For those not in the know, Dirty Pair is a long-running franchise that initially premiered as a compilation of short stories authored by Haruka Takachiho (Crusher Joe) back in 1980. The franchise follows the sci-fi exploits of brash special agents Kei and Yuri who together form the Lovely Angels. Their mission is to enforce the law and tackle particularly difficult assignments for the World Welfare Works Association (WWWA or 3WA). Unfortunately for them and the rest of society, they are a bit absentminded and have a tendency to do as much harm as they do good, leaving destruction and ruin in their wake. Their penchant for clumsy violence earns them the nickname “The Dirty Pair,” a name they comically resent.
The Dirty Pair Manga Omnibus is a collection of the two-part retelling of the first Dirty Pair light novel, which was originally released under the title The Great Adventures of the Dirty Pair. The artwork is provided by Hisao Tamaki who, as one glance at the cover art reveals, has deviated from the classic character designs quite a bit. No longer inspired by decades-old pulp science fiction, Tamaki’s version of the Lovely Angels are drawn in a more detailed and modern style. The longstanding yellow and silver uniforms are gone, and in their place are blue and pink sweatbands that barely manage to keep their now much larger breasts covered. The series has always sexualized the pair, albeit to a lesser degree, so whether or not readers will take positively to the change will depend entirely on their personal tastes.
The first volume follows the 3WA agents as they respond to a case involving factory explosions on a nearby planet. Worldbuilding is not as important as the personalities of the galaxy’s most infamous duo, but the surrounding science fiction world is illustrated well, and it is immediately noticeable. While the illustrations and scenery are not likely to be burned permanently into art aficionados’ minds, the visualizations of the classic stories never distract from the dialogue or tone of the volumes. Speaking of the tone of the volumes…
As the pair begin their latest case, it becomes immediately apparent that the manga stays true to the series’ lighthearted, soft sci-fi roots. The pair laugh and giggle as they dodge countless bullets, blasts, and bombs. Anatomically impossible feats of athleticism are all but daily routine for Kei and Yuri while fighting off space scum. This artistic license with reality may not be for everyone, but for longtime fans and myself, it’s fun and engaging old-school action at its finest. The sequences always lead to the next step in the investigation and never last such a duration that they become a chore instead of entertainment. I’m not so positively inclined towards the humor.
Virtually all of the comedic elements in Dirty Pair come from two places: the relationship between the two protagonists or their lack of relationships with boys. Kei is the outgoing tomboy, and Yuri is far more refined, so the two regularly trade barbs over the dire predicaments they regularly find themselves trapped in. These exchanges are mostly made up of quick one-liners and contribute a great deal to the playfulness of the manga even though they aren’t particularly witty. On the other hand, Kei’s inability to get a boyfriend results in banter that ranges from tolerable to cringey.
The second volume is a bit beefier in terms of intrigue and character depth, and it is arguably the stronger of the two. It features much more overt fan-service and exploitation, so it may also be either the more off-putting or appealing of the two depending on one’s constitution and interests. However, by the time my run with the omnibus was over, I felt the second case was consistent with the first. This is not a knock against the title at all. The action, illustrations, and pacing remain strong throughout. On the flip side, this consistency also results in similar jokes, which after 400 pages becomes tiresome.
I’m not going to say that this version of the Dirty Pair is as good as any that have come before it, but it is for the most part well-crafted, well-paced, and fun. It delivers what fans of the series are after, and for anyone else it provides a fun action-adventure comedy. The Lovely Angels' latest escapades likely won’t end up on anyone’s year-end list, but it’s worth the time if you’ve got it.
Kei and Yuri, known as the Lovely Angels–or the notorious Dirty Pair, depending on who you ask–work as "trouble consultants" for the galactic Worlds Welfare and Works Association (WWWA). But in their pursuit of space-wide justice, they cause space-wide disaster! The chaotic (and strangely successful) exploits of these interstellar agents come alive in this two-in-one manga omnibus by Haruka Takachiho and Star Wars: A New Hope manga artist Hisao Tamaki!Add to CartLearn More