Director: Hirokazu Takemoto
Starring: Michie Azuma, Mimi Fukada, Bunjaku Han, Yuriko Hishimi, Yumiko Katayama
For anyone needing a reason to support the argument that Japan.of the 70s positively ruled the Television airwaves, they would need to look no further than this amazing, boundary breaking program.
The story; Makoto Masako is an independently wealthy socialite and mystery novelist who decides to go into business for herself. The business of choice, assembling an all female detective agency. Recruiting beautiful, thrill seeking amateurs, Masako sends her 'Playgirls' into motion solving all sorts of crimes, be it insurance fraud, robbery, white slavery, organized crime etc. The bulk of each sixty minute episode features several of our fabulous femmes going undercover before gleefully unleashing their inner badassery on their hapless targets, be it with guns or feet 'n fists (usually both).
With tongue firmly in cheek, 'Playgirl' was a sensation in Japan as it combined action, intrigue and an eyebrow raising amount of nudity. This titillating (pun somewhat intended) combo ensured that high ratings would be the norm during it's five year run. That it was a consisitantly well made and executed program didn't hurt either. I personally had just caught up with it a couple of years ago and found that even without English subtitles (which WOULD be welcome, hint!) this show was something special. Seemingly influenced by 'The Avengers' and especially 'Honey West', the real surprise was this show's startling similarity to 'Charlie's Angels' which 'Playgirl' preceeded by several years!
Amongst the cast of beauties, the one that stood out for me was Yumiko Katayama. I grew up watching Ms. Katayama as Mitsuko Nishino (U5) on 'Giant Robo' (aka 'Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot'). I almost didn't recognize her in 'Playgirl', having such a sexed up role (and she is VERY sexy on the show). Following this, she would take on even more risque roles in films such as the first of the 'Female Prisoner Scorpion' series (where she has a lesbian encounter with star Meiko Kaji) as well as 'Delinquent Girl Boss, Worthless to Confess' and 'Criminal Woman, Killing Melody'. Have to wonder what Johnny and the rest of the Unicorn Organization would make of this...
*** / ****