Please Tell Me! Galko-chan

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I’ll admit, I binged this entire series in one night. And, surprisingly, I’m writing this review shortly after watching it so the show doesn’t all start to blend together in my head. Which is also why I’m going completely out of order and skipping talking about every anime I watched this year to talk about this one.

I first heard about this show after coming across a video that was basically titled “Why Galko is a good character and not just fanservice” (I don’t recall the actual name of the video). After watching a little of the video, I put the show on my “List of Anime to Watch Eventually” and promptly forgot about it. Cut to many months later, I look up this show on Crunchyroll on a whim, watch the first episode, realize each episode is 8 minutes long, and, as I said before, marathon the whole thing.

“Please Tell Me! Galko-chan” is a slice-of-life comedy following three friends in high school: Galko, Otako, and Ojou. Galko has long blonde hair, large breasts, and wears makeup, which often means that she gets called a “gyaru”, which (among many definitions) is a woman who is obsessed with fashion, looks, and being with men. Otako, on the other hand, is a smaller, geeky girl, and Ojou is a girl from a rich family who is both friendly and air-headed. Each episode tends to be based around questions posed to the girls, either by each other or overhearing the boys in class, and then branching off into a related plot. The questions tend to be lewd or perverted such as “Is it true that chaste girls wear white panties, but girls who mess around wear colored panties?” and “Can a girl have pink nipples, even though she’s tanned?”

While your first thought about this may be “Oh this show is just perverted and stupid”, it’s actually not.

While the topics may be pretty raunchy, the characters tend to be pretty straightforward and insightful about them. The comedy of the show comes from characters getting embarrassed when talking about certain subjects, or by character’s misunderstandings, rather than over the top reactions. And the characters avoid too far into the “creepy” category.

The characters in this story are its strongest part, which kind of needs to be the case in a slice-of-life show. All of the characters are multi-dimensional, and come across as feeling very genuine. Galko, despite her looks, is an innocent, kind, and motherly character. She gets upset when it’s joked that her large breasts wouldn’t be able to breastfeed a baby properly, and is immediately ready and able to help her classmates with any problems they have (such as chipped nails, bed head, feminine pads, etc.). Otoko, while nerdy and bookish, is the one who brings up many of the questions in the show. She does it mostly as a way to make Galko feel embarrassed, and because of some of her own insecurities. However, she recognizes when she goes too far and hurts her friend’s feelings. There are even a handful of classmates who get their time to shine, including their own quirks that make them special.

The whole point of the show is to teach a lesson. A lesson that comes across very well in the finale. It teaches that people are deep, multi-dimensional, and more than just their outward appearance. (Spoilers for finale) It’s revealed that Galko, Otako, and Ojou aren’t the girl’s real names. Galko and Otako are names that the girls jokingly gave each other shortly after they met, because they assumed that they were a gyaru and an otaku respectively. After realizing their mistakes, they became friends, and use the names as a joke. Ojou butts into the conversation afterward and asks for a nickname as well, so she is given Ojou (young lady), just… because.

“Please Tell Me! Galko-chan” is a good show. It’s a quick sit with good characters, good lessons, and discussion about sensitive topics without going into cringe territory where other shows usually would. Really, the simplest way to decide if you would like this show is to go and watch the first episode. It’s less than 10 minutes, and if you like it, you’ll probably like the whole thing.

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2017 Anime Wrap-up

And with that, I’M DONE (with last year’s anime). I have a big list already of anime I’ve watched this year, and I have a few that I still need to finish, but I’m hoping to start soon on the next set of anime posts. Hopefully I’ll eventually get to the point where I can start posting these shortly after I finish watching, as opposed to 6 months later. ^-^;

For now though, I’d like to make a list the Top 5 that I Watched from 2017 (not including movies). Just in case you can only watch half of the series that I talked about. Just an arbitrary ordering of the random assortment of shows I watched last year.

Top 5 Anime I Watched Last Year

5. Persona 4: The Animation

4. Assassination Classroom

3. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

2. New Game!

1. Restaurant to Another World

Restaurant to Another World

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So, after six months, I’ve finally made it to my last anime of 2017 (or at least the last one that FINISHED in 2017, I have a few that didn’t finish until this year). Similar to a few other shows I’ve watched recently, I came across “Restaurant to Another World” by seeing preview clips posted on Facebook (showing that those annoying advertisements sometimes work), and it fascinated me with a concept that was both high-fantasy and slice-of-life at the same time.

“Restaurant to Another World” is the story about Western Restaurant Nekoya, situated somewhere in Tokyo. Monday through Friday, it’s open to its usual customers from Japan. However, every seven days, on the “Day of Satur” (which, fuck me, took me way too long to realize: Saturday) the door to the restaurant appears across various locations in a fantasy realm and is open for its residents to enter. This realm is home to various types of creatures standard to the fantasy genre: humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, demons, mermaids, beastmen, etc. Each episode is divided into two halves, with each half focusing on a new person or people who discover a door to the restaurant and the dish that they eat. The main continuous characters are the “Master” (his name is never given), a middle-aged man who owns Western Restaurant Nekoya, and Aletta, a young demon girl who found one of the restaurant’s doors, and began working there as a waitress whenever the door would appear.

Most of stories follow a fairly similar structure: introduction of character, character finds door, character enters restaurant, character questions everything and gets unique dish, character eats dish and has near-orgasmic reaction to it, character leaves and finishes what they were doing before entering the door, character vows to go back. While this repetition may seem like it would get stale, the characters and the situations they are in are unique and interesting, and the enjoyment each character gets out of eating a dish they like can’t help but put a smile on my face. In fact, the way each character is able to articulate how much they like the dish is a major strong point for this series. I’ve never heard so many unique and detailed ways of saying “This food is really good.” It shows the knowledge that the writer of the series has in being able to describe in detail the taste, texture, and smell of each dish.

The fantasy world that connects to the restaurant is also fascinating. With the episodes focusing on characters finding the Nekoya, there isn’t much detail in explaining the world, but each character’s story provides enough backstory that it keeps the world feeling both rich and a mystery at the same time. In another anime, many of the characters that go to the restaurant would be the main character, with their adventures being the main story, but the focus is on the restaurant, a place of relaxation between adventures. Hints are given here and there as to the nature of the restaurant, how the doors started appearing in the other world, and information about the Master, but in the anime, they are left mostly vague.

Based on a light novel series, “Restaurant to Another World” is a great series that puts an interesting twist on the fantasy genre by moving away from the big-adventure/action setting to a more simple one of finding a strange door that leads to a restaurant in modern Japan. The characters are fun and likeable, and just enough information is given about the fantasy world to pique interest about the what stories that are happening outside the restaurant. As of right now, only 12 episodes of the anime have been made, and none of the light novels or manga have been published in English (though Crunchyroll has the manga translations on their site). I would absolutely enjoy more episodes of this show, and I’d recommend it for anyone who just wants a feel-good anime experience about food.

Akira

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“Akira” is widely regarded as one of the best anime films of all time, and it has had a lot of influence on many pieces of media that have come out since its release. Despite this, I never really had any desire to go out and watch it. However, during my Cult Films class last year, we spent a week talking about foreign cult films and the appeal that foreign films have on western audiences (Anime was a big part of the lecture, and it had my full attention). Every week, our teacher had us watch a cult film related to the topic, and write a paper about it. Because he mentioned “Akira” by name, I decided to use this as an excuse to buy it on DVD and watch it.

While I could just copy/paste my paper from this class here, that feels disingenuous. Also, there have been two different dubs of this film, and I don’t actually remember which one I have. I think it’s the Pioneer dub from 2001.

This story takes place in the dystopian sci-fi “future” of 2019. In 1988, a massive explosion destroyed Tokyo, triggering nuclear war, World War 3. Neo-Tokyo rises up following this war, but is full of gang violence and corrupt government. The plot follows Shōtarō Kaneda, a teenage leader of a local biker gang. During a gang war between a rival gang, Tetsuo Shima, Kaneda’s gang member and childhood friend, crashes his bike into a young child. The child is revealed to be an esper (a person with powerful psychic abilities), one of a few esper children who the government are experimenting on. After capturing Tetsuo, the government is able to trigger his latent psychic abilities, but many become fearful as his abilities seem to mimic Akira, the esper who caused the 1988 Tokyo explosion. Kaneda meets Kei, a young woman involved in the anti-government resistance, and works with her in order to try to save Tetsuo before he fully loses himself to his new powers.

Being made in the 1980s, this film absolutely follows the 80s anime aesthetic with its color and style, and while I can’t say I have a lot to compare it to from the time, it feels like the creators went the extra mile in the animation, making it very smooth and clean, even during big actions scenes with a lot of moving pieces. This even more impressive with the film’s 2 hour run time.

If there’s any kind of complaint about this film that I hear, it’s that the plot can get confusing at times, and people don’t understand the ending. To a certain extent, I agree. This film is one that benefits from multiple viewings, or reading a synopsis online after viewing. Although, the events that take place at the very end of the film aren’t fully spelled out, so I feel that it can be left up to interpretation. While based off of a manga series, the film is a shortened version of that plot, so it’s hard to say if reading the manga would provide a more conclusive ending.

It’s easy to see why many people consider “Akira” the quintessential anime film: the animation is fantastic, the story line is deep and interesting, and it does a lot to prove that anime can be a medium to tell dark, serious, and adult-oriented stories, unlike western cartoons. (the comparison of how Japan treats animation compared to how the US treats cartoons was a major part of my class paper) Many people who watch a decent amount of anime have most likely already watched this, but if you haven’t, I highly suggest it.

I Forgot Some Anime…

While writing up last last few posts for last year’s anime, I realized that I forgot a few from my list. All of them are movies, and I forgot most of them because I watched them early in the year.

Your Name
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
One Piece: Film Gold
One Piece: Strong World
One Piece: Film Z

I don’t plan on adding these to my review list at the moment, but I will hopefully get to them in the future, once I have the anime from both last year and this year completed. Also, because I own all of these films, I’ll most likely re-watch them before posting, so I’m not relying on year old memory.