Nozomi / Rightstuf
Dirty Pair is a sci-fi anime from 1985 that has the sensibilities of other sci-fi anime from that time. That is, it’s primary focus is on scantily clad women shooting laser guns and blowing things up.
Kei and Yuri are Trouble Consultants for the 3Wa. Their job is to solve people’s problems, which include finding missing people, being bodyguards, or catching criminal. Their official codename is ‘Lovely Angels,’ though they’re better known as the ‘Dirty Pair,’ for their tendency to leave the place they were paid to protect in ruins.
Kei and Yuri aren’t particularly well defined. Technically, Kei (the red haired one) is supposed to be more violent and tom-boyish, while Yuri the more feminine; but in execution, the two aren’t really distinguishable. They both handle things pretty much the same, and their dialogue is largely interchangeable.
They both constantly complain about not getting enough vacation time, and not having boy friends, and they argue over which of the two is more beautiful, so the series isn’t going to be winning any awards from feminist groups. But Kei and Yuri are more or less competent at their jobs. If you ignore the collateral damage, they do accomplish the mission they set out to. As protagonists for a comedy sci-fi adventure, they’re serviceable.
The plots are mostly straight forward, but the loose definition of the pair’s job, and the planet hopping nature of the series keeps things fresh. One episode is a old fashioned western, another is a detective story told almost entirely in one room, etc.
The series is based on novels by Haruka Takachiho. The box sets from Nozomi include a book of interviews with him. One of the things he talks about is what true ‘sci-fi’ is; he feels that much of pop-sci-fi is actually fantasy, as the technology isn’t based in actual science. He goes on to say that despite his efforts, the Dirty Pair series didn’t really qualify as true sci-fi.
Given the comedy aspects, and the protagonists, that’s probably to be expected, but the series still benefits from his goal. The science aspects and technology in the series feel natural and realistic. It really helps to differentiate the series from other sci-fi anime of the time.
The DVD release from Nozomi / Rightstuf is more or less up to their excellent standards. Each 13 episode set comes with three discs in a thick chipboard box. The second set comes with the book of interviews. The video is quite good. It appears to have had a real re-master in Japan, and is presented unaltered with the original credits/titles. The audio is Japanese only.
The package design feels a little sparse, and thrown together compared to other Nozomi releases. I might just be that there is not as much art available for an older series like this.
Still, all in all, it is recommended for those that like classic sci-fi adventure.