Please Tell Me! Galko-chan
Galko is a "gyaru" who attends school together with her two best friends Otako and Ojou. There, she sleeps, talks about TV shows, picks up the weirdest and most unexpected interests and gets involved in the other students problems and becomes one of the sources of answers for the many, many questions centered around the female body and its many functions and effects.
It's hard to peg just what kind of show Please Tell Me! Galko-chan is. It seems to lean the most heavily on slice-of-life comedy, but it also tends to go into many different topics each episode, as if there was some trivia quota that needed to be fulfilled. A lot of those have to do with body functions or idiosyncracies, right down to urban legend levels. It's a bizarre mixture of common sense and hearsay, and while you could charitably call a lot of the topics "candid", the lack of overtly polite, whitewashed gentleisms is still appreciated.
Before you ask: no, "Galko-chan" isn't the title character's real name, nor are Otako-chan or Ojou their characters' respective names either. We never really learn what the real name of any of the characters are, seeing as all of them go by nicknames. It sounded so natural that I kind of thought the show was being a bit too self-conscious about its comedy roots, but the last episode did confirm that everyone's "names" were merely nicknames they gave each other, and I'm sure you all know how quickly that sort of thing spreads in a school.
I have to throw in the towel when it comes to some of the Japanese subcultures out there, though; when it comes to the "gyaru" subculture, the only thing I've really heard is their style -- stylish and heavy makeup -- as well as a supposedly rumoured sexual promiscuity. Galko doesn't go full ganguro, though, so tan is more of an optional thing for her. She's also easily embarrassed about quite a lot of things, which, due to the nature of the questions making the rounds in this show, means you'll see that fairly frequently.
It's nice to see that a show can breach the world of various subcultures without swinging around the judgemental hammer of doom too severely. This show's portrayal of Galko-chan is actually pretty damn positive; she's actually very pleasant despite the intro's insistence of her being sharp-tongued, and she's actually pretty helpful and generous on top of that. She cooks and bakes, she's into movies and, much to her own surprise, classical literature. She has absolutely no experience with sex, but she's a veritably walking encyclopedia when it comes to medicinal items and hygiene, female or otherwise. She is pretty frank, but very rarely rude. She's also very much not a morning person, and while the show doesn't necessarily portray her as intelligent, she is far from dumb either.
In fact, that normalcy extends to pretty much everyone. How well any of them does in school isn't really the main topic, even if a lot of the show takes place at school. Whether someone is dumb or not is going to be up to personal interpretation; intelligence-wise, they're probably fairly even. The boys hardly made the best of first impressions, but the show even treats them with respect, all their tactlessness, insecurities and hormone imbalances notwithstanding.
I mentioned the intro's insistence of Galko-chan being sharp-tongued, but that's not really true at all. In fact, if anyone in this show is sharp-tongued, then Otako-chan fits the bill a lot more. She was more of a loner before she met Galko-chan, so her tone is generally a bit more abrasive, and she likes teasing or (mildly) bullying Galko-chan from time to time. She does self-indentify as an otaku, but she's more of a "book and manga" type of otaku rather than anime, or "the whole lot". The third member of the trio; Ojou, is probably the more generic type. She's the rich girl who seems to be somewhat disconnected to the world at large, despite going to school with the others. She definitely plays the "ojou" type to the fullest, though she does show some signs of being smarter and less absent-minded than she looks.
Please Tell Me! Galko-chan is very obsessed with boobs, but in a much more roundabout way than just about any other show I can remember. I said the show is all about the trivia, and it seems there are no questions about boobs the show can't ask; the size and location of nipples, the problem with getting bras or the wear a heavy pair has on a poor girl's back, or even whether big ones float in water. (Apparently, they do.) And since Galko-chan is rather generously endowed, she's... actually quite fine with most discussions on the subject, even from boys. The show is also perhaps the second show I've seen that talks about menstruation to this extent -- or even at all -- the oddity being that the other anime in question was a Studio Ghibli movie.
In a weird way, the frankness of the show kind of cold-showers the fanservice. It does actually have a lot of fanservice on a technical level, but the way the characters talk about all kinds of things centered around breasts or underwear or whatnot precariously balances the show on a sexy vs. informative level. Galko-chan wears some pretty... *cough* ...amazing outfits at times, and she's not even half as glamorous as her big sister. But only Please Tell Me! Galko-chan can go into a lesson about tampons and how it's completely safe to use them at the pool after giving us a look at the girls changing in preparation for it. Still, the fanservice is certainly there, and while there is no outright nudity on display except on a technical level, we get a few "close calls", mostly with Galko.
On a comedic level, the show actually works quite well. It has a lot of things in common with Daily Lives of High School Boys, in that the show can take a topic and run with it for a while. Unlike said show, however, Please Tell Me! Galko-chan is definitely more down to earth. Even better, the show also introduces us to Galko's big sister and reminds us that she has an apparently healthy sexual relationship with her boyfriend, which it does in a scene where Galko is angry with her about that; not as much because she's having sex, but because she sometimes lends Galko's school uniform for some cosplay/roleplaying on the side, and the reason she's angry about it is because her sister used her uniform while doing that instead of the fact that she's doing it in the first place. Nobody in this show is ever shamed in any way, or worshipped due to some misplaced kind of purity culture, which is a big plus. In a way, it's a bit like My Wife is the Student Council President.
It's almost surprising how casual the show is about almost anything. The school Galko and her friends are attending is pretty much a bully-free zone -- sure, there's some teasing going on, which sounds kind of cruel at first, but it's usually used for comedy centered around "I'll laugh it up now because the person I'm laughing at is a total otaku", which usually lasts until Galko joins in on the conversation. The show even has a chubby girl among its cast, unsubtly named "Nikuko", and nobody seems to care. Well, outside of the fact that she might have the biggest chest of all the girls. I guess it's good of the show to have its priorities straight. It might help that she's the most athletic among the girls, which isn't necessarily outside of the scope of realism, since being athletic and having larger amounts of body fat is two separate issues. (Being physically active and keeping a proper nutritionally balanced diet.)
Admittedly, it was the art style of the show though a picture of our three main character (plus a short description of the subject) that piqued my interest, but for a short show -- Please Tell Me! Galko-chan is about 1/3rd a full show in episode length -- the animation is pretty decent. From an aesthetic standpoint, Galko's penchant for makeup and hairstyles doesn't appeal to me directly, but Galko herself is a supremely expressionate girl, and her everyday antics are a hoot to watch. Then again, the show errs on the side of visual attraction, so even someone supposedly plain-looking like Otako is a pretty cute girl. A lot of the show takes place at school, or in the town they all live in, so to make up for an otherwise limited pool of background scenery, Please Tell Me! Galko-chan takes some cues from shows like Hidamari Sketch or Place to Place, filling the background with lots of weird patterns and symbols. (Though not quite at the level of either of the two aforementioned.) Most of it look OK, but there is the occasional venture into what I suspect are background items -- like, say... bookshelves -- made of 3D computer graphics partially intended to ape traditional background art, which doesn't often look very good.
Before I started watching this, I did actually hope it would exceed my expectations and break some boundaries when it comes to shoehorning people into personality types, particularly with its title character, and that's exactly what the show did. It's never laugh-out-loud funny, but it has the potential for plenty of chuckles borne out of its many blunt questions and candid observations, helped by the fact that Please Tell Me! Galko-chan doesn't have a single meanspirited bone in its body. It can take subjects like a girl's promiscuity or a boy's pubertal immaturity and spin fun tales out of those without looking down on either, simply by applying a bit of common sense and a knowing wink. It's the sort of thing anime really needs more of, at least outside of general shoujo (which tends to be more female-centric.) As it stands, I heartily recommends this as a companion piece to both My Wife is the Student Council President and Daily Lives of High School Boys. It's a bit better than the former, but not quite as good as the latter, granted, but on a whole, it deserves a spot on your watch list.
Fun, inventive and crude in all the right ways. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The topic of the show often strays into the area of the female body and its many applications and functions, both voluntary and involuntary. The former whenever the topic of sex or breasts come up, and the latter when it comes to stuff like menstruation or other bodily functions girls have to deal with. So, needless to say, you should probably be a teen at the very least. Adding to that is the scenes where you get to see the girls -- Galko in particular, but also sometimes some of the others -- in scenes of fanservice; in the bath, naked in a bed, in swimsuits or partially showing off underwear. There is also some crude language going around, some of the presumably worst being self-censored by the show.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Please Tell Me! Galko-chan © 2016 Feel
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