March 12, 2017 posted by Jerry Beck

Forgotten Anime #60: “College Supergirls” (1991)

The Gakuen Chōjo-tai (The School Super Girl Team; College Supergirls), directed by Satoshi Dezaki. 45 minutes. June 27, 1991.

1That’s what it says in Japanese: ザ・学園超女隊. The ザ is pronounced “za” phonetically in Japanese, but it’s supposed to be the English “the” with a Japanese accent. So this is a bilingual title.

There is almost no information about this OAV. It was produced by Magic Bus and released by Bandai Visual in Japan; it never had an American release. It was based on a 1986 “light novel” – I assume “manga” is meant; if it’s text, please tell me (ha!) – by Tatsuhiko Dan (1949-2005) in Shōnen Jump. That’s the best-selling manga magazine in Japan, published weekly since August 1, 1968. However, shōnen means boys’, and in the magazine’s case, older boys. So despite featuring college girls, this was a boys’ story. I suppose that, American or Japanese, if it features teenage superheroes, adolescent boys don’t care if they’re boys or girls.

Tatsuhiko Dan’s real name was Tadaaki Kikuchi, and he was best-known as one of the bullpen assistant cartoonists at Go Nagai’s Dynamic Pro. He did write/draw a few works of his own, including this one.

This is another OAV that hasn’t been Forgotten as much as that it was totally unknown to most American anime fans. It’s another OAV that the Kingmenu group has found, subtitled in English, and added to the internet in 2016. Many thanks, Kingmenu!

chojo-tai2The OAV begins in faded-out color with Okei screaming in a dragon’s paw as Yumi runs up. The dragon is about to stomp on Yumi when Mai holds the paw up. Mai doesn’t like Yumi to call her “Dragon Girl”. As an ominous giant human hand appears, Yumi wakes up – she’s fallen asleep in a math class at Yamashiro Academy. But since her psychic power is precognition, she is afraid that this is a vision of the future.

The three girls are Yumi Sado, Keiko “Okei” Okura, and Mai Ishiki. They are all espers with psychic powers like teleportation and levitation. Yumi specializes in precognition, Okei specializes in telepathy, and Mai is super-strong when she becomes angry. All three are juniors at Yamashiro Academy – and since they are later identified as 16 years old, the Academy is more likely a private high school rather than a college. Despite them all being juniors, Mai seems more mature than the others.

When they come across an arcade Psychic Power Testing Machine, Okei tries it out. It explodes, attracting attention. They run off, as a sinister girl watches.

A group of adolescents give a Nazi salute while pledging that espers (or ESPERS or Espers or some other variation) will control the world, starting with Yamashiro Academy. (The group wears armbands labeled EDF, which presumably stands for something like ESPER Domination Force.)

chojo-tai1Mai and Yumi are eating lunch on the Academy’s roof when Okei runs up with a poster announcing a demonstration by the Psychic Power Research Society. Mai dismisses it as a fraud, but Okei says the Society’s director, Hiro Nimura, is supposed to be a real psychic.

The demonstration consists of blindfolded card identification. The three demonstrators are introduced as Hiro Nimura, his assistant Yu Hokuto, and Nimura’s sub director Rika Matoba (the sinister girl). When a heckler interrupts them, Hiro psychically kills him, then restores him to life. He demonstrates paralysis on the heckler, then makes a chair levitate. The audience is convinced, but Mai says that everything he did was a stage magician’s tricks, disillusioning Okei. Rika, displeased that Hiro has been discredited, removes him from the PPRS and hypnotically convinces them all that Yu has always been their director. (Note that Yu’s voice noticeably changes.)

About 200 PPRS members salute Director Yu. The three girls are the only ones to realize that the PPRS has changed Directors. They let themselves into the PPPS office and, when Yu enters, demand that he reveal the truth. Rika enters and she and Mai fight, demonstrating that both have psychic powers. When more PPRS members arrive, Mai tells Yumi to teleport them away. But Yumi’s power can only teleport them as far as the men’s showers in the next room.

Rika assembles a PPRS squad of masked assassins to “punish the Devil’s messengers and protect their Messiah Lord Yu”. The assassins attack the three girls, who are rescued by Hiro. He warns them to not get involved, and leaves.

chojo-tai3The girls debate whether Hiro is a good guy or a bad guy. Okei is in love with him again.

Three days later, Okei goes looking for Hiro in the Academy. She finds him on the roof arguing with Rika. Rika feels that expelling him from the PPRS isn’t enough; she will kill him by hypnotically making him jump off the roof. Okei saves him, but Rika uses her esper power against them both.

In the schoolyard, Mai tells Yumi that she has found that both Hiro and Rika are recent tranferees from Chou High School. Okei’s psychic scream brings them to the roof, where they find Hiro unconscious, alone.

Okei is trapped inside a glass chamber within the PPRS headquarters. Rika boasts that when the other two come to rescue Okei, she will capture them all.

At Mai’s house, Hiro blames himself for getting Okei captured by the Academy Domination Project (presumably the EDF seen earlier) by not warning them sooner. He leads the two girls to the PPRS headquarters, which is heavily fortified with armed guards, searchlights, high electrified walls, mine fields, etc. (Remember that even if the PPRS members have psychic powers, this is a high school student club.) The three use Yumi’s teleportation and levitation to get inside.

choyo4Hiro gives the girls tracker bracelets so they can find each other within the building. Okei is trapped in the basement. When they go there, they are surrounded by PPRS guards. Their psychic powers don’t work, because the bracelets Hiro gave them are really anti-esper suppression devices. Hiro’s being a good guy was all an act to capture all three supergirls.

Hiro is about to lobotomize the girls, but Mai’s anger makes her super-strong and she breaks the PPRS’ shackles. Rika tries to defeat Mai using a helmet that amplifies her esper powers. But Yumi psychically shorts out Rika’s helmet. Hiro’s attempts to get Okei to save him no longer work, and the PPRS is thoroughly demolished.

The next day, the girls discuss that Yumi’s initial premonition was about the PPRS and Hiro’s betrayal, in symbolic images. Okei’s crush on Hiro is over. When Yu appears and says that Hiro and Rika have disappeared, and he begs the three supergirls to become the PPRS’ new directors and rebuild the club, they run away. The End.

978-1-4766-6381-4Next week: There is no ‘next week’. After five years, I am retiring this column. I began Funny Animals and More on March 14th, 2013, so this is my fifth anniversary here. It’s also Forgotten Anime/OAVs #60, and my 210th weekly column. Those are nice, round numbers to retire on.

More importantly, I’ve run out of new things to say about animation that best fit with this site, and after sixty columns on old Japanese OAVs, I’ve just about run out of old OAVs to profile. There are a few left – I was prepping the 1987 Scoopers for next week – but I’d rather end this column neatly than soon run completely dry.

patten-dogs-warAlso, after five years I’ve become more active in other areas – I’ve had two books published already in 2017, and I’m working on three more – and, to be honest, the routine of having to devote so much time each week to writing this column has, surprisingly, gotten in the way of my larger, more ambitious projects.

So I’m saying goodbye as a regular weekly contributor to Cartoon Research – at least for now. I’ll still come to CR every day as a reader, to see what everyone else has to say about discoveries in old animation – and I’ll probably post an occasional response in the comments section.

And I want to thank Jerry Beck for providing me with an outlet here each week, allowing me a friendly place to document my thoughts on animation.

It’s been fun, but – for me, at least – it’s time to move on. Look for my third 2017 book, The Symbol of a Nation – More Fantasies With the Anthropomorphized National Animals of Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Italy, Malaysia, Mauritius, Namibia, Romania, Singapore, Spain, the U.S., and Vietnam – in June.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fred Patten passed away on November 12th 2018 – roughly a year and a half after his filed his final post here on Cartoon Research. His work will live on in the numerous books, articles and blog posts he left behind, his life will be remembered by his many friends and colleagues – of which I was one of. When Carl Macek and I started Streamline Pictures in 1989 there was only one person we knew we needed to assist us – Fred. He became our first employee, and was with the company to its bitter end (Fred wrote a series of posts for this blog that recount that experience). Farewell Fred. You are off to a better place – and you made the world you left behind a better place with your presence. – Jerry Beck






    (just kidding) 😛

  • Fred,I’m really sad this is your last column, I’ve really enjoyed your articles. The ones on French & Argentinian animated features
    were particulary educating. Farewell for now.

  • Well done, Fred! A massively entertaining and informative body of work! You’re a treasure!

    Good luck with all your future endeavors — that book about the national animals sounds intriguing!!

  • I have been enjoying your column here weekly. Thank you for all the info. Who knows more about these things than you?

  • Thanks for all the excellent work and research!

  • Your third book sounds amazing with a title like that..

    It’s sad to see you go. I’ve greatly enjoyed learning about the various forgotten anime that would still be forgotten if it haven’t been for you.

  • Well, good luck with your book. I am going to miss your column here. You did a great job here. I learned a lot more about anime than I thought I knew.

  • Fred, as a anime-lover for almost 20 years of my life now, I thank you for this long series of columns where you have dug up stuff that we never heard of (and that’s saying a lot thanks to the internet driven world we live in), thank you again for your service here 🙂

  • Light novels are prose literature in Japanese using only Chinese characters.

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