What They Say
The last time Saki left school it was to change her school uniform for prison greys, but when the Feds needed someone to infiltrate a ruthless criminal organization operating within an exclusive high school, they knew they needed the baddest bad girl of them all! Now Saki’s back on the streets for the ultimate final exam, armed with a top-secret weapon that only LOOKS like a yo-yo, and a license to use whatever force necessary to achieve her goal. Saki’s lovely, lethal and ready to lay it all on the line-because if she fails this test, the next outfit she’ll be wearing is a body bag!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. Both tracks feature a pretty standard stereo mix that’s mostly center channel oriented with its dialogue while the music gives a slightly fuller feeling by using the stereo channels. Dialogue is clear throughout with no noticeable dropouts or distortions.
Originally released in 1991, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in theor original full frame aspect ratio. The two OVAs were a bit rough at the time of their original release and their age is showing through here. The color tone for the show is mostly real world with lots of drab colors throughout for backgrounds, which is also appropriate considering the atmosphere they’re trying to create. The colors look good and much like intended, cross coloration is very minimal throughout and there’s not much in the way of aliasing. There are a few vibrant moments here and there, but otherwise the main thing that’ll show up that will distract is the various nicks and scratches, mostly towards the beginning of each episode.
The front cover to this piece is the traditional big cast setting where you have everyone spilling out above each other from the central point of the main character at the lower bottom, which is where we have Saki holding out her special yo-yo. The cover does give a really good indication of what to expect in terms of designs for the show as the bulk of the main cast is here, though it’s all a touch brighter looking than the show itself. The back cover provides some shots from the show itself and some promotional artwork for the property. The summary is decent, though the mix of black text with white shadow against an orange background is a bit eye-wincing in nature. The basic production information is also listed here. There was no insert included with this release.
Providing one of the most barren and poor looking menus yet, Sukeban Deka is a dull piece that has a spot of instrumental music playing to what’s really just a few selection boxes and the shows logo at the top. There’s also the strange inclusion of a DVD Credits submenu, something that I don’t believe has been on the majority (if any) of ADV’s discs, since it’s all listed in the credits roll section. Access times are nice and fast here though, since there’s not much outside of the show itself.
Sukeban Deka came at a time when Battle Royale was pretty popular in Western circles but was part of the long tradition of violent school shows. Based on the manga that ran for twenty-two volumes by Shinji Wada beginning back in 1976, it spawned several TV dramas as well as a couple of feature films over the years as it was a very popular work. The anime landed before most of that with its two-episode run in the spring and summer of 1991 with Solo Limited animating it. Sukeban Deka is something of a middle of the road piece. Done in two fifty minute OVA’s, it’s a decent story but suffers from pacing issues that would have been much more streamlined if they had done it as just one full length movie. This doesn’t hurt it a lot, but when watching it all in one sitting, there are a few more lulls to the show than there would be if it was produced the other way.
The story kicks off with the introduction of Saki, the dark young woman who’s spending her time at a reformatory for her behavior. She’s finding herself in the presence of the Dark Detective, a man who knows what the limits of the law are and has found a way to exploit it to deal with the growing youth crime problem. That’s to deputize Saki and send her into the schools to deal with the problems. Of course, Saki is completely against this until they really threaten her mother, a repeat violent offender herself who is in jail.
With her assent, she’s given an upgraded yo-yo that contains a hidden section where her special badge is located, something that only a few highly placed police officers will know what it means. Her mission is very classified, so most won’t know she’s actually working for the police. So her return to her old school, where some trouble is definitely cropping up, is simply seen as her return from the reformatory, something that was not expected.
In the time since she left the school, a trio of girls have taken control of things, all under the eldest sisters plan. The girls are all the daughters of Gozo Mizuchi, one of the bigger underworld types whose got his fingers in all sorts of legitimate businesses. His eldest, Remi, is the blonde vixen who always appears above everything and is the one with the real plan. The middle daughter Emi is a cash freak, so she’s been using her skills at the school to build a group of thugs to bully money out of the students. Emi’s the youngest, and her eye is towards adoration, which is why her skill of being able to copy paintings comes in hand and has won her awards. Unfortunately, she has no real skills to create her own masterworks.
The school has suffered recently as two busses of students who were on a field trip ended up crashing over the edge of a ravine, killing all involved. What this caused to happen was to create a sizeable number of new openings into the school, which Gozo managed to get filled with children of wealthy business associates. And now his kids work their plans to manipulate and bully them out of money and to use their prestige to build their own. But with a family like that, there are plans within plans.
Saki’s return to school life is definitely different than her past. The time in the reformatory has changed her somewhat, though she’s still just as deadly an opponent as always as we come to find out. But this time around, it seems as if she’s got a bit of a softer side as she ends up with a few friends that I don’t think she’d have otherwise. The first is Junko, a very talented painter who she rescues prior to returning to school. The two become good friends with Junko providing some kind of calm balance to the upcoming insanity in Saki’s life. The other is Sampei, a young man who has been completely smitten by Saki and everything about her. He’s like a puppy with her for quite some time.
So Saki begins her detective work to find out what’s going on at this school and what is related to the deaths from the bus accident. Naturally, her instincts bring her right up against all three of the Mizuchi women, but she also finds some strange allies along the way. For the most part, the plot is all very predictable once all the pieces are in place, so it’s down to enjoying the action sequences and the overall choreography of the piece.
Sukeban Deka isn’t a bad show, but it’s definitely in the average category for the school violence genre. There’s definitely darker and more violent, which is to be expected as entertainment has changed considerably since 1991, and there’s also far worse than this. Fans of this show will be happy overall with the release and that it wasn’t left to languish in the catalog. Those who haven’t seen it before are likely better served with a rental.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: C-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: March 11th, 2003
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.