Review: "Dirty Pair Flash" More Style, Less Substance
The Dirty Pair are back, for the first time! Years after the original, much-loved Lovely Angels hung up their hats (voluntarily or not), two new girls have taken up the mantle. Hotheaded Kei and refined Yuri are the dirty pair known as the “Lovely Angels”, and they defend the colony worlds at the behest of the 3WA. Wait, aren’t Kei and Yuri the original Lovely Angels? Dirty Pair Flash reboots the franchise for the more-extreme 1990′s/2240′s. Does it still carry the spirit of the original, or is it literally a flash in the pan?
Dirty Pair Flash is the most-recent iteration of the franchise, which is a bit sad to say, as it’s nearly 20 years old. The set of three stories, having wrapped up in 1996, recast the main characters in a different era, with modified personalities, backgrounds, and the like. They still work for the 3WA, and have the basic mindsets down pat, alongside a history of causing destruction in their chosen line of work.
Much of the series is extremes of the original. Kei and Yuri’s rivalry, while once gentle ribbing, has graduated to full-on hatred and more at times. They’ll work together, but they’ll quickly throw one under the bus or abandon one another. At the same time, while the original pair were the masters of cheesecake and fun sexiness, the girls in Flash feature a little more fan service for the sake of it: gratuitous transformation scenes with all-too much bounce and takes away some of the fun of the original, in which it was a treat. Flash treats it as an expectation, and something that loses it’s special nature; porn kinda lost it’s luster with the Internet, if you’ll excuse the comparison.
The dub, sadly, dates back to the early 2000s, and it shows. Kei and Yuri, with normal talking voices, are okay, but Kei and Yuri, with exaggerations/yelling/etc. (which happens often) are shrill and over-acted. The music is fine, and the character designs are honestly not atrocious, but do suffer from “it’s a new decade, need to go over the top.” While the original designs were largely two-piece swimsuits, Flash features one-piece suits with awkward jacket/shorts/skirts covering pretty poorly. Kei is instantly recognizable as Kei (minus the headband), and Yuri’s Yuri, but the designs are a little more indicative of their personalities than before. Yet, while the designs might be drastically different from the originals, they stand decently on their own right, and will cause viewers to pause and check them out, even if it’s for the pure fan service nature of them. Speaking of fan service, Yuri wears an old costume for an in-joke in a later episode.
The series is split up over three discs and three “series”. The first is traditional Dirty Pair stuff in the colony worlds, but includes an overarching subplot about the previous pair of Lovely Angels. The second might be the most fun, but stands out from Dirty Pair stories by introducing a male cohort and focusing on stories set in a “retro” world designed after 1990s Earth. The final part brings the pair back to their traditional adventures, and features possibly the best episode in the series: the first episode is a Kei-exclusive adventure about protecting a baby from mercenaries (it also includes questionable biology; would a teenage girl who’s only been around a baby for a day be able to breastfeed?). The second episode has the greatest collection of general story lines though, offering a look at what the Dirty Pair would be up to in modern times: they infiltrate an all-girls school (by accident), or help their friend get a date (or at least try), letting much of the traditional Dirty Pair missions sit on the wayside as they go through more traditional story lines. If the whole series was built like this, it’d be less special, but for a few episodes, it stands out as a nicety. Throughout the series, the best moments come from the combination of technical designs mixed with the cute; the first series features a legion of child-doll exploding robots, and the third features a giant teddy bear with massive claws. It’s brief looks like these into the absurdity that Dirty Pair is known for, and when they face off against a magical girl-archetype that desires to be in an assassin’s guild, it makes the viewer wish for more.
The set features character sketches, credit-free openings and endings (two sets, with the third series missing out, oddly enough), and trailers. Unlike other Dirty Pair releases from Nozomi, there’s only one dub, but that’s to be expected as only one group ever dubbed Flash. There’s no limited releases like some other Dirty Pair releases, but it’s decent enough.
Dirty Pair Flash finds a bit of a voice after the first set of stories, focusing purely on episode-by-episode plots, and many of them decide to upend the world they live in (instead of offering a paint-by-numbers approach which could go with the series concept). While it might be initially dismissed as the weakest of the Dirty Pair entries (which, well, it is), there’s some good to be found in the series. Much like a Rob Liefeld comic, it’s a bit extreme and there’s not much more beneath the surface, but they can be fun, and if anything, pretty to look at. Try it for something different, but pick up the other Pairs first.