Waifu Wednesday: ode to the gyaru girl

You go, gyaru.

I’m thrilled and honoured to finally be waifuposting. This week, I’d like to present you with a choice selection of girls inspired by one of Japan’s most interesting subcultures. This is, of course, gyaru!

Gyaru fashion is characterised by bleached hair, embellished nails and bold makeup, often accentuated by a deep tan. I initially assumed that this subculture was largely influenced by Western trends (gyaru girls are usually characterised as valley girls in English translations) but some sources say that the gyaru style originated from the all-girl biker gangs of Tokyo! Their hardcore lifestyle and rebellious attitude has been labelled gyaru maindo (“gyaru mind”), often associated with a nonconformist attitude and a general reluctance to settle down and get married.

Though the subculture has declined in popularity after the turn of the century, it has spawned several sub-styles, including the distinctive Manba and Yamanba styles, which continue to pop up in anime and manga to this day.

So, if you’re in the market for a cute alt waifu of two, look no further than our top five gyaru girls:

5. Kanako Sumiyoshi (Nyan Koi)

Kanako Sumiyoshi from Nyan Koi in her gyaru getup
She rocks that classic manba look.

Kanako gets fifth ranking on this list only because her gyaru-ness is temporary. She dons her manba appearance after a misunderstanding with Junpei, seeming to spitefully choose the style as a way to distance herself from her crush.

Despite this, her no-holds-barred hair and makeup are nothing short of iconic, and while she eventually retires her flashy getup, she remains an outspoken and uninhibited character. Makeup or no, she embodies the gyaru spirit. I kind of wish we saw her like this more often, though.

4. Midori (Space Patrol Luluco)

Midori from Space Patrol Luluco
It is a fact universally known that all the best anime characters have fangs.

Midori is quite the unconventional contender – you don’t see many gyaru girls rocking green skin. This half-alien’s gyaru nature is mostly conveyed in her characterisation – she’s not often seen without a smartphone in her hand, primarily because she possesses an illegal Blackhole App that she uses to steal stuff, and has no problem with letting those around her know exactly how she feels.

Her usual outfit, comprised of an oversized cardigan and a plaid skirt, is more reminiscent of the kogal style, though the eyeball on her head is giving big Harajuku energy. Does it count as a fashion accessory when it’s literally part of her body?

3. Mei Yasumura (Ouran High School Host Club)

Mei Yamasura, Ouran High School Host Club's resident gyaru.
Mei and Haruhi enjoying a strictly platonic breakfast.

It’s a crime that Mei didn’t make it into the Ouran anime. Mei prefers the ganguro style (a substyle that prefers deep tans and white concealer over the eyes and lips), and is implied to have embraced the gyaru lifestyle as a way to differentiate herself from her unseen twin sister.

Ouran High School Host Club never shied away from flamboyant gender expression – it’s kind of its whole thing. Though the Host Club was initially a bit thrown by Mei’s vulgarity and bold appearance, she becomes close friends with Haruhi throughout the manga. Her passion for fashion (wow, remember Bratz?) and her steadfast support for her friends is something to be admired. Prime girlfriend material right here.

2. Galko (Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan)

Galko-chan from Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan
No points for spotting the gyaru here.

Another interesting twist on the stereotype – Galko-chan is far from possessing the fiery gyaru maindo. Though many assume that Galko is a promiscuous party girl based on her name and appearance, she has zero sexual experience, and in fact can get extremely embarrassed when discussing intimate topics. She rarely thinks before she speaks, and often makes unintentionally crude remarks that she immediately regrets.

Despite this, Galko has the true spirit of a gyaru – rather than focusing on fanservice and promiscuity, she uses her frankness and independent nature to broach important subjects that are often considered too rude for young women to discuss. A true role model for body positivity.

1. Junko Enoshima (Danganronpa)

Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa
Look upon her and despair!

Oh Junko, my problematic fave. “Gyaru” doesn’t even begin to describe her, but a lot of her fashion choices can be traced back to the fashion subculture, as well as a regular outfit that evokes the gyaru, kogal and harajuku styles. She’s introduced in the first game as the Ultimate Fashionista, but in the original Japanese version her title was Super High School Level Gyaru. Jamie Marchi’s valley girl affectations in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School – Despair Arc seals the deal.

Of course, we later learn later that Junko’s true Ultimate ability is Analytical Prowess, allowing her to analyse and implement trends with just a glance. Though her gyaru nature is more of an opportunist exploitation of her beauty and abilities, she maintains the sickening red nails and immaculate makeup across almost all of her appearances (and personalities). Despair be damned, I’d wife her up in a heartbeat.

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