Guiding Principles on Megane and Character Design

Megane is a powerful tool that can be used to enhance the moe of a character. However, unlike many devotees, I can’t agree that you can just throw megane on a character for a quick and easy improvement. In fact, I’d argue that a character that is designed as a megane character is often less powerful with megane than a character that isn’t a megane character who wears glasses occasionally. How can this be? There’s some stuff going on underneath the surface here.

The most obvious answer to why there’s this gap is the gap moe explanation: a character who normally does or does not wear glasses and then doing the other thing means that they’re in a different mode of operation and this gap adds to the moe. This is a reasonable explanation, particularly for when the mode switch occurs within the media. However, this doesn’t quite capture why it still works in fanart or official art, which is typically outside of the context of whatever the character is doing.

I think the difference is that when a character wears glasses all the time, the glasses are naturally considered part of the design of the character. You’d think that this would mean that this means that the glasses will always add to the moe of the character, but it’s actually the opposite. Because it’s a regular fixture, it becomes part of their design, much like a character’s, say, ribbons often becomes a part of the character rather than something that enhances.

However, with the non-megane character, we have a character who is already complete in their moe. The artist who wants to give them glasses then selects the right glasses to enhance the non-megane character. It usually works out great because in this case, we have the ability to select the glasses rather than have it be prescribed. Or maybe they didn’t make the right choice and it’s not so great. But that’s okay because then in this case the glasses are transient.

This points at the other pitfall in giving a character glasses all the time. This is the trap that a lot of megane enthusiasts fall in: the belief that all glasses are good. This is wrong. For example, half-rims are fucking awful. If you’re a person who wears half-rims in real life, I’m sorry, but I think you’d look better in other glasses. When Sound Euphonium first got announced, everyone was showing me Taki-sensei and I was like, uh no thank you, because I hate half-rim glasses. Bad. Now, I know what you’re thinking. But your son Kyosuke Aoi wears half-rims! And you’re right, he does, but it turns out bottom half-rims actually work decently (top half-rims are bad). However, what’s more important is that this goes to my above point: he doesn’t wear them all the time!

Anyhow, in summary:

  • Megane is most powerful when used sparingly and in limited quantities.
  • A character who does not usually wear glasses wearing glasses is more powerful than a character who usually wears glasses wearing glasses.
  • A character who does not usually wear glasses wearing glasses is more powerful than a character who usually wears glasses not wearing glasses.
  • A character who usually wears glasses is at a disadvantage because they could be given bad glasses.
  • A character who doesn’t usually wear glasses can get away with wearing bad glasses because they don’t do it all the time.
  • Half-rims are bad.