Dirty Pair Flash: Angels In Trouble
What is it that makes or breaks a television show? Is it the characters, the costumes, the plot, the actors, or a combination of them all? It's usually when that show is remade that we find out why we liked the original in the first place. There are plenty of good and bad examples in the anime canon. For example, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 in many ways improved on the original, but it could do so primarily because the old OVA series was far more about the look and feel (and music) of NeoTokyo and less about the individual characters. Though Tokyo 2040 did change the personalities around a bit, all but the diehard fans could get past it. On the other hand, the TV version of Record of Lodoss Wars, based more on the novels than the classic Lodoss Wars OVAs, drove into the ditch by focusing on people and events that didn't interest fans of the first anime incarnation.
So what happens when your remake screwes with two of the most iconic characters in all of anime fandom? You get crap. And that's putting mildly what I think of Dirty Pair Flash, which completes misses the whole reason anybody watched the original Dirty Pair in the first place. Yes, the elements are all there -- girls with guns, spaceships, and lots of explosions -- but I have never seen a remake that understood its source material less. As a big fan of the original, I couldn't even get through the entirety of the first Flash OVA series before throwing my hands up in despair. I watched the first Flash set, Angels In Trouble, but that was more than enough for this old otaku.
So who exactly are Kei and Yuri? In this bastardization of the material, they are both high-school age gals who can't take a written test to save their lives but perform surprisingly well in the field. They are brought together by the WWWA's wacko computer who thinks that they'd make a fine duo, but they are at each other's throats constantly. Yes, there is a plot concerning a data card, a big bad corporation, and a villanious rogue agent, but they are only minor inconveniences inbetween shouting matches. It's amazing they can get anything done with their mutual dislike, but between all their bickering, they manage to get a few missions accomplished (though by no fault of their own).
Much has been said about the redesign of the characters themselves. Both of them actually wear clothes rather than revealing bikini uniforms in Dirty Pair Flash, and my loyal readers will know that I generally think less is better when it comes to fan service. I can deal with the fact that Kei is no longer a beautiful redhead and Yuri a gloriously blue-haired vixen goddess. I'm OK that they are now cute rather than sexy (even though a poster of the original Kei and Yuri hung in my bedroom throughout my high school years as proof that I had officially reached puberty). As much as I dislike that the new Yuri has a freakin' laser sword, for crying out loud, I understand the desire to update.
But why did they have to change the characters into obnoxious and even degrading stereotypes? For all the flack they received, the original Kei and Yuri were fast thinkers who controlled every situation they were in and used every asset they had (in every way imaginable) to get the job done. Did they zing each other from time to time? Sure...but it was part of their friendship. And while destruction always followed in their wake, they usually were dealing with bad luck, not casual mayhem they had personally caused. They were street smart young women who were strong and resourceful. And what's more, we as an audience had a blast watching them. The original Dirty Pair was darn fun and halfway intelligent, too.
Dirty Pair Flash, on the other hand, treats Kei and Yuri as stupid and violent. Their jobs get done in spite of them, not because of them. Their personalities are unabashedly unattractive...what little personality they actually have. They are generic girls of the lowest order; we do not care about them or anything they go through. In fact, I wished they would go away, they were that annoying. And though I appreciated the idea of an ongoing plotline (something the original show rarely if ever did), it was so boring and limp that it made me wonder if I had overrated the original Dirty Pair because I saw it when I was a kid. I just hated it.
I was so distraught, in fact, that I watched a few episodes of Flash, then stuck in Girls With Guns, the first of the original Dirty Pair OVA discs. Yes, the artwork was dated and the animation shockingly lacking. But I wasn't wrong...it was just as much fun as I had remembered, and if anything, the Kei and Yuri of my youth improved over time. It was so good, in fact, that there was no going back. The originals had the magic; the new pretenders simply do not. I realize that I am way late to this discussion, so late in fact that the Dirty Pair Flash discs have apparently gone out of print. That's fine in my book, though, since they are a blight on the legacy of one of the most enjoyable series of the 1980s. I'd rather remember the old series with all of its flaws than experience a new version with none of its joys.
Dirty Pair Flash: Angels In Trouble -- violence -- D