Image source: 「はじめてのギャル」TVアニメ公式☆‏ on Twitter

Junichi Hashiba is a high school boy who wants to lose his virginity. In order to do that, he asks his classmate and fashionable “gal” named Yukana Yama to date him. But, Junichi soon gets caught up in the world of gals, bombarded with an assortment of gals of various types.

In the fourth episode of the series, we see Junichi researching gals so he can understand his girlfriend Yukana better. It’s a large undertaking because, like researching any topic, it will take you down some interesting rabbit holes—especially considering the slew of gal types there are. But, what exactly is a gal and what types of gals are the four girls in My First Girlfriend is a Gal?

The term “gal” is an umbrella word to describe fashionable teen girls and young women in Japan. It was first used in the 1970s, but was popularized in the 1990s to refer to a demographic of women who bleach or dye their hair, have highly accessorized nails, and use dramatic makeup to accentuate their features. However, around the turn of the millennium, the gal culture branched out to include multiple sub-sects. Some of the most notable are the yamaba and maba styles in the early 2000s or the hime loli gals seen today. The girls in My First Girlfriend is a Gal are clearly gals to some degree or another. But, even within the gal culture and life style they fit into different types.

Image source: 「はじめてのギャル」TVアニメ公式☆‏ on Twitter

While there are a lot of gal types in Japan, the girls in the series are primarily kogal. Kogals are generally high school aged girls who wear their school uniform skirts very short, wear loose knee socks, and dye their hair. Seeing as the girls in My First Girlfriend is a Gal are in high school, they all fall under this branch of galdom to various degrees.

Image source: 「はじめてのギャル」TVアニメ公式☆‏ on Twitter

When we go a step deeper though, the most common gal type in the series is the shiro (literally white) gal. Yukana, Nene Fujinoki, and Yui Kashī all fall into this category. Here’s the thing though, shiro gal is also an umbrella term to describe a list of other gal types. But, what sets shiro gals apart from the prototypical gal is two-fold: their lighter completion and their tendency to wear ane-kei fashion (a fashion trend were girls wear clothes they think university and young business women would wear). Where typical gals have a darker or tanned completion, shiro gals keep their skin fair by using skin lightening cream products or use sunscreen with a high SPF to obtain a light complection. However, it’s not a given all shiro gals follow the ane-kei fashion trend. In the series we see Yukana and Nene in kogal fashion more often than not. So, being a shiro gal doesn’t preclude them from being a kogal as well.

Image source: 「はじめてのギャル」TVアニメ公式☆‏ on Twitter

However, Nene is also part of another sub-sects of galdom: the pagal. With the pagal we’ve heard Yukana’s friend Ranko Honjō refers to Nene as one. It’s actually an abbreviation of the word chutohanpa (half-assed) and gal and can be interpreted a few ways. These include as an insult or as a term to describe a girl who’s just become a gal. With Nene, it’s clear it’s the later because she has yet to fully understand what it means to be a gal. In other words, she puts on the makeup and wears the clothes, but there are areas she can definitely improve—specifically her vocabulary. So, while Nene is a kogal and a shiro gal, she also clearly falls into the pagal category.

Image source: 「はじめてのギャル」TVアニメ公式☆‏ on Twitter

Yui, on the other hand, is a seiso gal—along with being a ko and shiro gal. While seiso can be interpreted as serious, in other contexts it can also mean “clean” or “prim and proper.” Where other gal types are more external with their hair color and styles to the accessories they wear, a seiso gals tend to keep their hair in its natural color or dark brown, don’t heavily accessories, or wear a lot of makeup. Except, Yui lives a double gal life and takes on the persona of Boa in private. So, when she’s in public Yui is closer to the seiso and shiro gal archetypes. But, in private she becomes a full on typical gal in her speech and mannerisms. It’s actually amazing Yui can tread the fine line between the stereotypical gal and the seiso gal and switch between them as needed.

Image source: 「はじめてのギャル」TVアニメ公式☆‏ on Twitter

With three of the girls being some variation of the shiro gal, what does that make Ranko? She’s actually the prototypical gal: darker or tanned skin, blond or bleached hair, highly accessorized, and wears heavy makeup that accentuates the eyes and lips. With the term shiro gal having become widespread in Japan, this type of gal has become known as kuro (literally black) gals. There are, of course, many variations of the kuro gal. However, Ranko is the most basic kuro gal you might find in Japan—although it appears she doesn’t don heavy makeup.

There are many other gal types in Japan and My First Girlfriend is a Gal only touches the surface. But there are enough to send us down the gal rabbit-hole with Junichi.

My First Girlfriend is a Gal is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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