It’s not often that an anime (or anime short in this case) talks so frankly about the female body. Whatever the reason, anime tends to focus more on women’s bodies for the sake of sexual stimulation and humor rather than talking about it matter-of-factly. While Oshiete! Galko-chan isn’t above juvenile sexual humor like flashing skin whenever possible or having characters get red in the face whenever sex is brought up, one of the things that differentiate the show from others is that it’s willing to talk about it in general. The earlier episodes even provide facts and “urban myths” about the female body and why things are the way they are. They don’t provide any citations to these facts—this isn’t an educational show—but it works in the sense that teenage girls are open and willing to talk to one another about their everyday struggles, while the boys gossip in the corner about more devious things.
You have no idea how refreshing it is for me to see a show talk so extensively about tampons and periods and body hair that most anime would shy away from in order to subdue a target demographic. Although, the talk of periods and tampons especially seems a little overdone. Almost like that’s the only thing teenage girls all have in common. In any case, the openness about subjects normally taboo is a stark strength for Galko-chan, even if the show’s runtime leaves a little more to be desired.
Progressiveness aside, Galko-chan is a strange mix of slice-of-life and comedy, though the comedy is usually in doses around the “story” of the particular scene being shown. Galko-chan also has a tendency to tackle the use of labels and stereotypes associated with physical appearances. High school is a delicate age for kids, and it’s hard for them not to judge a big-breasted, blonde-haired woman with tons of make-up who’s always late for class. In their eyes, she’s a no-class “bitch,” while the anime makes it the complete opposite for the sake of humor and intrigue. While this theme is only touched upon in brief moments, it’s enough for me to believe that the show was willing to provide depth to the characters and create a realistic environment worthy of social commentary. If only it had more time to do so. In essence, the potential of lessons underneath the surface are apparent (in my eyes), but are ultimately lost trying to establish a number of characters and their situations. There’s even a fat girl in this anime. How’s that for progressive?
I had put progressiveness aside and decided to bring it back up again near the end. I need to learn some self-control.
As I previously noted, Galko-chan has a vast array of characters inhabiting its seven-minute chambers. Not all of them are particularly important, but the three main characters are Galko, Otako, and Ojou—none of which are referred to by their real names. For the most part, these three blend together well enough to bring some spice to an otherwise bland scenario. Galko is a voluptuously-built woman whose purity is known to no one but her closest friends. This purity and the misunderstanding of her appearance compared to said purity is the main focus of comedy within the show. Otako is an expressionless, unflattering character who pokes fun at Galko’s purity by constantly bringing up things of a sexual nature in order to mess with her. Aside from this, Otako is a constant in Galko’s life and is subject to a few emotional scenes when push comes to shove (with varying effectiveness). Ojou is the third-wheel within the group, constantly being subject to Galko and Otako’s commentary while also serving as comic relief due to her “air-headedness.” Despite her distance among the group, her development as a trusted member of the “clique” transitions smoothly throughout the series, giving her her own spotlight that makes her a semi-charming presence. Frankly though, she’s basically just an air-head who wants to be a part of Galko’s clique.
The rest of the roster includes a few male characters who are part of their own clique that ponder upon the sexual urges most male teens have. A girl who’s supposedly part of a rock band. A fat girl who doesn’t become relevant until near the end of the series. And a number of other characters who appear for one scene and then crawl back to the wall of obscurity where they belong, never to speak a line again. Their primary focus is to make Galko look good, or help break the stereotypes placed upon her by her outward behavior. Otherwise, the minor characters don’t have a lot to say in their own regard, aside from occasionally moving the plot forward. I sense Galko-chan wants to create an atmosphere of camaraderie within the class, but with as little time as they have and the primary focus of most episodes being on the comedy, it doesn’t work out too well. Only the main cast is given enough focus to deepen the bond of friendship.
The comedy is pretty hit-and-miss, depending on the viewers’ preferences. Most rely on breaking expectations and the funny faces made by characters when faced with sexual conversations or misunderstandings. It’s a very juvenile style of comedy, laced with some intrigue with the openness of female anatomy, that blends well with the setting of the anime, but offers nothing more to those wanting more. I found myself smirking every so often with Otako playing with Galko (
not because she’s my fetish or anything), otherwise it doesn’t have that relatability that I would have with teenage girls because I am, in fact, a male. Perhaps women would be more acquainted with the humor of the show.
The animation is steady for the most part with the occasional fritz every so often. I recall a few scenes within the first and second episode that had Galko walking robotically or a character’s face looking smeared in. Otherwise, I think Galko-chan is a pretty-looking show with a lot of emphasis on gussying up the characters based on their stereotypes. Galko herself is bouncy, big, and beautiful, with lots of make-up and vivid colors peruding her body. Contrarily, Otako has short, scruffy hair; plain clothing, and nothing of the sort in make-up or filters. A distinct case of polar opposites attracting, which the anime takes note of in every episode. Ojou is all smiles, with every cliché feature of a high-class, traditional Japanese teenager: long, black hair; neat clothing, no make-up, and bright white skin. The anime does well in caricaturing the characters in a way that suits their personality along with the way they’re perceived. In terms of overall animation, aside from the few bumps, it’s a very clean and polished anime. It looks like an actual series, compressed in smaller bites. Very impressive for an anime short.
A lot of people would immediately point to Senyuu as a quality anime short. For parody junkies, maybe, but I’m more inclined to put this up there along with Danna ga Nani. It has enough visual sparkle to be appealing beforehand while the openness of the sexual topics and the chemistry between the main cast keeps them along for the ride. I would only suggest that one not look for something extraordinary in a series like this. It’s a bunch of teenagers gossiping about one another and sexual myths. It won’t immerse you with great writing or character depth, but for what it is, it’s a series worth wasting your time on.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Oshiete! Galko-chan”
I passed this show up when it aired just because I was interested in watching a micro-series at the time but I’ve heard interesting things since then and It’s been on my list of shorts to pick up. I didn’t have a great sense of what the show was about so it’s interesting to hear about its progressive nature and I actually really like the naming scheme for the primary trio. At the very least this sounds interesting enough to throw ~1.5 hours at so it’ll probably be one of the next short series I pick up. I won’t go in expecting great comedy but from what you’ve written it sounds like it’s at least worth watching to see how it handles itself. Thanks for the write-up.
Sounds pretty interesting. I’ll have to keep it in mind.