As we’re into the month of October, it’s the time of year when one might get to thinking they want to pop something in for the upcoming Halloween holiday. Questions like “What’s your favorite Halloween anime?” start popping up around forums and suggestion threads. Often, while the responses are often quite populated by all manner of horror or blood and guts titles, I tend to find them lacking in a certain respect.
Few, if any, ever actually feature Halloween.
I can watch animated gore fests any old time of the year. And I have. My enjoyment of them isn’t necessarily heightened or enhanced at all by the looming calendar presence of the fright filled holiday. And while Halloween is certainly a fine enough reason to cart out organ grinding and bodily fluid splattered affairs, I’d would be lying if I didn’t admit there is a certain element missing when recommending them as Halloween entertainment.
It’s without the actual festive nature, the childhood joy of being able to play dress up and have some genuine fun while romping around doing silly things in a crazy getup. Check your average Facebook or Twitter timeline, and live action films like Hocus Pocus get broken out with glee by folks around this time of the year because such works are prominently about the season in a way where viewing them close to the holiday actually makes for a more enjoyable experience. In addition, they are light hearted enough to be enjoyed by a wider variety of folks without regard to how many gratuitously mutilated corpses are just one too many.
So what’s my favorite Halloween anime that actually features Halloween?
There’s a limited list to pull from, certainly. Historically, Halloween is a Western holiday and in the grand scheme of things it only made any kind of inroads to Japan in recent lifetimes. And I certainly don’t aim to provide some cop out response, slipping in a vaguely generic enough “fall festival” or “autumn carnival” work and calling it a day.
But I will provide cops.
Or more specifically, a pair of Trouble Consultants from the World Welfare Works Association.
Entitled in its English release as “No Thanks! No Need For a Halloween Party,” the second episode of the Dirty Pair OVA series is my most trusty Let Us Have Ear Grinning Fun Watching This Halloween Anime companion for our purposes here. I know I recently revisited the bulk of the franchise as a whole a few weeks earlier, but, allow me to just focus on this one episode right here.
It wholly owns the seasonal timing and theme.
It kicks off showing us the villains of the day dressed up in their various reference-ready costumes, a big Halloween parade rolling through the decked out and festive metropolitan streets, and Kei and Yuri on a roof talking about the history of the holiday in all its “What on Old Earth is this ancient celebration about anyway?” style. And that’s all within two minutes of the opening credits trailing off. “This is Halloween” indeed.
It is gearing itself up to use the toolset the actual day of Halloween would provide for everything this series would be able to wring from it. A series that already enjoys amping itself up as a normal order of business, so it knows fully well we have around twenty minutes to bulldoze and demolish our way through all these holiday trappings, and by golly, we’ve got a lot of that to get to. So no beating around the bush, no generic and undefined festivals, it’s grabbing this bull by the explicitly named holiday horns and going to have fun with it.
Dirty Pair is a production where our two leads run around in 1980’s space age by way of wrestling uniform attire while trading barbs and having hijinks with colossal levels of property damage in hot pursuit of the episode-by-episode villains. This is not a serious franchise. It’s entirely gunning for making the viewer go “Ok, you know what, that was pretty awesome” and putting a smile on ones face one way or another. And as Yuri tells Kei by way of gunpoint, the Halloween holiday allows costumed creeps an added ability to be literally anywhere.
And you know what’s pretty awesome? That’s not just some idle throwaway line. Each and every criminal group shown in the first few moments is just haphazardly encountered while the Lovely Angels are chasing after the Tactical Robot Weapon they accidentally set on the loose. Not a tactical robot weapon, mind you, but the Tactical Robot Weapon. They’re essentially chasing The Terminator. And because this is Dirty Pair, just because that robot is on the run doesn’t mean it can’t take a small gag break for a celebratory holiday beer.
And boy howdy are there plenty of other sight gags, slapstick, and shenanigans. There’s a point where Tactical Robot Weapon runs down an alleyway to get away from the crowded avenues of Halloween revelers, gets to the end of it, and then has the option to turn either right or left. So they run in place, looking both ways, before making a choice on which way to skedaddle off. Sure it’s clichéd and may as well be straight out of an old black and white Mickey Mouse short, but I can’t deny that such moments are both amusingly used here and entirely well executed for the classic cartoon tomfoolery the episode is going for.
It’s genuine, and it’s honest. It is having incredible fun with itself, and in turn I embrace that and have fun with it.
And truly, it is in an environment where so many people are dressed up in ridiculous costumes and outfits for heading out for their nights on the town, the uniforms Kei and Yuri wear appear so much at home. In times of great excess and things being over the top, the two achieve quite a degree of normalcy in their appearance and actions. And that’s true for pretty much every episode of the entire series. It’s such a noteworthy constructive element, and could easily constitute and entire extended piece diving into that particular lens of the franchise.
That’s all a really important bundle of vectors to be able to consider when it comes to seasonal programming, be they a whole movie or series, or just a single one shot episode. That aspect of festivity, the unbridled sense of whimsical joy and having buckets of natural fun with the Halloween holiday, all of which is something I think this particular Dirty Pair episode deals in admirably.
As of this writing, Manga Entertainment has both this episode and the rest of the franchise up for legal streaming via their YouTube channel, so tracking it down is incredibly easy for all times of the day and holiday partying needs.
I’ll still always watch some straight up horror escapades during October, of course.
But I’ll always be back in time for the city’s famous Halloween fireworks display.
Pendant Light is a weekly opinion and editorial space concerning various anime questions and subjects, be it topical or otherwise. Much like its namesake, it might swing around or fizzle out at times.