Debutante Detective Corps Anime Review
Ojou-sama Sousa Ami
Refined Girls' Investigation Network
US Release By
Rich Multi-Talented Schoolgirl Action/Parody
What's In It
- A Giant Commando
- Super Technology
- Just Plain Stupid.
- Violence: 1 (mild)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 0 (none)
- Language: 0 (none)
When the five newest students to a prestigious girls' school receive a death threat from a group of escaped criminals, it would be a big deal under any circumstances. But since these girls happen to be from the five richest families in Japan, it's about as big a deal as they come. The police are out in force, but that's not what the bad guys have to worry about... because this group of refined young ladies also happen to be trained in a selection of deadly arts of their own, and are just itching for a chance to prove the worth of their new little extracurricular activity, the Debutante Detective Corps.
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Debutante Detective Corps is somewhere between an unoriginal super schoolgirl story with everything on it, and a parody of that genre not quite clever enough to really work. It looks nice enough, there are some worthwhile over-the-top action scenes, and it does manage to pull off a few good gags, and that's the sum total of the content. It looks like it might've been the set-up for a series, but it's empty and silly enough that even people who enjoy it aren't likely to be disappointed that this is all there is.
Fans of this sort of silly, exaggerated action may love it, it might be worth a rental for others, but for most it's probably too short and not creative enough to be worth the time.
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Debutante Detective Corps is about as short, pointless, silly, and mindlessly entertaining as they come, but it is fun for as long as it lasts.
It looks like it might be the setup for an ongoing series detailing the over-the-top hijinks of the titular Corps, and it does do a reasonable job of introducing us to the crew. But, since this is the one and only 35 minute episode ever made, an introduction is all you'll get. Not that it matters--the story is self-contained, it's hardly supposed to be deep, and the characters are so silly I doubt you'll get attached to any of them.
The generic cast--yet another rich bunch of girls with major martial arts/combat/technical/psychic skills running amok and causing havoc on a school campus--hasn't seen any new ground to break in a long time. It does, however, take everything so far overboard that it ends up being a sort-of-parody of itself. Why just get to school by jumping out of a helicopter when it can explode afterward for no reason? Why a police escort when every cop in the prefecture can be there? It doesn't seem quite self-aware enough to qualify as a full-on parody, but a send-up of its own genre is obviously part of the intent.
It's too bad it didn't take the overkill farther, really--I usually prefer somewhat solid reality to all-out silly and self-referential humor, but in this case it's already far enough gone that pulling out all the stops would have helped. Anyway, I wouldn't personally call it hilarious, but the situations were generally amusing enough to keep my attention, and I found a few of the gags (both mildly clever and blunt) pretty darned funny.
Otherwise, though, there's really nothing here. Once you get past a few super-schoolgirl parodies, a couple of funny situations, and some old-fashioned slapstick comedy, all you're left with is a silly plot, a setting without an ounce of solidity, and characters so over the top that I didn't really care much about them one way or another (it says something that I'm not the least bit disappointed it ends abruptly after one episode). The action is worth something, but basically if the super-schoolgirls-taken-too-far thing doesn't sound like your cup of tea, don't even consider wasting your time.
The one strength Debutante Detective Corps has is the technical end of the production; fortunate, because it would seem pretty barren if it didn't look good. The character designs are unremarkable (if attractive), but the character art is generally quite good. The character animation is also fairly good, with particularly good action scenes--silly, but smoothly animated, very exaggerated (to add to the humor), and reasonably well choreographed. The backgrounds are a little sparse, but not too bad either. It's not pretty enough to watch for the visuals alone, but they do hold up their end.
The voice acting in Japanese is also solid, though as unremarkable as the rest of the production. About the only notable performance is Aono Takeshi as a police detective; he doesn't do that much, but is funny as always, and I just like hearing him do his "trying to be cool, but mostly just beleaguered" thing.
Takefumi Haketa's music is properly overdramatic, but not noteworthy otherwise, with a peppy, uninteresting end theme.
In all, Debutante Detective Corps is two things: A super schoolgirl story with everything on it, and a halfway parody of that genre. It's effective if unoriginal as the former and not quite clever enough to succeed at the latter, which overall adds up to a mildly entertaining waste of time. Fans of this sort of thing may love it, it might be worth a rental for others, but for most it's probably too short and not creative enough to be worth the time.
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Project A-ko did the same thing, and did it a whole lot better. And, of course, it has something in common with Urusei Yatsura and every other super schoolgirl show ever made.
Notes and Trivia
Debutante Detective Corps is an original concept by Atsushi Wakamatsu of the video game and occasional anime developer Marcus.
Presumably as a result of Marcus being primarily a game developer, there was also a video game of the same title released for the PC-FX shortly after the anime. (The PC-FX was a CD-based game console sold by NEC in Japan during the mid-'90s.) Later there was a single novel adaptation by Yoshito Higashi, with illustrations by Shinji Ochi (one of the two character designers).
US DVD Review
The budget-priced hybrid DVD includes the original trailer as an extra.
Really not much to find objectionable; some silly, mostly harmless violence and a few skimpy outfits is about it. ADV calls it 13-up, but 10-up is probably more reasonable.
Violence: 1 - A lot of stuff blown up, but nobody dies, and it's all in good fun.
Nudity: 1 - A few mildly revealing outfits.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Nada.
Language: 0 - I don't remember anything objectionable in ADV's subtitles.
Available in North America from ADV on bilingual DVD, now out of print. Prior to that was available on subtitled or dubbed VHS.
Amazon has new copies of the DVD listed for a couple of bucks from a number of sellers at last check: Debutante Detective Corps DVD