Though I was introduced to it late into the show’s run, I’ve become a devout follower of the McElroy’s podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me. I love tuning in each week to hear Justin, Travis, and Griffin dispense hilarious and colorful life advice to listeners and Yahoo! Answers posters. I bring this up because if there were an all-girl manga equivalent, it would definitely be Kenya Suzuki’s Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan. The manga has a unique structure, almost yonkoma-like, that is framed around a specific question and how it is answered by the manga’s three main characters. It’s a funny little book whose humor often relies on sexual gags and jibes, though it is as erotic as an anatomy textbook.
Please Tell Me! maintains an orbit around three central characters, chief among them is Galko herself. She’s the most popular girl in class and it’s easy to see why: she’s tall, has long hair, tanned skin, and described as having a “sharp tongue.” Her most defining feature, however, is her enormous breast size that serves as the focal point of discussion among her friends and classmates. Galko is accompanied by Otako, a short-haired, bespectacled young lady who is a bit of a prankster and claims teasing Galko as her chief hobby; and Ojou, a sweet and innocent airhead who always finds herself getting involved with Galko and Otako’s off beat musings conversations.
Each page is built around a question that the girls then try to resolve. Many of these questions are posed by Otako and designed to provoke a response from Galko–the more embarrassing the better. Given the nature of the questions, the manga comes off as an ill-advised guide for boys curious about women’s bodies and behaviors (for the love of god don’t use this as a guide about women’s bodies and behaviors). Topics include breast size, shaving rituals, clothes shopping, whether or not inverted nipples make breastfeeding difficult, and do massages make breasts larger. The audacious nature of the questions make sense if you interpret them as being asked by Otako, who is obviously fascinated by–and perhaps jealous of–Galko’s large chest.
Not all questions posed in the manga are sexual in nature. Galko, Otako, and Ojou determine if reading aloud in Japanese class has merit, if girls dream about becoming adults, sisters share clothes, and if girls care about the size of their hands. While the questions alone are worth a chuckle or two, it’s the responses the give the book some character. Like MBMBaM, the answers typically don’t take the subject matter too seriously nor do they fully resolve the issue. In some cases, further questions are raised. The topics are merely a jumping off point to showcase the classroom antics of three carefree students. There’s a bit of a pattern here: Otako presses Galko on a question with Ojuo typically stepping into the middle of the conversation with no idea what’s going on. As a result, her responses come off as detached and irrelevant, making her seem like an airhead to the other students. Ojuo grew to be my favorite of the three largely because she always has a great, big, and pleasant smile on her face.
What I like best about Please Tell-Me! is the artwork–specifically, the color work. I like the look of the coloring, making it appear as if it were all done with markers and colored pencils. The designs of the characters are nice, though Otako is the better-drawn character because she is more expressive than the others. Because her breasts are her defining feature, Galko is always drawn and positioned in ways that best show off her curves. And then there’s Ojou, whose smile makes me laugh every time she pops into frame. For a book that’s so oppai-centric, I was genuinely surprised to find little fanservice material. Apart from a story arc set in a community pool, this is a pretty tame read. The questions are outrageous, sure, but in the end, it is often more clinical than sexy.
I’m always on the look for “weird” and “off kilter” manga and Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan certainly fits the bill. It’s a goofy manga about friends who tease and embarrass each other with prying questions. The book doesn’t offer much beyond its face value as there is no significant plot or life changing character development, making the whole thing static. But hey, if you’re looking to laugh a little, find the source material for the animated series, or ever wondered if period panties have cute designs, Please Tell Me! has got you covered! Please Tell Me! is cheeky, irreverent and is proof that there is a prallel world in which the McElroy brothers exist as three Japanese high school girls.
Title: Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan Vol. 1
Author: Kenya Suzuki
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Release Date: 11/22/2016
Purchased Or Received For Review? Purchased
Where to buy: Rightstuf, Amazon