Earlier this month, I took a break from the standard talk about comics for the evening to review 1987’s Sukeban Deka, which translates to the absolutely awesome title of Juvenile Delinquent Girl Detective. Due largely to the fact that it features a girl taking down a helicopter and battling a cyborg with the use of a yo-yo, Sukeban Deka has stood as the finest toy-based Japanese Schoolgirl combat film ever produced, but finally, after two decades of anticipation, its latest sequel has finally been released.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Yo-Yo Girl Cop.
Yes, it’s Yo-Yo Girl Cop, and despite the fact that the box art for the movie includes both explosions and a quote that praises it with the name of the movie franchise that gave us the concept of Tokyo Drifting, it’s actually not as good as the previous installment. A lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s a movie about a schoolgirl fighting crime with a yo-yo (which is awesome) that has a plot revolving largely around teen suicide (which is not), thus making for a largely schizophrenic movie that doesn’t quite know what the hell it’s doing half the time.
There are, however, some truly awesome bits.
The whole thing kicks off twenty years after the events of Sukeban Deka, opening with a schoolgirl strapped into a bomb blowing herself up in the middle of a busy street in Shibuya. So yeah, it starts things off just a shade dark for my tastes.
Cut to the opening credits, and we’ve got a reasonable Amanda Waller simulacrum leading a young girl (Aya Matsuura) in a straitjacket into a dimly lit Gitmo-esque facility where she’s put into a cage made of chicken wire, presumably so she won’t throw any bottles at the band.
It seems the young lady–whose name is the imaginative “K,” at least for the duration of the next three scenes–is being deported from the far-off land of New York City for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, with equally murky charges being brought up against her mother for alleged spying. As it turns out, her mom’s actually the original Sukeban Deka (played here by Yuki Saito, the actress who played the original on TV), so a friendly detective named Kira offers her a deal: The Japanese government will offer a plea bargain to the Americans to free her mother if she goes undercover in the reactivated Sukeban Deka program.
Dubious legality aside, you’ve probably already figured out that she agrees… but not before she escapes from her straightjacket and busts out of the rage cage, a backflip-ridden process that was too dimly lit to grab any good screenshots. Sorry.
Anyway, once they’ve got her chained up in the steel cage–which continues the theme of bondage that runs through this movie so much that it transcends subtext and just becomes actual text–they give her the briefing, preparing her to be sent into one of the deadliest high school environments in the entire country.
Sadly, it’s still not Cromartie, which is a real shame, since the kind of unexplained phenomena that plague that school would be the perfect target for a yo-yo weilding juvenile delinquent. It is, instead, Seisen Academy which, thanks to a website named after the Enola Gay that functions like an profoundly more emo Anarchist Cookbook, has become a hotbed of suburban suicide bombers. And to make matters worse, after the death of the previous agent (the girl who gets blown up in the opening sequence), the website’s recently started a 72-hour countdown, so K’s assigned to go undercover, find out what the hell’s going on, and put a stop to it.
To go through that one more time: They’re sending in a completely untrained operative into a hostile environment where a previous agent’s cover has already been blown, and giving her a three-day time limit to stop “something.” That may seem like a completely bat-shit insane way to run a police force, but like Kira says, “The only one who can solve a teenage case…”
Please note that K buys that line of thinking about as much as I do.
But eventually, they finally come to an agreement. Thus, she gets her equipment from Inspector Awesome Shades…
…straps her yo-yo to her thigh in a garter holster…
…and heads off to her new school as Saki Asamiya, the codename used by all the Sukebans Deka.
Incidentally, they also give her the traditional blue sailor-style uniform worn by the other girls, which is pretty remarkably different from the uniform that’s actually worn at Seisen Academy. Because, y’know, you want your covert operatives to stick out as much as humanly possible. It makes their job way easier.
Once at school, Saki quickly ingratiates herself with her classmates:
This is immediately followed by an encounter with local Mean Girl Reika (Rika Ishikawa) and her crew of flunkies…
…who get their kicks bullying “fashion retard” Tae (Yui Okada), to the point where they throw her entire desk off a balcony, narrowly missing Saki’s head.
This aggression, as the Dude says, will not stand, man, which leads Saki to pretty much cockpunch her entire class.
There is also kicking.
What follow is, aside from the part where Saki brains herself with her own yo-yo while chasing down a member of the chemistry club, incredibly uninteresting, so I’m just going to do my best to sum up.
As it turns out, Tae was involved with a fellow student who used the screen-name “Romeo” last year while she used “Juliet” for herself. The catch, however, is that “Romeo” was another girl, which marks what is possibly the first time a lesbian affair between two Japanese schoolgirls has been this monumentally boring. Anyway, like the ones from the Baz Luhrmann movie, this Romeo and Juliet were marked for tragedy, and after she was mopped half to death by upperclassmen (which is only slightly more surreal than it sounds), Romeo–or Kotomi (Erika Miyoshi) decided it’d be a good idea to blow herself up. She lives, but is catatonic in a hospital, continuing the absolute laff-riot that is Yo-Yo Girl Cop.
To make a long story short (too late!), Kotomi and Tae had a website for bullied kids with the eye-rolling name “Verona,” but after she blows herself up, the website’s shut down and replaced with Enola Gay (remember Enola Gay from like three subplots ago?), complete with a new, far more sinister Romeo that advises kids to blow themselves up, and he’s now organizing something pretty horrendous.
He’s also the school janitor, and it turns out that Reika is his sidekick. And further confusing matters is the fact that the mass suicide he’s orchestrating is all just a red herring: Just like Hans Gruber, he’s just creating a distraction while he pulls off a robbery elsewhere.
Still with me? Okay, good, because this is where it gets awesome, because this is where Saki puts on her crazy leather super-hero outfit that still has the crazy schoolgirl-uniform neckerchief and goes to fight the bad guys. Which means it’s time for Yo-Yo Girl Cop… versus Evil Yo-Yo Girl Cop!
Yes, it’s Reika, and it turns out she was a plant by Japan’s counter-terrorist secret police gone rogue, and she’s got a secret weapon yo-yo of her own that even Saki’s can’t match. Ladies and gentlemen… the dreaded Duncan Butterfly!
What follows is about four minutes of unmitigated radness, as Saki and Reika fight using a combination of karate kicks and Matrix-dodging each other’s yo-yos, complete with a scene where Saki is in imminent danger of being killed by a razor-bladed yo-yo swinging like a pendulum while she is trapped under a conveiently toppled pile of lead pipes.
It is, in short, the entire reason this movie was made.
But sadly, it can’t last, and even the following scene where Saki and her yo-yo battle Romeo and his katana can’t quite live up to it. Regardless, Saki eventually beats up enough people that it all works out okay, and Romeo ends up blowing himself up after removing a wig that he’s been inexplicably wearing for the entire movie up to that point.
There is one last high point, though, right before Saki takes on Romeo’s gang of thugs, where she gives what may in fact be the most ridiculous Magical Girl Action Challenge speech ever committed to film:
From that wounded city, New York…
For some strange karma, now working for the cops.
I’d sworn I’d go it alone,
But for a friend I met by chance.
For a limited time only, Special Agent!
And in the name of the Moon, she will punish you!