By Marii Taiyou. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Animal. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Andrew Cunningham. Adapted by Bambi Eloriaga-Amago.
Sometimes Japanese manga companies have a broad spectrum of things they release across all genres and age groups… and sometimes they specialize. Hakusensha is one of the latter – it has no shonen titles per se, and is best known over here as the top shoujo publisher with its magazines Hana to Yume and LaLa. But… they do also have Young Animal. As with most magazines with ‘Young’ in the title, it caters to the young adult male, with each cover featuring a cover and insert section of an idol singer or model. Unlike the shoujo end of the company, Young Animal titles rarely get licensed over here – the most famous one still going is probably Berserk, which has lots of the gool ol’ ultraviolence. But there’s also fanservice and ecchi titles, and Young Animal has plenty of those as well. A good example of which we’re reviewing today, Gal Gohan. That said, like some of the best ecchi manga, there’s a certain purity of tone to it.
Shinji is a relatively new teacher, having difficulties making connections with students and doubting himself as with all good newbie teachers in manga like this. Shinji, however, teaches home ec, which makes it even harder – he doesn’t even see the students as much. Meanwhile, Miku is a very stereotypical “Gal” – tanned skin, loose socks, accessories, etc. – and is in danger of flunking out of school. The jaded principal suggests bribing her teachers with cookies, and so she goes to Shinji to try to get some help. Things go badly at first, but he gradually realizes that under her Gal exterior is a rather tender young maiden, and she starts to fall for him pretty hard – to the point where she decides to join the cooking club, even though – well, actually, because – it’s just the two of them. How far can Miku take her teasing… and how serious is it meant to be? And can Shinji avoid the temptations of his student?
This pretty much is the perfect setup to a series designed to entice young men. Miku is pretty, outgoing, busty, and is not ashamed to panty flash her teacher… at first. As the manga goes on, she starts to get a little shyer about that sort of thing, hinting that her teasing has gotten closer to an actual crush. Despite being a manga about a cooking club, there’s minimal attention to the recipes or preparation – this is not a foodie manga. You’re here to see if Shinji can resist the extreme forwardness of Miku (he has so far), and if Miku can get across to her teacher that she’s not just teasing but really does like him (she hasn’t so far). Part of Shinji’s reticence is simple – he’s her teacher, she’s his student, this is a forbidden relationship. But we also do get a bit of him not quite understanding a “maiden’s heart”, which allows Miku to be frustrated in a cute way.
I’m assuming anyone reading this knows what sort of manga they’re getting. But it caters to its readers very well, enticing without getting too over the line – Miku’s teasing and flashing of her body is relatively innocent compared to where the series could have gone. Worth a read if you like this genre.