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Recently seen movies #132

June 1, 2009

Sukeban Deka: The Movie (Japan, 1987) – 3/5

It’s ironic that Sukeban Deka’s movie versions have been widely distributed in the west, while the TV shows – that are essential for understanding the films – have never been brought outside Asia. On the other hand, yo-yo armed schoolgirls that are never thoroughly introduced to the viewer, and references to events that are never explained, will probably offer an enjoyably confusing experience for first timers. This is how most Japanese cult movies are advertised in the western market anyway.

In certain ways Sukeban Deka: The Movie could indeed be a more rewarding experience for new viewers. Hitting the theaters a few months after the closing of the second series, the film brings together the old cast (Minamino, Yoshizawa and Sagara) and adds Yui Asaka from the third series. Unfortunately much of the potential is wasted. Minamino dominates the screen at the expense of other actors. The television show’s best character, sukeban Okyo, played by the wonderful Haruko Sagara, doesn’t get much room, and even her hair is wrong. The same applies for Yoshizawa, and one can only wonder what was the reason for including Asaka. Her character features a profile completely different from that of the Sukeban Deka II fighters, but this delicious opportunity for comparison is largely ignored.

Nevertheless, the film version is by no means a bad movie. It just doesn’t compare well against the television shows which count among the most iconic ever made. The film is more over-the-top and less effective. However, it is a good amount of fun and just seeing the familiar cast together again is wonderful. There’s also many fun references and jokes like the Sukeban Deka author Shinji Wada in a cameo role, and a new super yo-yo that is so powerful that Saki must use an armor to prevent it from crushing her own chest. Ichiro Nitta’s soundtrack is once again cool, and Minamino’s new theme song is great. Putting comparisons aside, Sukeban Deka is an enjoyable film on its own.

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