When you're talking about classic anime shows that deserve to be brought back to store shelves, there is quite a few that come to mind. The anime market is so focused on what's new and shiny that these older shows tend to get overlooked by the modern anime fan. That's really a shame because there are some true golden nuggets that haven't been around for some time. One of those shows that comes to mind is Dirty Pair, and thanks to RightStuf/Nozomi Entertainment this oldie-but-goodie is on its way back into publication.
Dirty Pair originally came out in 1985. Produced by Sunrise the series received 24 episodes (plus two addition OVA episodes) and found itself directed by Norio Kashima and Toshifumi Takizawa. The franchise later when on to receive some OVA episodes, an animated film, and it was also revived as Dirty Pair Flash in 1994.
While the show is known for many things, I would have to say that it's arguably one of the earliest examples of fan-service in the industry. By today's standards it was relatively tame, but back in 1985 having a bunch of animated girls run around in their underwear and shoot bad guys was simply unheard of. It stood out for this and more, and let's just say it's a great thing RightStuf/Nozomi revived the license. The first thirteen episodes of the original series are presented here on three DVDs.
The show takes place far into the future at some point in the 22nd Century. Mankind has made his way to the stars and we've populated worlds throughout the galaxy. There exists within this continuity an underground policing agency who is called upon when the going gets tough and the tough got going. The World Welfare Works Association consists of operatives across the galaxy, but a pair of girls known as the Lovely Angels, or the Dirty Pair, are arguably the most notorious.
The girls in question are Kei and Yuri, and they are truly a unique and dynamic duo. Kei is the shoot first and ask questions later type, while Yuri is definitely more of a thinker and stays level-headed. Think of Yuri as the girl you take home to mom. At any rate, the girls are nicely balanced in terms of personalities and they play off each other quite well. It was clear from the get-go that the producers of Dirty Pair had these characters through the drawing stages long before they began animating them, though some of that could be attributed to the original light novels by Haruka Takachiko.
The show is quite simple in its execution and it's really nothing we haven't seen before. Basically each episode is formulaic in the sense that Kei and Yuri find themselves being roped into one specific job or another that the WWWA sends their way. It's basically a mission of the week mentality as the episodic nature takes hold very early on in the show. A powerful super computer is breaking down one week and a crime boss needs to be taken down the next. There's really no continuity between the two as far as massive plot is concerned, but there are snippets here and there that tie previous episodes in to current ones.
The driving force of the series is the relationship between Kei and Yuri. They make every WWWA mission a blast and they keep the exploits from becoming too monotonous. Other shows of this formulaic sort tend to burn out rather quickly, but Dirty Pair manages to keep it together. It's engaging, entertaining, and some of the storylines here are pretty original. I mean, how many other anime shows out there can you think of where the protagonists have to capture a pink cat injected with experimental steroids? Not man, I can assure you of that.
Dirty Pair has long been a favorite of mine and it's something I'm definitely glad to see revisited. Whether you're an old-timer like me and want to relive some classic anime, or you are simply curious about what was being released 25 years ago, Dirty Pair is a timelessly entertaining series. Consider this release recommended!
Dirty Pair is presented on DVD with its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The show definitely wears its age and there's grain, dirt, scratches, fading, and some minor discoloration in parts. This all comes with the territory, however, and you really can't expect to find a better transfer for a 25 year old anime series. As it stands the animation is still quite good and there are scenes that look much sharper than others. Just take the age of the material into consideration and don't come looking for a high definition remaster, and you'll find that the presentation meets expectations, even if they are relatively low.
For audio, Dirty Pair comes with Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles. No English track is included here, though the individual disc cases in interior of the packaging clearly state that there is an English dub. The outer box, however, would be correct in detailing that there is not. The quality of the audio is on par with the video, in the sense that it's aged and not exactly a spring chicken. The dialogue is clear enough, as is the music and sound effects, but this is a flat sounding show that is occasionally muffled.
Clean animations and some trailers are what you're going to find here for bonus features. Unless you count the nicely designed art box.
Dirty Pair is a fantastic show that is highly recommended based on the quality of the content. The 13 episodes here are packed with action, laughs, endearing characters, and entertaining storylines. The quality of the presentation, however, does leave something to be desired and takes my final grade down a peg. The video and audio are both aged and there are flaws that come with that. Then again, some could argue that these just add distinction to the product. I for one am pleased to see the show in its original state and not redone with new colors, a widescreen presentation, or something of that sort, though some cleanup would have been appreciated. This collection should be considered strongly recommended as a whole.