouble walking around without them and continues to use them regardless, but she is finally able to see in herself what Sara looked up to for as long as they’ve known each other. Sara dedicated much of her life to becoming a girl that Kaede could be proud of, and in doing so, she made herself a visual example, an ideal, of what Kaede is to her loved ones. Kaede needed to see it with her own eyes, as well as experience it physically and emotionally, in order to become a picture of virtue. She can do it, but only with Sara’s help. Only after Sara returns does it become possible.

    Once Kaede finally unifies her loving personality with her innate charm, she experiences the thrill of social interactions that she denied herself for years and becomes the perfect lover for the one person to whom she owes everything. She reaches catharsis. Like the Three Faces of Eve, Kaede changes so much that she is eventually at once like a cute, innocent child when Sara’s impulses get the better of her; a wise and dependable wife who loves Sara tenderly and supports her whenever she faces difficulty; and an overwhelming seductress in the few occasions her glasses come off, usually as a result of one of Sara’s schemes. They are all held in balance and amplified by the glasses. They give the child a distinct moe aspect, the wife a look of intelligence and kindness, and the seductress a bind that she is all too eager to break.

    This depth to Kaede’s character makes her one of the more interesting characters of the Sonohana cast to to me. Again, the ever-versatile glasses are only one part of it, but this degree of character development is definitely unique to her — no other character experiences such drastic changes in personality in both the short-term and the long-term. The analogy to the Three Faces of Eve is present in the other characters as well–Yuuna immediately comes to mind–but it’s at its strongest within Kaede, and it’s all thanks to a humble pair of unassuming eyewear.

    • AXYPB says:

      There is one more glasses-off scenario that I neglected to mention: the final image of Beloved Photograph, where Kaede and Sara try on wedding dresses. The culmination of all of Kaede’s feelings toward Sara happens as Kaede proposes to her, and we see it as they appear before one another in their image of their future life together. The Three Faces act all at once in this decision: The child is optimistic for their eventual marriage; the wife knows that a declaration of her love will help Sara through the most stressful day of her career, and the seductress consummates this proposal with the final love scene and image of the visual novel. In her wedding dress, Kaede’s hair is undone, and her vision unobstructed. Her transformation, which started in My Dear Prince, is complete.

    • Yi says:

      It’s really awesome that you mentioned Kaede! In fact, when I wrote the conclusion, I had her in mind. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough space to tackle this trope often used to symbolize or literally portray character growth/change. So yea, it’s great to do so in the comments.

      Self-esteem seems to be at the center of her initial insistence on staying low-key. And for that, I think it is reasonable many fans aren’t attracted to her. (I myself find confidence to be one of the sexiest things ever; by contrast, a lack of it is not as exciting.) I agree though that when the change does occur, it is so much more satisfying to see this sort of Pygmalion change in her—even more so because of the influences of Sara.

      I think one other fascinating thing that you alluded to is the relationship between our ideal self and real self. Humanist Psychologist (e.g. Carl Rogers) would have a very intriguing discussion with Kaede. The manifestation of the inner incongruity is in her glasses and braids. To me, she seems uncomfortable wanting more, and is thus content—or rather actively—wanting less.

      What follows though after the make-over is incredibly fun and fascinating in its own way. I really appreciate the nuance that goes into Sara’s reactions. The whole idea of dating up or dating down is exhibited by her dilemma. She can’t resist Kaede’s princely charms, but at the same time, feel the pressure of being with someone so widely desired. Seeing them come to terms with that, and embrace that—the two Kaedes—is indeed a climatic, beautiful moment in their story. And yes, I enjoyed seeing Kaede owning up to her own beauty. That had me wanting her. ^ ^

      As an aside, I remember reading once something about Marilyn Monroe. Truman Capote once spoke of an experience with her. They were leaving a funeral of one of Marily Monroe’s friends. After the service, as they walked around in New York, no on gave them a second look. Suddenly, Marilyn Monroe asked Capote, “Want to see something
      funny?” And with just a few adjustments of her strut, posture, and movement, within seconds, people were exclaiming, “Look, look, it’s Marilyn!,”

      Kaede’s glasses seem to have a similar effect. It’s so fun how the little things may have a huge impact on not just a person’s sexuality, but her whole image.

      Thanks for the long, dissecting, insightful look at Kaede, AXYPB. ^ ^

      • AXYPB says:

        This assessment is part of a series of posts I had planned to discuss Kaede’s character at length. I had wanted to write about her since the release of the My Dear Prince patch in January 2011, but a number of more pressing issues have delayed it, not least of which were the subsequent translations.

        Her low self-esteem early in the story makes her unattractive to some readers. By contrast, I find such neuroses intriguing, as there is a very compelling reason for it in this case. It is not uncommon for children in Kaede’s position, that is, being an only child and academically above average, to exhibit the self-esteem issues she is so keenly aware of. Unfortunately, with so much of her life unexplored, the root causes of her mental and emotional problems are left largely to speculation.

        We do not see much of her life with her parents, but it appears to be a good one. However, if they are aware of any of Kaede’s mental and emotional issues, they don’t show it; when Sara shows off the result of Kaede’s makeover, they take it as a novelty rather than the start of the radical change in her life that ensues at school. When Sara moved away, Kaede experienced loss for probably the first time in her life. Not wanting to lose anything so major again, she looks to her parents as the next greatest thing at risk. Being above-average in intelligence already sets their expectations high, and being an only child multiplies the stakes further. She is lonely in those two respects. In a comment on an earlier post, I postulated that now that she no longer has a reason to fight the bullies that assailed Sara, she probably feared them now that their primary target was gone. With no one to protect, she withdraws from her peers, namely the many enemies she made while defending Sara. Now that she lost her primary reason for social interaction, she focuses on her studies. She protects what little she thinks she has left fiercely, by putting on airs of austerity and independence through her appearance (the glasses) and professed social anxiety.

        Sara ignores Kaede’s introversion and openly attacks it, which culminates with the removal of the glasses. Because Kaede lacks self-esteem, she lacks both confidence and desire, two qualities found in the most popular characters in the series. With Sara’s help, she finds them, and then she transforms.

        • Yi says:

          I remember you had gotten started with a few posts on Kaede and Sara a while ago. Those were fascinating reads!

          Of all the couples in the Sono Hanabira franchise, this pair is the one with the most interesting relationship. If Runa Takako are defined by controversy, Eris Shizuku by aesthetics, Reo Mai by tsundere popularity, Yuuna Takako by fetish, then Kaede and Sara are defined by their development. Her low self-esteem may be unattractive, but it makes their growth that much more fun to watch. Their interactions are also the ones with the most depth, consequence, and dynamic. I may not feel a special liking for them, but I do appreciate their story and their role in Sono Hanabira.

          If you do get around to writing more about the characters in Sono Hanabira, I think it’d be a great read for the fans. Cheers, AXYPB. ^ ^

  5. Haxton Fale says:

    As picky as it may sound, I must comment on your opinion about Narusegawa.
    Naru is by no mean portrayed as someone who doesn’t need glasses. She use them at school an the proof of he poor eyesight appears in the runaway chapter. They do, however, fulfil the same function as in AXYPB’s example of Kaede, seeing how Naru refuses to wear her glasses at home.

    • Shance says:

      Errr… She does, actually. Her eyesight is bad to the point where she needs to squint at things if she doesn’t have her glasses on. The flow of the story just doesn’t make enough sense to make the fact stand out.

      However, the fact that she can still see fine without her glasses on may mean that she may have astigmatism, or just a bad case of nearsightedness/farsightedness. But I digress.

  6. Smithy says:

    Megane characters in anime are often quite lovely. Nodoka is ♥

    But as some who’s alas unlucky enough to have very poor eyesight and must do with thick glasses I simply cannot fathom why some people would wear fake ones as accessories. T_T If I could do without mine, I’d feel blessed!

    • Shance says:

      As I have said before, glasses have grown and evolved to become a fashion statement, although the grounds for it becoming one is mostly questioned. Logically speaking, most countries wouldn’t consider it, however others simply just go with the sentiment of having to wear glasses because they want to, not because they can look nicer on them or they need them. It’s a sad, thought, if you think about it.

      • Aruto-kun says:

        I have seen this trend up close when I was in Japan last May and I have to say, it’s not all that offensive to me. I’m reminded of this article: , in which it’s explained that “[f]ashion in Japan is explicitly costume.” It’s a matter of being fashionable for the sake of being fashionable and not making excuses about it.

        • Yi says:

          While I wouldn’t say it offended me, I do not enjoy fashion crossing too far into the realm of costumes. These glasses, for me, have crossed that threshold and just seem too ridiculous and juvenile to me. Of course, if someone enjoys them, all the more power to them. It’s just not my thing.

          I agree though that fashion in Japan are heavily influenced by its costume culture. There’s some charm in that too. It can be one of the most gorgeous and fun fashion sense when it’s not way too gimmicky or cutesy.

        • Shance says:

          I think it’s safe to say that the Japanese also put high priorities on how they look when they buy glasses. However, do note that tastes and preferences differ from person to person, and some of them do cross the line between fashion and function.

          Also, great find for the article!

    • Yi says:

      @Smithy: I have worn convincing fake glasses before for interviews to try to get that intelligent, more hireable look. I value my eyesight highly though, so I am content with not having to wear glasses or contacts most of the time. ^ ^

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  8. Kai says:

    I always find it interesting how some characters wear glasses not because they need them but more because of psychological needs. For some character, it’s because they need them and for some, it’s to support their own mentality. Some characters had worn glasses for so long that it won’t feel like it’s them when they took them off, glasses like clothes, also possess incredible individualization abilities.

    • stushi says:

      “Some characters had worn glasses for so long that it won’t feel like it’s them when they took them off”
      I can actually relate to that.
      I’ve been wearing glasses since 2nd grade, but it’s not like I ever cared much. About 2 years ago, I bought a new pair, for the first time actually caring about how they looked on me. They’re thick-rimmed, transparent-like red, and make you think “hipster” at first sight. Anyway.
      Last year I put on contact lenses for the first time because I needed them while skiing. Now, I had gotten so used to ALWAYS wearing glasses, that I really felt like I had lost a part of me. Sure, I wouldn’t mind if it was only just for during the day, but any longer and I’d just feel naked.
      People always ask me why I don’t wear contacts all the time “You look much better! Your eyelashes look really long! You look totally different! In a good way! etc.”, and my usual answer is “Because I’m too lazy to put them on every morning, and they sometimes sting.” which is true, I guess. But in reality, the truth is much harder to explain. I feel like my glasses really are a part of me, and that they define me. They give people an initial opinion of me (which may or may not be true), which would otherwise not be there at all. I guess it’s a way to get noticed.
      But saying all that out loud would be way too narcissistic.

      • Yi says:

        Thanks for sharing your own experience with glasses, stushi. I have to admit—I have never had to wear glasses for extended periods of time; the only times that I do are fake ones for interviews and such. Thus, I really don’t have a great understanding of how glasses feel. It’s wonderful to hear your perspective and relationship with such an important accessory.

        Cheers, stushi darling!

        • Shance says:

          Well, some of us (myself included) experience that need at a later time. My vision started to get bad a few years back, and I was advised to get a pair of glasses to fix my vision. At first, it was a little… off… so to speak. But eventually I realize that because it’s an important part of myself, I eventually didn’t mind to the point where I think it’s an extension of my body.

          I do take them off when I don’t feel like it, though.

    • Yi says:

      @Kai: Indeed. Such scenarios create an interesting dynamic in the relationship between our self and our appearance. Often, we see this with insecure characters who want to stay low key and avoid social interactions. Some also use glasses as a crutch or totem for their identity, without which, they lose sight of themselves. Fascinating!

      • Shance says:

        Or they could also use it as a means to hide and show a concealed alter ego, as evidenced by a few characters like Claes from Gunslinger Girl, or Steyr Aug from Upotte!, which is another way to implement character development on a character that can’t do much on what he or she was given by default.

    • Shance says:

      It’s quite interesting to note that the Japanese tend to peg a character’s personality onto something as… focal… as a pair of glasses. Chitose from Yuruyuri is a good example amidst a sea of similar characters. However, her case revolves not in a total character change when she removes/puts on her glasses, but rather a supportive element (she blurs her vision in order to visualize lesbian delusions in her head) on how her personality works, her glasses then being an essential part of herself.

  9. Nopy says:

    There certainly are a lot of different aspects of glasses that make them appealing in different ways. Personally though, I prefer characters without them. With some animation styles they just get in the way. Ano Hana, for example, erased part of the glasses on their characters so you could actually see their eyes.

    • Yi says:

      My favorite characters have been a mix of both glasses-wearing and non-glasses-wearing. In the end, it really depends on the person I guess. Some personalities are so lovely, and are enhanced by their accessories, while others are not. It also depends on my mood. I have gone through a megane loving phase (around the time I watched Witch Hunter Robin and Read or Die).

      • Shance says:

        I think I’ll have to go with Yi here. Some characters are just never right without their glasses, regardless if the flow of plot dictates that they remove them from their sacred pedestals that are the character’s eyes.

        As for animation styles, I’m pretty much flexible. If I’m to judge a glasses-wearing character’s beauty, it would be by the symbiotic relationship between the character and the glasses, as well as their complimenting qualities to each other and to us viewers.

  10. glothelegend says:

    I LOVE it when a girl wears glasses. In real life and in anime.

    In anime, glasses always look good because let’s face it, no one’s going to create a character that looks like crap. Even the “loser-nerdy-girls-who-are-overlooked-by-the-whole-school-when-they’re-actually-really-good-looking” always look great, and stylized with their glasses.

    Best glasses:

    As I’ve said. Hot girls with big dorky glasses are just made even hotter by wearing big dorky glasses. I like girls with big dorky glasses. I like hot dorky girls. I like glasses.

    • Yi says:

      I love glasses too, in real life and in anime. Once in a while, I would get into a very glasses-obsessed mood, and I would lust after all those cute glasses girls. But those moments come and go~

      I also really like smart, sexy, seductive girls… And librarians.

      Dorks~ ❤

    • Shance says:

      Yes. They’re the hidden treasures amongst us. 🙂

  11. jreding says:

    @ Shance: Call me impressed by this detailed analysis of the significance of Nodoka’s type of glasses!

    Generally, I’m not that much a fan of glasses girls in anime (in particular with half-rimmed glasses). Sometimes these characters manage to escape their clichéed corner but in most cases imo they just stay stock characters added with the only purpose of serving that fetish.

    Funnily enough, though, reading your post I recall that I once was a fan of glasses girls in RL! In high school I really liked this slightly nerdy girl who was quite shy (or so I imagined) and wore a braid and glasses. Alas, I lost sight of her. But I do like Claes who has some traits of said girl (Shiori from Tamako Market goes in a similar direction). Claes is perhaps the best dressed anime girl I know and her glasses fit her so well! But maybe it’s less the glasses which draws me to her but the shyness which those glasses seem to indicate. As far as I remember Claes – being a cyborg – wears fake glasses. They remind her of her deceased fratello and also are a souvenir from her life before becoming a cyborg. Her fake glasses are also a statement that she is not engaging in violence.

    Oh, and I also love glasses girls living in time periods long before glasses (and in particular rimless ones!) had been invented, e.g. Akechi Mitsuhide in Sengoku Otome or various characters in Koihime Musou (moe-ified adaptation of a novel set around 250 AD!). I like this inconsistency!

    • Yi says:

      I’m still a fan of glasses girls in real life when I’m in certain moods, especially the intelligent charmer types. And I’ve had my share of crushes in the past. ^ ^

      I’m ecstatic you mentioned Claes. I loved her in Gunslinger Girl. She was one of my favorites, and her glasses alongside her demeanor and love of books are a big reason. Her fake glasses is also yet another insightful use of accessories in anime.

      Anachronism can be so fun too! Jin from Samurai Champloo is another handsome example of it, and that show plays so well with themes out of time. These are some great points, jreding! Thanks. ^ ^

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