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Nozomi Cover Art – Dirty Pair OAV Series

Following on from my earlier review of the Dirty Pair TV series, how did the later, flashier[1], OAV series stack up to my expectations?

And what were those expectations since, again, I don’t think I’d seen all of them before the Nozomi remastered release?

What did I expect?

In general the late 80s to early 90s was the peak period for OAVs as a separate market. OAVs in this period tended to display[2]:

  • Higher quality artwork or animation, occasionally both due to freedom from TV scheduling deadlines but less so than still higher budget movies.
  • More adventurous storylines due to freedom from TV censorship restrictions or box office pressures.

Obviously there were major exceptions or combinations – Lodoss War had the art but not the animation, Gunsmith Cats was probably toned down from the manga, El-Hazard is probably one of the few that hit the sweet spot of both.

Compared to the TV series, that was I was expecting a little of column A, a little of column B. Still Dirty Pair, just better overall.

Did I get what I expected?

Well, I generally got the higher quality artwork and animation, pity about the rest of it. Although the good episodes were very good. Certainly the animation boost was on display in the OP, and it generally carried through to the rest of the series as well:

The Lovely Angels

Much of what I said about Kei and Yuri for the TV series still holds but Flanderization has taken hold in some ways. The vitriolic best buds bickering did start getting a bit old in the later episodes.

I think the fanservice was increased, but the wardrobe diversity went massively backwards.

You may remember how pleasantly surprised I was to see the Battle Bikini percentage end as low as 77% over 26 episodes. By comparison the OAVs ended at 95% over 10. The Limited Wardrobe trope was back in force[3] and I think it did dent my enjoyment of the OAVs overall.

The Series Structure

Pretty much as before. Canon? What is this “canon” concept of which you speak?

You can basically watch the episodes in any order and skip the dodgy ones. Speaking of which:

The Fun

As before Dirty Pair can be an immensely fun show to watch. The best three from the OAVs are:

  • Episode 2 – No Thanks! No Need For a Halloween Party!
  • Episode 7 – Revenge of the Muscle Lady! Is a Woman’s Spirit the Beauty of the Ring?
  • Episode 8 – That Little Girl is Older Than Us. The Preservation Was a Success?! Sleeping Beauty!

The ED certainly added to the fun:

The Serious

A couple of episodes also dealt with more serious topics, to varying degrees of success:

  • Episode 9 – Red Eyes Are the Sign of Hell. Chase After the Killing Squad! for a decent cyberpunk story dealing with implanted mind controls, as well as an appropriately ruthless Kei and Yuri
  • Episode 7 (again) – Revenge of the Muscle Lady! Is a Woman’s Spirit the Beauty of the Ring? because of how well it handled teamwork and the actual friendship/trust at the heart of the Lovely Angels successes.
  • Episode 3 – We’re Not Afraid of Divine Judgment. It’s Like Magic?! The God’s Challenge although ruined by the comedic “ha ha we wrecked a planet” ending, episode 3 was a good look at technology masquerading as religion in a science fictional setting.

The Zeerust

I was probably pretty inured to the dated future of Dirty Pair by this point, but episode 1 did make an impression. Prison Uprising! We Hate People With Grudges! Featured an electronic map devices that looks quaint now but was pretty forward thinking when it appeared in 1987 (or when I first saw that episode at JAFWA in the very early 90s).

The Bad

Oh dear. There was a really weak patch in the middle of these OAVs. Episode 3 kind of gets a pass because of the subject matter (see The Serious above) but after that:

  • Episode 4 – Who Cares If They’re Only Kids! Playing War Games Warrants a Firing Squad?! Anvilicious and not nearly as funny as the last time the Lovely Angels tangled with kids in the TV series.
  • Episode 5 – And so, Nobody’s Doing It Anymore has great world building. Pity about the rest of the episode. Moving on.
  • Episode 6 – Are You Serious? Shocked at the Beach! Wedding Panic! That resounding snapping sound? Yeah, that was my suspension of disbelief breaking like a bungee cord under tension. Notable only for being the only episode where we don’t see Yuri in her battle bikini.

Conclusion

It’s possible that I’m being overly unfair to the OAVs, the 40% fail rate is probably comparable to the TV series if I’m honest, and the Halloween episode truly is one of the iconic Dirty Pair episodes.

But that said, I don’t think I was unjustified in having higher expectations this time around.

Overall I think I prefer the TV series, but the OAVs can be very good indeed. Just skip that middle run.

Episode List:

Episode 1 – Prison Uprising! We Hate People With Grudges!
Episode 2 – No Thanks! No Need For a Halloween Party!
Episode 3 – We’re Not Afraid of Divine Judgment. It’s Like Magic?! The God’s Challenge
Episode 4 – Who Cares If They’re Only Kids! Playing War Games Warrants a Firing Squad?!
Episode 5 – And so, Nobody’s Doing It Anymore
Episode 6 – Are You Serious? Shocked at the Beach! Wedding Panic!
Episode 7 – Revenge of the Muscle Lady! Is a Woman’s Spirit the Beauty of the Ring?
Episode 8 – That Little Girl is Older Than Us. The Preservation Was a Success?! Sleeping Beauty!
Episode 9 – Red Eyes Are the Sign of Hell. Chase After the Killing Squad!
Episode 10 – No Need to Listen to the Bad Guys. We are Space Truckers!

Notes

[1] Yes, I just went there.

[2] Sweeping generalisation alert!!!

[3] Whatever else can be said about modern CGI anime, the much wider variety of clothing and hairstyles allowed to each character by the technology is a definitely a step forward in my view.