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Debutante Detective Corps

When someone becomes a fan of a particular studio, they’ll begin the process of scouring the company’s entire catalogue. Eventually something will happen that reminds the person that the people working for said studio are indeed mortal. There it will be, an absolute dud of an anime that people will do their best to cast from their minds. How could a studio with such an excellent pedigree make such an total stinker? Did they have a bunch of interns working on it? Was everyone sick during production? Or was it just a cynical cash grab to pay for other shows that they actually cared about? Answers to those questions will forever remain a mystery.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll be looking at Gainax. They have quite the reputation thanks in no small part to Evangelion, but they’ve done plenty of other quality anime over the years like Otaku no Video, Gunbuster, and FLCL. That being said, they’ve also put out some utterly terrible shows, not the least of which being the 30 minute OVA Debutante Detective Corps.

This is a show that features five presumably extremely well of girls going to a high school for rich kids. Each of these girls has their own specialty like diffusing bombs, disguise, or straight up fighting, and they’re clearly meant to be some sort of crime fighting ensemble a la Charlie’s Angels. Unfortunately, what they wind up being is extremely irritating. What little character development that they get seems to lean toward making them a bit on the sassy side, or obnoxiously confident. One has to wonder if it would have been better to not even try to flesh out the characters and instead put a stronger emphasis on action, because with only a half hour to play around with there isn’t a lot of time to get things done.

Things start off with an introduction of the girls as they show up one by one to commencement ceremonies for the new school year. For whatever reason, each makes a more spectacular appearance than the one before. By the time this is done, the show is already over a quarter done. As such, the audience gets a rushed plot that some highly trained criminals have broken out of prison and are hunting the girls down in order to kill them. From there, the young ladies have to devise a plan to stop them. As luck would have it, the criminals figure out the girls are at school, and what should have been a plan for the girls to deal with them turns into 15 minutes of ad hoc crisis management before things neatly wrap up and the credits roll.

It isn’t so much that the story is complete garbage. There’s a lot of it that is just dumb, but a lot more makes sense logically; however, it’s all extremely boring. People are going to have a tough time shaking the sense that they’re wasting their time watching Debutante Detective Corps more than anything. The show is just gobbling up time without being at all engaging.

Moreover, the art is not at all appealing. The girls all have a weird mix of sharp and rounded features that feel like a poorly thought out mish mash of competing character design styles that were popular at the time. It almost feels like the artists just spun a wheel every time they had to decide on an art style for every feature of these girls. The art would have been a lot better if the studio just picked a specific art style and stuck with it. Oddly enough, this is what they did with every other character on the show. Perhaps they wanted the girls to stand out, in which case mission accomplished. Unfortunately, they do this because of how bad they look.

While so much of this show is complete garbage, it's interesting to note that it was an early directorial project for Akiyuki Shinbo who, many years later, would go on to reap a great deal of acclaim for his work directing Peulla Magi Madoka Magika.

Debutante Detective Corp is an OVA for fans of Gainax who want to see how bad things can get for the studio when they’re having an off day. There really isn’t anything to actually enjoy here. Anyone else who stumbles across this is better off just passing right by. This show is an anime car wreck for rubberneckers only.

- IroIro
April 12, 2019

More Crime Fighting Anime We've Discussed:

- Dominion Tank Police Review
- Tokyo Babylon Review

Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
Studio: Studio 4C / Gainax
Released: 1996
Episodes: 1

Debutante Detective Corps Image 1
Cover Art

Debutante Detective Corps Image 2
The girls have strange designs compared to other characters

Debutante Detective Corps Image 3
Each girl has their own stats apparently

Debutante Detective Corps Image 4
Nothing spells danger like random acts of fighter jet