What do teenage girls talk about when no one is listening? According to the characters of this Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan, it’s anything and everything, from anime and movies to butt hair, areola size, and the anal danger posed by spicy food.
Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan is a five-volume Seinen series by mangaka Kenya Suzuki. All are currently available physically and digitally via Seven Seas Entertainment. The series also was made into a 12 episode anime.
The cast of Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan
There are lots of characters in this book. However, the action revolves around three girls, all of which are known only by their nicknames.
Galko is a “gal” (gyaru in Japanese). Gals are a subculture in Japan composed of women who colour their hair, tan their skin, wear revealing and attention-grabbing clothes, and generally act the opposite of what’s expected of Japanese women in polite society. Her enormous boobs are a frequent topic of conversation. Several descriptions in the book say that she has a sharp tongue. But in reality, she’s probably the nicest person you could ever meet.
Otako is Galko’s polar opposite: a sarcastic, introverted girl who generally keeps to herself but is still friends with the popular Galko. Her nickname is a play on the word otaku since she has a reputation as an anime buff. Her knowledge of risqué topics is seemingly limitless.
The word ojou means “young lady”, and Ojou is the most proper and ladylike of the group. She comes from a wealthy family and is a strange combination of an airhead with razor-sharp wit.
Please tell me… does it have a Story?
The “story” is a series of one-page conversations that are only vaguely connected. One of the first ones is a doozy, as Otako uses a balloon to demonstrate why girls with large breasts have big areolas.
The conversations then drift to hair that grows on women’s bodies – namely pubic hair, boob hair, and butt hair. At one point, Galko and Otako discuss the merits of using tampons versus pads. Tampons, as it turns out, are not very popular among Japanese women.
There are no girls in any manga anywhere (other than this one) that have these kinds of conversations. It almost feels like the author is pushing your buttons to see how much discussion of bodily functions you can stand.
Although this isn’t a gross-out manga. While the girls talk about topics that are uncomfortable for some, they do it in a way that feels natural for a group of close friends. And, like any group of teenagers, their conversations are often about mundane things. What kind of lozenge is best for people who like doing a lot of karaoke? And just what junk does Galko keep in her handbag.
We also find out why Galko looks so tired every morning. Her classmates assume that she’s with a guy (or several; gals don’t have sterling reputations), but it’s because she tends to stay up all night watching television.
The conversations tend to ping-pong from pg-rated (what kind of makeup does Galko use in the morning?) to goofy (does breast size affect intelligence?) to comically sexual (how good does a backrub from Ojou feel?) and back again. Regardless of the topic, the result is almost always funny, if not flat-out hilarious. It’s like watching an episode of Seinfeld, except the rating has been pushed to “R”. Oh, and high school girls have replaced all the characters.
Galko-Chan in full colour
This manga has a unique look that’s a combination of realistic and cartoony. The characters look far more like real human beings than manga mannequins but still retain an iconic quality that wouldn’t be out of place on a T-shirt.
Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan is also one of the very rare manga where the entire book is in colour. The colour schemes are simple, but they still help the book pop visually. Galko-chan ranks up there with books like Beastars as one of the most visually unique series on the market.
Is Please Tell Me, Galko-Chan! Volume 1 worth reading?
Absolutely. The Galko-Chan books are some of the best manga you can read. It offers you a glimpse into how teenage girls think, rather than relying on tropes to decide how they should act. The three girls have distinct personalities, and those personalities clash and mesh in a joyful combination of humour, embarrassment, and some genuinely heartfelt moments.
Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan is one of the biggest stars of the Seven Seas lineup, and if you give it a try, will probably become one of the stars of your library. The series seems to have stalled after five books, which is a shame, but if you’re new to the series, there’s still plenty here for you to sink your teeth into.