September 16, 2009


(1987, Japan, Shoujo Commando Izumi)

After sampling the mad 1980s Japanese TV phenomenon of schoolgirl action heroes in Sukeban Deka (three series, two films and a recent remake), I looked around for more. Best of the bunch appeared to be Schoolgirl Commando Izumi, who carries around a rucksack of explosives and automatic weapons, bringing swift justice to whatever baddies are around. That is when she's not hanging around and doing girly things with her classmate buddies.

The premise predates James Cameron's Dark Angel. An innocent-looking teenager being re-programmed and re-trained as a government killing machine. Here the pseudo-science is called 'bio-feedback'. So, whenever she gets into a fix, she just stares into the camera, her hair blows up in the air, and then she defeats the villains in slow-motion.

What separates this schoolgirl martial arts chaos from all the rest, is the time and money lavished on the stuntwork and explosives. The action in many episodes is good enough for a Japanese movie from that time. The whole series is relatively short, at 15 half-hour episodes, far less padded out than the epic Sukeban Deka series. This would make it an ideal choice for a US release, which has been very sluggish to import any Japanese series that aren't anime, despite a treasure trove of choice.

Ignorance of these TV gems is of course a result of the lack of English language info. The series isn't even on IMDB. Especially in the wake crowd-pleasers like the recent Machine Girl and Saikano - The Ultimate Weapon. Japanese girls with guns is definitely a hot genre. Let's get a chance to see more of it.

I got my DVD set
from CDjapan (front cover artwork pictured at top) last year, but remember there are no English subtitles or voicetrack. No extras either, simply the entire series of 15 episodes over 3 DVDs.

Proof I'm not the only one in the world who's seen this series: check out
this review, with screengrabs.

Check out the explosive opening titles here on YouTube...


  1. Ah, schoolgirls with guns. Why do we love them so? I'm a proud owner of Machine Girl and all the Sukeban movies and a couple of anime (none of the TV series yet). Saikano is new to me though.... Have to check that out.

  2. There's a Saikano animated feature film and a live-action one, both from recent years. Great trailers, I've not seen them yet.

  3. Since I own the SUKEBAN DEKA's on DVD/LD and HANA NO ASUKAGUMI on LD I've been tempted by this one. I'm wondering though, how in YOUR opinion does it play without subs, as I'm finding myself less and less patient with untranslated films these days?

    I managed to find a very cheap single disc of the first 4 episodes of SAILOR FUKU HANGYAKU DOUMEI so at least I can sample that first before deciding on whether the pricey box of entire series is worth having, but it's still sitting on the shelf, sealed.

    Oh, and here's another link to reviews and pics of these series:

  4. Hi Miles,
    This is more rewarding for action than Sukeban Deka, but just as frustrating for not following the stories. The stuntwork is more ambitious and better rehearsed. But I'm recommending this for a translated release, really.

    Let me know if you find the soundtrack anywhere...

  5. Thanks Mark for your post regarding "Commando Izumi". I'm a big fan of Toei's "Sukeban Deka" and "Hana No Asuka Gumi" series and actually got to see them in the 80s while I was in Japan but unfortunately didn't get the chance to watch "Commando Izumi" when it first aired. At the time it debuted TV Asahi really tried to promote the show and hype up its more gritty storyline but unfortunately while "Sukeban Deka" had the good fortune to have Jpop idols Saito Yuki, Minamino Yoko and Asuka Yui as its stars and to a more limited effect Odaka Megumi in "Asuka Gumi", little known Igarashi Izumi couldn't really generate the same fanboy buzz, although I thought she was quite fetching. "Commando Izumi" tried to capitalize on the whole Arnold Schwartzenegger/Sylvester Stallone "Commando" and "Rambo" thing but unfortunately petite Igarashi couldn't really pull off the female action heroine look that well (personally I think "Uchu Keiji Shader" star Morinaga Megumi or HK movie star Oshima Yukari would have been better fits). I think "Commando Izumi" was too ambitious a program to followup the JPop idol vehicles that preceded it and that if was done now it might have worked better as you have action stars like Mizuno Miki who have the idol looks and talent to do it.