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   Fashion trends are like wild fires started by pyromaniacs: while you see the torched earth, you can seldom finger the culprit who had set the blaze.

   This spring, young women in Japan have been sporting large-framed glasses, often sans the lens, believe it or not. That these ugly frames have made a come-back after all these years--remember the eighties?--is a testament to the cyclical nature of fashion trends. 

   When I asked around why the glasses (can you really call them that when they don't have lenses?) were now popular, I was told that the large frames had a slimming effect on the face (小顔化, kogaoka). The things women are made to believe.

  I aslo learned that they were called Arale-chan megane (glasses) after the character Arale in the Dr. Slump manga series.

   In the first issue of Dr. Slump, the inventor Senbei Norimaki creates what he hopes will be the world's most perfect little girl robot, which he names "Arale".

   Unfortunately, Norimaki's creation, like all of his inventions, comes with a severe defect. In this case, Arale is found to be in dire need for eyeglasses, hence her large framed glasses.

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