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.