By Joseph Luster
This article originally ran on otakuusamagazine.com
The new issue of Otaku USA magazine dives into a feature on everyone's favorite swimming series, Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. There has to be a reason so many people are excited about it, right? SOMETHING must have generated all that buzz before it was even confirmed as a series, I just can't put my chlorine-soaked finger on what. Either way, Free! is but a thin slice of all the club-related anime out there! There are shows about all kinds of clubs, from other sports to those of less tangible matters, likeGJ Club, and even… a glasses club?
Yep, you got it, we're talking about Meganebu!, so put those specs on—though if the lenses are fake we're gonna have to make you a provisional reader of this article at best—and join in on the ridiculous fun.
A lot of folks like to talk facetiously about which series will finally save anime once and for all. Will it be Trigger's kinetic Kill la Kill? Maybe, but what about Meganebu!? Based on a series of drama CDs originally released in 2011/2012, Meganebu! comes from Studio Deen and director Soubi Yamamoto, who also directed the This Boy Can Fight Aliens!OVA. The series takes us to the rural Himalaya Third Technical School, an all-boys school that happens to be home to an eccentric club that stands out, at least to the audience, among a mostly faceless campus.
The boys of Meganebu! don't use glasses as a vision tool, or as a fashion accessory. Rather, in the club's own words, they attack them from a broader perspective of worldwide relevancy, pushing them to the limits of their glorious potential! Unfortunately, not everyone sees things their way. In fact, almost no one seems to register their existence or legitimacy as a club. Even fellow club members can't seem to agree on anything, so what should they do?
That's where their glorious leader, Akira Souma, comes in with the obvious solution: They need a bigger budget. Thus, they set out to realize their dream of creating perfect, working X-Ray Glasses that can see through all inanimate objects. Once everyone else sees their brilliant concept come to fruition, they'll be tossing money at the club like nobody's business, right?
Yes, Meganebu! is absolutely ridiculous from the very beginning, but it's not all about playing peeping tom with see-through specs. Some segments focus more on individual club members—like the one that links provisional member Hayato to an ancestor who wore the first pair of glasses in Japan—or developing other mostly useless equipment like a 55-minute clock to make sure classes go by faster. The latter leads to the discovery of a hidden pair of fancy sunglasses, of course. It all comes back to glasses in the end, because all you need is M-E-G-A-N-E!
The club's ongoing failure to build X-ray glasses leads to plenty of bizarre prototypes, like Mk 35, which ends up being a pair of glasses that can see ghosts, created both by accident and as a silly play on words. Naturally, the ghost has a backstory connected to the aforementioned sunglasses, and can't pass on in peace until he fixes and returns them to an old friend. What's this? Did a show like Meganebu! manage to craft a curiously endearing short story? Is this anime stupidly earnest or earnestly stupid? Or is it both? What other secrets of life hide within Meganebu!, ready to bare themselves before humanity in the form of a cartoon about glasses?
In all seriousness, Meganebu! really is a fun show. It's light and energetic, with enough laughs and a colorful style that separates it from the rest of the clubs. It's really difficult to dislike a show with plots like the one that has a club member discovering the perfect smile to glasses ratio. Or one where the club tests their latest X-ray specs model by powering it with a five-person bike. Clearly The Beatles were wrong when they said all you need is love.
You can catch new episodes of Meganebu! streaming on Crunchyroll, and Sentai Filmworks will be releasing the series on home video in 2014.