by Mike Crandol,

Dirty Pair Flash

DVD 2: Angels at World's End

Dirty Pair Flash DVD 2
Kei and Yuri, the galaxy's most dreaded pair of 3WA Trouble Consultants, are assigned to accompany network engineer Touma to the redundantly named Worlds World, an entire planet devoted to recreating 20th century Earth in theme-park format. The supercomputer that runs the behind-the-scenes operation of the planet has been infected with an intelligent virus, one smart enough to try and kill the nerdy Touma, sent to rectify the matter. The Lovely Angels are charged with protecting Touma, but find that taking care of themselves is hard enough when they're stranded in the 20th century.
Few anime characters have been made-over as often as Kei and Yuri, the infamous Dirty Pair. In a few short years the Lovely Angels of Destruction went from their hard sci-fi novel roots to anime cult phenomenon, crossed the Pacific to star in their own satiric American comic book, and returned to the East with a new look and attitude for a new decade in Dirty Pair Flash. Whereas all previous incarnations held to a pretty consistent vision of the Pair, Flash represented a bold departure not only in visual style but also in the characterizations themselves. As such, many longtime Dirty Pair fans tend to look down their nose at this “bastardization” of two of the all-time great Anime Stars. Dirty Pair Flash does indeed lack the charm of its predecessors, but the new, “improved” Kei and Yuri manage to entertain in their own way.

Set 100 years after the exploits of the original Pair, DP Flash introduces us to the third duo of 3WA Trouble Consultants to earn the Lovely Angels moniker, and by some uncanny anime coincidence they also happen to be named Kei and Yuri. They also share their namesakes' penchant for disaster, and this time the unfortunate planet they've been assigned to bears a striking similarity to our own. The “20th Century Recreation Theme Planet” Worlds World is a shameless excuse to put the Pair into a contemporary setting. Whether or not this was done so the writers and designers wouldn't have to come up with anything too imaginative is unclear, but they do manage to invent some entertaining if clichéd situations for the girls. Kei and Yuri spend some time at a haunted girls' dormitory, traipse through the woods with a smarmy con-artist, and try and fix the nerdy Touma up with the girl of his dreams. The last episode is vintage Dirty Pair chaos with its exploding-android running gag and a climax in which the villain is nabbed but only after some serious collateral damage. Despite the formulaic setup the script is witty and funny with a pinch of satire that seems to be borrowed from Adam Warren's American take on the Dirty Pair.

The quasi-legendary status of the original Dirty Pair series no doubt helped procure a decent-sized budget for the new series. For an OVA series the animation is incredibly polished. There are plenty of static scenes to be sure, but all of the action sequences are fully animated with an uncharacteristic attention to detail. The second episode in particular features some great layout and design work, and despite it's comedic tone the many ghostly encounters are genuinely spooky. Though it'll never be a bestseller, the musical score is also well done (wretched theme song discounted!).

Adapting the look of Dirty Pair to the post-Tenchi 90s anime scene proved to be an unwise decision. Mirroring the trend of bright, pretty colors and sharp, angular character designs, Flash looks like every other anime from the era without any kind of visual originality to distinguish it from the pack. Tsukasa Dokite's classic Kei-n-Yuri designs, which had an, errr….well-rounded appeal have been dumped in favor of jagged-edged overhauls with a grotesque florescent color scheme. Gone are the girls' trademark bikini battlesuits, replaced with nondescript clothing that may be more PC but does little to differentiate the Angels from every other cotton candy colored anime girl. At least the horribly out-of-place Magical Girl transformation sequences from the first Flash OVA have been mercifully put out to pasture.

In addition to their less-than-adequate redesign, Kei and Yuri have become stereotypes of their former selves. Flash amplifies their defining quirks while doing away with the more level-headed aspects of the classic Dirty Pair's personalities: Kei is butch to an extreme and Yuri is vain, vapid and whines incessantly. They don't appear to like each other very much, either. Kei and Yuri squabble in their other incarnations but there is always the feeling of a sisterly bond between them. The Flash Pair seem to be working together only because they have to. The “Mismatched Duo Routine” provides plenty of comedic opportunities, such as Yuri scaring the crap out of Kei during their stay at the “haunted” girls dormitory, but nowhere in “World's End” do the Angels develop into a true team. The result is an anime with plenty of laughs but little soul.

Vocally the girls also leave something to be desired, at least in the original Japanese version. Rika Matsumoto and Mariko Konda try to approximate the original performance of Kyoko Miyagi and Saeko Shimazu but cannot duplicate their vocal chemistry. Much better is the English dub, which features a great turn by Sue Ulu as Kei. Miss Ulu is best known as the wooden American voice of Evangelion's Ritsuko, but in Dirty Pair Flash she brings the bombastic Kei to life with an incredible vigor that captures the essence of the character perfectly. Her costars prove equally believable and entertaining, and the script stays faithful to the Japanese original while losing none of its humor and wit. It's curious that ADV did not employ the same excellent cast for the dubbing of the original Dirty Pair series, which is infinitely superior to Flash but sports a dreary English dub.

You can't really call Dirty Pair Flash a worthy successor to the Kei-n-Yuri lineage, but “Angels at the World's End” is mindless entertainment with moments of inspired comedy. It may lack the unabashed, exploitative charm of its forerunners but if you're new to the Dirty Pair universe you'll never know what you're missing.
Production Info:

+ well-animated, humorous action adventure
poorly desgined, shallow characterizations don't live up to the Dirty Pair name

Full encyclopedia details about
Dirty Pair Flash (OAV)

Release information about
Dirty Pair Flash - Angels at World's End (DVD 2)

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