In this section, I will mostly comment on things like cultural (or pop-culture) references, special uses of Japanese language and its meanings, or other points that might be obscure. I will try to refrain from obvious observations about story situations and will limit my remarks to points that are important to the series somewhere along the way (or things that are just interesting or amusing). For dialogue, I refer to Anne Exner's 1995 translation as used in Fuzzy Productions' fansubs of these episodes (I will need to mention a couple small errors I have found). ADV is still in production on an English-translated release of this series.


Broadcast Television episodes


1 - Konpyuuta no koroshi kata oshiemasu We'll show you the way to kill a computer

Since this is the start of the series, I'll begin with some comments about the show as a whole. There are things about the animation in the early episodes that suggest that the decision to go ahead with a broadcast DP series was settled a bit abruptly: the typical quality of the storylines and the animation improve noticeably after about episode 4. It should be said that in 1985, there was only one DP short story and one novella in print, with a new novel only appearing in SF Magajin while the show was already in production. So Dokite and his staff had to invent a fair number of details about the Lovely Angels that weren't covered in Takachiho's stories. It's not surprising then that the "Classic" DP anime is rather different from what readers of the print stories were used to; there's also the consideration that Dokite played up the humorous aspects and also brought some 'Toon characteristics to the animation. The TV series is generally more light-hearted than the novels.

Nonetheless, the future history established in the novels is carried over here. Kei and Yuri met as students at the University of Meizuru at the age of twelve back in 2134 and quickly became friends. They graduated in 2139 and chose to stick together, so they were both recruited into the 3WA to be trained as criminal investigations Trouble Consultants. They were licensed later that year; their early career must have already been spectacular, as they soon acquired the Dread Nickname. It is the year 2141 as the series opens. The location, invented for the series, is Damocles Tower, Kei and Yuri's megastructure residence, in Elenore City. (Vast constructions of this sort, such as arcologies, were the stuff of conceptual architecture in the late '60s and on into the '70s.)

The opening song, "Ru-Ru-Ru-Russian Roulette", is one of the most enduring songs in anime, probably much to the surprise of its writer and performer, Nakahara Meiko (who also later wrote the theme songs for Kimagure Orange Road). Besides appearing on the various releases of the TV soundtrack music, it has been anthologized on a number of compilations of anime themes over the years and continues to be a staple on anime Internet-radio shows. Most of the background music (BGM) melodies for the TV series are actually variations on one phrase or another of this song (what your neighborhood musicologist calls "thematic unity"); a couple of these even find their way into the music for DP Flash.

The very first figure we see in the opening is Kei bracing her gun in what is known as an isosceles stance and taking aim squarely at you. This image, or one we see soon after of Yuri aiming her finger at you as if she was pointing a gun, practically became logos for the series or for DP in general. The opening animation is a bit frantic, in keeping with the often chaotic developments in the stories, but also perhaps because it was done fairly quickly and without much in the way of familiar story material to refer viewers back to (as opposed to the situation with anime adapted from manga series).

At the very start of the story, we get a quick computer-aided shoukai <introduction> (which is properly Japanese conduct upon first meeting someone), with Kei, then Yuri, freeze-framed on the screen and their circuculum vitae displayed. The birthdates, as taken from the print stories, do not appear to be selected at random. Kei is a Sagittarius and a Metal Snake (27 November is also Bruce Lee's birthday); Yuri is a Pisces and a Water Horse. Western and Chinese astrological signs are sometimes taken as a sort of shorthand to describe someone's personality: the significance of these signs is discussed at length in Signs and Portents.

We quickly encounter the "third member" of the Lovely Angels team, Mughi. In the print stories, he is a sentient panther-like creature somewhat larger than a tiger, with two tendrils extending from his shoulders and ears terminating in spiral curls. (It should be mentioned that Takachiho is a cat-lover -- you can take a look at a photo gallery of his own cat, Fu-chan, at his Website.) Mughi is among the last of a nearly-extinct species who the Angels found and took in on one of their travels. He has the ability to "hear" and manipulate electromagnetic fields and radiation, which occasionally proves crucial in their adventures. For the anime, he was put through a lot of design changes to find a form suitable (and less menacing) for the TV series; in the end, he became over twice as large (big enough for both Angels to ride!) and a good deal shaggier. Mughi here retains the ability to hear radio signals, so Kei or Yuri can talk to him directly on their communicator-earrings; he is also able to fly their ship and even do mechanical repair work! [It might be remarked that we find in this scene that Kei appears to have had lessons at the Tivrusky School of Keyboard Data Entry...]

We don't generally meet up with the Angels' boss in the print stories, so Guurii-shunin (generally rendered into English as Chief Gooley -- full name: André Francis Gooley) is invented for the anime. He is only heard in this episode (as a rather angry voice); we first meet him in the next show.

Something we'll see a lot of in this series is Star Trek references! (Dokite Tsukasa was, and still is, a big ST fan.)

a specimen WWWA ID card [from the Animedia Visual Story Review]

Behind Yuri's head on one of the display monitors in their apartment flashes a list of the recurring cast for the 1960s TV series. The design for the Lovely Angel here is a kind of pink, four-seater version of the Enterprise-A. The superintending engineer for Damocles Tower, whom we soon meet, is modelled on Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, as James Doohan appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).


This goes a bit deeper than just fannish references, though. The Angels can be seen as forming a two-woman version of the three central characters in the original Star Trek. Kei corresponds to Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, who is also impulsive, adventurous, largely fearless, and sometimes amorous; some fans have argued that Kirk is also a Sagittarian (it is perhaps no accident that his current counterpart in Enterprise is named 'Archer'). Yuri combines the cool-headed, logical, analytical aspects of Mr. Spock with the caring, compassionate, humane character of Dr. Leonard " 'Bones" McCoy.

The story for this episode involves the Elenore City control-systems computer, BRIAN, going on a destructive rampage when it discovers an attempt by the city engineers to impose a new regulatory device upon it. (There is perhaps some influence from Colossus: The Forbin Project [1969], about another rebellious, sentient computer.) The chaos that erupts is the stuff of 1970s disaster movies (there are little lifts of events from films like Earthquake and The Towering Inferno [both from 1974]).

It says something about the extent of penetration of the English language into Japan when you look at the scene backgrounds. The "English" is much of '70s and '80s anime is often gibberish, word fragments, or specific commonplace messages, such as "NO ENTRY" or "OFF LIMITS" (seen in Japan a lot during the Occupation). By comparison, English text appearing in anime over the last dozen years or so is generally used with more comprehension and sophistication.

This episode introduces a running joke of the series, hinted at in the print stories. Whenever Yuri and Kei introduce themselves as "the 3WA team, Lovely Angels", they are met with blank stares (or bizarre guesses as to their occupation), but every human in the Galaxy knows "The Dirty Pair"!

Well, they wouldn't be Kei and Yuri if they weren't soon engaged in some bickering over how the mission is going. An interesting moment (while they are being rocketed to the top of Damocles Tower on a runaway elevator) is an argument about giving up on the whole business and breaking up the team (Kei calls that "a doozy of an idea"!) -- a story point which gets examined in 1993... Of course, neither of them means anything by it, as we have already seen them save each other's lives, as they will continue to do through the rest of the episode (and always...).

The visual motif of an outstretched hand clasping another's hand in rescue appears a couple of times in this episode and frequently throughout DP anime. Further along, there will be some poignant moments when that grasp fails...

When the Angels decide to bring their ship into play to try to get BRIAN under control, we find a small, somewhat egg-shaped, white robot with a single eye and huge red "shoes" at work on the Lovely Angel in orbit. This is Nammo (or Nanmo -- possibly a play on nanimo <nothing> or nandemo <anything>). Here is another character, created for the anime, who often helps Yuri and Kei in a pinch; Nammo is useful in dealing with a wide range of electronic systems and can also perform some mechanical tasks. Its design appears to be influenced in part by the small walking robots Huey, Louie and Dewey from Silent Running (1971) and also somewhat by R2D2 of the Star Wars movies. It is a counterpart of the robot, Dongo, on Crusher Joe's team. Nammo, sadly, does not appear after "Affair of Nolandia".

The large spiral-armed structure we see in orbit over the planet appears to be a "Warp Terminal". In Takachiho's DP/Crusher Joe universe, warp-jump technology only permits starships to travel faster-than-light from one Terminal to another (in the manner of the slower-than-light interplanetary Gate system in Cowboy Bebop, for example). Starships cannot initiate interstellar flight independently of this network (the development of technology permitting an exit from "hyperspace" without the use of a Terminal is a key plot element in the Crusher Joe movie, but that happens in 2161...). [We won't get into the question of how you build the network to start with...]

At one point, the Angels' struggle with BRIAN leads to Kei hotwiring an aircar so that the two of them can be mobile again (they are almost immediately set upon by BRIAN's drones). This starts a tradition in which no vehicle of any description that the Pair commandeer, borrow or rent is ever recovered in one piece.

The trouble with BRIAN is finally resolved using a favorite trick of Capt. Kirk's. Kei asks the rigidly logic-bound computer a highly irrational, subjective question ("Which one of us is the better woman?") to distract it, then moves in for the kill. In keeping with 'Toon tradition (with which it's clear Dokite is familiar), she has the local Warp Terminal project a de-commissioned starship into BRIAN's location, thereby "dropping an anvil" on the renegade machine, much to the chagrin of the Chief Engineer, who remarks that this is "just what could be expected of the Dirty Pair"...

While BRIAN is scanning the Angels' datafiles, incidentally, the Chief Engineer remarks on one of the items displayed, concerning the disaster on planet Ramel ("3521 casualties!"). This is a reference to the last published print story, Inakamono Setsujin Jiken from 1980 (the second DP novel didn't come out in SF Magajin until the middle of 1985).

The closing titles song, is "Uchuu Ren'ai" <Space Love Affair>, which is usually referred to as "Space Fantasy" , a repeated phrase in its refrain. It is nearly as well-known and often-played as "Russian Roulette"; DP generally has a reputation for good music. There is another oblique reference here: the song can be heard as a minor-key rock variation of the '60s Star Trek theme composed by Alexander Courage, which is in fact called "(Love Theme from) Star Trek". Yes, that song has lyrics written by the "Great Bird", Gene Roddenberry himself. [You actually wanna know what they are, hunh? Visit this site, where you can play the original theme, along with all the other ST themes. The whole sordid story concerning this song and its lyrics can be found here -- it's interesting to learn that in 1966, not even Roddenberry thought ST would be successful... Note: I don't know how long the music site I have linked now will be around; BMI has asked a number of others to remove their ST MIDI files.]

[you can read this story in Viz/Sunrise Film Comic #1]

Scorecard: most of the loss of life and damage was caused by BRIAN; Damocles Tower ends up with a 20º tilt* due to the after-effect of the computer blocking a beam blast from the Lovely Angel; BRIAN is totalled by Kei

* incidentally, the onyomi <Chinese reading> of the kanji for "tilt" or "incline" is kei; "It's almost as if you'd signed your work." "Shaddup! Shooting at BRIAN with the beam weapon was your idea..."

Verdict: not their fault (mostly)


2 - Kawaii tenshi wa munage ga osuki? Do lovely angels like chest hair?

The premise for this story is corporate warfare and sabotage between two rival luxury-starcruiser lines. The basic idea becomes the seed for the second DPF 'Mission'; even the name of the client, Cosmo Plane, returns as the rival of World's World, Cosmo Planet.

We see Chief Gooley for the first time here, a man perhaps around 45 years of age, who seems married to his work (and is presently very exasperated with a certain two Tro-Cons under his supervision). It's never made clear whether he is simply a section chief overseeing the Lovely Angels and some other teams, or head of the entire criminal investigations division of the WWWA.

The tall blonde fellow, seemingly about 30 years old, who is frequently in Gooley's office, appears to be his unnamed deputy; we will learn much later on (episode 25) that his name is Kyariko <rendered as Calico>.

Gooley is expressing his frequent frustration with the WWWA's Central Computer in continuing to assign Yuri and Kei to cases for which he has to deal with the aftermath (another recurring joke). It should not be lost on viewers that the CC is an unseen and enigmatic entity that sends Angels to do work in the many worlds, that their boss' name starts with a 'G', and that all humans find the decisions of the CC incomprehensible.

After the calamity at Damocles Tower (Calico can't restrain himself from commenting that "they've given it a rather nice tilt"), Gooley arranges to have the Lovely Angels chaperoned on this mission. Nova Grave is a senior investigator (identified as their senpai <senior>, though he can't have been at the 3WA very long himself, since it was only founded six years earlier).

We encounter a skulking quartet of black-suited and -hatted henchmen in shades at the spaceport and aboard the Theango, the luxury liner Nova, Kei , and Yuri are sent to protect. These characters reappear in a number of episodes (and in the opening titles), though we don't really know if they are exactly the same men each time, or if they're just supposed to represent generic movie "heavies". Back in the late '80s, Martin King, writing for Anime-Zine, dubbed them "the Gang of Four", which I'll continue to follow here. Their character designs appears to have been inspired by The Blues Brothers (1980); this will be even more obvious in episode 4.

As so often happens in these stories, the situation is more complicated than expected. While Yuri and Nova grapple with the Gang inside the ship, Kei and Nanmo battle another group in spacesuits out on the hull, who succeed in damaging the ship with explosives and making their escape. [Apparently, it is OK to be outside a ship during warp-flight; the nature of entering, travelling in, and leaving warp-space isn't dealt with very consistently, though.] With the Theango evacuated and the TCs reassembled (with Grave wounded and largely out of action), we find that our heroines' luck is running as usual -- the ship is about to crash squarely in the heart of a city on the destination planet.

The division of personalities and preferred labor between the Angels, working as a team, is played out in the climax. Yuri brings the ship in and looks after Grave, finding a way to make him feel useful and less humiliated in front of the two junior agents he was supposed to oversee. Kei, as the "techie" (she is frequently seen working on equipment and machinery, with varying degrees of success), is down in the engine room, keeping the propulsion system going (in a literally hands-on manner) throughout the ship's descent. The ship is brought down in one piece, in a long skid across a desert outside the city (as another version of Yuri will remark later, "Under the circumstances that was a terrific landing!" Any one you can walk away from...)

Scorecard: damage to the Theango was caused by the saboteurs; a couple buildings in Dolmate City get clipped by the incoming stricken ship -- "Whaddaya want? Yuri was driving..."

Verdict: on the whole, a pretty clean mission -- evidently the Angels redeem themselves in the eyes of their superiors, as they never experience direct supervision again


3- Katte ni bokera na! Koi wa roshian ruuretto Don't be fooled! Love is Russian Roulette

The Angels have to cancel a vacation in order to deal with this mission, which leads to an argument revealing one of their points of contention: Kei detests anything that interferes with her free time (or her freedom generally), while Yuri is willing to change her plans if it means money coming in.

This is one of a number of stories involving casinos or other situations centered on chance and large sums of money, matters that could be dealt with comfortably in the era of prosperity (and which disappear from the stories in the '90s). We also find that Yuri has no trouble with throwing money around, if it isn't hers (she's singing a different tune when her own account gets used a few episodes ahead). Gooley and the Accounting Department might grumble, but they usually pick up all the Angels' expenses.

We can get an idea of how much one Credit is worth from an anxious thought of Kei's. Yuri drops Cr.30,000 on one hand of blackjack, by way of getting an introduction to the syndicate head King, and Kei considers that "if we win, two people could live on that [Cr. 60,000] for three years -- one person could for six!". Even allowing for the Pair's somewhat extravagant life-style, this suggests that one Credit is somewhere in the range of US$3 - 10 (c.2000); for any of the times money is mentioned in the stories, you can roughly take it as 1 Cr. = US$5 .

It takes King's own operatives little time to determine that the two women who has wangled an invitation into his estate are the notorious 'Dirty Pair': Yuri and Kei are already becoming too well-known to pull off undercover activities (usually). In an attempt to dispose of them, King deposits the Pair in a room to grapple with a gigantic humanoid, Gigantesu za Furitaro <Great Chesnut Tree the Giant>, "a product of genetic science", as an entertainment for his gambling guests. Here is one of a handful of indications of the state of biotechnology in the mid-22nd Century (and one of the jumping-off points for Adam Warren in his DP stories).

One of King's guests, who are gambling on the Lovely Angels' fate, is modelled on Captain Kirk, as he appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture [Nice catch, Asabi (Brian's Library)!]

We see one of the little lifts from Star Wars' R2D2 used for Nanmo, with its little "data arm" that it uses to plug into network access jacks. We also note the first (and next-to-last) time that the Angels' bracelets are used in the Classic TV episodes, as a sort of boomerang cutting weapon -- Kei's version of the Bloody Card. (The bracelets disappear altogether after 'Nolandia' (except for one brief, sudden reappearance in one of the OVA episodes), to surface again in the '90s with a rather different purpose!)

A recurring plot device is introduced here: King's aide, Sydney, has advised Kei to shut down the protective system around the Golem Poker Chip so that Yuri can retrieve it; when she does so, a self-destruct system is activated in its stead, to blow up the entire house!

The Pair realize a bit too late that Sydney had been after the Chip himself and was the one who brought them in to use as cat's paws against King; in a nice turnabout, they show that they are able to "con the con-man" and complete their mission (not the last time this will happen).

Scorecard: a few vehicle collisions caused on the way to the casino (um, Kei was driving this time...); King's mansion and the man himself are obliterated, but the security system did that...

Verdict: the Golem Chip is recovered successfully, amidst not too big a mess

4 - Tsuiseki wa chiizukeeki to shi no nioi Pursuing the scent of cheesecake and death

This is one of the basically silly, slapstick episodes. It's pretty much one big chase scene, in which the Angels are sent after a runaway fluffy pink housecat, with a taste for cheesecake, that is being used as an experimental animal to test a super-muscle-strengthening agent. So this story is sort of a seed for OVA episode #2, the "Halloween Party", but also later for '"Session #2: Stray Dog Strut" of Cowboy Bebop, in which Ein, the "data dog" is being pursued. The concept of a muscle-strengthening drug also returns in OVA episode #7, "Revenge of the Muscle Lady".

goes to pro-wrestling roots of DP: Kei is watching a match with The Elegants, Ran and Jerry (not 'Jelly'); ranjieri is 'lingerie'

Malatesta -- powerful aristrocratic family in medieval Italy, but Guillaume is a French name; made-up European-sounding name

source of remark that Kei's favorite food is cheesecake -- not accurate, anything pleasantly high-calorie will do...

many lifts from Blues Brothers [1980] (including return of Gang of Four); subway train crash into bank vault comes from Silver Streak [1976]

K'n'Y get to act as homewreckers as well...

sequence on bridge construction is one of best bits in the series

Scorecard: not much damage, next to none by Pair

Verdict: Mughi saves the day -- to catch a cat, you must send a cat...

5 - Kuriadosu no dokkun dokkun! The heartbeat of Criados

revenge on Pair

Bobbit Huey -- does not appear to be the same person as in a later episode; apparently, there was no check for continuity between episodes (similar things have happened in other TV series)

Scene at spaceport -- first use of LA!

"psychic attack"

interior scences from V'ger, ST: The Motion Picture [1979]

adapted as manga in Thai anime mag!!

Scorecard: not much damage, next to none by Pair

Verdict: Mughi saves the day -- to catch a cat, you must send a cat...

6 - Kiken ga ippai, damii ga ippai Full of danger, full of decoys

battle bridge in LA, auxiliary ship (only use of either in this design)

rare allusion to past of either Angel (Yuri's is coming up shortly...)

first occasion to get Chief over a barrel

Scorecard: not much damage, next to none by Pair

Verdict: Mughi saves the day -- to catch a cat, you must send a cat...

7 - Ai koso subete, inochi kakemasu touhi i(ku)! Love is everything -- bet your life on flight!

very contrived story -- one of the weakest of all

Urashima effect

Scorecard: not much damage, next to none by Pair

Verdict: Mughi saves the day -- to catch a cat, you must send a cat...

8 - Yarukkyanii! Koi wa onna no kibakuzai Can't take any more! Love is a woman's primer

changed translation from 'detonator', which is bakuxxx

Poisonville from Hammett

when it's Yuri's Cr.50,000...

[you can read this story in Viz/Sunrise Film Comic #2]

Scorecard: not much damage, next to none by Pair

Verdict: Mughi saves the day -- to catch a cat, you must send a cat...


Episode commentaries to be continued...