Dirty Pair is regarded as one of the classic anime or, failing that, one of the key gateway anime for many fans in the late 80s and early 90s.
So, how does it stack up as a series now? Overall surprisingly well, and with quite a high rewatch value.
The Lovely Angels
Much of the success of Dirty Pair rests on the fact that the Lovely Angels usually have agency (and big guns) with which to affect the outcomes. They are the actors, not the acted upon. Kei and Yuri are one of the earliest examples of genuine Action Girls¸ and are usually a lot of fun just to watch.
The Vitriolic Best Buds relationship set up between Kei and Yuri from the beginning is one of the mainstays of the series, and works well throughout. Watching these two bicker as they handed out the mayhem never got old.
On the downside was the tendency towards Fanservice, and not necessarily from the iconic Battle Bikinis. Against that is the surprisingly varied wardrobe. That was a genuine surprise to me for such an old series. Given the limitations of anime budgets, particularly TV series budgets, I expected the Limited Wardrobe trope to be in full effect and at 77% it clearly wasn’t.
The Series Structure
Such as it is, and such as there is of it. 🙂
With only a few exceptions, Dirty Pair is very loosely structured series. There’s very little in the way of continuity, and only one two part story. There are a few points such as Damocles Tower remaining permanently tilted after episode 1, and Nanmo taking a few episodes to rebuild after episode 5.
But other than that, Dirty Pair can more or less be watched in any order, and dodgy episodes can be skipped at will.
With that in mind, here’s a few episodes to seek out and avoid in a couple of categories.
At it’s very best, Dirty Pair is an immensely fun series to watch. The best episodes manage a hectic pace with deft comedic timing, married to mayhem and destruction. At its best, Dirty Pair is exactly what is says on the tin of the exuberant OP:
If you’re wanting to look at just the fun episodes, my top three recommendations would be:
- Episode 4 – Pursuit Has The Smell of Cheesecake and Death
- Episode 11 – Hah, Hah, Hah, Dresses and Men Should Always Be Brand New
- Episode 15 – Dig Here, Meow, Meow. Happiness Comes At The End!
Some episodes dealt with more serious topics than others, and the ones to look at here are:
- Episode 7 – Love is Everything! Risk Your Life to Elope! for a surprisingly progressive take on transgender rights, especially for the 1980s (it’s also a fun episode without that)
- Episode 8 – Gotta Do it! Love is What Makes a Woman Explode! for possibly the best look at the relationship between Kei and Yuri that makes the series work
- Episode 12 – The Little Dictator! Let Sleeping Top Secrets Lie for a good look at research ethics of all things, and a superb example of how to time a Mood Whiplash
One of the things that has to be acknowledged about Dirty Pair is the dated future; the way the future looked then as opposed to how it turned out. Often, usually, the sense of fun overrides this, but there are a few episodes in particular when you can’t help noticing it:
- Episode 1 – How to Kill a Computer for computers so big that you can telefrag one with a spaceship. A large spaceship.
- Episode 21 – No Way! 463 People Disappeared? and episode 22 – We Did it!! 463 People Found! for the interesting ideas re computer hacking
- Episode 24 – Are You Serious?! A Condo is a Dangerous Place to Live for thinking that door to door salesmen will still be a thing.
There are a number of episodes that I wouldn’t want to revisit. The key offenders here are:
- Episode 10 – What? We’re Heinous Kidnappers! for too much plot in too little time to properly deal with it (also true of episodes 17, 21, and 22)
- Episode 14 – The Vault or the Vote? A Murderous Day For A Speech! Is just a mess.
- Episode 19 – An Unjustified Lover’s Grudge. Let Me Love You Without Revenge for being mean and nasty. This is an episode that you will feel guilty for laughing at, and should be avoided.
As noted in the recent reviews, the quality tails off somewhat towards the end. Whilst I didn’t put 25 and 26 on the bad list, they were close, and can be safely skipped.
For the most part Dirty Pair has stood the test of time surprisingly well. At its best, Dirty Pair remains a hugely fun show to watch even with the limited animation and visual quality of the 1980s.
Most of the episodes I’d be happy to watch again, and I probably will at some point. You can’t ask for much more than that from a 31 year old series.
Next Up: Once I have enough votes on all the polls, the final episode titles poll, and getting started on the OAVs.
To wrap up with, here’s the ED:
For reference here’s the complete episode list, with links to the individual reviews.
Episode 1 – How to Kill a Computer
Episode 2 – Do Lovely Angels Prefer Chest Hair?
Episode 3 – Go Ahead, Fall in Love! Love is Russian Roulette!
Episode 4 – Pursuit Has The Smell of Cheesecake and Death
Episode 5 – The Heartbeat of Creados
Episode 6 – Lots of Danger, Lots of Decoys
Episode 7 – Love is Everything! Risk Your Life to Elope!
Episode 8 – Gotta Do it! Love is What Makes a Woman Explode!
Episode 9 – Hire Us! Beautiful Bodyguards are a Better Deal!
Episode 10 – What? We’re Heinous Kidnappers!
Episode 11 – Hah, Hah, Hah, Dresses and Men Should Always Be Brand New
Episode 12 – The Little Dictator! Let Sleeping Top Secrets Lie
Episode 13 – What’s This! My Supple Skin is a Mess
Episode 14 – The Vault or the Vote? A Murderous Day For A Speech!
Episode 15 – Dig Here, Meow, Meow. Happiness Comes At The End!
Episode 16 – Leave it to us! The WWWA is a Wonderful Job!
Episode 17 – Come Out, Come Out, Assassin
Episode 18 – Pardon Us. Trouble’s On the Run, So We’re Coming Through!
Episode 19 – An Unjustified Lover’s Grudge. Let Me Love You Without Revenge
Episode 20 – Nostalgic Blues Make a Killer Soundtrack
Episode 21 – No Way! 463 People Disappeared?
Episode 22 – We Did it!! 463 People Found!
Episode 23 – Something’s Amiss…!? Our Elegant Revenge
Episode 24 – Are You Serious?! A Condo is a Dangerous Place to Live
Episode 25 – Eek! The Boy in the Manor is a Terminator
Episode 26 – R-Really?! For Beautiful Women “Canon” is the Keyword to Escape
 Technically I still haven’t since I’ve yet to tackle the OAVs. Then there’s Dirty Pair Flash which I will only consider watching and reviewing for suitably large donations to charity.
 DOH! I actually repeated the episode 9 title when I put the favourite titles poll together for disc 3.