"Dirty Pair" Vol 2: More Guns, More Girls, More Space Bikinis, More to Love
Rather than spend a lot of words detailing why I think the second set of Dirty Pair is cool, I’ll let the show speak for itself. Check my last review for the plot synopsis and then take a gander at the lead-in to episode 23, below:
Everything that Dirty Pair does well is summed up in this clip. It is incredibly efficient: no moment is wasted and everything you need to know is delivered on the fly. Kei and Yuri banter and bicker like the long-time partners that they are, and the show communicates how good the two are at their jobs while keeping a lighthearted tone. There is some completely gratuitous female skin (although it’s usually Kei and/or Yuri’s), but not so much that it becomes entirely about T&A. It’s got a terrific sense of place, sending plenty of signals to indicate its sci-fi future world but keeping everything familiar enough to be recognizable. Finally, the show is superb at creating terrific opening teasers that draw us in quickly and end in irresistible cliffhangers to keep us watching. A lot of episodes also veer off in surprising directions after that initial hook. You couldn’t tell just from this teaser, but the assassination scenario soon turns into Kei and Yuri playing out an elaborate con reminiscent of The Sting. It turns out that Dirty Pair has many of the same strengths as the best episodes of Law & Order, except that Jerry Orbach and whichever partner he had at the time are replaced by a pair of outer space babes. And that’s A-OK with me.
The best thing about the second boxed set of Dirty Pair is that the clip above and the episode it’s attached aren’t even the best ones on the set. While I thought it took about half of the first 13 episodes for Dirty Pair to really find its footing, the minimum level of quality of these next 13 episodes is much higher, and the best episodes are hugely enjoyable. Despite the show’s reasonably recognizable formula, there is also a surprising amount of variety; in addition to the aforementioned Sting-inspired con job, we’ll get variations on tales as varied as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Die Hard, The Terminator, and even The Prince and the Pauper. There’s a pretty good, high-tech take on a locked room mystery, with the teaser showing 463 space ship passengers vanishing without a trace. One of the truly outstanding episodes, “Come Out, Come Out Assassin,” starts with a moody, film noir murder, before giving way to a manhunt as Kei and Yuri try to figure out which passenger on a space liner is the murderer. The task is made that much more difficult when the ship gets locked into a collision course with a black hole. There is also a truly bizarre love story that’s played almost entirely for surreal comedy too strange to sum up easily. This is not a series that has grand aspirations, but it is undeniably entertaining and much, much smarter than you expect a show about two cute women in space bikinis to be. Even if you can discern a formula to the episodes, it still manages to surprise and delight more often than not.
On this second Dirty Pair set, the episodes look marginally but noticeably better than on the last one. I suspect there was either more money spent per episode or new tricks to stretch the budget, since there are certainly more ambitious set pieces and action sequences in this set. Right Stuf’s remastering for DVD is excellent, especially considering the age of the source material. DVD extras are pretty light: we only get more line art galleries, some of which are drawn in pencils almost too light to see on a TV or computer screen. Right Stuf’s packaging is second-to-none, though, with the 3 discs kept in a sturdy cardboard art sleeve, along with a nice commemorative booklet that contains interesting and lengthy interviews from 1993 and 2010 with Dirty Pair creator Haruka Takachiho from 1993 and 2010. Visitors to the Dirty Pair website can also get Takachiho-san’s answers to fan-submitted questions.
There’s a teaser at the end of episode 26 for the first of several Dirty Pair OVA’s. With any luck, Right Stuf will get the licenses for those as well. Given the quality of the show and these US releases of the material, I know I’m surely hoping for them to arrive.
Video clip © Right Stuf/Nozomi Entertainment. All rights reserved. Used with permission. The DVD looks much better!