It was during a late Tuesday evening, after a long day at school, that my recently re-discovered love for obscure Anime pointed me in the direction of a 1986 OVA titled Katsugeki Shoujo Tanteidan. Not particularly eager, yet not entirely uninterested, I decided that I'd give it a try in hope that it would be one of those hidden gems that I occasionally stumble upon. As it turns out, this is definitely not a hidden gem and, while I've seen lots of worse stuff, this is remarkably far from good.
The initiating part of this OVA deals with our three female protagonists getting asked out in public by a boy who seems frighteningly desperate to find an acquaintance. This awkward sequence is followed by a montage of all the Ecchi grandeur Anime viewers have come to expect (sarcasm) set against a backdrop comprised of a generic song with equally generic lyrics. It's not until viewers have been subdued to this form of mental torture that the actual excuse for a story is allowed to begin.
When their beloved friend Midori disappears under mysterious circumstances, two friendly classmates decide to go look for her. As they pay a quick visit to Midori's house they're assaulted by two axe-wielding individuals disguised as a rabbit and a crocodile. This bizarre twist allows the narrative to escalate into a girls-with-guns adventure of low proportions as the narrative's Lolita character bravely pulls out a gun from her underwear to defend herself and her beloved classmate. As if matters weren't ridiculously deranged already, the reason behind the sudden assault is revealed to have a connection with the school board that's neither particularly believable nor logical in any sense of the word. The awful pacing as well as the non-innovative story speaks for itself but another thing that further confused me was whether this OVA was aimed primarily at children or adults. With a silly Scooby Doo-esque storyline comprised of implied homosexuality, sensual situations and an antagonist threatening to kill the teenaged protagonists, I'm not entirely sure if this holds the power to appeal anyone.
Take every preconception people have against OVA's and they will most likely be strengthened further in credibility when compared to Katsugeki Shoujo Tanteidan. The animation quality is very low even by the contemporary standard, movement is awkward and the character designs are decent at best. Also notable, are the numerous shortcuts that are taken; movement is simulated with still images moving in a certain direction (as usual) but one scene that covers a traffic accident just uses zoomed in frames of the back of the car with a few sounds telling us what's going on.
It's hard to put my finger on it, but something about the soundtrack annoyed me insanely. Some tracks are decent enough, but others seem to be comprised entirely of the use of two piano keys only that are repeated over and over again. The dramatic moments are enhanced by baselines gradually increasing in power which adds further to the feeling that the entire OVA somehow got caught in the limbo between a children's cartoon and adult animation. Voice acting is slightly below standard, but in all honesty, the lack of decent acting does not derive heavily from the viewing experience in cases such as these.
When you disregard quirky personality traits and implied homosexuality, the characters in Katsugeki Shoujo Tanteidan have nothing noteworthy going on. There are three protagonists whom we know nothing about, and despite their physical differences and basic emotions, they truly aren't any different from each other. There is no development to speak of and (in an outbreak of fanservice disguised as a plot device) one of the most obvious Loli characters reveals her love for her female classmate in the form of a kiss. If I had to pick one word to describe the characters in Katsugeki Shoujo Tanteidan, I'd definitely go for one-dimensional.
In all sincerity, the clichéd and dated humor managed to briefly put a smile on my face during certain occasions, and with this in consideration it could have definitely been worse. But regardless of a few quirks, this is a prime example of what happens when you just sort of scrabble together something without considering what the final product may look like. Katsugeki Shoujo Tanteidan is able to be incoherent in spite of using the lowest and simplest form of storytelling, and this is not a very appealing thing.
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