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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Jack Graham
    November 5, 2014 @ 1:03 am

    " In a very material sense, Summer and Winter really do exist simultaneously at Samhainn." Just after reading this sentence I glanced out of the window and saw a leafless tree bathed in sunlight.


  2. elvwood
    November 6, 2014 @ 1:32 am

    Being a bit thick, sometimes, I've only just noticed you've got links to the episodes online! As a complete newcomer to Dirty Pair, would it make sense if I just started watching from Prison Riot?


  3. Josh Marsfelder
    November 6, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

    First of all, I'm thrilled you've decided to check the series out-I really hope you like it!

    To answer your question…I mean, I'd recommend pretty much most of the franchise, but it really depends on how much marathoning you want to do. I'm up to episode 6 of the OVA series and I can already tell this is probably the best run of stories in the franchise, but in my essays I do make not infrequent callbacks to the TV show, the movies and some of the things I said about them, so those bits might lose you if you're unfamiliar with them.

    That said, there is a lot more of the TV series and it's far rockier than this show has been so far. The Motion Picture is revolutionary and stunningly, beautifully abstract, but the plot sucks and the characterization of the girls is wrongheaded. Affair of Nolandia is bloody brilliant and the closest to the original books, but it's not at all like either of the episodic series. And after all, the series reboots itself every incarnation, that's a major strength of it, so there's no need to worry about missing any important continuity or plot points if you do start with "Prison Riot".

    But it also might be worth considering that the versions of the OVA episodes Manga Entertainment put on YouTube seem to be English dubbed, while I think all their previous releases are subtitled (certainly their version of the TV show was). I don't know why exactly as they're all subtitled on the DVD releases, which I do own and am basing my essays off of. As is always the case, dubbing tends to lose even more cultural nuance than subtitling does, and what little I've seen of the dub hasn't impressed me. I mean I'm still linking to them because having the episodes in some form is better than not having them at all and I want to ensure my readers have ample and easy access to as much of Dirty Pair as they can get, but it's something to think about.

    My take is that Kyōko Tongū and Saeko Shimazu's performances are pretty indelible with who Kei and Yuri are to me. It's jarring for me not to hear them at this point and all of the Japanese cast bring a deliberately caricatured, energetic and exaggerated theatrical performativity to the show the English actors don't have. You might want to watch at least a few of the TV episodes first so you can see those performances and get a feel for how the Sunrise animes behave in their native language. But it's ultimately up to you and how far down this rabbit hole you want to go right now.

    If it would be any help to you, I did, of course, compile a list of my picks for the highlights of the Dirty Pair TV show here, in addition to name-dropping the two movies and books I've covered:



  4. elvwood
    November 7, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

    Thanks – I'm not too dedicated, and I have difficulty watching programs with subtitles anyway (even recons), so this is good enough for me. I'll try to watch some of these over the next week or so.


  5. Josh Marsfelder
    November 7, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

    My pleasure-I'm glad to have helped!

    I don't think you'll be disappointed: I've just watched episode 6 and the OVA series keeps getting better and better. This is a terrific way to get into Dirty Pair.


  6. Daru
    November 20, 2014 @ 2:26 am

    Ok wow, first Josh, what an essay! Well done.

    So many things you covered here are important to me – and the episode was wonderful to boot!

    Samhainn, Tuatha Dé Danann, Tir na Nog (Land of the Ever Young) and all of the associated themes… I love how the robot at the end appears as if dancing on the pyramid (one of my favourite images so far in this show) and ends up looking for me like one of the dancing skeletons from the Mexican Day of the Dead.

    This is one of the most important times of year for me – both my partner and I share a Samhainn birthday (different years though) and I always find it one of the most potent and creative times of year.

    On figure of Samhainn that this episode make me think of is Gwynn ap Nudd, the Lord of the Wild Hunt, actually it's more the idea of the Wild Hunt where at this time of year he hunts down lost and errant souls with his great hounds across the sky, and takes them back to the Otherworld. The story felt a bit like that, with it's crazy chase across the skies and stars with the criminals captured along the way.

    "The Fairy Faith is firm in their belief that there are “no bad fairies”, so make of that what you will."

    I don't really ascribe to the ideas of the Fairy faith and I feel that their ideas miss the point of the old tales and myths. It's not even that there are no 'bad' Fairies, but there are also no 'good' ones, at least not as far as human law goes. The Sidhe and the inhabitants of the Liminal worlds do not follow human ideals, or are even interested in my view. Their actions follow not the limited polarities of good or bad, but to a more mysterious and hard to understand rhythm. That's why the Sidhe are a perfect mirror for the Lovely Angels, as like with Tara and other Tantric deities they seek to free us from our human bondage, from the world we so dearly hold onto at the cost of our own happiness.

    From The Stolen Child by WB Yeats:

    "To and fro we leap
    And chase the frothy bubbles,
    While the world is full of troubles
    And is anxious in its sleep.
    Come away, O human child!
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."


  7. Daru
    November 20, 2014 @ 2:37 am

    And it's perfect that the robot comes from a place called Pandemonium, linking things both to Pan and the idea of Misrule, which the time of Samhainn into the Winter Solstice holds as all of the normal societal rules are turned on their head for a period of time. Perfect for the Angels. This is their time.


  8. Josh Marsfelder
    September 12, 2015 @ 6:09 am

    So almost a year later and It's probably worth mentioning this thread is no longer relevant. Nozomi Entertainment released new uploads of the Dirty Pair OVA Series and movies so that we can all enjoy them in the original Japanese with English subtitles! I also have a full page here dedicated to getting those who are interested into the wonders of Dirty Pair:



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