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Sukeban (スケバン/女番/スケ番?) means delinquent girl or boss girl in Japanese, equivalent to the male banchō. A dictionary of Japanese slang says that sukeban only refers to the leader of a girl gang, not any member of the girl gang.[1]


The common signifiers of sukeban (described by the Japanese police in 1980s pamphlets as "omens of downfall") include brightly dyed or permed hair, and modifications of the school uniform such as wearing coloured socks, rolling up the sleeves and lengthening the skirt. Sukeban are reported to engage in activities such as stimulant use, shoplifting, theft, and violence, but if arrested, they can be charged with the lesser offence of "pre-delinquency".[2] The word sukeban was originally used by delinquents, but has been used by the general population since 1972.[1]

Sukeban in fiction

  • In the 1970s and 1980s, sukeban became popular characters in seinen manga.[2] Sukeban characters could also be seen in shōjo manga publications; Sukeban Deka, YajiKita Gakuen Dōchūki and Hana no Asuka-gumi were three popular shōjo series that had a mostly sukeban cast.[3]
  • Single sukeban characters interacting with a more "normal" cast could also be seen—early on in her character design, Makoto Kino of Sailor Moon was intended to lead a sukeban gang,[4] and in both manga and anime has curly, brunette hair, a long, calf-length school uniform skirt and a severe reputation for physical confrontation. However, the lengthened skirt did not appear in her costume in the 2003–2004 Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.
  • In the manga Beelzebub, one of the supporting characters, Aoi Kunieda, is the third sukeban of the girl gang Red Tails. She later resigned her position after subsequently developing a girlish crush on the series protagonist Tatsumi Oga.
  • In Onidere, the series focuses on sukeban Saya who is in a secret romantic relationship with a boy while trying to keep an appearance as being the biggest man-hater in front of her gang.
  • In Kimagure Orange Road, lead female Madoka Ayukawa was a former sukeban, utterly feared in school except for the male lead Kyosuke Kasuga, the other female lead Hikaru Hiyama, Kyousuke's sisters Manami and Kurumi and a boy named Yusaku Hino.
  • The game Project Justice has a sukeban named Aoi "Zaki" Himezaki as a playable character, teaming up with Rival Schools veteran Akira Kazama and Yurika Kirishima who, unbeknownst to them, is the main antagonist's sister, helping advance his plans.
  • In Case Closed, Inspector Juzo Megure's wife Midori used to be a sukeban in her youth, 20 years before the main storyline started. At that time, several sukeban girls were attacked by a serial killer and she tried to bring him to justice with the help of the police, and specially then junior-officer Megure. They were targeted and seriously injured by the culprit, and as a consequence they were both physically scarred; some time later, Midori and Juzo got married, and are still together.

Sukeban in film

Pink film director Norifumi Suzuki made the first films in the seven-film Girl Boss (Sukeban) series. He also started the four-film Terrifying Girls' High School series (1971–1972) featuring sukeban characters. Both series featured prominent Pinky violent actresses Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto.[5]

On December 6, 2005, Panik House company released a four-disc region-1 DVD collection surveying Sukeban films entitled The Pinky Violence Collection.[6]

Some notable sukeban films include:

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Yonekawa, Akihiko. Beyond Polite Japanese: A Dictionary of Japanese Slang and Colloquialisms, 2001, pages 26–27. ISBN 978-4-7700-2773-3.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cherry, Kittredge (1987). "Christmas Cake Sweepstakes: Girlhood to Wedding". Womansword: What Japanese Words Say about Women (paperback) (First mass market edition, 1991 ed.). 17-14 Otowa 1-chrome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112: Kodansha International Ltd. pp. 51–52. ISBN 4-7700-1655-7. 
  3. Okazu: Yuri Manga: Sukeban Deka Review by Erica Friedman of Yuricon[dead link]
  4. Takeuchi, Naoko (October 23, 2003). Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon Volume 3 (shinsōban ed.). Kodansha. ISBN 4-06-334783-4. 
  5. D., Chris (2005). Toei's Bad Girl Cinema. Panik House Entertainment L.L.C. pp. 10–15.  (booklet in the Pinky Violence Collection)
  6. "The Pinky Violence Collection". Retrieved 2007-10-13. 

General references

  • Weisser, Yuko Mihara. (2001). "Japanese Fighting Divas 101". Asian Cult Cinema #31, 2nd Quarter 2001.
  • Ashcraft, Brian with Ueda Shoko. (2010). "Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How teenage girls made a nation cool". Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-7700-3115-0