Please Tell Me! Galko-chan and Portrayals of the Nerd/Bombshell Romance

When the anime for 3D Kanojo (aka Real Girl) first started airing, my review of the manga by Nanami Mao would see an influx of hits. The story of an otaku boy who ends up in a relationship with a girl with a reputation for dating around, it’s a charming romance where two people genuinely connect on a deeper level. However, in response to that review, I’ve been getting the same question over and over again: “Is the girl, Iroha, a virgin or not?!” The answer is “most probably not,” but the fact that viewers feel so strongly about Iroha’s virginity saddens me a little. Part of the appeal of 3D Kanojo in the first place is that it eschews that whole obsession with virginal purity and the girl having to be someone’s “first,” something that permeates not just Japanese society but much of the world too. The message that audiences of 3D Kanojo should be taking away is “it doesn’t really matter if Iroha’s a virgin or not if they love and care for each other.”

It’s my hope that the idea gets across to viewers and readers, especially to those who judge a woman’s worth by their sexual behavior. But if it isn’t clear that virginity isn’t the be-all, end-all, a different (and perhaps unexpected) manga provides an interesting perspective on this type of virgin nerd/experienced babe relationship: Please Tell Me! Galko-chan by Suzuki Kenya.

Galko-chan is primarily known for its attractive female characters talking frankly about sexual topics which they actually have no idea about, but there’s at least one character who’s extremely, unabashedly sexually active: Galko’s big sister. College-aged unlike the teenage Galko, the big sister isn’t afraid of getting down and dirty, to the extent that she’ll even “borrow” Galko’s school uniform for some guy she’s dating. However, while she’s comfortable sleeping with lots of guys, the most recent storyline in the manga concerns a burgeoning romance between Galko’s sister and the otaku brother of Galko’s best friend Otako.

What starts out as Galko’s sister wanting to rock some nerdy virgin’s world for kicks turns into something greater. Galko’s sister agrees to go on a date with Otako’s brother, and during it makes her intentions crystal clear. She directly brings up the topic of sex and even nibbles on his ears during dinner. But as much as Otako’s brother wants to sleep with her so very badly, he doesn’t want to be treated like a mere conquest. Instead, he wants their relationship to be something special, and if he’s just another tally for the “virginities taken” box, then he wants no part of it.

This hits Galko’s sister harder than she expects, because she genuinely began to fall for him, and realizes she took the absolutely wrong approach. Which is to say, lust and love certainly overlap, but they’re not the same thing.

And then Galko’s sister tries to show her feelings for Otako’s brother by letting him in on a secret—that she has athlete’s foot—which in turn causes him to get visibly turned on. Romance successful! That’s Please Tell Me! Galko-chan for you. I said it provided an interesting perspective, not that it’s ultra-classy.

I think the big takeaway here is that the struggles between Otako’s brother and Galko’s sister on their date don’t come from the idea that Galko’s sister should have been a virgin, or that virginity should matter all that much for men or women. Instead, it’s about what sex means to each of them, and coming to a mutual understanding of what it takes to make their relationship potentially work. It’s sweet, it’s hot, and it displays something unique for this classic nerd/beauty trope.

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The Fujoshi Files 180: Fujimi

Name: Fujimi (ふじ美)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: N/A
Origin: Please tell me! Galko-chan

Information:
Fujimi is a high school girl who gets nervous speaking in public, even when ordering at a cafe. At one point she spots Galko, a gyaru from another high school, reading one of her favorite manga. Fujimi enjoys seeing Galko react to a BL development in the middle of the manga, but is otherwise daunted by Galko’s fashionable appearance.

Fujoshi Level:
Outside of being a BL fan and reading a lot of manga, nothing else is known.

Awesome Manga Artist Autographs: Comic Store Wonderland in Osaka

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In many big anime/manga stores in Japan, there are signed images from notable manga authors. Often times, you’re not allowed to photograph them, so they can’t really be shared with the rest of the world. One notable exception is Wonderland in Osaka’s Den Den Town (sort of the Kansai equivalent of Akihabara), where employees gave me free rein.

This gallery includes a number of highlights from Wonderland, so see if you can spot your favorites. However, it doesn’t show all of the ones at the store. If you have the chance, go there in person to see the rest!

By the way, the image above is by Nihonbashi Yoko, who I recently discovered through the manga Shoujo Fight. What a coincidence!

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Dumb Girls, Dumb Boys: Please Tell Me! Galko-chan Review

galko-bustyboobyBased 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.

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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.

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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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