A Note About Reviewing Dirty Pair Flash
Dirty Pair Flash: Mission 1
isn't the only entry into the Dirty Pair Flash
series. The entire OVA set is spread across three smaller series: Angels In Trouble (Mission 1)
, Angels At World's End (Mission 2)
, and Random Angels (Mission 3)
, totaling sixteen episodes. I am only covering Mission 1 (episodes 1-6) because it is the only entry in the series that I own. It is a complete stand-alone story that doesn't need the rest of the series to be reviewed. I may go back and review the last two parts of Dirty Pair Flash
at some point, but with tales of beach volleyball, a very small amount of real action, and awkward breast feeding scenes I've read about, it's not exactly high on the priority list.
And so, ON WITH THE REVIEW OF A SHOW YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT!
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Oh man. Dem VHS days. Back in my day, sonny, we didn't have your fancy pants internet with your fancy pants stupidly easy to access fansubs to test run hot and recent Japanese Cartoons from J-pan if we wanted to watch something new. We waited years after the original release for almost everything, and your best hope was that you knew someone with a third generation VHS copy that was originally recorded from a laser disc, or you were in one of those sometimes sketchy organized snail mail fansub trading rings. For most of us though, it was simply the luck of the draw. You went by synopsis, box art, and screenshots on the back of the packaging and prayed for the best. Needless to say, a lot of us didn't bite on many full TV series being released back then, in fact the only one I really devoted myself to was Evangelion
. Man, imagine getting the last volume of THAT which contained only episodes 25 and 26... It was....an experience to say the least.
Anyway, most of my money went toward either movies or shorter OVA series, and yes, I always bought everything dubbed, because each tape was $10-15 cheaper. That's the very reason I came into possession of Dirty Pair Flash
. Prior to viewing it, I had minimal knowledge of the original Dirty Pair
. These were my formative years, gimme a break! Anyway, while hanging out with my friend Roger one evening and cruising the newest RightStuf catalog for something new to waste my money and time on, I came across the entry for "Dirty Pair Flash". We both had a good laugh at the name for obvious reasons. Roger was convinced the show would either be about soiled panties or muddy boobies. The more I read the synopsis and checked the box art, the more I was drawn to the series, though. "Girls, guns, explosions!" "I like girls," I thought to myself. "I also like guns, and especially explosions!" "And if the series IS about soiled panties and muddy boobies I can at least just give it to Roger as a Christmas present!" How absolutely perfect! And thus, Dirty Pair Flash
entered my collection a couple weeks later.
I'll be completely honest and say that I'm still not the biggest original Dirty Pair
buff. I've only seen bits and pieces of the original TV series and one movie. I'll give credit where credit is due and say that it's likely the most iconic "girls with guns" series out there and what little I've seen of it was fun, but never enough to convince me that I needed to see everything.
Don't let all this talk of the original series scare you off though. Dirty Pair Flash
has very little to do with the original 1980's run of TV episodes and movies at all. It's an OVA reboot/alternate world re-imagining of the original series with a few names of characters likely being the only thread. You can go into this one completely blind and not feel lost or like you're missing out on something big, as this show is very good about setting up the entire plot and introducing the main players within moments of starting.
Much like the original, Dirty Pair Flash
centers on two young Trouble Consultants of the galactic peacekeeping organization, the WWWA, (3WA for the duration of the review), Kei and Yuri. The 3WA was scraping the bottom of the barrel when it hired these two, but they had almost no choice in accepting them due to low recruitment numbers and soaring crime rates. Kei and Yuri are ultimately paired up, and as luck would have it, they absolutely can't stand each other due to their clashing personalities. WELCOME TO BUDDY COPS WITH BOOBIES! Making matters worse for the poor 3WA is that any mission the two end up going on always results in city-wide collateral damage likely worse than the threat they were responding to. But who cares? Everyone loves cute girls blowing shit up!
Kei is the firey-haired, hot-blooded go-getter of the duo, always up for the thrill of combat and doing things as absolutely crazy as she possibly can. Once she puts her mind to something or sets her sights on a target, she becomes obsessed, even to the point of breaking 3WA protocol to get the job done. Yuri is the more subdued of the duo, but no less loud or destructive. She's far more interested in dating various men (and has quite the notorious reputation for it) and doesn't seem like she could give two shits about her job. In fact, it gets to the point of being really fucking annoying how much Yuri whines about having to do her damn job. Of the two, Kei is just so much more tolerable and believable. You really get behind her when she gets motivated by the events in the story, whereas Yuri just provides really nice eye candy and isn't all that good at standing out when she has the screentime all to herself.
Fans of the original Dirty Pair duo are more than likely going to be a little disenfranchised with these two, and understandably so. They are so very far removed from their 80's counterparts that it's almost staggering. Even with what little I've seen of the original Dirty Pair
, I can tell that compared to their predecessors, these two seem to only share about thirteen braincells between the two of them. Kei's tomboyish nature is cranked up to eleven here, and Yuri's complete transformation into a vapid, self-absorbed, cock-craving bitch is almost more confusing than trying to watch an Oshii film with Klingon subtitles.
That said, the characters' chemistry is undeniable. The series' success hinges on how well scenes play out between these two, and the writing at least does a smashing job here. Whether they're casually bantering back and forth or having heated arguments (usually over whose fault something that happend was), they're just damn good at keeping the viewers' attention and likely pulling a laugh or two from the audience in the process. Under all the open hostility though, it's still easy to discern just a glimpse of the fact that the two really do care for one another, and those moments are the little ribbon bow on the top of the package that helps sell the show's stars as a reason you should be watching. As funny and entertaining as they may be, however, they still may not be enough to win over the die-hards.
Unfortunately, the story these two get thrown into isn't really all that compelling and never rises above that of your typical sci-fi action blockbuster. That's not to say it isn't any good, because the show is quite entertaining, but depending on your tastes, you may find yourself wanting a little more, especially when characters begin to show minute signs of growth. It's just your run of the mill "evil group of people want to do something bad and are secretly carrying out the means to do it" schtick that you've seen in a MAJILLION BILLION summer blockbusters starring Nicholas Cage. Simple as it is, these plot points are tied together fairly well, and it's nice to actually see the case progress over the course of the show's six episode run and come to a fitting conclusion.
Another plot point gets dropped in concerning the previous team of Trouble Consultants to hold Kei and Yuri's current title of "Lovely Angels" (and no, it's not a reference to the original Dirty Pair), but this little plot thread feels almost extraneous. They really want the viewer to care, but they don't quite seem to go far enough in trying to make it not seem so slapdash. The thread gets tied up moments before the show ends, but doesn't quite deliver the emotional impact that was clearly intended.
All in all, the show moves at a brisk pace and is easy to make it through in one sitting due to its relatively short runtime. One huge detour into an alternate reality fantasy RPG land in episode four ends up feeling like a near complete waste of time though, and this time could probably have been better spent tightening up the story of what happened to the previous Lovely Angels team. It doesn't wreck the series, because the episode is fun in its own way. It just feels like it doesn't belong when you look at everything else the show has done up to that point.
Being a product of the early 90's while also being connected to a series that originally aired way over a decade prior, this show most certainly has a distinctive art style very reminiscent of the time. Character designs are a decent mix of the old and new ideas with the main characters being instantly recognizable as homages to the originals, with updated and attractive designs that really stand up even today. The secondary cast members obviously can't quite compete with the overly colorful and detailed designs of Kei, Yuri, and the relentless assassin Lady Flair, as they suffer from generic cookie-cutter designs you could probably see in just about any early 90's sci-fi piece. Background and ship design work ranges from pretty damn good to serviceable, but at no time does the show ever look like a big fat crappy crap.
You can easily tell it's a show from the 90's.
As it's an OVA series with a higher budget than normal, Dirty Pair Flash
certainly isn't a slouch in the animation department, which greatly benefits the action scenes that are sprinkled quite liberally throughout its duration. The characters themselves may be as braindead as they come, but when action super happy fun time rolls around, the show is an absolute joy to watch. The true highlights come in episode five where an airport assassination attempt on the main antagonist's life transforms every object and innocent bystander into a weapon of some sort, leaving nothing but hellfire and total destruction in its wake. This is one of the most fun chase scenes in Japanese Cartoons I've ever seen, and the writers were so damn crafty with turning every person and object inside the airport into some kind of instrument of annihilation. Throughout its run, there are moments of awkward animation here and there, with the only real instance that truly stands out being a character running away from the screen, yet never appearing to move toward the background. You can spot other bits and pieces of budget saving, but it's kept to a tolerable minimum and not likely to prove all that distracting.
I won't waste much time waxing on about the soundtrack, because in all honesty it's mostly forgettable. You've got some fun synth rock up front and at the end for the opener and closer and some pretty standard fare action movie tunes fleshing out the rest of the show's musical range. Dirty Pair Flash
features a fairly typical "ADV Dub" from back in their early days, meaning characters are over-acting quite a bit and the script is just a bit loose, but that really isn't too much of a problem for a series like this. It still sounds natural and fun to my more experienced ears these days, and I particularly enjoyed the leads' performances, even if Yuri's character annoys the fuck out of me. Kim Sevier has that shrill bitchy whine down to fucking annoying perfection, lemme tell ya what.
At best, Dirty Pair Flash's
first set of OVAs make for a surprisingly decent and entertaining popcorn flick that's definitely worth checking out if you like a bit of camp, turn-your-brain-off entertainment, and lots of 'splodey-good action. You'll have yourself a hell of a time and a few good laughs for sure. At worst, it can seem almost inane and a bit too straightforward for those that need a little more meat for their brains to chew on in their entertainment, and unfortunately, even with as much as one may enjoy cute girls and explosions, it doesn't really hold up all that well with repeat viewings.