TV (12 eps)
2.886 out of 5 from 4,085 votes
Rank #16,277

While Nayu Hayama may be a middle school student, she has the fashion sense of an adult – at least, when it comes to lingerie. Unlike her other classmates, Nayu is an underwear fanatic and is highly knowledgeable about a girl’s changing body, the right fit for a bra and a variety of materials like lace and beads. Alongside her new friends the busty Haruka and flat-chested Yako, Nayu will spread her love of panties and even help form a club dedicated to researching ladies’ delicates!

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Story My regular readers – working on the egocentric assumption that such a species might exist – will remember my most recent review as having been commissioned via TACO by KiraRin in an attempt to offend my sensibilities. This time round, sothis herself has got in on the act, deciding to exploit my utter distaste for lolicon material and underage nudity by forcing Chu-Bra!! upon my unwilling person. Thus did I end up watching a show about young teens in underwear. At least that’s what I plan to tell the police. In a way, Chu-Bra!! is like multiple-Oscar-winning film Rain Man. Its central protagonist is an individual lacking in the social graces and common sense that anyone would consider natural, compensating this with an outlandish talent that anyone would consider god-given. Unfortunately, that’s more or less where the similarities end because, while Raymond Babbitt had an encyclopaedic memory and the uncanny ability to count things at a glance, Nayu Hayama has an encyclopaedic knowledge of underwear and the uncanny ability to annoy me. When summed up, the show’s plot is ridiculous. A teenage girl goes around teaching others about underwear and solving their problems, on the proviso that they relate specifically to bras and knickers. However, the real problem with Chu-Bra!! is not that it is as bad as its premise sounds - rather it is worse. There was room for humour here. There was room for nonsense, room for parody, room to make something that could be laughed with rather than laughed at. Instead, token steps are taken to create something respectable, or at least as respectable as a show about a middle school underwear club could hope to be. There are trials, tribulations, and other laughable pleas for the viewer to become emotionally involved in the recycled plot points and pointless interactions that the makers have the gall to pass off as a story. What humour and diversion the show does manage to offer is sub-par at best. Aside from a delightfully over-the-top drama club who make an Utena-referencing cameo towards the end, the comedy can be summarised in one sentence: middle schoolers of both genders find lingerie embarrassing. While the show occasionally elaborates on the theme - for example by employing a cavalcade of blushes and nosebleeds to illustrate the idea like some kind of puerile crimson PowerPoint presentation - it would be unfair to credit Chu-Bra!! with much more than this simple observation, re-told again and again with tedious dedication. Animation Chu-Bra!!’s animation is both generic and lazy. Backgrounds are clean but far from striking, and they frequently exhibit a lack of detail. The character designs, meanwhile, are uninspired. Aside from a couple of touches – such as Ms. Mizuno’s constantly unkempt hair – nothing much even resembles novelty. Similarly, the show is short on visual flair, and the animated medium is never used to achieve anything more creative than an overused face fault or two. More unfortunate still are the inconstancies which haunt the show like an unusually irksome spectre. Some of the more obvious are a teleporting tea cup, a boat which can’t decide whether it has seats or not, and the curious case of Haruka’s eyelash protrusions, whose length inexplicably varies throughout the series. These are by no means the only errors which leapt out at me, and I have no doubt that an eye sharper than my own could catch many more before succumbing to some bad-animation-induced strain of ocular cancer. Sound Chu-Bra!!’s assault on the ears is no gentler than its assault on the eyes or brain. Both the OP and ED fall some way short of the bouncy, energetic J-pop for to which they presumably aspired, owing to jarringly fast lyrics in the OP and an irritating melody in both. The background music is usually too loud and often too serious – the relic of an earnest but failed attempt to add some kind of drama to the insistently daft and shallow plot. I also found myself disappointed with the voicing. Whether the actors were poorly cast or just did a bad job is open to debate, but Minori Chihara, who shone as Yuki Nagato in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, offers only cutesy blandness as Nayu. Meanwhile, Takahiro Sakurai, so engaging in the role of Mononoke’s medicine seller, is wasted as Nayu’s quiet and entirely irrelevant step-brother. Not that any of the half-baked roles on offer would have particularly suited. Characters As well as having nothing to offer in terms of intrigue, the main characters in Chu-Bra!! have no obvious personality outside of their attitude towards underwear. In a way, that’s about all that could be expected given the premise, but in another, equally valid way, it makes for dull viewing. There is some modicum of redemption to be found in the sparse appearances of the off-the-wall eccentricity of the drama club and the down-to-earth maturity of Kiyono, but when I found myself siding with the poisonously stereotyped, no-fun-on-my-watch headmistress in her attempts to close down the underwear club, it became clear that this was not a cast I could easily care about. Overall In order to give an overall picture of Chu-Bra!!, there is value in going back to the very basics. This is a show about middle-schoolers with underwear problems and, no matter how you cut it, there’s a certain wrongness to that. Confronted with such wrongness, there are two things that a successful show can do. Firstly, a show such as Kodomo no Jikan can embrace the wrongness, use it to confront the viewer and create drama and intrigue. Alternatively, a show such as Moetan is able to acknowledge the wrongness, parody it, and generally have a lot of fun. What Chu-Bra!! does is make a foolish attempt to bury it. Foolish because a lame plot and weak attempts at self-legitimisation amount to barely two shovelfuls of dirt, and the wrongness is even more apparent than if they had simply let it be. While Chu-Bra!! may not be the sole reason for which anime fandom is generally looked down upon, it nevertheless makes an excellent case for the prosecution. The show brings neither humour nor drama to the table, and the small amount of ecchi appeal it might have is nothing more than desperate barrel scrapings. There are far better anime out there.


Zexcs’ 2010 anime is quite an unusual show. It is largely, full-on, ecchi but is focussed on a younger age group than you would expect. The core characters are twelve-year-olds starting Japanese middle school. The idea here is to explicitly tell a story of quite young people passing through puberty. The principal character top-of-her-class Nayu Hayama has a step-brother and grandmother who work as lingerie designers - hence she has grown up with a fascination for lady’s under-garments. The trouble is that she is growing up in a world where underwear simply is not something people want to talk about. She has to overcome pressure from both her peers and adults to bring her hobby to a wider audience. Yet her passion is so engaging that she quickly falls in with two close friends Yako Jinguuji and Haruka Shiraishi who agree to help her create an Underwear Club at school. She also has a male academic rival Hiroki Komachi who declares his intention to over-take her as leading student in the year. When Nayu’s initial plans for the Club fail Hiroki steps in to encourage her to create an alternative – an Underwear Appreciation Society. Along the way young Nayu manages to recruit a junior teacher Tamaki Mizuno to help the society and one other new member, aspiring fashion model, Kiyono Amahara. Together they engage in a bunch of activities that you would expect from such clubs: they have meetings, go to the beach, hot-spring baths, summer festivals and do the school culture festival. Through their adventures the audience get to experience all the coming-of-age dilemmas this age group faces. The show veers wildly from frivolous ecchi to semi-serious school-girl issues. It was the first anime in which we have witnessed the explicit mention of menstruation. It isn’t shy to step over normal acceptable boundaries. It explores unusual territory with young people who are too inexperienced and naive to fully appreciate how women’s underwear is deemed to be items of erotica by society. The girls can appreciate lingerie as pretty but fail to see its full adult implication until Kiyono joins the team. Then there is Hiroki who hangs around the girls (for reasons that are not explored) spending most of his time being embarrassed by what they are doing. Through him the girls learnt to appreciate a boy’s perspective. Let’s face it, it is a tender age at which children regard the opposite sex as horrific aliens with whom they have nothing in common. So, is underwear something practical or something to be admired? This is explored from all angles by these young people often with hilarious results. It is hard to quite sum this show up. It is either trivialising a very important topic or attempting to make great importance of a trivial topic. Take your pick. It is not really infotainment nor is it completely mindlessly exploitative. Sure, the focus age group is not one we would associate with up-skirt shots. This style of anime is not one that many outside of Japan would be comfortable with. However, the show does drop a lot of the silly ecchi content later in the twelve-episode season in order to become more focussed on the unfolding drama. It is almost as if the show starts as a vehicle for panty and bra shots before an actual story breaks out and takes over. It is funny. It is charming. It was both enjoyable and entertaining. It does require the audience to be pretty broad-minded and not take it too much at face value. The writing could have been a bit clearer about some aspects but, overall, this was a great show for daring to go places few others tread. It was probably widely misunderstood for this reason.

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