Bubblegum Crisis and the Dirty Pair

This is the God’s honest truth.  It’s around maybe 1989, and I’m at a comic book / science fiction fantasy convention at the Thruway Inn in Albany.  I’m going through the comic books, I’m flipping through the hand-labeled VHS bootleg tapes, looking for something new and exciting and interesting.

“Can I help you?” a woman behind one of the sales tables asks me.

“Well,” I said, “I was thinking about purchasing some vintage TV shows.  You know, things like Japanese cartoons like – ”

“Oh, you want the Dirty Pair.”

“I want the – the what?”  At least I hope I wasn’t searching through the wrong types of tapes.

“Or maybe you want some Bubblegum Crisis.”

Bubblegum Crisis?  What, did somebody find a package of Bazooka without a Bazooka Joe comic inside?  Chuck does not grok.

But after some explanation, I walked out of the convention with a couple of purchased VHS tapes – five episodes of an anime show called Dirty Pair, and a couple of tapes of another animated series, Bubblegum Crisis.

Yeah, most of you are confused.  So was I.  I’ll try to explain.

Bubblegum Crisis was an animated series that featured four women who, in armored weapon bodysuits, are the “Knight Sabers” that fight for truth and justice against the evil GENOM Corporation.  Apparently the GENOM Corporation has been involved in some sort of violent robotic technology called “Boomers,” and it’s up to the Knight Sabers – Sylia, Priss, Linna and Nene – along with the AD Police – to stop the Boomers from their evil deeds.

Oh yeah, and each episode featured some awesome music – it’s almost as if somebody decided to convert the 1984 film Streets of Fire into a full-length anime.

I should note that only eight of the proposed thirteen episodes of Bubblegum Crisis were ever made, although there have been sequels and spinoffs over the years.

And the name “Bubblegum Crisis”?  Near as I could understand, the show’s title refers to the ripple effect of danger from a single focal point; but at the time, the only way to translate the term into English was to refer to it as equivalent to blowing a gum bubble until it bursts.

Oh NOW it makes sense…

As for Dirty Pair, this was a straight-out action / comedy anime featuring Kei and Yuri, two “Lovely Angels” from the World Wide Welfare Administration (WWWA).  The Lovely Angels would be dispatched to solve a problem on some far-off planet, only to cause more damage in their own wake.  They may have been the “Lovely Angels,” but to everybody else they were the “Dirty Pair,” which would invariably cause one of the duo to explode in anger.  And by the time they emerged victorious at the end of the episode, the WWWA would clean up all the messes they caused.  One way or the other.

Here’s an example of the Dirty Pair in an early episode of the series.

Now think about this for a couple of seconds.  You know how I had to go find these clips on YouTube for this blog post?  Just imagine if I tried to do this back in the late 1980’s.  These episodes were on videotape because there were no DVD’s back then.

Today, Bubblegum Crisis is now available on Blu-Ray DVD boxed sets, while the full run of Dirty Pair can be found online.

Truly, this is the fun of going back in time.  Probably twenty years from now, someone’s going to write a blog post about how they remember watching shows like Cowboy Bebop or Full Metal Alchemist or maybe even Big O.

But that’s a blog post for twenty years into the future.  Right?

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