Dirty Pair is an indomitable '80s franchise that's known throughout the world as one of the most famous girls with guns series around. Its multiple forms of media follow the misadventures of the "Lovely Angels" Kei and Yuri, two agents known as "Trouble Consultants" working for the 3WA (the World Welfare Works Association). As trouble consultants the duo are assigned to cases in the Criminal Investigations unit, which is tasked with solving crimes and tying up loose ends in mystery cases.
Kei and Yuri are two gorgeous young women who are there to get the job done -- and they do, for the most part, but only after tearing up an entire city in the process. Think Panty and Stocking, without the nymphomania and penchant for sweets. Because of their tendencies to destroy cities and make huge messes in the process (and their personalities included) they're known as the "Dirty Pair." Kei, the flame-haired tomboy, and Yuri, the flirtatious playgirl of the duo, get into some hilarious situations in this classically '80s action blowout, and it's easy to see where it gained most of its popularity.
Dirty Pair Flash DVD Collection
Licensed by Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Fast forward to 1994, and the Lovely Angels have gotten a facelift. Kei and Yuri are much younger, brasher versions of themselves, complete with bratty attitudes and a lot more skin. Enter Dirty Pair Flash, the alternate retelling of Dirty Pair set forward in the future -- 2248, to be exact. Nozomi Entertainment has collected all 16 OVA episodes of the redux into the Dirty Pair Flash DVD Collection, and while I'm appreciative to have a brand new way to purchase the episodes other than the out-of-print Dirty Pair Flash: Perfect Collection, I'm not so keen on these mouthy Angels.
Kei and Yuri are now seventeen-year-old troublemakers who hardly seem fit to work as 3WA agents. Granted, that's where most of the comedy is supposed to stem from -- their obvious incompetence and incompatibility, but Flash seems to take this a step too far with the massive character overhaul. These two could easily act as the Cutie Mark Crusaders of the original Dirty Pair -- the lesser, younger sisters of the main cast everyone loves. And the differences are clear right out of the gate: Kei's still a fiery redhead, though she's sporting a spiky cut with bleached bangs. It's not a good look for her. Yuri's signature flowing hair remains, but it's taken on a lighter lavender color. Kei's an even bigger tomboy than ever, and Yuri has been reduced to an airhead with few concerns other than how much money her future husband can offer her. It's a little off-putting, and I found myself reaching for the original series more than a few times throughout all the silliness.
But it's a little unfair to complain only about alterations made only to the characters -- after all, the Dirty Pair were never perfect to begin with, and even the original Kei and Yuri had their own faults. Unfortunately, the action on-screen doesn't atone for these missteps. The stage is set with some typical anime hijinks where Yuri is relayed a data card meant for 3WA that finds her being accused of murdering an "innocent man" by onlookers and running all over Furool with police hot on her trail. Chaos ensues.
Later, I found myself giggling a bit where the girls traipse through a haunted dorm, but most of the episodes fall flat in their execution. And it all goes back to how the "Angels" behave and interact with each other: most of the time, you get the impression they really have no regard for each other, as if they're only working together because they're being forced, not because there's any kind of underlying partnerly love for each other there. I felt this quite strongly with the original Kei and Yuri, and that element was sorely missing here.
Beyond the actual content, which was occasionally funny here and there, but nowhere near the standards set nearly thirty years ago, I did enjoy the crisp '90s animation. I've got a soft spot for the sharp, angular character designs and the candy colors used in most situations. I sat through the competent sub after the first episode when the dub soundtrack began to grate on my nerves. Despite the excellent Sue Ulu's role as Kei (you might remember her as Ritsuko Akagi of Evangelion fame) I found Yuri's voice actor nasally and obnoxious, only seeming to cement Yuri's new role as a selfish, vain crybaby who only seems to be interested in marrying some rich guy rather than working with Kei. And don't even get me started on the master computer -- what were they trying to do there?
Dirty Pair Flash at a glance seems to be an intriguing update to a classic series, but in the end it demonstrates that tinkering with an established formula doesn't always work. There are a few laughs to be had here and there, but these angels aren't as lovely as with their predecessors. If you're looking to get into Dirty Pair, start with the '80s episodes and work your way into the manga and novels -- there's a lot meatier work there to digest.
4.0 – Subpar. Though not offensively bad, this one is just plainly poor. It’ll find dogged defenders, but just can’t appeal to anyone outside that deluded circle.
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