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Chu-Bra!!
Chu-Bra!!
Chu-Bra!!
Anime Review

Chu-Bra!! is about an unusual topic for anime; the bodily changes that girls go through during puberty and how difficult it can be to adjust to them, as well as others' reactions to them. However, despite being of obvious interest to female viewers, it's also a show about showing young girls in their underwear frequently, and this poses something of a problem.

It's almost as though the show was written by two committees: one that wanted to explore female body image issues of teen girls in a realistic way, and one that just wanted to cash in on the current trend in anime of cute girls doing cute things, with plenty of fanservice for hardcore anime fans. Fortunately, it seems like the former committee was in charge most of the time; while the show does show a lot of girls walking around in bras and panties, it's generally relevant to the story and doesn't seem exploitative. Of course, that means on the rare occasions when the fanservice really gears up, it suddenly feels like you're watching a different show (although only one episode is egregious in this regard.)

Chu-Bra!! The drama focuses around Nayu, a highly intelligent girl who has an unusual obsession with all kinds of underwear, and her efforts to start an underwear club at her school. While it may seem like the idea of an underwear club is just plain silly, it's not as crazy as you might think: plenty of girls don't end up wearing bras and underwear that actually fit properly because they don't know much about the subject, both on the show and in general. While your local school might not necessarily need its very own "Underwear Appreciation Society," the world might be a slightly better place if there were more girls like Nayu around who could advise their friends on how a bra is supposed to fit.

Early on Haruka, a somewhat shy girl who gets unwanted attention due to her large chest, says "When I put on underwear, I feel like the world is calling me dirty," and that exemplifies the main problem the girls face; while starting to wear a bra is part of growing up, things like Victoria's Secret commercials lead girls to think of underwear as automatically related to sexuality, causing them to try not to dwell on it because it's "dirty." However, treating a natural part of one's development as something to be ashamed of has obvious and unfortunate consequences. Nayu, who was raised by her grandmother, a respected lingerie designer, has no such inhibitions, but can she convince her classmates and school officials that a club all about bras and panties is healthy?

Other than the fanservice, which is bound to annoy if not disgust the female audience this show really should have been targeted at due to its subject matter, the biggest flaw with Chu-Bra is that it's didactic. The point that treating underwear as automatically sexual in nature undermines the development of a healthy body image for girls is made over and over again; it's like the Uncle Tom's Cabin of underwear acceptance. However, we felt that maybe this wasn't such a bad thing; after all, it's not like there are tons of other anime out there making the same point (or in fact, any at all), and it's one of the rare anime that has a clear, coherent point to make, and does so.

Chu-Bra!! Furthermore, despite the repetition of the same point, the quality of the writing is generally pretty good; the characters are all clearly defined and go through some kind of significant development before the end of the series, while the character's choices drive the plot forward at a consistent pace. Nayu is a very likable and unusual protagonist, and while some characters may seem generic, others can be surprisingly interesting; we want to know more about Nayu's mysterious older brother than we ever find out. We especially liked Hiroki, a boy who's initially ashamed to be a part of the underwear club but learns to "man up" for the sake of his lady friends.

For those who pay attention to the anime industry in Japan, Chu-Bra!! raises some interesting questions: Did the creators intend to make a show that was really about female body issues, and just threw in the fanservice in an attempt to make it more marketable to men? Or was it meant to be an exploitative fanservice show to begin with, only while exploring the subject of underwear, the writers accidentally became too fond of the characters to exploit them too much? It seems we'll never know, but at least now we've been schooled on how to properly shop for bras.

All 13 episodes of Chu-Bra!! are available streaming on Crunchyroll.

Reviewed by Karen Gellender, September 2011

Below: Scenes from Chu-Bra!!.

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!

a screen capture from Chu-Bra!!



Chu-Bra!!

Chu-Bra!! Website Links:


Chu-Bra!! anime at TBS (Japanese)

Chu-Bra!! at Telebisyon.net

Chu-Bra!! (TV) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia

Chu-Bra!! (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia

Wikipedia entry for Chu-Bra!!


Below: Promotional illustrations for Chu-Bra!!.

Chu-Bra!! drama cd cover illustration

Chu-Bra!! DVD cover illustration

Chu-Bra!! choose bright!

Chu-Bra!! shy girls!

Chu-Bra!!

Chu-Bra!!

Chu-Bra!!

Chu-Bra!!

Chu-Bra!! screen grab






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