Based on the design of its central character, Please Tell Me! Galko-chan likely draws initial attention for two reasons. While I’m not denying the popularity of Galko herself, I do think the anime has an appeal that goes beyond eye candy or the potential thrill of hearing girls talk candidly about personal topics.
Please Tell Me! Galko-chan typically revolves around the conversations between three characters: Galko (a trendy “gyaru” whose appearance can be deceiving), Otako (an otaku girl who prefers to avoid social interaction but is still Galko’s best friend), and Ojou (a rich girl whose experiences differ greatly from the rest). Each short 7-minute episode, they talk about things like how eating spicy foods makes your butthole hurt or the difficulties of buying bras when your breasts are too large, usually instigated by Otako who loves to tease the easily embarrassed Galko. Even if she doesn’t get embarrassed about something, a whole group of boys fawning over her will easily let their imaginations go wild.
It is most definitely a fanservice anime, but I feel that the show is carried as much by its characters’ personalities as it is by their appearances (and even then it’s really only Galko-chan). When people mistakenly suspect a tired Galko of being out with men (she actually just stayed up all night watching anime), or when it turns out she’s into literature, the appeal isn’t simply that there’s a “mismatch” between her inside and outside. Rather, her character feels quite full-formed despite each episode being so short. The same goes for the other characters as well, such as how the overweight Nikuko is shown to not only be extremely athletic, but also brimming with confidence. In this respect, Otako is actually my favorite because of how her desire to tease Galko is shown to bring Otako out from her own shell, creating a beautiful (if weird) friendship. Also, Otako kind of has an Ogiue vibe.
I think what maybe says it all is that, as I watched the show, I looked forward to seeing how the guys react to Galko’s conversations just as much as I enjoy Galko’s hijinks. They’re at that age where even one hint at something sexual will cause their hearts to race, and their confusing of Galko’s general warmth and friendliness with the idea that she definitely likes each of them feels just as much a part of youth as all of the stuff on the girls’ side. While I don’t know anyone who’s ever kneaded dough to try and replicate the feel of a boob (this really happens in the show), I don’t think it’s that farfetched given how cultures, inside or outside of Japan, mysticize the idea of being with someone to the point that even approximations gain a kind of value all their own.
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“I don’t think it’s that farfetched given how cultures, inside or outside of Japan, mysticize the idea of being with someone to the point that even approximations gain a kind of value all their own.” really liked this point, lol. both for its relevance to considering why people buy anime merchandise and when considering that the source, producing or leading to things which may be offensive, may be something deeper culturally.
Surprisingly, this anime had a lot of heart.