There are anime that delve deep into the consciousness and answer questions about life and society. There are also anime that tell fantastic stories and take you on an emotional roller coaster and have you at bated breath by the end of every episode.
Then there’s Chu-Bra!! Which is basically a show about girls in high school taking part in an Underwear Club.
Like I’ve said many times before, I have zero issue with shows that are designed to be all about sexual content, the only shows I have problems with are the ones that are only sexual content and nothing else. Chu-Bra for me is yes all about high school girls and the underwear they decide to wear, whether it’s kiddie teddy bear panties or sexy adult panties with a garter belt. But what the show also has along with the tons of ecchi which is basically a plethora, almost a burial of panty shots, is a ton of really cheesy and fun comedy and actually a somewhat interesting (albeit very unlikely) view of one of the many things girls go through during pubescence.
In this case, it’s that transition of going from more childish underwear, to the underwear we all associate with the majority of ecchi content in anime, more lacy underwear, less mascot and animal prints, skimpier underwear, all that jazz. While most would argue the anime is just about panty shots, I actually found the “story” of these girls trying to make an Underwear Club work at their high school and how the main character Nayu is essentially teaching all her friends and classmates about the specific underwear they should be wearing for their frames and bust sizes very interesting.
Though the biggest conflict in the story of the anime is the general reaction of all the girls when it comes to the connotations of wearing what to most of them is more “adult” or “sexy” underwear. If you guys remember my article specific to boys’ underwear, I commented on how in my own experiences I had to deal with people’s opinions on what we’re supposed to wear as underwear suddenly changing. I can easily imagine that a girl who up until then was wearing cute kiddie panties with a teddy bear on the back, the sight of a girl wearing just plain black lacy underwear, let alone stuff like thongs and other very sexy kinds of underwear would be frightening at first. It disturbs what you perceive as normal and thus leads to some people have an extremely rough transition into underwear designed for young adults and up.
So the majority of the series goes into that, how girls are initially very shy about making that change. I imagine in Japan the culture is a lot more different compared to North America, so it’s probably a bigger deal for teenage girls in Japan to suddenly transition away from being cute and proper into wearing underwear that they all consider “dirty” or “naughty”, whereas in Canada and the U.S. we see on a consistent basis that looking sexy isn’t something limited to those over the age of 18. So watching as the other main girls in Haruka and Yoko are the first to get touched (in more ways than one) by Nayu and her knowledge of underwear becomes almost a look that us guys never really get of what may happen behind close doors between girls during adolescence, albeit a very over-exaggerated and sexualized look of it.
The show definitely leans as a very sexualized comedy with really only two major male characters and one of them with absolutely no romantic interest in the entire anime, so realistically there’s only one guy that’s perhaps a bit too involved in this Underwear Club at the high school. While Nayu’s step-brother is an underwear designer, hence Nayu growing up in the business and knowing as much as she does, one of her classmates, Hiroki on the other hand is waist-deep in Nayu’s shenanigans, often being dragged around with the club’s activities regardless of the fact that they have to constantly shut him out whenever they’re doing more private things like changing and sizing each other. After all, the show needs to have the classic “you can hear what’s going on, but can’t see it” scenes, they can’t just make an anime about a girls-only Underwear Club with yuri undertones.
Speaking of which, there’s a bit of it during the series, specifically between Nayu and Haruka. What starts off as a slight friendship, it turns into much more than that, perhaps going as far as a relationship between them. Haruka notes several times over the course of the anime that she has a lot of feelings towards Nayu as she was the only other person besides her childhood friend, Yoko who looked at her as anything more than that girl with huge breasts, because in the anime at school she’s looked at like she’s very sexually active because of her massive breasts compared to everyone else. I really hope this isn’t something that happens in real life, cause if so that is so fucking stupid. So as the anime goes on, it becomes more and more obvious that it’s more than just a friendship between the two, though it’s hard to tell if Nayu feels the same way towards Haruka. Either way, it does come to an emotional finale as the anime reaches its end. I truly believe that Haruka is head over heels in love with Nayu, but being new to these feelings, she’s not sure how to describe said feelings.
Initially when I started watching this show, I was looking for some over-the-top ecchi anime and while I sort of got that, I actually got something that was also really funny and actually kind of thought provoking and not just of a sexual kind. I don’t know how girls actually go through the transition from whatever underwear they wore during their childhood to what they wear into their teens and adulthood, but what Chu-Bra represents it as comes off as the most accurate representation it could possibly be if this was being done in anime form. After all, how could you do an anime on such a subject so seriously? It has to be super cheesy and because it’s anime, of course it has to be super sexy. What else could it possibly be?
So if you aren’t some overly extreme feminist who thinks a single panty shot is the most misogynistic thing in the world, maybe take a look at this anime. Yes, it’s chalk full of panty shots, it makes no effort to not be that, but what it does do is take a subject that could’ve easily just been a 12-episode series that was simply just infinite screenshots for people to masturbate to and turn it into an anime that’s actually a very interesting look into what may actually be an issue that happens to girls into their teens that we don’t see as men.
But what do I know? I’m just a straight white male, so maybe I’m just making shit up to cover up the fact I happily watched a series that had high school girls constantly undressing and parading around in the underwear.
Take it as you will.