More fun in the sun with Gal Gohan’s sixth volume

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Supposedly, according to author and artist Marii Taiyou, Gal Gohan was originally only supposed to run for five volumes — but the positive reception it had led her to extend the story on to a full ten volumes and a proper resolution. As of the time of writing, the full ten volumes are now available in English — but we’ve still got a little way to go before we look at how it all comes together for the grand finale. Will they or won’t they? That remains to be seen. (Unless you’ve already read Volume 10, in which case you have already seen.)

Anyway. Gal Gohan volume 6. Initially, this directly follows on from the cliffhanger of the previous volume, in which leading man Shinji Yabe’s close friend, teaching colleague and unreciprocated college sweetheart Nagisa Shirahama all but confessed to him. I say “all but confessed”, because she did so in a sort of wishy-washy “what would you say if I said I love you?” kind of way that gave her the quick and easy “ahahaha, just kidding, can’t believe you fell for that” get-out clause if things were to get too embarrassing.

Gal Gohan vol. 6

As it happens, Nagisa doesn’t need to extricate herself from the situation because the school’s number one gal and our leading lady Miku Okazaki shows up at just the wrong moment, witnessing part of their exchange and obviously having some rather conflicting feelings about all of it. By this point, she already knew that Nagisa had previously been in love with Yabe and that there may well be some lingering feelings there, but she had chalked the situation up to her being another light-hearted “love rival” in the same way that Fujiwara already was.

Miku had, up until this point, been mostly confident in her ability to come out on top — she spent the most time with Yabe by far, which had to count for something — but her doubts with regard to Nagisa are well-founded. Nagisa and Yabe have a pre-existing relationship, after all — albeit not a romantic one — and the pair are closer in age to one another than she and Yabe are. To the outsider, a relationship between Nagisa and Yabe would appear to be the “correct” choice — but in the world of Gal Gohan… well, the series isn’t called Sensei Gohan, is it?

Miku is, in fact, so uneasy by what she has witnessed is that when she and Yabe are subsequently in the kitchen together to make food for everyone, she makes pretty much every single one of the same mistakes she made back in the first volume of Gal Gohan — including using sugar instead of salt and washing vegetables using dish soap. It’s a nice callback, as well as a clear representation of the conflict in her mind at this point — further emphasised by her remembering several conversations in which she was reminded of how taboo a student-teacher relationship is.

Gal Gohan vol. 6

Eventually, Miku does things the only way she knows how: with a complete and utter lack of subtlety, explaining to Yabe that she’s “gunning for him herself” while watching the fireworks, and admonishing him for the fact that she’s not exactly been subtle about things up until this point. Yabe, meanwhile, visibly shaken by all this, appears to have been operating on the assumption that all Miku’s behaviour up until this point has been teenage silliness and flirtatiousness fuelled by her being part of the “gal” subculture — this appears to be the first time he really takes her seriously.

Yabe is confused and troubled by these developments. It’s clear that he has never been “in demand” like he is right now — and from more than one person, no less. He does not know how to deal with it — but he finds a surprising confidant in the form of Fujiwara, who shows up ostensibly to learn some recipes she will be able to make for her younger brother, but clearly actually because she just wants to spend some time with the man she loves.

The pair are obviously comfortable with one another, to the point where Fujiwara advises Yabe to be honest with himself and not bottle up his feelings. Feeling at ease with the way the encounter has gone so far, Yabe admits that there is a student who has confessed their love for him — but that he doesn’t know how to respond. Of course, he knows the morally correct thing is to do absolutely nothing — but Fujiwara presses him on the matter of whether or not he would consider it after graduation.

Gal Gohan vol. 6

While supposedly offering advice on Yabe’s situation with Miku — whom neither of them have mentioned by name in this discussion, even though they both know exactly who they’re talking about — Fujiwara is actually carefully prying into Yabe’s feelings for herself, too. Since her first appearance in Gal Gohan, she’s learned to be a little more open with her feelings herself — and in each new encounter with Yabe, she develops her own confidence somewhat.

She’s clearly smitten with him — but also knows deep inside herself that she doesn’t stand a chance, either, and as such recognises that the best thing to do is to be a good friend and make him happy without making life difficult for everyone involved in this whole situation. It’s proof beyond proof that out of all the young women gunning for Yabe’s affections, Fujiwara is by far the most mature, practical and pragmatic about the whole thing — even if she occasionally looks as if she’s about to explode with repressed emotions.

Fujiwara’s feelings are not helped, however, by a situation that calls for her and Yabe to hide under a table so the school principal doesn’t see her clearing up beer cans left behind by an absolutely hammered Nagisa. What follows is one of the most smoulderingly erotic scenes in the entire series, even though nothing whatsoever happens.

Once again, much like whatever happened during the sports festival scavenger hunt in the previous volume, this is a memory that is private to Fujiwara, since no-one else sees it going on; the only difference is that this time we, the audience, witness it too. And we can all understand that it’s a memory she’s going to keep locked away in a special place for very special, private occasions, if you know what I mean.

Gal Gohan vol. 6

Probably the major event of this particular volume of Gal Gohan is a residential trip, in which Miku, Fujiwara, Nagisa and Yabe all stay at a thoroughly pleasant looking lodge. A bathroom mishap leads Miku to unexpectedly see Yabe completely naked — he had slipped over and passed out at the time, so one can’t really blame him in this instance, particularly as he was trying to escape Miku doing something that might “jeopardise her future”, in his words — and she runs away screaming, clearly unprepared for the situation in more ways than one.

There are multiple instances of Miku getting extremely close to Yabe on the trip, though. There’s bikini-clad hugging on the beach, there’s her climbing into his bed after seemingly sincerely believing that she saw a ghost, and there’s her leaping atop of him after the pair of them, lost in the forest, believe they hear the sound of either a wild beast or a ghostly maiden who is said to haunt the area.

In every situation, the scenes are somewhat slapstick but nonetheless erotic, and the increasing frequency with which situations like this occur helps to represent how Miku and Yabe’s feelings for one another have been gradually escalating over the course of Gal Gohan up until this point. Yabe still isn’t willing to cross any sort of line with Miku — and to an extent Miku knows when to hold back, too — but there’s no doubting that the pair of them are much more intimate with one another by this point in the overall narrative, both physically and emotionally.

Gal Gohan vol. 6

Finally, this time around the cliffhanger concerns an upcoming beauty contest at the school. Miku lets slip that Fujiwara likes Yabe also, and her friends Makoto and Hana are firmly in favour of both Miku and Fujiwara entering said beauty competition — on which Yabe is, conveniently, a panel member.

“We were born a few years too late,” says Miku, “and the guy we love won’t even look at us that way. But winning this beauty contest will force him to admit that we’re amazing women!”

Whether or not she’s right is something we don’t find out for sure until the next volume — but I think we all know by this point that Yabe already knows what amazing young women they are.

Gal Gohan vol. 6 is available physically via Amazon. Other physical sources and digital versions can be found via Seven Seas’ website.

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Pete Davison
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