Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Dirty Pair: Features DVD Collection
This 3-disc collection contains all three Dirty Pair films: Project Eden, Flight 005 Conspiracy, and Affair on Nolandia. In the first film, Kei and Yuri begin investigating a mining dispute only to come head to head with a mad scientist trying to create a new species. In the second, the Lovely Angels are called in to investigate an apparently full flight that exploded in mid-air that may or may not have ties to a missing scientist, and in the third a murder leads to a sinister group exploiting a child with ESP.
Completeists rejoice – The Right Stuf has re-released all three of the original Dirty Pair “films” (two were OVAs in Japan, but labeled as films for their U.S. releases) in a single 3-disc collection, from 1985's Affair on Nolandia to 1990's Flight 005 Conspiracy. All three come on separate discs with their own extras, including line art galleries, original promo videos, and different Nozomi trailers. All three also include three separate audio tracks: original Japanese with new subtitles, ADV's dub, and Streamline's dub. The audio quality is slightly different on each track, but for those who first experienced these as either of the dubs, the nostalgia factor of listening to your preferred version is an added bonus. Whether Yuri will always be Wendee Lee, Allison Sumrall, or Saeko Shimazu to you, rest assured that she is present.
1986's Project Eden, the only theatrical film in the collection, is the longest of the three at an hour and twenty minutes. It is also the campiest with the least urgent storyline. Kei and Yuri, initially putting a stop to a vizorium smuggling operation, soon discover that strange lizard-like monsters have been attacking vizorium mining operations. Since the mineral is essential for warp drives, tension is high, and the two rival planet-countries that have been mining it are both blaming each other for the incidents. The Lovely Angels quickly discover, with the help of a thief named Carson D. Carson, that a mad scientist, Dr. Wattsman, has been operating under the assumption that the ore from which vizorium is mined contains a slumbering life form. As the Pair race to stop him, Kei also fights an attraction to Carson. Music for this positively reeks of the 1980s, and the opening animation has a more “realistic” look to it, like American comics of the bronze age. Animation has moments of beautiful fluidity, such as Yuri flopping in a tub of water, the dissolution of a floor beneath the characters' feet, or Yuri's impromptu dance number on a transport. Speaking of that scene, it is also one of the most telling in terms of dub vs dub vs sub differences: the Streamline track adds dialogue to what was originally (and in the ADV track) a speechless scene. This is something that holds true for all three of the Streamline versions, although it is most noticeable here and in Affair on Nolandia.
In general, Streamline's dub takes many more liberties than ADV's in all three features. In none of them is the plot significantly changed, although in Project Eden the love story between Kei and Carson is definitely given a different, less combative feel. In general it seems that Streamline's dub makes the films more palatable to an American audience, changing lines in order to flow better or make more sense, or even just to be more entertaining. (“What d'ya think they are, braille?” Kei growls at Carson when he lands with his hands on her breasts.) If you don't have a need to hear the words spoken as close to the Japanese track as possible, Project Eden is far more enjoyable with the fluidly acted Streamline dub than with the stiffer ADV version, and even a bit moreso than the Japanese. This is also true for 1985's Affair on Nolandia, which holds the distinction of being the only Dirty Pair animation to make use of the psychic powers mentioned in the original novels. In this 56 minute OVA, also the only one to make Mughi black and to include robot Nanmo, Kei and Yuri attempt to solve a murder which leads them into the dark realm of a genetically engineered planet. A little girl named Missnie (or Missunie in the Streamline dub) and her psychic powers also feature, a device which allows the Lovely Angels to showcase their own skills, with Kei flat-out saying at one point that she is psychic. This is the darkest of the three with a high body count and a general sense of tragedy. It is also the most mature in terms of imagery, with several nude shots of both Kei and Yuri, nipples included, and a use of tentacles, although not for pornographic purposes. This is ADV's smoothest dub of the three, although in general both Streamline and subtitled versions are a bit better. It is also interesting to note that this film gives us sleeker bodies for the Dirty Pair with smaller breasts and more covering bottoms, perhaps a tribute to the novel's illustrations.
Flight 005 Conspiracy, the second disc but latest in terms of its 1990 copyright, is probably the weakest of the three. It is the most maudlin, with the subtitle track handling it the best, and also holds the dubious distinction of giving the girls the smallest shorts of the three. In this entry, Kei and Yuri aren't as close as they are in most other stories. There is also more graphic violence, and while there aren't as many deaths as in Affair on Nolandia, those who die are people we have some emotional stock in, or at least as much as can be built up over the course of 58 minutes. The plot concerns an interplanetary flight that exploded in space, apparently killing all 300 passengers aboard. Strangely enough the 3WA computer has also indicated that this is tied to the disappearance of a scientist who was researching ignoal (or “igniite” in the Streamline dub, which also changes some character names). Kei and Yuri are chosen by the computer, and to the dismay of all involved, to investigate. While there is nothing wrong with this as a plot, it is simply not as gripping as Nolandia nor as goofy as Eden, making it look mediocre in comparison. The excess of emotion at the end also detracts by overdoing.
All in all, this is a very nice collection. It is equally as enjoyable for those who are coming from the Dirty Pair TV and OAV releases and for those who are curious but don't want to invest in the longer shows. The animation and colors look very good, and fans of science fiction should appreciate the science details that are present in all three of the features. Astute viewers will also notice the emphasis on both travel and genetic engineering that appears in at least two of the three, as well as some distinct parallels to To Tera... in Affair on Nolandia. While all three employ different methods to tell their stories, Kei and Yuri remain engaging heroines and even when the story isn't as good as it could be, it is always entertaining.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B
Animation : B+
Art : B
Music : B-
+ Separate extras on each disc, three choices for audio track. All three features are easy to enjoy and different enough that it never feels repetitive.
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