Debutante Detective Corps.
Mike Toole rates it:
Who knew? At first glance, Debutante Detective Corps. looked like a horribly mediocre, run-of-the-mill guns n’ babes ADV title at first glance. Upon sitting down and watching it, however, I was pleasantly surprised– Debutante Detective Corps. is a screwball comedy, and a pretty funny one at that. The main characters are five very rich high school girls. So rich, in fact, that their income equals the Japanese gross national product.
After making their entrances on opening day– Miyuki crashing through the window on a motorcycle, Reika pedaling merrily past a speeding Porsche on a simple bicycle, Youko driving a Rolls-Royce through the wall, Nina leaping from an Apache gunboat, and Kimiko arriving on the scene with more police cars in tow than the climactic Blues Brothers chase scene– the girls receive some disturbing news. For some reason, a terrorist group has targeted them for death. After neatly shoving the police out of the picture by using Youko’s improbably good disguises, our young heroines take on the bad guys head-on, putting to work all of their diverse skills. After all, it stands to reason that each girl has a specific, incredibly stereotypical set of skills.
Reika the Chinese amazoness can knock down walls with a punch. Miyuki can defuse bombs and operate heavy equipment. Her sister, Kimiko, claims to be psychic. Youko, the brains of the operation (obviously, since she’s wearing the glasses) is a super genius and a master of disguises. Finally, Nina has guns. Lots and lots of guns.
Not surprisingly, the bad guys, if they can really be called that, don’t stand a chance. Neither, for that matter, does the girls’ school.
I’ll confess that much of the text above was written a couple of summers ago, when ADV first released Debutante Detective Corps. as a subtitled one-off. Upon seeing the new dub, I have to say that my opinion of it is relatively unchanged– it’s still a pleasant little half-hour of escapism. Only now, it’s available in English. Now, you and I know that dubs always outsell subtitled versions, but I still don’t quite understand why this was made. The script and characterization is okay, but… well, let’s say that there’s enough shrill shrieking and hollering on this single half-hour to give Heather “Blair Witch” Donohue a run for her money. Also, the girls in the dubbed version did okay, but there’s really no escaping the fact that they’re obviously from Texas. All of them, from Texas. I kept hoping they’d break out into a rendition of “Deep in the Heart of Texas”, but no such luck.
That aside, one might take issue with the fact that Debutante Detective Corps. doesn’t exactly break new ground– it’s precisely what it’s supposed to be, from the requisite gratuitous bikini shots to the tremulous school principal to the hilariously one-dimensional bad guys. There’s a nice selection of amusing sight gags and jokes, my favorite being Reika’s method of dealing with a towering, hulking ex-special forces jarhead– she simply leaps up and rips his scalp off. I wonder what Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star would make of her. Also, be sure to keep your eyes open for a nifty blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from the cast of Graduation/Sailor Victory.
Not since Burn Up! W have I seen a show that is so blatantly preposterous and insubstantial, yet so entertaining. Maybe it’s just because it’s nice and short, but even high-toned anime snobs like me need to take a break from harping on Sailor Moon fans and investigating knockoff toys, and Debutante Detective Corps. is a serviceable solution. It’s frothy, lively, and a hell of a lot of fun. Turn your brain off and enjoy.
Added: Friday, October 10, 2003
Related Link: ADV Films