Mothballs #17: Affair of the Pair

This Week: Dirty Pair OVA Series, Dirty Pair: Project Eden, Dirty Pair: Flight 005 Conspiracy, and Dirty Pair: Affair on Nolandia.

I’ve been powerfully stressed out recently, so I went back to an anime fandom standby from the wayback machine for something that would fit like a comfortable pair of pants. Which is to say, I watched Dirty Pair all week.

Manga Entertainment has it all on their YouTube channel, so it’s in easy reach (avoid the Dirty Pair Flash remake, it took all the wrong messages and tanked for good reason). They only have a few hundred views apiece, so I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the attention.

Dirty Pair OVA

Dirty Pair OVA Series

This is pretty much what I think of when I think Dirty Pair: one shot episodes with internal arcs that reach their self contained conclusions, solid animation, fast action, some classic cartoon hijinks, our at all times simultaneously intensively feminine and intensely “we can break your spine in half” late 1980’s Girl Power leads, and genuinely well timed dialogue wit.

No, it’s not the TV series, but that hasn’t been dubbed even today, and I find this is the kind of show that’s really enjoyable with a dub. It’s a fun, fast little sci-fi action-comedy production where our heroines chase down the villain of the day and a lot of things will blow up in the process as their boss despairs over their shenanigans.

Kei and Yuri are a really enjoyable team to see characterized and banter with (and sometimes insult) each other. You can approximate them as essentially the mothers of type of show something like the more recent Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt wants to be. Except P&S, while it amused me on one level at the time, I will likely never revisit due to it being very easily dated. It’s too reliant on shock value, so it’s not really designed to hold up to weather and time. Which is fine, I just doubt people would watch it in 2036 like I’m watching Dirty Pair in 2013.

And I’d likely still watch Dirty Pair in 2036. The series has fun writing with classic construction that holds up rather well. I can still laugh at the jokes and the setups still work. Kei is still one of my favorite action-heroine characters in anime, and as a production our lead friends have aged incredibly gracefully into the present.

Dirty Pair Project Eden

Dirty Pair: Project Eden (Dirty Pair: The Movie)

If you like 1980’s pop-synth music videos, laser fights, explosions, space butlers, aliens, kooky scientists, women in space age wrestling outfits, ridiculous science fiction lairs, and the colors Blue and Pink, this is pretty much your movie.

This was certainly an easy film to dub, as large chunks of it flat out don’t have any dialogue. A good portion of it is spent watching Kei and Yuri do their thing as music blasts on. It’s really hard to take the Dirty Pair brand of action-comedy to a feature length narrative script. So it just avoids having to. And I completely respect that. The art direction really is very focused on Pinks and Blues, which gives a very bright and distinctive appearance to its science fiction playset, and it dovetails well with the best raw animation quality in the whole franchise.

I’m not a fan of what they did with Kei’s character here. She’s never been this focused on a guy elsewhere, and as the team’s resident tougher cookie, it’s sort of jarring to see how reliant and borderline helpless she is made to be at points. The Dirty Pair have had male support and eye winking “Oh, he’s cute” bits elsewhere, but not like this. It feels weird.

The film is still overall fun though. It’s incredibly stylish, I had a few laughs, lots of stuff blew up, bobbed my head to some music, and called it a day. That’s all it aims to be.

Dirty Pair Flight 005

Dirty Pair: Flight 005 Conspiracy (Dirty Pair: Bouryaku no 005-bin)

An hour long OVA that mostly plays like a regular episode, bringing all the good and bad that this would entail.

More time seeing Kei and Yuri run around and blow things up and have their little comedy bits across various science fiction backdrops, but that also means it starts really dragging around the forty minute mark. It’s not necessarily bad, it just feels kind of bloated for what it is, and I kept thinking it would have made a great 20-25 minute episode were it given the right editing. It doesn’t really have a compelling reason to be this long (unlike Project Eden, which while even longer has enough purpose justifying it).

It also gets weirdly depressing for this series, especially as in other installments the Dirty Pair routinely erase whole population centers from existence without a care in the world.

Dirty Pair Nolandia

Dirty Pair: Affair on Nolandia (Dirty Pair no Taishoubu: Nolandia no Nazo)


Another hour long OVA, and this one is the series attempting to be more respectable.

It changes the art style to a slightly more realistic one, and spends a large amount of time on headtripping and dream imagery. The Lovely Angels trade in their usual outfits for wrist-to-foot length gear for much of the run time. It does away with a lot of the usual humorous tone, but it’s not entirely serious either. It’s just sort of a boilerplate science fiction – fantasy tone, rather than the cranked up levels they usually hang out in.

I suspect it perhaps was trying to see if it could capture new viewers or folks who had dismissed the Dirty Pair series previously, but I don’t think this would be a good way to go about doing either. I certainly wouldn’t try and get folks into the franchise with this, as it’s just too different from the other productions and doesn’t really have enough of its own strengths to warrant it being a standalone entry from the rest.

Mothballs is a weekly write-up of already completed anime series I have either removed from my backlog or have recently revisited. A crash space for my immediate thoughts and personal processing, these are not intended as full reviews.

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