Debutant Detective Corps (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, January 16, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2005
What They Say
They're sweet, petite, elite - and caught in the crosshairs of a manic escaped convict. So the girls use their skills in electronics, disguises, martial arts, advanced weaponry and power flirting, to prove the bank isn't the only place they're endowed. Buyer beware, it's a non-stop whirlwind of C-4 and D-cups!
For the five richest daughters in Japan, every day must be different but they didn't expect their first day in high school to start with their lives threatened.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for this release is pretty active in general with lots of action sequences throughout that add to the wide field plus a good deal of semi-directional voices from the five girls as they're often spread across the screen at once. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with either language track during regular playback.
Originally released to video back in 1996, the transfer for this OVA looks quite good and brings home some of what makes traditionally animated shows seem so much more rich and alive than a lot of the digital shows. There's a great flow of detail and colors throughout this though the general palette isn't terribly vibrant or bright but with so many different characters there's a good range of them. The maintain a solid feel throughout the show with only a few instances of truly noticeable aliasing going on but otherwise a transfer free of cross coloration. Colors maintain their solid look without blocking or breaking up as do the darker colors and the blacks.
Providing for a good looking if a bit busy looking cover, the artwork here showcases all five of the girls in great detail that also really highlight the feel of character designs for OVAs from the 90's. Each of them looks great and has plenty of detail and attention paid to them without having an overly vibrant set of colors used on them. It's an attractive enough cover though you do wish a few of them smiled a bit more. The back cover goes for a Charlie's Angels angle with a silhouette of the girls set next to a basic summary of the shows premise. A couple of shots from the show bring out the animation style nicely and the rest of the cover is given over to the technical and production information. The insert replicates the front cover but without the corporate logos or the goofy taglines while the reverse side provides more shots from the show and a scattershot layout of the discs meager features.
The main menu is a terribly simple piece with a close-up shot of just four of the girls with unhappy expressions across their faces with a brief loop of action instrumental music tied to it from the opening sequence. The selections are lined along the bottom with the actual play selection in the upper right corner for some reason. Since there's pretty much nothing here but the show, it's very easy to navigate and problem free. The disc did correctly read our players language presets as well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As is the problem when dealing with a number of back catalog releases, you invariably get those titles that only released one OVA and never anything more. These were easy to deal with back in the 90's when that's what you'd put out on average for an OVA release and then if nothing else was ever made you didn't really have a problem. And of course, we all paid through the nose for it because that was the only way to do things back then. When it comes to the DVD release of these things, it's a bit more awkward but most of the companies who have them have found a decent price point range, particularly since the VHS releases are now so out of print that they may actually be hard to find.
Debutante Detective Corps is one of these titles as it's an OVA that barely runs thirty minutes in length and never had a follow-up to it. The story is fairly simple but amusing as it focuses on five young women who are starting their freshman year in high school at an all-girls academy. Each of them arrives in their own unique way as they're all the daughters of very well to do parents whose combined wealth is equal to the GNP of Japan. From arriving on motorcycles, which obviously aren't allowed, to limousines and then an all police escort, it's capped off with a helicopter as the grandest of entrances. When you've got this much wealth, these kinds of things seem normal. And in a way, every day is completely different from how normal people live, but for these girls their first day of school becomes even stranger.
As it turns out, a criminal has escaped from prison and is threatening to kill them which leads to all five of them being kept in a special guest room in the academy. The detective on the scene intends to not let anything happen to them since they're such valuable citizens but he doesn't know what he's up against. The five have decided that they're going to take matters into their own hands since they're old enough now and the police are probably incompetent so they manipulate things to remove him and then each of them showcase their specialties in their search for the guy and his gang that are after them.
As a thirty minute show, it's a fairly forgettable piece but still enjoyable while watching it. The five girls are all very simple stereotypes and they barely reference each other by name, so the most you really get is their quick bio when it flashes up on the screen when each of them was first introduced. This actually makes it easier to not connect much with the minimal material and instead just treat it as a mild piece of fanservice – fanservice in terms of some light skin, lots of guns and just plain fighting/destruction sequences. This isn't deep, it's not terribly over the top nor is it all that memorable. But while watching it, there are certainly a couple of chuckles and some nicely animated areas that again remind why some areas of traditional animation still haven't been captured in the digital age. But it is all terribly forgettable when it's over.
While it's not a real winner, we're glad that yet another missing link in the ADV back catalog has finally come out. Debutante Detective Corps is a harmless piece of fluff that's got a few fun moments but avoids becoming truly awful by not running for more than it should. The thirty minutes we do get here is nicely self-contained and doesn't tax the viewer or feel like it should be over sooner than it is. Mostly forgettable, Debutante Detective Corps is simply mediocre and is reflective of many of the OVA's from the mid to late 90's that helped essentially bury that kind of release.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Debutant Detective Corps