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Manga / Sukeban Deka

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Sukeban Deka ("Delinquent Girl Detective") is an action/mystery Shōjo manga by Shinji Wada.

Our heroine, Saki Asamiya, is an incarcerated juvenile delinquent whose mother is an incarcerated criminal herself. One day, Saki is recruited from prison by the government and is allowed freedom if she agrees to become an undercover cop for them. She very reluctantly complies and, with her Killer Yo-Yo, is sent to curb crime activity in high schools across the country.

The manga was serialized in Hana to Yume from 1975 to 1982, and compiled into 22 volumes. It was adapted as three live-action series from 1985 to 1987 (along with two feature films) that became a ratings phenomenon in Japan. It also received a Truer to the Text OVA in 1992, and a third feature film came out in 2006 (released stateside as Yo-Yo Girl Cop).

Nearly a decade after Wada's passing in 2011, two new Manga series based off Sukeban Deka are currently being serialized on monthly magazine Princess:The Sukeban Deka Who Leapt Through Time (Toki wo Kakeru Sukeban Deka), and Re:Sukeban Deka. The former takes place in the the present while the latter is a remake of the original story. About seven months later in the same year, a third Sukeban Deka Manga Spin-off titled Sukeban Deka Pretend has started serialization in the same Magazine as the aforementioned spin-offs.

The series takes place in a shared universe with other works by Wada, most notably Dai Tobo, Super Girl Asuka and Kaito Amaryllis, the latter of which serves as a sequel of sorts to Sukeban Deka.

This work features examples of:

  • Action Girl: Saki is recruited from prison by the government and is allowed freedom if she agrees to become an undercover cop for them. She complies, and with her Killer Yo-Yo, is sent to curb crime activity in high schools across the country.
  • Adapted Out: Saki's sister Miyuki and the storyline in which Remi impersonates her (and kills Sanpei) were not included in the TV series.
  • Animal Motif: The Mizuchi sisters are heavily associated with snakes.
  • Anyone Can Die: In the manga, at least. The poor girl who Saki considers to be a little sister? Dead. The girl's mother? Dead. The boy who has a crush on Saki? Dead. Saki's actual little sister? Dead. Saki's mother? Dead. Saki's friends? Dead. This doesn't just apply to major characters, however. Quite a few villains prove that they Would Hurt a Child.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: In the manga and OVA, where Saki and her opponents often bust very high-flying moves.
  • Attempted Rape: When Junko meets Saki for the first time in the OVA, she needs help because some guys try to rape her.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Mizuchis, notably Ayumi and especially Remi.
  • Badass Biker: Saki likes to get around using a motorcycle if she can get away with it… or even if she can't (she once literally drove her bike into Mizuchi Manor). In all three TV series, she rode Kawasaki bikes.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Remi Mizuchi; she seems to be The Ojou in Ojou Ringlets, and seems like the White Sheep of the family compared to her Obviously Evil siblings. Then, in the OVA she suddenly leaps into full-fledged terrorism, and she becomes a major recurring villain in the manga.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • One of Remi's plans was to brainwash the students of Takanoha High. One of them is programmed to murder Emi and Gozo, and then shoots herself in the head.
    • Saki herself was brainwashed by the bad guys of a manga arc to believe she was Natsuki Komatsuzaki, the dead daughter of an important family. She snapped by herself at the end of the story.
  • Break the Cutie: Junko. Good God, Junko.
  • Bribe Backfire: When a student tries to bribe Principal Numa, he gets a punch in the face.
  • Butt-Monkey: Sampei.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Mizuchi clan is made up of these, especially Remi. Remi never goes on rants defending her hideous actions or her quest to dominate the world as anything but because she's pure evil, and even freely admits to being completely nuts.
    Saki: You're completely mad!
    Remi: Mad? Why yes, I am mad!
  • The Chessmaster: Gozo Mizuchi tries to be this, but Remi far outshines him in that category.
  • Child by Rape: Subverted. In the TV series Saki's mother, Natsu, was raped by Gozo Mizuchi. Gozo claims Saki is his daughter. Natsu, however, refutes his claim stating Saki's real father was her husband.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the OVA, Saki makes a point in her alliance with Vice-Principal Numa by showing him her yo-yo badge, expecting him to be shocked as a police chief was earlier in the episode. However, Numa instead becomes confused and asks her if it is a toy badge.
  • The Coup: In the first movie, Big Bad Hattori was considered death after a failed coup d'etat against the Japanese government. The movie's plot is about his preparations for a second try.
  • Creator Cameo: In the first movie, Shinji Wada, creator of the Sukeban Deka Manga had a cameo as yo-yo seller.
  • Crossover: Shinji Wada did a doujin with Kaoru Shintani that was a crossover between this series and Shintani's Desert Rose. There's also a crossover with Suzue Miuchi's Glass Mask (Which started being serialized on the same issue as Sukeban Deka), the chapter debuted on 12th issue of Hana to Yume 1977. It later got included on the 6th Volume of Sukeban Deka.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Yumika Daimon's death is pretty brutal even by the standards of this series. Her pet dog contracts rabies and rips open her shoulder, and she breaks its neck with her bare hands while it's still biting her. She gets immediate surgery for her shoulder, but that delayed getting the necessary rabies shots and she spent two weeks in agony before the disease finally killed her.
  • Darker and Edgier: Zigzagged regarding the OVA and the manga. The OVA softens some areas of the struggle between Saki and the Mizuchis but makes some areas much worse.
    • The G-Plan discussed in the manga where the sisters orchestrate the deaths of many of their classmates is limited to two buses of students in the OVA, but the bus crash is deliberately shown, as is the horror in most of the students as they plummet to their deaths.
    • Junko's mother is still alive in the manga and she has the support of the art teacher at Takanoha. Her mother is murdered by the Mizuchis to keep her quiet, the art teacher is forced to destroy Junko's esteem at the cost of his daughter's health, Junko loses everything and is called a horrible person when she calls fraud upon seeing Emi Mizuchi win with a painting Junko created, and is then murdered when one of Ayumi's snakes bites her on the neck and she plummets to her death. And before that, because she had no money but wanted to repay Saki's kindness, made money by allowing a man to sleep with her. In the OVA her mother is already dead and the art teacher is still supportive. Emi has her paintings stolen, and it is implied Remi specifically orchestrated Junko's abduction, where she was then drugged, tortured, and possibly raped for over a week before she was finally killed.
    • Emi and Gozo are killed by Remi's masked subordinates in the manga, whereas the OVA has Remi using one of her brainwashed followers, who then shoots herself in the head right in front of Saki and the others.
  • Delinquents: The series is called Sukeban Deka.
  • Designated Victim: Junko. However, in the beginning, when she's attacked by a group of thugs and Saki shows up, Junko actually screams at Saki to get away while she can instead of begging for help. After she's kidnapped and tortured for over a week, she's weakly wondering when Saki will come to save her. Saki is too late, however.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Ayumi Mizuchi in the OVA. The primary conflict was, at first, Saki against Ayumi and her hold on the school. However, Saki soon realizes that Remi herself was the main threat after Saki witnesses Ayumi die from a rigged shotgun, then the deaths of Emi and Gozo at the hands of a brainwashed young woman who then kills herself.
  • The Ditz: The third Saki's (Yui Kazama) personality is quite ditzy.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: In the manga, after being rejected too many times by Saki, Sanpei starts developing feelings for her sister Miyuki (slightly subverted because they are similar-looking, not identical twins). Unfortunately, this leads to his death when Remi impersonates her.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the pilot of the manga, it was implied Saki would return to prison after the chapter’s case. Only later it was revealed the Sukeban Deka was meant to be a regular agent and not a one-shot job.
  • Escape Artist: In the manga there was Miyako Hidori, dubbed "Cassowary," a teenage escape artist who's been in and out of over 18 different reform schools and got herself sent to Saki's old reform school looking for prospective customers to bust out.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": In the live-action series, every subsequent incarnation of "Saki Asamiya" is mostly referred to by her codename. The exception is Yui Kazama from Sukeban Deka III, who was mostly referred to by her real name. Conversely, the 2006 film goes to the extent not to mention at all the fourth Saki's name aside from the initial K.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Remi, who in the beginning is shown as a rich but nice girl who gives roses to her adoring female fans.
  • Evil All Along: Cassowary and Kyoko Himuro in the manga.
  • Eviler than Thou: Remi in contrast to her already messed-up siblings and father.
  • Evil Laugh: By the Mizuchi sisters, often combined with Noblewoman's Laugh or Laughing Mad
  • Evil Overlooker: Remi on the OVA-cover
  • Facial Horror: Saki's mother Natsu once scarred her own face with acid as part of a gambit to avoid capture by the police. Eri Hanabusa of "Cinderella's Counterattack" gets most of her face, including her nose and right eye, destroyed by a thug who mistook her for Kyoko Himuro. Like Kyoko arranged.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Mizuchi family.
  • The Film of the Series: Two, plus another which is not the film to any of the series, but is connected to one of them.
  • For the Evulz: The Mizuchi Family are never given a reason as to how they became so twisted or why, they just are.
  • Game Face: When Remi gets into a battle with Saki in the OVA, any prettiness she may have had is replaced with a sheer Ax-Crazy Cheshire Cat Grin.
  • Gecko Ending: The OVA, where Saki defeats the Mizuchi sisters much faster than in the manga or TV series. In this case, it is not due to overtaking the manga, but in order to be a Pragmatic Adaptation.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: In the manga and OVA, Remi's pupils usually completely fill out her eyes (because, you know, she's beautiful and this is a shojo manga). But when her pupils narrow down to small little dots you know you should run for your life.
  • Greed: Ayumi Mizuchi's motivation is her love of money.
  • Hammerspace Hair: In the OVA, Saki keeps her yo-yo in her hair when she is arrested. Amazingly, it is played seriously.
  • Heroic Lineage: A bit averted. Sure in the third movie, there is a delinquent Saki. But this time, her origins lie with her mom who is the first Saki Asamiya.
  • Honour Among Thieves: Ayumi turns to her sisters for help in dealing with Saki. Emi blows her off and Remi gives her a shotgun. Which blows up in her face and kills her.
  • Honour Before Reason: In the OVA, Remi suggests that Ayumi hire someone to take care of Saki. Ayumi refuses to use her money on "that bitch." So Remi gives her a shotgun to use on Saki. Which she rigged to blow up in Ayumi's face, blowing off her fingers and killing her.
  • Important Haircut: In the manga and OVA, Saki rejects the advances of Sanpei by saying that she hates guys with long hair. In the response, the boy shaves himself bald. He doesn't graduate to love interest, but he does become one of Saki's allies. In the manga he does it offscreen, but in the OVA, he pulls out an electric razor and shaves his head right there on the spot in front of her.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Not only Killer Yo Yos are used, but also other improbable weapons, such as kendama, knitting wool or origami cranes.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Saki tells the bad guys what unforgivable things they have done.
  • It Runs in the Family: Discussed during Saki and Remi's duel. After Saki calls Remi insane, Remi goes on a rant exclaiming she's a woman who inherited "crazy blood" much as Saki did. Remi reveals she knows everything about Saki's mother Natsu, who went to jail for murdering her husband (Saki's father) and is reported to be completely mad. Remi exclaims the only reason Saki is able to fight her is because they both have the blood of insane people flowing through them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Saki in the manga and OVA. She's much nicer in the TV series.
  • Killer Yo-Yo: Saki's trademark weapon (every incarnation). It's also her badge. While this series wasn't the first to use this trope, it very much codified it, especially in Japan.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Saki in all versions.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: At the first movie's end, a high-ranking member of the Japanese government, who supported a failed Coup D Etat, kills himself with a gun which was left behind by the Dark Inspector.
  • Legacy Character: Ultimately, "Saki" is this in the TV series, with Saki being replaced by Yoko Godai, who is in turn replaced by Yui Kazama. Yoko and Yui use "Saki Asamiya" as a codename. In the Yo-Yo Girl Cop, it is then inherited by a girl only named K who is actually Saki's daughter.
  • Lighter and Softer: The TV series, where the darkest moments of the manga are excised and some character are given more heroic personalities.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Three seasons (which due to different lead actresses might as well be separate series), three movies.
  • Mad Artist: Emi Mizuchi. More in the case that, while her artwork is nothing extreme, Emi herself is a psychopath who suffers from delusions of grandeur.
  • Missing Mom: For a few characters, but not Saki Asamiya IV.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Saki receives one from Ayumi's Four Kings early in the OVA, but only because she held back due to the realization that Remi Mizuchi was analyzing her moves from afar. During their second bout, Saki easily hands the Four Kings their respective asses and almost kills Ayumi, humiliating her in front of her followers and shattering Ayumi's hold on them.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In the OVA, during the battle between Saki and Remi, Saki screams "You're Insane!" to Remi. Remi admits Saki is right, but espouses a Hannibal Lecture about Saki's mother having killed her father, meaning that Saki herself has "crazy" blood in her.
    Remi: Insane? Maybe so, but you're a fine one to talk about madness!
  • Only in It for the Money: Ayumi Mizuchi's motivation to do anything is to get more money.
  • Only Known by Initials: In the 2006 movie, Saki's original name is never given aside from the initial K. It might or might not be meant to be Kei, the letter's sound.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Saki is just an average-to-thin teenage girl (albeit a bit taller than average) but she can kick ass. In the TV series, even in her non-dominant left hand, Saki’s grip strength shocked the police technician in task of building her yo-yo weapon.
  • Prone to Tears: Junko Yuina's character design particularly in the OVA looks about to cry all the time.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Remi. She's both a psycho and a lesbian, to the point where her sisters call her a lesbo and state that Remi's apparent ultimate goal is to become the headmaster of their highschool so she can prey on the innocent highschool girls, year after year after year. Remi does not deny it.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Ayumi Mizuchi's Four Kings.
  • Raised by Wolves: Subverted. In the manga, the Mizuchi sisters were raised around snakes since they were little, which is why they have such an affinity for them and vice versa.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr. Numa is not swayed by the money or prestige that his students come from. Despite his feelings of animosity with Saki, he didn't want her sent to a reformatory but felt she left him no choice, and sides with her to bring the Mizuchis down because he considers them far worse.
  • Revenge: Ayumi's motivation against Saki Asamiya, for disrupting her cash flow and humiliating her in front of her followers.
  • Sailor Fuku: Saki's school uniform
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Numa punches one of his students in the face for implying that he'd be bribed to falsify the student's grades, like all of the other teachers had done with the other rich students who'd transferred into Takanoha High according to the Mizuchis' G-Plan.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: How the rock-stupid scions of Japan's elite act at Takanoha, especially after the change in leadership (see above). In the first TV series, a couple of Saki's early missions send her to bust up other high schools where rich parents do the same thing.
    • Good-Guy Example – Sanpei also comes from a really wealthy family, and while he mostly offers to throw his money around to make Saki happy and get her to like him, he's not above using connections to break into their school after hours and steal confidential student files for her.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: This is basically Gozo Mizuchi's M.O.
  • Shopping Montage: In episode 23 of season 2, Saki is searching for a dress.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In one episode, there's Dragon Ball on TV.
    • The third season of the live action series had mentor characters called Obiwan, Yoda and Reia. Now that's subtle.
    • In the decades since its debut, it has often received shout-outs by other shows. Most recognizable is perhaps Kill la Kill, which begins with a similar premise - heroic delinquent bringing a corrupt academy to justice through gratuitous violence.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Saki, as expected from a delinquent.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Emi Mizuchi suffers from delusions of grandeur.
  • Smoking Is Cool: By Saki in the manga.
  • Smug Snake: The Mizuchi Sisters take turns outdoing one another in who can be the smuggest. Remi wins.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Sanpei, Junko, Ayumi, and Emi all live in the live action series, while they die in the manga (the latter three die in the OVA as well). Also, Saki herself dies in the manga, but the TV series leaves it ambiguous, and the Yo-Yo Girl Cop movie ultimately reveals she is alive.
  • Stern Teacher: Vice-Principal Juuzo Numa.
  • Teen Superspy: Saki is recruited from prison by the government and is allowed freedom if she agrees to become an undercover cop for them. She complies, and with her Killer Yo-Yo, is sent to curb crime activity in high schools across the country.
  • Terrible Trio: The Mizuchi Sisters. Until Remi murders Emi and Ayumi by proxy.
  • The Hero Dies: Both Saki and Jin die in the final chapter of the manga.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Saki's catchphrase is "Omaera, Yurusansezore!" (You Won't Be Forgiven!)
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Junko. In Saki's words, she's "so innocent."
  • Would Hurt a Child: In the manga, Remi blackmails the art teacher at Takanoha High to stop encouraging Junko by threatening his young daughter's well-being.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Like the average manga of The '80s, it contains references to pro-wrestling. In the first OVA, Saki takes out two mooks with a double lariat.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Saki in the manga & OVA is a tall, lithe, 17-year-old with pink hair. Saki in the live action is shorter, younger (16), wider, with obviously Japanese features and black hair. When seen side by side they look nothing alike.
  • You're Insane!: Said by Saki to Remi. Subverted because Remi totally agrees with her.