Archive for the Sukeban Deka Category


R.I.P. Wada Shinji

July 5th, 2011

We at Yuricon are very saddened to learn of the death of Wada Shinji, creator of Sukeban Deka, Crown  and many other series.

Dan Kanemitsu reported on Twitter that Wada-sensei’s death was confirmed by a number of sources. Dan mentions, and I agree, that Wada-sensei’s contributions toward female leads in manga is immeasurable.

As you know, if you are a regular reader here, Sukeban Deka is one of my favorite series, and one of the three classic girl-gang series I love so much. Wada’s genius will be missed.

To paraphrase the last page of the Sukeban Deka manga, “Goodbye Wada-sensei, forever.”

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Live-action: Sukeban Deka Movie 1

April 2nd, 2007

Today’s review (and the letter “H”) is brought to you by the most magnificent munificence of Chet at Media Blasters, one of the greatest guys *ever.* And not just ’cause he gives me wacky movies…he’s just really great. ^_^

You may remember that back in February, I was pleased as punch to review the most recent Sukeban Deka live action movie. For today’s review, I will be backtracking some years in order to review the very first Sukeban Deka movie. About 20 years or so.

There was a TV series based on the manga Sukeban Deka which starred Saito Yuki as tough chick Asamiya Saki who was blackmailed by the police into functioning as an undercover agent for them. (Here is the review of the manga for that whole story.) After the first TV series ended, the name Asamiya Saki became a pseudonym that was given to two other girls in order to enable them to fight for justice, etc, etc.

This movie takes place after the second “Saki,” whose real name is Youko, has retired from the life of a sukeban deka, a delinquent cop. I am feeling mightily overworked this evening, so instead of telling you anything about the plot, I am going to throw you at the pretty darn comprehensive Sukeban Deka encyclopedia website. Here is a detailed synopsis for the first movie. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, there’s a whole herd of sukeban deka by the time this movie got made. ^_^

There’s a couple of things to enjoy about this movie, other than the random violence and super psycho-with-a-fake-hand bad guy. One – every red shirt character dies in Saki’s arms, which I start finding pretty funny after then third or so death in a 80 minute movie. Second – the reunited sukeban group planning their strategy over dinner was a masterpiece. As Yukino serves up the dinner she has cooked from behind her frilly apron, she calmly discussed taking out guards at the island they are going to invade. It’s freakishly cute. If you turn off the sound, the girls all look like they are planning to get their hair done, but they are actually cheerfully discussing blowing the place up. ^_^ The super powered up yo-yo Saki gets from her handler that would destroy her arm if she used it too much was pretty awesome, as well. ;-)

I wouldn’t be reviewing it on Okazu, though, if there wasn’t at least *some* Yuri interest. At the beginning of the movie, Saki II has retired to a normal life of frilly pink sweaters and studying for the college examination. When she falls headlong into the mystery of evil Headmaster Hattori’s sadistic paramilitary island school, she immediately gathers up her comrades to face the conflict. One of them, Yukino, has left a message with Youko that she’s leaving Japan to go overseas. There’s a definite, immediate, tension there, as Youko contemplates her and Yukino’s choices. When Yukino does join them, the tension does not go away. There is a fraught scene between the two of them after the aforementioned dinner scene. If it had been a straight couple in a western movie, there is no doubt in my mind that a kiss would have been attempted, although it would have been aborted by Okyo’s appearance as, indeed, Yukino’s and Youko’s heavily charged moment was.

So, not Yuri sexxors or anything, but for an old school girl-gang live action movie…yeah.

The disk comes with an actual extra – the “making of” the movie, which was kind of cool. You get to see how insipid the actresses actually are and how silly the stunts and scenes are before they are all cut up and reattached. Defintely worth watching. For the price of the disk, you get plenty of entertainment.

Ratings:

Cinematography – Better than you think at first – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 4
Service – hard to judge, let’s call it – 4

Overall – 7

Think Enter the Dragon with a lower budget and schoolgirls and you’re not far off.^_^

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Live Action: Sukeban Deka Codename=Asamiya Saki

February 13th, 2007

Some series are simply too good to let die. Not just franchises like Gundam, but the actual series themselves. I don’t think it’s any accident that all three of the insanely popular girl-gang series that I love, Yaji Kita Gakuen Douchuuki, Sukeban Deka and Hana no Asuka-gumi keep coming back like Asuka’s gold coin.

Sukeban Deka began life as a manga, which was then made into an anime OAV and, in the 80’s, a popular three-season live-action TV show, all of which I have reviewed previously. For the basic plotline, general Yuri-ness and links to manga and anime on Amazon JP and Amazon respectively, click the link to the past review.

Last year, Sukeban Deka came back once again as a new live-action movie. And I was *dying* to see it, let me tell you. :-) It took a while, but I finally did manage to watch it and it was probably the best 90 minutes I’d spent in a long time that involved me doing nothing more than staring at a screen.

The movie starts with a young woman chained and gagged in a cage. Her rage at her condition is apparent, and she does everything she can to escape, eventually dislocating her own shoulder to escape the strait jacket she’s been put in. She does escape, but a momentary fit of humanity as she stops to comfort a lost child puts her back in the hands of the coppers.

We never learn the girl’s real name, but the cops offer her an ugly deal – her mother is in New York illegally and will be deported back to Japan, where all sorts of warrants are out for her, unless the girl helps them out. She’s given a yo-yo with the police’s chrysanthemum seal as a weapon and a new name…Asamiya Saki. Armed and decidedly dangerous, Saki heads back to Japan to infiltrate a high school at which several mysterious deaths have occurred. She’s also warned that there is another undercover operative – but they haven’t heard from that other operative in months.

Saki runs into institutionalized bullying almost immediately and, also immediately, saves the damsel in distress from same. The leader of the bullies is Reika, a girl with classic shoujo evil girl ringleader hair. I completely approved.

So, Saki takes on the entire school, from teachers, to pathetic manipulated geeks to evil henchmen and women, all the way up until she faces Reika once again in a battle of the yo-yos. This scene was SO awesome, I cannot express it in mere words. Where Saki is wearing full body armor leathers, Reika is kitted out in studded pleather miniskirt. I said to the screen, as she pulled out her own evil yo-yo, “Please let it have blades…” and you know, it did! I was so happy, I stood up and cheered.

Of course the final battle is meant to be poignant, as Saki faces a guy who kind of sort of was her love interest, and it was an okay fight until he, quite inexplicably, pulled off his nice hair to reveal and incredibly stupid looking wig underneath. I guess he wanted to die blond. I don’t know.

In the end, Saki and the damsel in distress actually had a sweet moment, where said damsel admitted that she liked Saki, although I really think it was in a “friend” way. But it was still sweet and more heartfelt than the bad guy’s quasi-sexual schmoozing.

Amazingly, this movie almost completely lacked any of the usual Japanese live-action pacing problems. I was quite impressed.

Throughout, the cop who becomes Saki’s keeper keeps saying things that implies that Saki is the daughter of the “real” Asamiya Saki. So it was a pleasure that Saito Yuki, who played the first Saki in the TV series, appears as this Saki’s mother. Total “fanboy casting” but it worked.

This movie did such a great job of capturing all the qualities of the original (manga) series, while still having a personality of its own. And even as it updated the myth, it never once lost sight of its roots. An outstanding adaptation of a classic story.

Ratings:

Cinematography – 7
Story – 9 for the sheer faithfulness to the original concept
Characters – 9, ditto
Yuri – 3, but just right
Service – 6

Overall – 9

This movie is da bomb. A great way to resurrect what was the grandmother of all girl-gang series. (Now if I could only get a picture of Matsuura Aya with a lowball and a cigarette. ^_^)

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Yuri Manga/Yuri Anime: Sukeban Deka

March 3rd, 2004

Does it really matter whether Yuri is shounen or shoujo? Depends on what you like. If you like something with action, implausible fanservice and gratuitous Yuri scenarios, you might want to stick with the shounen stuff. You want angsty emotion, and perhaps a fleeting kiss, then shoujo’s got your number.

But what, you ask, if I like shoujo manga, but I also like sex and guns and violence, and sex? Well, obviously, I wouldn’t have brought this up without an answer, would I? ^_^

Sometimes mangaka just write whatever they feel like – and frequently, that *whatever* makes for shoujo manga that’ll appeal to the shounen fan. Here’s one classic example:

Sukeban Deka – Wada Shinji, 1973-1983, Hana to Yume Comics

This series screams *1970s* in a way few things can. Between the art, the clothes, and the casual hedonism of the characters on their off time, Sukeban Deka really is an icon of the “me” generation.

In short, a high school delinquent by the name of Asamiya Saki is offered an unrefusable deal – escape from prison and we’ll make you a high school detective, with police powers. She declines, so the police blackmail her by threatening to execute her mother, who is on Death Row for killing her father. Reluctantly, Saki agrees, but only because she actually cares about her mother (something which will bite her in the ass over and over again…) To escape her prison, she enlists the help of all the girls in her cellblock – including poor Kaoru, who has the unsavory job of seducing the lesbian warden. (Great scene – we see Kaoru making up to the warden, who leads her into the office, hand on ass…the next scene has Kaoru gargling in the bathroom.)

The Sukeban Deka OVA is a great, short intro to the series, with a very strong Yuri subtext between Saki and Junko – it’s only two episodes and well worth the money. Saki’s adventures in the anime closely shadow those of the first arc of the manga, as she frees her old high school from the threat of three insane sisters. In the longer, 22-volume manga, the arcs take us to various schools filled with corruption and vice, several juvie prisons – each weirder than the last, right up to the last one where the warden raises giant snakes – and even to the shores of America, twice. East and West Coasts.

This is not a series for the faint of heart – there is a *ton* of violence, with blood and everything, and many of the main characters die. Sukeban Deka is no girly, wimpy series where everyone is always all right in the end – I mean they DIE. In fact, it’s safe to say that *all* the main characters die by the end of the series. (It’s also safe to say that by the end of the story, the mangaka was stone sick of this story and killed everyone off, so no one would *ever* ask for a sequel. ^_^)

One of the more delightful relics of the 70s is the less restrictive atmosphere of the story – Saki smokes and drinks with abandon, despite her extremely underage-ness (she’s 16.) in fact one of my absolute favorite pictures of Saki is her smoking, with a lowball in hand. I love that picture. :-) At least twice, she drinks herself insensate – you won’t be seeing *that* anytime soon in a shoujo manga these days.

Does it, “got Yuri?” Well, yes and no. There is, as I said, a TON of subtext between Junko (the first victm, erm, friend) and Saki, especially in the anime, and during the course of the story Saki gets and gives many a same-sex kiss. Some of them are real, too, not just goofy pecks. Late in the manga, as yet another character dies in Saki’s arms, she confesses that she’s loved Saki all along and plants one on her, but good. Of course, because Saki is so goddamn cool, she’s got more than her share of adoring fangirls everywhere she goes. And, lastly, practically every evil nemesis, of which there are many, obsesses about Saki in a way that is just this side of sexual.

So, yes, there’s plenty o’Yuri, except….

The best couple in the story is straight. The love of Saki’s life (and vice versa) is her mentor, Jin Kyouichiro. And let me tell you – I was rooting pretty hard for them to get together by the end. They are absolutely perfect for each other. In fact, right now, they hold the number one place in my heart as “fave straight couple”. Jin is tall and cool and Eurasian and packs a gun. He’s the perfect foil for Saki and they look really good together. So, despite my love of Yuri, the real love here is straight. But it doesn’t take away from the fun-service for a second. :-)

The Live Action Sukeban Deka, TV series and movies seem to go off on a tangent, rewriting most of the story, but keeping the basic idea. Seasons two and three create whole new characters and lose Saki altogether. Nonetheless, this show can be seen as the origin of the whole girl-gang madness that filled the 1980s (in manga and in real-life) that later gave rise to such wonderful series as Hana no Asuka-gumi and YajiKita Gakuen Dochuuki, both of which I’ve mentioned in this blog before, but am too lazy to find – look through the archives. Both Asuka and YajiKita have new versions out right now, too, so maybe we’ll see Saki ressurected, after all. LOL

Because it ran in Hana to Yume, we know that Sukeban Deka is technically shoujo, but the actual story has so much violence and…more violence, some of a sexual nature – and is written by a man – that we’d be hard pressed to see it as a typical shoujo. Is it worth watching/reading? Hell, yes – if you don’t mind seeing major characters die extremely violent and bloody deaths. And giant snakes.

Ratings:
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 10
Yuri – 5

Overall – 8

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