Lovely darlings have dirty work to do

September 1, 2017

By Avi Green

The Dirty Pair series

In the late 1980s, there was a cool anime product made in the early days of MTV that went on to earn a cult status – the Dirty Pair series, based on Haruka Takachiho’s light novels, at least 8 of which which were written and serialized between 1980 and 2007. They began mainly as slapstick sci-fi adventures, and while later stories could be more serious, they still had plenty of entertainment value.

Dirty Pair (1985)

Let’s begin with the first series from 1985. It all takes place in the future era of 2138, and the stars of the show are a pair of hot young women named Kei and Yuri, who work as trouble consultants for the World Welfare Works Association, and their job is deal with a variety of crooks and other threats looming over Eleanor City on a distant planet, part of the United Galactica federation. Kei’s a redheaded tomboy who likes muscular men, while Yuri’s a girl of Japanese descent who likes cultured and refined men. Both of them wear sexy midriff-baring outfits possibly inspired by Japan’s own women’s wrestling association (according to history notes, the ideas came after Takachiho and Australian sci-fi novelist A. Bertram Chandler went to watch a tournament).

The two heroines of the light novels and subsequent anime series call themselves the Lovely Angels team, but are more often known in the wider public as the Dirty Pair – a name they dislike – because of all the destruction that’s left in their paths as they pursue criminals around the galaxy sector they work in.

Some of the stories involve having to deal with a berserk computer system, as seen in the premiere episode, battling intergalactic terrorists, defeating giant alien molluscs littering up the city sewage system, trying to get a crooked material witness in a court trial to another police station while gangsters are trying to assassinate him, and even trying to foil the plans of an intergalactic drug dealer. There’s even a guest character who resembles Walter Koenig of Star Trek fame who appears at least twice as a city infrastructure supervisor.

Plenty of slapstick ensues, and the jokes with the two hot babes bickering offer plenty of chuckles too. Occasional laughs can also be found with the Lovely Angels’ pet space-cat Mughi (who looks a lot like a bear, but they called him a cat). One of the most engaging space tales I’ve seen that provides both excitement and pretty good jokes.

The upside: it’s always fast-moving.

The downside: there’s one episode where a “runaway bride” turns out to be a transvestite who got a sex change operation, yet the “runaway groom” doesn’t seem to care. Has to be taken with a grain of salt.

The verdict: some of the best anime adventure you can find on the market.

Dirty Pair: Affair on Nolandia (1985)

An OVA produced as a follow up to the first series, coming around the time it was ending, we see the Lovely Angels going on a search for a psychic girl, and have to face off against both hallucinations and a Terminator-style cyborg. It’s pretty entertaining, and shows the influence James Cameron’s famous sci-fi flick had on anime back in the day.

Dirty Pair: Project Eden (1986)

This is a full-length movie (an hour and a half anyway), intended to further cash in on the popularity the characters were gaining. The two lady protagonists, Kei and Yuri, are here assigned to track down a mad scientist who's concocting experiments for monster-making with his right-hand assistant. Along the way, our heroines also meet a petty thief named Carson T. Carson, who gives them some backup, since the job won't be easy.

And overall, it's pretty entertaining, laced with music scores that'd surely make a perfect fit on MTV at the time it was just barely getting started. The color palettes are even better than the beginning series, with brighter shades. It all makes for a fun fare for people who like anime with fancy music included.

The upside: an enjoyable ride.

The downside: there's one scene where Carson winds up with his hands on Kei's boobs.

The verdict: makes for pretty good escapist fare.

Dirty Pair 2 (1987)

Also sometimes called Original Dirty Pair, this is a 10-part OVA that was produced as a sequel to the first series. Our intrepid and fearless femmes find more slapstick adventures and missions to go on, including trying to evacuate the staff of a prison where the inmates took over, but the warden wants deadly revenge on the convicts because their rebellion’s cost him his pension bonus. There’s also a tale where they need to track down a Terminator-style robot during Halloween, and unlike the Nolandia OVA, here, the setup is played more for laughs. At the same time they’re trying to stop the robot, at least 3 groups of bank robbers are running around taking advantage of the holiday: one’s dressed like Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, another’s dressed like Alice in Wonderland’s cast, and the third’s dressed like the main leads from Star Wars! The lunacy is magnificent.

The upside: the action is well paced.

The downside: one scene where a mafia leader gropes their butts. Other than that, little here that’s problematic, fortunately.

The verdict: it’s as fun a ride as its predecessors, with a lot of funny moments.

Dirty Pair: Flight 005 Conspiracy (1990)

This would be the last entry in the original anime franchise with Kei and Yuri in their original forms. In this adventure, they need to search for a kidnapped girl who was taken by terrorists who blew up a commercial flight spaceship. It’s by far more serious than previous entries, but works well. The suspense is very well paced. It makes for a pretty good ending to the original take on these characters from Takachiho.

Dirty Pair Flash (1994-96)

The producers originally wanted to make another sequel to the original take on the duo. But by the time this came about, one of the original voice actresses, Kyōko Tongū, who’d voiced Kei, had retired to north America, and Saeko Shimazu, who voiced Yuri, didn’t want to work without her, so Sunrise decided to develop a remake. In this new take, they’re about 2 years younger, and the first set of stories shows how they come to be trouble consultants for the WWWA.

The rest include stories where they visit a planet that’s a recreation of 20th century Earth, another where Kei needs to take care of a baby from a flight that was attacked by mafia, and one where a boy genius builds a robot in Yuri’s image. Unlike the original rendition, Yuri is something of a ditz here. And this time, Mughi is an actual cat (small) and not an alien variation!

The upside: the stories do have entertainment value, and it manages to impress with what it’s got.

The downside: fortunately, not much excess to be seen here.

The verdict: the adventures are worth checking out, and deliver enough to make them worth the OVA market.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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