What is a Gyaru?

Gyaru is the Japanese pronunciation of the English slang word ‘gal’. It refers to young women who act in a charismatic manner and dress in a particular way. The fashion movement is partly a rebellion against traditional Japanese beauty standards, that being black hair, pale skin and the sense that girls should be demure and somewhat unnoticed. A big part of being a gyaru is simply the attitude that life should be about having fun. The epicentre of Gyaru subculture is the Shibuya district of Tokyo.

Typical Make-up, Hair and Dress

Durarara!!, episode 10, 2010

The typical look of the gyaru is a take on what is seen as Western or American fashion trends. Make-up is bright and colourful, and often includes statement false eyelashes. Some gyaru go so far as to use contact lenses that make their eyes look bigger, or include an array of colors or patterns. The traditional gyaru look includes dyed blond hair, sometimes with colorfully dyed sections. In more recent times trends have been shifting to include light brown shades. Gyaru hair is usually long, with curled or wavy sections, and at least partially tied up in some way to make use of plenty of cute hair accessories. Clothes can vary widely, especially among the subgenres, but it is generally characterised with short skirts and a prevalence of bright colours, particularly pink. Anything flashy is usually accepted as general gyaru style.

Subgenres

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san, episode 8, 2018

There are many subgenres of the gyaru fashion style. Here is a quick run down of some of the most prevalent ones -

Ganguro - this gyaru has a deep tan and uses make-up to whiten the area around the mouth and eyes.

Hime-gyaru - princess gyaru. This style is based on Rococo era themes, similar to the lolita style. Unlike lolita the main colours are pink and other pastel shades, with a focus on a large amount of accessories trimmed with lace or bows. Hair is often big, even in the bouffant style.

Gyaruo - male gyaru. Gyaruos also embrace the ideas of fashion rebellion and having fun. The look is characterised with bleached hair, sometimes tanned skin and colourful accessories.

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Kogal - this is the anglicised version of kogyaru, a contraction of kōkōsei gyaru, meaning school girl gyaru. These girls are mainly characterised by a very short school uniform skirt, often paired with loose socks, and the look set off with typical gyaru hair and make-up.

Gaijin gyaru - Western gyaru. This term is used for any gyaru who has embraced gyaru culture from outside Japan. Gyaru culture has spread around the world with magazines, social media and as anime has become more popular all around the world. Communities have grown up online and sometimes meet at anime conventions.

There are many more, and they are constantly evolving with new trends.

Examples of Gyaru in Anime

Citrus, episode 1, 2018

There are many examples of gyaru in anime, but some anime have gyaru as a central theme including -

My First Girlfriend is a Gal - A harem anime, and two of the girls are gyarus. There’s plenty of ecchi but also insights into gyaru culture.

Please tell me! Galko-chan - This anime focuses on the friendship of three girls nicknamed Galko (a gyaru), Otako (an otaku), and Ojou (a rich girl) and their uncensored conversations. A wide variety of subjects are covered, but gyaru matters come up a lot.

Citrus - In citrus we see a gyaru moving to a new city and attending a traditional girls academy. She is seen as a stark colorful contrast to the other girls. Episode 1 includes a detailed sequence of her hair and make-up routine.

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