It seems at first glance obvious that I should cover anime and manga at this point in the project. After all, isn’t the breakout of Japanese media in the United States a major part of the 1980s entertainment landscape and a defining event in the history of Nerd Culture? Well…not exactly.
Firstly, according to the observations and inferences I’ve personally made studying Nerd Culture, the foundational moment as it pertains to anime and manga didn’t happen in the early 1980s and wasn’t even due to the rising popularity of people like Hayao Miyazaki: Instead, it can be traced to the 1990s and Neon Genesis Evangelion (which was already a unique and transformative piece of anime in Japan) if you were a part of proto-Nerd Culture, or shonen (boy’s action entertainment) stuff like Dragon Ball Z if you were everybody else (though some bleedover did occur).
And secondly, the Dirty Pair franchise, of which The Great Adventure of the Dirty Pair (actually, a compilation of the first two Dirty Pair stories serialized in science fiction magazines) is the inaugural work, is at once neither anime nor manga and both them and many other things all at the same time. Dirty Pair concerns the continuing adventures of two scantily clad female secret agents named Kei and Yuri who solve cases in the 22nd Century after mankind has become a sprawling alliance of a thousand star systems as part of a tag-team partnership aided by their giant hyper-evolved sentient pet cat alien and chief engineer Mughi, but who also have the dreadful misfortune of leaving trail of utter devastation in their wake. It is also a massively important part of this project because it leaves an indelible mark on the history of science fiction from this point on.
At this point, you presumably have (at the very least) two questions. “What even is this? This sounds insane” and “Why in the name of the Prophets are you covering this on a *Star Trek* blog?” spring immediately to mind. To the second question, the truth of the matter is, believe it or not, Dirty Pair is the secret history of Star Trek in the Long 1980s: The two franchises are so intertwined and interconnected during this period and reference each other so breathtakingly frequently that it’s actually impossible to talk about one *without* also talking about the other.
This is famously due in part to two particular members of the Star Trek: The Next Generation creative team who were profoundly inspired by Dirty Pair. Namely, Rick Sternbach and Mike Okuda, who are *massive* anime fans, ran an anime CompuServe group and who would show imported Japanese films on VHS to the rest of the Next Generation creative team whenever a shoot dragged on into the wee hours of the morning, which it frequently did. But Dirty Pair itself has very strong ties to Star Trek as well, to the point it’s been called the Japanese version of Star Trek: The anime based on the book series makes regular, screaming obvious shout-outs to the Original Series and the first Dirty Pair movie is *actually called* Dirty Pair: The Motion Picture.…