#1 Defying stereotypes!
Galko-Chan is a show about a gyaru, a type of girl that is very active in fashion trends and fits what we, in the West, would categorize as a stereotypical popular girl. On the outside, Galko seems to fit this subculture to a T, with long, bleached hair, lots of make-up, and often with a tan. Because of this most people in her class assume she must be a rude girl who spends every night going out and meeting boys, but in actuality Galko is very innocent and friendly.
That itself is praiseworthy, to present a character who, in most shows, would be some annoying, shallow side-character, and instead make them very sympathetic and likable. What makes it work is that the show continued to surprise even after establishing this twist immediately in the first episode; Galko is full of surprises and you keep figuring out more about her as the show continues.
This praise extends to the side-characters as well, with none of them feeling like they are cemented in tropes. In fact, one of my favorite characters ended up being Nikuko, a girl with little screen time, yet one who managed to stand out because she is, for lack of a better word, “fat”. Even then she is not portrayed as ugly, or mean, or gluttonous, she is a fun person that can’t be defined just by how she looks.
It’s a great message to base a story around and it was executed perfectly!
#2 A believable and fun class
Countless anime are set in schools, which is a mixed bag when you are a fan who has a fulltime job and is heading towards thirty. Of course I understand that most shows are made for a teenage audience and I don’t particularly take offense to so many anime being set in schools, but it’s rare for me to get a show that makes me actually feel nostalgic for the classrooms myself.
Galko-Chan comes close to achieving that, with its class consisting entirely of side-characters besides the main trio of Galko, Otako, and Ojou. Scenes aren’t played to the background of complete randoms or a faceless mass, instead having actual people be there that react to what is going on, and who have personalities of their own that the viewer is familiar with. The class dynamic also makes sense, with different cliques existing alongside loners, but everybody just generally gets along. I really enjoyed a scene, for example, where a side-character was starting to be bullied over something petty, and another side-character at least made an attempt to stop it before any of the main cast got involved.
Not everybody in a class is going to get along 100% of the time, but especially at the young-adult stage the characters in this show are at, I feel it makes more sense that everybody is at least somewhat friendly towards the people they see every day. It’s also just cool to have a class setting where everybody is a defined character, I’d like to see that a lot more often.
#3 Sexy character design that isn’t pure fan-service
The design of the characters in this show I found to be really appealing and also nicely tasteful. Yes, Galko herself likes to dress in a way that shows off her looks and bust, but the show isn’t rubbing it in your face, and the rest of the cast looks great too. Even the boys enjoy handsome designs and there are a lot of different-looking classmates that have a style of their own. Okako is punk-looking girl with earrings and a heavy voice, Supoo is a really cool dude that does a lot of sports, everybody just looks really good.
Even the mandatory pool episode is done tastefully and the jokes based around sex are actually clever.
#4 Short format episodes
The episodes only take up about 10 minutes each, which includes the opening. This makes it longer than the typical anime short (3-5) minutes, yet far below a full length 25 minutes TV episode. I feel this middle path makes the most of the comedy in the show, making each story feel significant enough without letting the jokes outstay their welcome. It’s easy to marathon the full show in an hour or two and I definitely had an amount of fun with it that I would argue was equivalent to a cour of a series with a standard format.
#5 Exploring sexuality
Besides dispelling stereotypes, a lot of the jokes in the show are about sex, or rather, it has characters discussing it. These are teenagers, so it makes sense that this is on their mind a fair bit. Many of the episodes, and even the entire show as a whole, start with Otako explaining a myth about sex and the human body to Galko or asking her if they are true, which often leaves her flustered enough that the mystery is never resolved.
I honestly really enjoyed this and I can imagine a teenage me would have liked it even more, as it gave me a rare chance to see what girls at that age were figuring out and struggling with, even though it does seem that the original story was written by a dude. A fun detail, perhaps, is that the girls will generally be discussing biological topics, while the boys will often feature in childish segments, like when they decide to rank all the girls based on their boob size.