The final – to date – installment of Dirty Pair adventures on the screen, is a bit of a mixed bag. Of the five episodes here, two are pretty good, one mediocre, and two are more than a tad creepy, thanks to the level of, from what I recall of my days in anime, used to be called ‘fan service’. There is an entire episode centered around beach volleyball, which is nothing more than a flimsy excuse to see Kei and Yuri in a variety of miniscule costumes, bordering on the fetishistic. Now, I just don’t find cartoons sexy – no, not even Jessica Rabbit – and given both of them are technically under-age, it all gets a tad sleazy. Things get worse in the fourth episode, when an even younger boy, rich and clever, but very weird, builds a mechanical replica of Yuri and falls in love with it.
That’s the bad news. The good news is, when they keep on track, the show has the right mix of goofy humour and collateral damage that we love. Witness the second installment, where our pair find themselves being hunted by Monica De Noir: someone younger, deadlier and with an even more saccharine approach to life, whose weapons include things like a giant killer teddy-bear. That’s got some nice jabs at the Sailor Moon school of anime, though since Flash takes some aspects of that show on-board, it does count as biting the hand somewhat. Also enjoyable was the final episode, where Berringer, a villain in a military hard-suit who was jailed thanks to Chief Poporo, lays siege to WWWA headquarters, with vengeance atop his list of priorities. It’s kinda Die Hard crossed with The Terminator, and I was sorry to see that one finish. Completing the set is an episode where Kei has to nurse a baby through a hostile landscape; emphasis on a) ‘nurse’ and b) ‘hostile’, which is also kinda odd to Western eyes. Having always preferred Yuri to Kei, this was never going to be one of my favorites.
All told though, it is a significant improvement on the dire previous series, returning the focus to what made the Dirty Pair entertaining, in a cheerfully destructive way. It certainly feels something of a mis-step to separate Kei and Yuri, as in a couple of the pieces: the interaction and character contrast between them is part of the show’s appeal. However, when they’re together and working in synch, they still represent one of the best double-acts in anime history, and I hope there will perhaps be more Dirty Pair available down the road.
Dir: Takahito Kimura
Star (voice): Rika Matsumoto, Mariko Koda, Shigezou Sasaoka, Mika Kanai