Way back in May of 2021, our own Conor Evans pondered a selection of manga that he’d love to see animated — and among them was a charming series known as Gal Gohan. I had a passing familiarity with the series name, but had never actually read it — but Conor’s description of it had me thoroughly intrigued. So I picked up a bunch of volumes… and promptly didn’t read them for several months.
Just recently, though, I’ve been getting (back) into reading both manga and light novels, so I thought it an excellent time to get up to speed with Gal Gohan — or at least investigate it and see if it really was as charming and sexy as I was assuming it would be. And I’m pleased to confirm that it most certainly is.
Gal Gohan is the work of Marii Taiyou, a female mangaka who apparently has a bit of a thing for “gals” — that unique breed of perpetually tanned, bleached blonde, talon-nailed loudmouth. In fact, the first volume of Gal Gohan includes the single-chapter short story “Christmas Recipe” which would eventually be fleshed out into Gal Gohan, and in her afterword for this, Taiyou admits that this was kind of her testing the waters — she says that she was embarrassed to admit what kind of gals she liked and thus didn’t even put female lead Miku in loose socks. (She did flash Miku’s panties very often, though, so she wasn’t that shy about what she liked.)
She soon got over her hangups, though, and noted that for the serialisation of Gal Gohan, she was “very specific about [Miku’s] look” and that “there’s nothing there [she doesn’t] like”.
“For Okazaki Miku and Yabecchi, I made up my mind to only draw what I like and never draw what I don’t,” she explains. “That’s the core of this series! I hope that makes it fun for you as well.”
Gal Gohan follows the story of the aforementiond gal Miku Okazaki and her home economics teacher Shinji Yabe, who is quickly nicknamed “Yabecchi” by Miku. The pair are brought together when Yabe decides to start a cooking club in the hopes of connecting more directly with his students, and Okazaki bursts in, hoping that she can bake some cookies with which to bribe the teachers who are giving her failing grades. Morally questionable, of course, until you discover that she’s doing this on the suggestion of the principal, who — no, hold on, that’s still a little morally questionable, isn’t it? But it’s all in good fun.
Anyway, Okazaki quickly establishes herself as an absolutely terrible cook, and Yabe is initially set to give up on her almost immediately. She doesn’t seem to be taking any of his teaching in, and she seems more concerned in flirting very inappropriately with him, displaying absolutely no shame whatsoever at flashing him her panties (“Cute, right?”) and being rather more touchy-feely than is strictly speaking proper for a student-teacher relationship.
But when Yabe suggests that he simply bake the cookies for Okazaki rather than her putting in the work herself, it’s clear that she’s upset. Moreover, it becomes obvious that she had come to Yabe as something of a “last resort”; her past teachers had obviously given up on her long ago, and she was hoping that she could actually form a meaningful connection with Yabe and achieve something in her school life — even if the rest of her academics were never going to be all that hot.
Recognising the sadness in her expression as she makes to leave — and remembering just in time the whole reason that he decided to start the cooking club in the first place — Yabe calls Okazaki back, and thus begins a thoroughly charming and only mildly inappropriate relationship between the pair of them. It’s obvious that they both immediately have some chemistry with one another — not just from a flirtatious, romantic aspect, but simply from how well they complement each other — and this sets up something of a feeling of “cultural exchange”. Yabe can teach Okazaki some helpful life skills, while Okazaki can help Yabe come out of his shell a bit and connect with his young charges.
As is probably clear from the above description, it would be easy to give a less than charitable reading to Gal Gohan right from the outset, as in the real world the relationship between Okazaki and Yabe would be completely inappropriate on all manner of levels — to say nothing of the principal-endorsed bribery that is arguably the reason everything starts in the first place.
But if it isn’t already obvious simply from reading the story, Taiyou’s afterword for the first volume makes it abundantly clear: this is intended to be a comedic, happy, jolly, romantic and sexy fantasy rather than in any way a depiction of reality. This is a story you’re supposed to read and alternate between going “aww, that’s cute”, “damn, that’s hot” and “hahaha, that’s funny” at roughly regular intervals — and nothing more. Pure, switch-your-brain-off fluff in the best possible way.
This isn’t to say that Gal Gohan has no inherent “value” or nothing to say, however. On the contrary, its core concept is about not judging people based on their appearances or the assumptions and prejudices you’ve been led to believe about them — particularly if you’ve never taken the time to get to know them. It’s about giving people a chance, even when they’re struggling or seemingly not suited to the task ahead of them. And it’s about seemingly polar opposites finding ways to connect with one another.
Regardless of whether or not you think 16 year old girls should be flashing their lacy panties at their teachers and taking them shopping in wildly inappropriate outfits, I think we can all agree that’s a pretty positive message to be sending. And that is absolutely why Gal Gohan is worth spending some time with — at least if the highly enjoyable first volume is anything to go by.
Now, I’m thoroughly intrigued to see where things go over the course of the remaining nine volumes — the last of which is set to be officially released in English in February of 2022 after its Japanese serialisation ended in March of 2020. Our Conor previously praised the series for neither dragging things out nor rushing its conclusion — so I suspect I’m in for a consistently satisfying time.
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