Sexy summer memories with Gal Gohan’s second volume

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Gal Gohan is one of those series that I defy anyone not to love — even those historically averse to fanservicey anime and manga. The whole thing is drenched in such a sense of joyous playfulness that it’s absolutely impossible to leave even a single chapter without a big smile on your face. And this only continues in the manga’s second volume.

Let’s get you up to speed for those who haven’t read out look back on the first volume of this modern classic series. Shinji Yabe is a teacher who longs to create a deeper, more meaningful connection with his students, and in an attempt to do so he starts up a cooking club. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — the only person who shows an interest in joining is the school’s resident “gal”, Miku Okazaki, who promptly proceeds to demonstrate willing enthusiasm to learn (despite a rather shaky start) and a complete lusty thirst for Yabe — which may or may not be an act.

Gal Gohan volume 2

The fun thing about Gal Gohan, which becomes clear in the first volume, is that while in some regards Miku very much lives up to our expectations of a gal character, in many other ways she also subverts these expectations. For example, while it’s clear that she puts great effort into her appearance, doing her best to create a deliberately dishevelled but sexually appealing look for herself that imbues her with a considerable amount of power, she’s also deeply insecure. Not only that, but she appears very uncomfortable when coming into contact with personality traits stereotypically associated with gals, such as being sexually promiscuous or mean to people further down the social pecking order.

In other words, Miku almost immediately comes across as an immensely likeable character — one who, almost from her first appearance on the page, makes it clear that she wants help; she wants a meaningful connection with another human being. And, given that is exactly what Yabe wanted to achieve with his cookery club, he couldn’t very well refuse, could he?

The second volume of Gal Gohan concerns the summer break which unfolds after Yabe and Miku have established their relationship with one another. Miku is committed to the cooking club, and Yabe is committed to helping Miku better herself. Miku has also clearly developed genuine feelings for Yabe — one can argue that her initial toying with him early in the first volume is her trying to establish the power structure of their relationship — and Yabe… well, Yabe is torn between a sense of professionalism and what are clearly his own feelings of attraction towards Miku.

Gal Gohan vol. 2

While one can look upon certain aspects of Gal Gohan as being exceedingly inappropriate, it is worth noting that Yabe is the one who makes a distinct effort to keep things distinctly on the straight and narrow wherever possible. Miku is inevitably the one who makes inappropriate advances on Yabe, and Yabe in return displays behaviour which can be interpreted in turn as both wilfully ignorant of her feelings and in keeping with his desire to retain a certain amount of professionalism.

In some respects, this is quite interesting, because stories about student-teacher relationships are often depicted with the onus on the supposed authority figure in the relationship — the teacher — being the one who initiates things by taking advantage of their position of power with their student. In some instances, these act as cautionary tales against inappropriate (and possibly illegal) relationships between individuals who are supposed to have a strictly professional relationship, while at others (typically in pornography and hentai) stories like this are pure power fantasy: an expression of a desire to have absolute sexual power and control over someone with a lower “status”.

Gal Gohan, by contrast, is the complete inverse of this. Yabe is completely and utterly helpless against Miku, because Miku is very much the one who wields all the power in the relationship. All it takes is a flutter of her eyelashes, a flash of her panties or a touch of inappropriate bodily contact to make poor old sensei putty in her hands — though to her credit, she rarely overuses this power she exerts over him; it’s usually more in jest than an earnest attempt to manipulate the situation to her advantage.

Gal Gohan vol. 2

There are exceptions, of course; early in the volume when Yabe explains that most school clubs close down for summer break and he intends the cooking club to be no exception, Miku’s exaggerated sadness at the situation — coupled with a conveniently timed blackout and her sense of jealousy at her friends spending their summer holidays with their boyfriends — allows her to manipulate him into thinking that keeping the cooking club going would be a good idea. Interestingly, she achieves this not through addressing it directly, but rather through provoking him in the dark in such a way that he finds himself actively wanting to spend more time with her.

In the subsequent chapter, we see a rare instance of Miku and Yabe not being together from the outset of the story thread, as Miku and her bikini-clad friends work at a beachside yakisoba stand. As it happens, Yabe shows up with his nephew — who quickly demonstrates himself to be much more immune to saucy teasing from gals than his uncle is — and he ends up supporting the girls on the stand after several staff members flake out upon seeing a party of fifteen arriving.

Yabe’s nephew, of course, proves himself to be highly perceptive on several occasions over the course of this chapter: pointing out to Yabe that “the blonde one’s really into you” after Miku shamelessly flashes her spectacular arse at him — and, upon his return to his family home, he deadpan informs his mother that “uncle’s in love with a high school girl”.

Gal Gohan vol. 2

We saw in the first chapter that a lot of Gal Gohan is a form of wish fulfilment for author Marii Taiyou, who has a thoroughly endearing obsession with gals. Indeed, the last page of the volume features a drawing of Miku in a blazer with annotations by Taiyou herself pondering “how can I date a gal myseeeeelf?!”. In this respect, the feeling of escalation in the relationship between Yabe and Miku is understandable, and in the second volume this is arguably brought to something of a head in a chapter where the pair of them go to help out at a local farm by picking produce.

While the couple who run the farm are aware that Yabe and Miku are teacher and student, they also immediately see how close they are — and, hailing from an earlier time when young women often got married at the age of sixteen, are very much in favour of their relationship. Indeed, the wife of the couple goes so far as to advise Miku that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach — and that by continuing to participate in the cooking club, she is in an ideal position to win Yabe over once and for all.

Again, here we’re reminded that by modern standards of decency, Yabe and Miku’s relationship is completely inappropriate and we absolutely should not be encouraging it. But by this point it’s hard not to be rooting for them; Gal Gohan’s whole happy, warm, cosy atmosphere reminds us that we absolutely are in the realm of pure fantasy here, and that you (and Yabe) should probably just enjoy it.

Gal Gohan vol. 2

Obviously at this point in the narrative Yabe and Miku haven’t actually done anything that really crosses a line of decency (or the law, for that matter) and so there’s nothing that we really should be feeling bad about. But I am intrigued as to how their relationship will develop from here; after two volumes, it all seems to be going rather well for them, so will they encounter resistance along the way — and how will it all end?

That remains to be seen for now, though the final page of the second volume does introduce what promises to be an intriguing element of conflict in the following volume. But that is, of course, a story for next time.

Gal Gohan vol. 2 is available from various retailers including Amazon. Find a full list on Seven Seas’ website.

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Pete Davison
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