Debutante Detective Corps

The five richest young women in Japan all go to the same ultra-elite private school. Some serial killers bust out of prison and issue a death threat against the group. Turns out these kids are also experts in all sorts of skills necessary to take down a pack of murderers threatening to blow up their school and kill everyone inside in order to get to their targets.

The scene introducing the gang pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this little OVA. It’s a scene of escalating absurdity, as each of them arrive at their school’s opening day ceremony. The first girl crashes through the front doors on a motorcycle and tosses the principal her helmet. The next arrives on a bike, which doesn’t seem to be a point of escalation at first until you see that she speeds past a sports car on the highway to get there. The third arrives in a limo which she orders to crash through the same hole made by the motorcycle. The fourth parachutes in via a military helicopter that promptly self-destructs after she exists. The final one arrives with a massive police escort, who all line up like knights servicing a princess.

It’s easily the best part of the OVA, as it details these girls personalities perfectly in a short amount of time while also delivering on some pretty good sight gags. Thankfully it isn’t a case where it’s the ONLY interesting thing about it.

The girls are pretty cool. A lot of them adhere to stereotypes, but they also break a few along the way. The bike-riding one is the most obvious type, as she’s the daughter of a Chinese merchant and is also the requisite martial artist type. She even gets a classic “throws off her weights to unleash her REAL power” moment when she fights one of the crooks. The blonde with the helicopter is a descendant of the Russian Romanov dynasty, and she’s the one with all the military training. She’s a sniper to boot, although her little moment involves sniping one of the baddies with a sticky gum bullet rather than live rounds. The limo-riding glasses girl sounds like your classic rich girl type when you first hear her, but the fact that she’s the one with GLASSES breaks that stereotype. She’s also a master of disguise who can whip up outfits and make-up on the fly and who can modulate her voice to sound like anyone. It’s an odd mix of traits you’d normally not see put together in this sort of anime, so that’s pretty refreshing. The leader of the group, the aforementioned “princess,” IS the dainty rich girl type, but she’s also a psychic who can manipulate things with her mind. She takes down a fighter jet by taking over its controls with her mind powers. Motorcycle girl is the only one who doesn’t really have a “thing,” except for the fact that she sees right through her older sister’s (psychic girl) plot: She hired these goons so as to force the girls to work together and form the titular “Detective Corps.” So I guess her talent is to be the only one who’s actually a detective? At the very least she’s the only one with a lick of common sense and rationality. You always need the straight man, I guess.

There really isn’t a whole lot to this one other than introducing a bunch of wacky characters and having them do STUFF to introduce them to the audience. The fight between them and the crooks is pretty cool. I especially like how the muscle-bound one seems to GROW with each passing frame of animation. He starts off as just a big, tall body builder type, but by the time his showdown with martial arts girl is over his HEAD is bigger than martial arts girl’s entire BODY.

Turns out this was one of the first things Akiyuki Shinbo directed. He’s the director of some fairly major series from the past 10 years or so, like the Madoka and Monogatari series. I’m not too into either of those, but I REALLY like some of his other stuff (Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei is a personal favorite). This is still pretty early in his career, so his distinctive style isn’t really there, but this IS a pretty well made OVA. The character designs are very 90s, and the action is fairly well done. It doesn’t stand out visually, but it looks GOOD.

This is something that would have been cool to see more of, but it came along late in the history of OVAs AND it predates the late night anime boom that’d happen a few years later. Had this been a thing around 1999 I bet we’d have, like, three 13 episode series of this or something like that. But I also doubt such a lengthy run would be nearly as charming as this little one-off.

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