If you were a fan before the late-90’s, there is no need to introduce these ladies; it was pretty hard not to see at least one of the Dirty Pair titles that were released in the U.S during those days. Kei and Yuri were (and still are for some of us) the quintessential girls with guns. Or more to the point, they fit right in with what people wanted out of anime between explosions, space adventure, and fan-service there wasn’t much missing. And if you haven’t experienced it, you can win the first set right here!
The are some shows that define a genre. They are not necessarily the first show or even the best show in the category but for one reason or another they capture the imagination of the public and become intimately linked with the genre. Whenever you mention girls with guns anime most fans who have been in the hobby for a few years will undoubtedly bring up the Dirty Pair before any other title. Along with Gunsmith Cats it personifies the idea of a show where two beautiful ladies run around defeating nasty bad guys with cool weapons with a side order of humor and cheesecake. As a fan of the series I was always asking ADV when they were going to go back and license this iconic gem for its US fans. But in an unexpected twist of fate it turns out that the champion of the underdog titles Nozomi Entertainment picked it up instead much to my delight. The premiere babes with blasters show finally has made its way to the US and I could not be happier.
Kei and Yuri who work for an intergalactic trouble-shooter organization known as the 3WA. They are infamous for being able to solve any case they are assigned with comical amounts of collateral damage. So while technically they the are code-named the Lovely Angels their habit of accidentally destroying everything up to planets to get the job done have earned them the epithet the Dirty Pair. Every episode has the two trouble consultants in the middle of some planetary caper that only they can solve. They take on feuding gangs, rouge computers, super intelligent mice, evil professional wrestlers, and everything in between. The only guarantee is that anything and anyone in between these two ladies and completing their mission is in serious jeopardy.
Since this is an episodic series, that could literally just go on and on forever, there is a lot of variation in quality of episodes. These gals are always entertaining to watch, but whether an episode is going to stick out is a different story. This roulette (nod and wink to the opening) of writers and episode directors keeps things spry and assures you that nothing will become too bogged down in details. And that is exactly what I want from the Dirty Pair: fun. They travel the galaxy for missions which also keeps the cast changing and the scenery, they even stumble into an episode of Fist of the North Star (not literally). Some of the more stand out episodes include one appropriately named after the title song, “Hire Us! Better To Get Good-Looking Bodyguards,” “Love Is Everything, Betting Their Lives On Escape,” and “What! We’re The Brutal Kidnappers?”
Kei is the fiery redheaded tomboy that had the more loud and brash personality. Yuri is the quiet, studious, and more feminine jet-black haired counterpart to Kei but Yuri can be just as loud and destructive as her partner when pushed. Their sisterly but argumentative relationship is the keystone of the series. They may bicker constantly and even go out of their way to one up the other but hey always have the other one’s back when push comes to shove. They have a casual banter that instantly shows you how long they have known each other and how deeply they care for one. They can be extremely girly with their minds focused on dating and looking good but when they buckle down for a job they are competent and skilled if a bit unprofessional. Backing them up are their long-suffering companions Mughi and Nammo. Mughi is a huge bear sized cat and Nammo is a small football shaped robot with feet. They both back up the Dirty Pair and are often tasked with the more unpleasant duties during their missions. And of course as rouge officers they need someone to bang on a desk and complain how these two loose cannons are out of control. Chief Gooley fills this vital niche while chewing up the scenery.
I have to start by talking about my favorite . . . Mughi! Now granted I haven’t rewatched Dirty Pair in a while, but I don’t remember him being as prominent in other entries of the series as he is in the TV show. He adds plenty of comedy because, well, he is a giant space, cat thing but he also rescues them in some tight spots, too! There is really no explanation of where he comes from, but no matter. Now on to his supporting characters, Kei and Yuri. The Lovely Angels as one might imagine is not a very apt term for these two, despite their hemming and hawing. Kei is a tough and brash woman who never seems to have a problem getting a date. Yuri is more ditsy but can’t get a date to save her life. Their love lives, or lack thereof, are often a key factor to many of their exploits. Each of them have a most hilarious 80s wardrobe. Both know how to use their looks to their advantage but that isn’t the only weapon in their arsenal as they seem trained on just about everything. Kei and Yuri are complimentary to each other and are both charming as they traipse through space leaving paths of destruction in pursuit of justice and the occasional man. Once again, back story (though sometimes we run into old boyfriends) and character development aren’t priorities here.
My goodness this show is so obviously from the 80s. Everything about Kei and Yuri screams that they could only have come from 1985. Kei’s huge hair and almost always ever-present headband are a major signs but every outfit the two women wear as casual clothing ripped straight out of the worst of something like Growing Pains or Punky Brewster. Leg warmers, over sized tops, and neon everything. The character designs and animation is similarly dated but far more timeless. The art can be extremely detailed when they are not skimping on the budget and the mechanical design on the technology can be simply generous. Also the show has one of the catchiest opening themes you will ever hear. By the way whenever I mention the opening I always have to bring up the Italian version because it is frankly one of the funniest things you will ever hear.
This is a nice first set to bring back Dirty Pair to those who love them. The packaging is minimal but with nice artwork and a sturdy box. My only real complaint is quality control for spelling and consistency between what episodes are titled on the box and what they are titled in the actual episode, a minor point. If you’ve never seen the Dirty Pair, this is also a great way to start because you get such a variety of stories. Even though this isn’t new, it feels new because we’ve never gotten Dirty Pair TV here in the U.S. despite how much of fan base the gals had (and have). I’m looking forward to the second half due out at the beginning of February.
With the licensing and release of the Dirty Pair TV show I have noticed an odd phenomenon. Old fans of the series have generally been thrilled that the core of the franchise finally has a proper legitimate English release. We finally got the first animated episodes of the definitive versions of Kei and Yuri. But apparently there was the odd backlash of people who had been told that the Dirty Pair was the greatest thing since sliced bread and were disappointed with what they got. Therefore I would like to dispel this rumor for anyone who is reading this review in order to decide if they wish to watch this series. The Dirty Pair is yummy entertainment candy. It is a wonderful pick me up when you are in the mood but never mistake it for a full meal. If you are expecting some sort of substantial full-course meal like a Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex you will surely be left unsatisfied. But the series never pretends to have that depth. It is a wonderful popcorn anime that helps melt away the stress of a tiring day as it requires no effort but entertain immensely in return. If you have realistic expectations it is pure fun with some gorgeous eye candy to boot.
If you want to win this boxset of Dirty Pair TV Pt. 1, you must answer this age-old question. Kei or Yuri, who is your favorite Lovely Angel?
Entries are due by Friday, January 14th. The winner will be notified by Sunday, January 16th.
*U.S. residents only please. Sorry our abroad buddies we just can’t afford it.
This contest is over.