Oh Dirty Pair. Laden with innuendoes, fan-service, and science fiction action this franchise is one of the classics that resurfaces now and then, but never goes away. It's a good thing really. The original series was an entertaining sci-fi romp with great leading ladies and a wonderful sense of humor. In the 90s Sunrise revitalized the franchise with Dirty Pair Flash. Nozomi Entertainment has secured the license to the show and has released a complete 16 episode collection (three separate OVA pieces spread out from 1994 to 1995). The question remains to be answered whether or not Flash is better than the original.
Flash takes place in the year 2248, which is roughly a hundred years after the first series. It's not necessarily a sequel, but rather a re-imagining of the concept. Kei and Yuri are back as younger versions of their former selves and there are a couple other throwbacks to the original, though for the most part this series is its own best. Fans of the original will appreciate some of the homages, but it's clear from the get-go that this is a Dirty Pair for a new generation with new personalities and storylines.
Kei and Yuri are a dangerous team. They are destructive in their own rights, hot-tempered to a fault, and immature in a way that leaves them a little naive. Give them a lightsword and gun and, well, things blow up, people die, and there's more devastation left in their wake than a natural disaster. At the start of Flash they are thrown together and form the Lovely Angels team. They are picked seemingly at random by the Worlds Works and Welfare Agency but it's clear that there's a dynamism between them and the pairing works out for the best.
With the OVA series being broken up into three parts there are a few different arcs for Kei and Yuri's misadventures. The first is more or less an introduction to the world and the formation of the Dirty Pair, who get their name by the rather large amount of damage they leave in their wake. The first part is fun and light, and though it expands upon a larger storyline, it doesn't leave much of an impression. The second half is a more interesting take as the pair is already established and sent out to another planet for a mission that takes place in a rather familiar spot. It's a good play on the modern anime stereotypes and themes, but again it's not an entertaining powerhouse. Last, but not least, the final disc contains some episodic adventures, rather than provide much of a theme.
Though Dirty Pair Flash is amusing in its own right, it never really feels like its own creation. It doesn't stand out, nor does it satisfy the sense of wanting left from the original series. Kei and Yuri are fun but different, and ultimately the lack of conflict and ongoing storylines from part to part leaves show feeling empty in a way. The animation is fine and the designs of the characters pop. I particularly liked the new take on Kei more so than Yuri what with her spiked hair and giant eyes. Her design reminded me of Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo in a way.
The writing is the big problem in Flash. It just never rises to the occasion or pushes the envelope. It's this one-note script that just keeps carrying on with jokes that often misfire and stories that never provide satisfactory climaxes. Episodic anime can be done, and done well, but this show is not really an example of that. It's entertaining in small doses and there's a sense of nostalgia that comes from loving the original. If you're looking for anything more than that you're going to be left wanting. Ultimately I'd say Dirty Pair Flash is a rental rather than a purchase.
Dirty Pair Flash is presented on DVD with the original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The show looks decent for its age, but it hasn't exactly been remastered for this release. There's quite a lot of grain in the show, some of the animation shimmers, and there is some line noise here and there. This is a series that's approaching the decade mark so you have to take some of it with a grain of salt, and overall it doesn't look bad, but it definitely could have looked better. I'd say the presentation matches the quality of the program itself, and that's to say it doesn't leave a strong impression.
For audio options on this release from Nozomi Entertainment, Dirty Pair Flash includes English and Japanese spoken languages, with optional English subtitles or on screen text. In the case of both the output is 2.0 stereo. The audio quality for the English track is hit or miss with some flat dialogue and music that sounds like it's coming from a can. The Japanese track, however, comes through with much better clarity and presence on the soundstage.
For extra features this release includes clean animations, a line art gallery, and some trailers.
Dirty Pair Flash possess many of the same characteristics that made the first series a success, but it lacks the charm. The first two parts of the show are better for it because of the sequential nature and over-arching theme, but the last bit's episodic piece doesn't send the series out on a strong note. Kei and Yuri are a fun pairing but beyond that there's no further development in either their relationship or the series. This all leaves Flash feeling rather light and empty and not really worth much more than a rental.
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