Intergalactic teen troubleshooters Kei (voiced by Kyoko Tongu) and Yuri (Saeko Shimazu) are the most badass, and babelicious, agents of the 3WA. For the right price they will take on any mission. Barely clad in skintight spacesuits that just happen to resemble bikinis, the girls dub themselves the 'Lovely Angels.' Everyone else in the galaxy calls them the 'Dirty Pair' on account of the massive levels of collateral damage left wherever they go. Summoned to the mining colony Agama, Kei and Yuri are hired to investigate mysterious monsters disrupting production and edging the planet's two superpowers closer to war. Which leads them to butt heads with Carson D. Carson (Katsuji Mori), a cocky and handsome super-thief. For his own reasons he is also after Professor Wattsman (Chikao Otsuka), the mad genius whose attempt to sire a perfect race of superhuman beings is creating the mutant monsters. Yet these deadly beasts are mere child's toys compared with the havoc and destruction Kei and Yuri inadvertently wreak.
Fan-favourites since the early days of anime fandom, the Dirty Pair first appeared on screen with a film-within-a-film cameo in Crusher Joe (1983). By then Kei and Yuri were already featured in two novels by Japanese science fiction writer Haruka Takachiho who based the dynamic (if accident prone) duo on a real-life women's wrestling team called the Beauty Pair. Even the 3WA (which in the anime stands for "World's Welfare Work Association”) is an in-joke reference to the real-life Women's Wrestling Association. So fervid was the fan response to the cameo the Dirty Pair were immediately spun off into their own television series, two feature length O.A.V.s (Dirty Pair: Affair on Nolandia (1985) and Dirty Pair: Flight 005 Conspiracy (1990)) and Project Eden, their lone theatrical outing. Aside from an unpopular reboot in the Nineties (that unwisely replaced the original leads with two younger, sappier characters) the franchise's most high-profile incarnation was the American comic book published by Dark Horse. Some fans maintain the anime lives in the shadow of the darker, snarkier American version written and drawn by Adam Warren. They would be wrong.
Along with the two O.A.V.s Project Eden presents the definitive incarnation of the Dirty Pair. This ceaselessly entertaining sci-fi romp brings together everything great about anime in the Eighties: fast-paced action, whimsical humour, bubblegum colours, carefree sexuality and a gorgeously designed techno-future-scape animated in fetishistic detail. Top that off with a Maurice Binder-style title credit sequence with Kei and Yuri in slinky silhouette and a charming J-pop soundtrack with cheesy English lyrics and you have got a recipe for a great time. The titular heroines pull off the rare feat of being compelling fetish figures but also likably faceted characters. Brash, headstrong, tough-as-nails but ever so slightly vacuous, they embody Japan's bubble economy generation. Bumbling from one fine mess after another, Kei and Yuri still come out on top through sheer guts and determination, kicking butt and looking mighty fine doing it. Here Kei, the more tomboyish of the pair, lands a love interest in the deceptively smarmy Carson who proves a resourceful ally. While the plot lifts from popular sources at the time, in particular the early SF action films of James Cameron, director Koichi Mashimo stirs in his own quirky ideas. Project Eden interweaves a subtle critique of the inherently amoral nature of capitalism and satire of the Cold War mentality, maintains a lighthearted tone while taking the odd unexpectedly moving detour. The shift from comedy to romance and tragedy reflects Mashimo citing classic French film Les Aventuriers (1967) as a significant influence on his work. A key figure in the anime industry whose works are inexplicably unheralded by most otaku, Mashimo's eclectic output has been characterized by strong female leads, as in The Weathering Continent (1992), or more often duos: e.g. his girls-with-guns 'trilogy': Noir (2001), Madlax (2003) and El Cazador de Bruja (2007). In his hands the action-comedy takes unexpectedly poignant turn culminating in an outstanding dialogue-free finale that, in all honesty, plays like Sam Peckinpah directing a cyberpunk rock video for MTV!