Yo-Yo Girl Cop (Review)
Yo-Yo Girl Cop
aka Sukeban Deka: Kôdo nêmu = Asamiya Saki
Aya Matsuura as Saki Asamiya
Rika Ishikawa as Reika Akiyama
Shunsuke Kubozuka as Jirou Kimura
Yui Okada as Taie Konno
Erika Miyoshi as Kotomi Kanda
Yuki Saito as Saki’s Mother
Riki Takeuchi as Kazutoshi Kira
Directed by Kenta Fukasaku
The power of my yo-yos cannot be denied. From their first appearance around 500 BC, the designs have improved and become more deadly. Now, they are the most powerful weapon in the world today, and may treaties limit their use on the battlefield. Wait, all that is a pack of lies, unless you live in the universe that Yo-Yo Girl Cop takes place in! Based on a manga named Sukeban Deka by Shinji Wada that became an 1980’s Japanese TV series, it’s now been updated for the 2006 audience. In fact, the movie is a continuation of the old TV series, as the previous Yo-Yo Girl Cop is the mother of the current titular character. There also has been three previous live action movies, some of which are on Amazon so hopefully I’ll see them at the rental places. Being that this is Japanese fantasy, this film is packed with Pop Idol girls, many of which beat the crap out of each other. This has the only yo-yo chick fight I have seen in a movie to date, so it stands out in that respect. The movie is a turn your brain off type movie, but also deals with the issue of bullying, which has become a controversial topic in Japan recently, as it has lead to a few suicides. Yo-yos are not a prevalent.
Pop Idol Aya Matsuura is Saki Asamiya, the Yo-Yo Girl Cop. Saki Asamiya is the code name for the special agent yo-yo girls, who are not police but a different unofficial agency. Aya Matsuura (nickname Ayaya) has many albums and even hosts a weekly radio show. Following Japanese famous girl tradition she has a bunch of photo books as well. Her personality style of bubbly and happy is a stark contrast to Saki Asamiya, who is a tough street girl. She pulls it off well, I am curious to see in her a happier role now. The evil yo-yo girl Reika Akiyama is played by Rika Ishikawa, another J-Pop star. She’s a former member of Morning Musume (along with 90% of the women in Japan) and currently in the female trio v-u-den when not hosting the TV show Hello! Morning, which is one of the shows of the Hello! Project, the megaconsortium behind Morning Mesume and 9000 other girl acts in Japan. She’s joined by fellow v-u-den member Yui Okada, who plays the bullied girl Taie Kono. Rika Ishikawa must have had lots of fun spending the entire film teasing her coworker Yui Okada, where else can you strap bombs to someone you work with and not get arrested? The last v-u-den member is Erika Miyoshi, who spends most of the film not talking as Kotomi Kanda. I hope it is not because she’s a terrible actress, but you can’t find out from just this film. This is all brought to us by Kenta Fukasaku, son of famous director Kinji Fukasaku, he finished up the abomination that was Battle Royale 2. This film is far less an embarrassment to cinema. The use of yo-yos allows such wonderful terms as yoing, yo-yoing, yoed, yo-yo attack, you got yoed, and yo-yo Joe!
In Japan, a girl is in trouble. Her hands are bound, and she’s obviously been beaten, as she limps through Tokyo Square. A bomb is strapped to her chest, and the countdown is approaching zero. Is she a lost Palestinian? NO! She explodes, and only a burnt yo-yo is left to bury. Begin James Bond Yo-Yo Credits! Yep, the entire graphic design of the opening credits is lifted from every James Bond film ever, except instead of naked girls, they are yo-yoing schoolgirls. It’s like iPod is advertising the iYo-Yo.
It’s New York, and sassy black female cop Sassy McSasser-Sassy has captured a fugitive girl, who has been beaten up and caged like Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. NYPD Sassy complains to the smoking Japanese fellow who has come to pick up the girl, named Kazutoshi Kira. He’s a chain smoker and walks with a limp due to an injury that’s because is revealed later. They reveal the mom is in jail for beating up a mugger, and she was in the US on an expired visa. The teenage girl sent 11 cops to the hospital when they tried to arrest her as well for visa violations. Somehow, NYPD Sassy knows the term “Sukeban” as all NYPD cops are well versed in Japanese slang for “high school age delinquent.” In the cage, the girl who will become Saki Asamiya (they never give her real name) uses Mel Gibson’s trick from Lethal Weapon 2 to escape from the straightjacket and get out of her cage. I am glad they didn’t have her remove the face of one of the guards to hide under. She makes it outside, but stops in her tracks when a lost little girl triggers memories of her own mom. This allows the police to catch up and recapture her, so beware of lost girls whenever you are escaping Japanese jail.
Kazutoshi Kira offers the girl a deal. She will work for his agency, infiltrating the Divine Springs Academy to find out about an underground website called Enola Gay. In return, the government will push for immunity for her mother on the assault charges. More information on Enola Gay: The website teaches explosives information, and now for some reason has a countdown timer on it, that will go off in three days. Basically, Enola Gay is an ironically named Anarchist’s Cookbook knockoff, like those old .txt files that used to be on BBSes about how to hack payphones and lawnmowers. I guess the bored 12 year old kids grew up and became bored 17 year old Japanese kids, and set up a website. Kazutoshi Kira reveals the girl who exploded earlier was their previous detective. We also find out that “Police can’t infiltrate sacred places like schools and home.” Police infiltrate schools all the time, but I’ll buy his statement about homes, as someone going undercover as Mom wouldn’t pan out. The girl at first refuses to do it, as she isn’t on good terms with her mother, until Kazutoshi Kira shows her video of her mom in jail, complete with cap and eye patch bandage (Colonel Tigh, Yo-Yo Girl Cop.) We know she will accept because the touching music starts to play, also her picture is on the movie poster. We have our Yo-yo Girl Cop!
Yo-yo Girl Cop is given a schoolgirl uniform, operating expenses, cell phone, student ID, and a yo-yo with a cherry crest (said to be the only ID used to identify undercover agents.) One problem: She can’t yo-yo yet. Or at all. Heck, I can do a better job, and I am yo-yo impaired. I once tried to walk the dog and ended up in the emergency room. She is given the name that her mother used: Saki Asamiya. With three days left to countdown, I guess they trained her that morning, and then dropped her off at school. I admire her lack of needing coffee or having jetlag. Introduced to the class as the new girl, everyone in class cheers a welcome, until Saki bangs on the chalkboard and tells them all to shut the f–k up or she’ll beat the s–t out of them. I like her.
Hey, I’m only labeling it as such because the film does, it is out of my hands. Saki is already bored in class, while a weird girl is in the bathroom with a razor cutting herself. Weird girl gets water (and possibly waste) dumped on her, then has to wander the school halls while wet and hear people whisper about her and Enola Gay. Why a wet girl reminds them of Enola Gay isn’t mentioned, but I think it’s supposed to be foreshadowing of how everyone checks that website. It’s like MySpace, except everyone builds bombs instead of building their friends list. Saki is in the halls as well, passing a smirking janitor with a baseball cap, then runs into popular girl Reika and her gang of other, less popular girls, who do popular girl things. We’ll call these girls the Reikacolytes because I like to think I am clever. Saki is about to kick their butt for blocking the hallway, but then sees the weird girl in trouble, and goes to help her. Her name is Taie Konno (or Kono), who is nicknamed Tae throughout the film, and Saki is upset that people dump on her so badly. Someone tries to drop a desk on Saki, and Saki jumps out of the way. As the desk is Tae’s, Saki takes her upstairs to find out who did it. The room is full of a bunch of school punks, and some of the males tell her to get lost. Several of the goons advance on her, one has blonde hair and a medical mask, making him stand out. I guess he’s SARS paranoid or something. He doesn’t have any special fighting skills, and goes down like the others before Saki’s flailing fists of destruction. So he’s not really that different, so never mind that I mentioned him. Reika is there with her Reikacolytes, and Saki tells her that if she wants a piece of her, meet her alone. This movie has promised up a chickfight twice, but will not deliver until the end of the movie. Saki leaves with Taie, with only 25% or so of the gang beaten.
On the roof, Taie and Saki talk, Taie is afraid of more trouble. Adults won’t help as Japan is stuck in pre-Columbine thinking, which is only slightly more stupid than the polar opposite, zero tolerance abuses. But that’s a debate for something besides a movie review about a girl who fights with a yo-yo. The girls bond while intercut with shots of people mixing chemicals. This goes on for a while; will somebody go check the chemistry lab already? Back in my high school, the teacher was pretty out of it, so we could do all sorts of horrible experiments, mixing chemicals or starting fires. Starting fires was what most people did, the trash basket was set ablaze and chemical equipment was burned, all under the teacher’s nose as he was sleeping or hitting on girls 1/5 his age. Taie mentions that the previous undercover girl made friends with the chemistry club, which consists of two whole students: Amaki and Higashiyama. Amaki likes to wear a sissy pigtail like the kids in Teenage Caveman, while Higashiyama is more of traditional overweight, thick-lensed nerd. The two strap on bombs, as the were the ones hard at work during the previous scene. Saki goes down to check on them, finding the chemistry room empty but the Enola Gay website active. Saki wanders down the gym, finding the two here wearing the bombs, and they freak out, both running in different directions. Saki follows Higashiyama because he has the longer name and wants me to type out that whole long thing again and again. Well, screw you, Higashiyama! She chases him to a department store, and Higashiyama threatens to detonate, grabbing Taie as a hostage. Saki pulls out her yo-yo and fires, but misses and hits a sign, deflecting back and smacking her in the face and into unconsciousness! She just got yoed. The sign falls and distracts so Taie can escape and run to Saki, waking her up. Higashiyama apologizes for his shame. He should be, for being a moron making an exploding vest and for being defeated by a yo-yo shot that missed!
Meanwhile, a mysterious white van with mysterious dudes inside sits as one passenger presses a button setting off a three minute timer on Amaki’s bomb. They laugh as Amaki panics, but I say it’s his own fault for building remote control access into his bomb. What if some guy used his garage door opener? It could set off the bomb. Even changing the channel to The Daily Show could be fatal. Amaki whines that he just did what he was told, because listening to random people on the internet is always a good idea. My Nigerian friend Kabula is helping me wire transfer $35 million to a bank account for only a small fee, I’m glad he randomly emailed me out of the blue. For those of you who do follow exactly what websites tell you, Paypal me $100. Amaki is saved by the smirking janitor, who takes off the bomb vest and tosses it out the window. It explodes in mid-air, but goes unnoticed, because Japan is like Iraq and things blow up all the time. Smirking janitor tells Amaki to be his friend.
Later, Saki is meeting with Kazutoshi Kira, and he tells that Higashiyama is spilling the beans, that some guy named Romeo is running the Enola Gay website. Romeo commanded that they build bombs, and they did so because life is boring and they want to do something big. Sure, or maybe they could read a book or take up a hobby instead (a non-bomb making hobby.) Saki leaves, and on the bus is the smirking janitor (who you’ve al figured out by now is Romeo, character name Jirou Kimura) who gives her an earbud of his Japanese iPod so she can hear the song he’s playing. She resists but he puts it into her ear, and she hears classical-ish song playing. Romeo adds a second earpiece so she can hear the whole song. She then jumps off the bus, but still has the iPod with her. Way to steal that dude’s equipment, plus you probably got ear diseases now! Even if he’s a freaky mo-fo, you can still throw the iPod back at him as you rush off the bus, since you were foolish enough to let him stick earbuds in you. Ear condoms, woman. The more you know…
Later, searching the Enola Gay site reveals it to be full of depressed, whiny, loser Japanese kids (Japanese Livejournal?) that all look up to Romeo for some reason not explainable by modern science. Also, there is a special live event at 22:00! Romeo heads to his hideout in a construction site, and we meet Romeo’s gang: Bicycle Helmet, Guy Who Works Overtime, Guncrazy, Sniperfreak, and Other Guy. That sentence alone is more descriptive than this film is with regards to all those characters. Also, Reika is around, and points some cops in the direction of the Enola Gay transmissions. As they head there, she swings a yo-yo, showing she’s an evil yo-yo girl. The cops are ambushed and there is a live webcast of them being gunned down. I expect it would have been posted to Youtube in about five minutes in real life. Reika loves Romeo, but he’s all “Whatever” and she becomes sad. You just don’t yank his yo-yo, Reika.
Kazutoshi Kira calls, revealing to Saki that they sent Higashiyama home, which is a stupid move and Saki swears at him then rushes over there, intrinsically knowing the address by her special Yo-yo Girl Cop powers. Romeo and his men have already grabbed Higashiyama and are pulling him into the white van, and Sniperfreak (he’s sniperfreaky) shoots at Saki. He manages to hit her…in the yo-yo! I bet you didn’t see that one coming. Later that night, someone named Juliet starts posting on Enola Gay as well. Who could it be…?
27 hours to go as Taie wants to meet Saki on the roof of school to chat, but instead is wandering around downtown Tokyo texting Saki one sentence at a time. We can cue the music video here. Taie tells her story, about how she was a new girl at school, met another girl named Kotomi Kanda and became fast friends. Kotomi’s nickname was Romeo, and Taie was Juliet. The lesbian subtext is strong with these two, but is not fulfilled. Dammit! The two started a website named Verona for people who were bullied, as both of them were picked on at school. Kotomi got sick of the teachers turning a blind eye, and did what anyone would do in that situation. No, not talk to a lawyer, whip out a bomb and demand action! There is a struggle with the principal and Kotomi gets hurt by her own bomb, and the Verona website is closed down.
Interruption: Reika arrives on the roof whipping her yo-yo around. Saki tells her “Don’t f–k with me, octopus!” while Reika replies “Shut up, you dog!” Reika tells Saki that Kotomi liked a guy who gave her the bomb after she told him she loved him. Reika’s psychic abilities to know what they were texting about is not explained, and she soon leaves as Taie continues. Taie was sad, then got an email with a website – enolagay.net. She went (don’t go there now, as it’s been snatched up by a domain parker and is nothing but ads, so screw him, he gets no backlinks from here) and enolagay.net had the Veronas site’s design, which was then nuked, and became Enola Gay. Enola Gay has its own Romeo, and a new Juliet, and they’ve gone loco. I can see slightly why she’s upset, but that’s the price of picking such a common username. Should Gandalf34 be upset there are 33 other Gandalfs, or should he have picked GandalfSkateboard or something else that will never be picked when arguing Kirk vs. Picard (the correct answer is Sisko.) “The homepage of our memories was destroyed” says Taie. This is really one of the internet’s best troll events. We jump to the website again, and all signs are beginning to point to the countdown event being a mass suicide to protest bullying. I can see how that would wor— Whaaa?? Good luck with that one. Maybe murder suicide, which is probably what they mean with the suicide bombers.
Saki finally locates Taie, who takes her to see Kotomi, who has been catatonic ever since her bombing fiasco. Kotomi is 100% scar free, so it must be all mental. Kotomi is listening to an iPod nano which is playing the same song Saki heard on the bus after Romeo put it on her. Kotomi can utter one thing, the name Jirou Kimura. At this point the heroes haven’t connected the dots, so the name is mysterious instead of “so that’s his name, let’s get him!” Taie becomes scared, but Saki tells her that she’ll protect her from whatever happens. Saki bursts in on Kazutoshi Kira’s apartment, which is a mess. And Kazutoshi Kira is married to a chicken or something, I don’t ask questions. They have dinner where he tells her about her mother, and that her dad was also wanted by the cops. Saki tells about the countdown being something suicide related, and then leaves. Also, for some reason she has romantic feelings for Romeo. This is totally out of left field, and just plain ridiculous. I guess creepy guys who lead website advocating mass suicide by explosion and force dirty earbuds into your ear is what Yo-Yo Girl Cops want, or something. Women. Outside, Romeo is waiting for her, and takes her to a helicopter landing pad. He reveals that he’s Kimura Jirou, and Saki is shocked, and then beat down by his thugs. Women.
Afterwards, Romeo stops by Taie’s place and tells her that Saki isn’t coming, and tells her that she was complaining about Taie. Taie is one of those naive people who believe whatever random people tell them, even if it makes no sense, and then accepts bombs when given to them by someone who always bullies them, in this case Reika.
DAY THREE: The Search for Spock
No Spock searching, but we got Saki tied up and hanging in restraints while Taie tries to call her on her cell phone, which she can’t answer. Saki is alone, but is being webcasted, probably to TiedUpYoYoGirlCops.com. Only $19.95 for 30 days access! Saki also has a bomb around her neck, which is set to go off in three minutes, like every bomb ever shown in this film. Saki works through her plastic binds, getting unhooked, which causes her to fall forward and land flat on her belly, miraculously not setting off the bomb. Kazutoshi Kira also calls during this time, darn cell phones! Always going off when you’re busy! The agency prepares to plea bargain for Saki’s mom anyway and Kazutoshi Kira heads to the school.
Reika is hosting the Enola Gay party, which is held in the assembly area on stage. This school is pretty accommodating to people planning to blow up the school, even having a large Enola Gay graphic in the background complete with a mushroom cloud on it. That would be another nail in the coffin of the principal’s financial future as he’d be sued dead in America. Reika introduces Taie Konno as Romeo, and people cheer. Saki escapes the bomb vest in the nick of time, yet finds out her phone is now out of batteries. Recharge, girl, recharge! Because there are no payphones on the way to running to the school, Saki doesn’t call back. Taie tells everyone in the assembly to escape, and soon the teachers are all pushing Taie around the room when the bomb she has on is exposed. Saki appears outside the school and beats her way through the cops to get inside. Wait, the cops are just chilling outside? What is their plan, to clean up the bodies? Inside, Reika tells Taie that Saki is a cop that was only hired to be her friend. Why Taie would believe anything that Reika says ever is still a mystery, but she does.
Suddenly two idiots with guns run in to shoot Taie, and Saki stops them, saving Taie and proving herself. That was fortunate, but Reika grabs Taie and runs, Saki is stopped by yet another idiot with an exploding vest. She yo-yos the heck out of him and throws the vest away. The real Romeo and his gang are using this time to go all Point Break on Tokyo, wearing rubber masks and robbing banks. We have guys masked as Dubya, Wolfman, Anime Girl, Mownhawk Punk, Multiple Mouth Guy, and Gillman. (The gang seems to have grown in size.) Romeo himself is wearing a Silver Elf mask. I’m going to go ahead and peg that as gay. And I don’t mean Enola Gay.
It’s serious Yo-Yo Cop Girl time, as Saki puts on her leather yo-yo girl cop suit! Complete with unnecessary tie! She’s going to rescue her friend and yo-yo anyone in her way. First, she must fight Reika, who is also dressed in her own leather Yo-Yo Girl suit! It’s Yo vs. Yo, only one can come out alive! Reika’s outfit looks like it was based on a costume from A Chorus Line. The two girls face off outside the compound of the Enola Gay gang. It’s Matrix Bulletime as they begin fighting (or yo-yo-time) and dodging the yos. Reika has modified her yo-yo with a trick she learned from Kill Bill’s Gogo Yubari, having blades stick out of the sides. These blades nick Saki on the cheek, but the only reel damage is just ticking Saki off even more.
Wasn’t that cool? Now the battle continues, as Saki is still inexperienced in the art of yo. The fight is long, good, and nicely choreographed. Finally, Saki buries Reika under a bunch of collapsing pipes with some serious yo-yoing, and heads on. The noise of the pipes alerts the rest of the gang, who flee, leaving behind millions and millions of yen (converting to like $14 or so.)
It’s FINAL SHOWDOWN TIME! The two chemistry kids and Taie are tied up with suicide bombs on, Romeo has the trigger and is flanked with a pack of goons armed with guns. Romeo demands her real name, and Saki gives a long speech but ends that she is Yo-Yo Girl Cop Saki Asamiya. This ticks off Romeo, so he pushes the trigger starting the three minute countdown. Saki runs toward him, while the goons open fire, guns blazing. They are worse shots than blind stormtroopers, failing to hit her forever. Finally, some bullets hit home, but they didn’t count on the fact that her uniform seems to be that rare bulletproof leather. I’m guessing she powered up, hitting up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start. Saki manages to yo-yo a bunch of creeps with her Matrix yo-yo moves, fighting through the last bunch of them with only her hands. One dude even machine guns his teammate trying to shoot Saki, but he still misses her and gets taken down. Finally, Romeo pulls out a sword. He starts doing the required crazy ranting, saying it’s all a game to him, pulling off his black hair to reveal that it’s really dyed blonde. This is played out as really dramatic but I have no clue what it is trying to say, maybe “blondes have more fun?” Romeo also has a bomb around his chest with the same three minute countdown time as all the others.
One minute left, so they swordfight. Well, Yo-yo vs. Sword, and the yo-yo has become a largely effective weapon, until Romeo does the ultimate move: slicing the string. Cheap! Now she is defenseless, and even gets sliced in the back, but still manages to knock him out of the way and take the bombs off of the hostages. She doesn’t take the bomb that Romeo is wearing off, and he explodes complete with a Death Star-style shockwave.
Later, Saki calls her mom. Mom mentions Kazutoshi Kira and how he was hurt trying to save her once. Kazutoshi Kira then offers Saki another job, and she agrees. Also, there is a happy ending, as Taie and Kotomi are together again. J-Pop credits!
This was the most important film made about yo-yos, ever! Tracking down the other Sukeban Deka films might turn out to be a disappointment, but it will be attempted. Hopefully, there are more yo-yo chick fights, and they will be recapped as soon as located. Also, this is the first review with a multimedia segment, the video clip, though several older films will get video and music clips eventually. TarsTarkas.NET has now entered the world of multimedia entertainment, to bring the recaps and reviews more effectively to life.
Until next time, this film is a great example of fluff fun, with J-Pop stars throwing yo-yos at each other, suicide bombers, invincible heroines, and guys with limps married to chickens, this movie has something for everyone.
Rated 8/10 (Old Yo-Yo Girl Cop, The Replacement, Enola Gay, Kotomi, Yo-Yo clang, Japanese 1337-speak crap, pet chicken, Point Break 2: Point Harder)