“…and in this our love is everlasting.” Dirty Pair: Affair of Nolandia

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.”
-Carl Jung

Though historians and completionist fans of the TV series were undoubtedly happy to have them, the episodes released as With Love from the Lovely Angels were not what paved the way for Dirty Pair’s future on Original Video Animation, nor were they even the first Dirty Pair OVA stories to be made. For that, we must travel back to December, 1985 and Sunrise Animation’s experiment-within-an-experiment: Dirty Pair: Affair of Nolandia, the first proper Dirty Pair movie.

In the history of the series, Affair of Nolandia is frankly every bit as important as “How to Kill a Computer” and The Great Adventure of the Dirty Pair, and yet for some reason it tends to go frustratingly overlooked by fans. In spite of what its release date and medium of choice might have you believe, this is not an epilogue to the recently-concluded TV show, this is something consciously and manifestly different. Affair of Nolandia can trace its roots back to the same place as the very beginnings of the first series, but walked a markedly separate path to the screen. The story of how it came to be and what it helped bring about is just as interesting as the story it actually tells, and it reveals a lot about how prescient this franchise has always been.

During preproduction of the first series, it was decided very early on, for better or for worse depending on your perspective, to take it in a noticeably lighter and more irreverent direction then its source material. Though Haruka Takachiho’s novels are definitely humourous, they’re also quite explicitly science fiction with an emphasis on world building and ideas. For whatever reason, though I strongly suspect it had something to do with Sunrise in a sense always knowing how niche science fiction (at least this kind of science fiction) tends to be, the TV show was designed from the beginning to focus quite heavily on slapstick, anarchic parody and self deprecation.

That’s not to say it wasn’t intelligent, it obviously was, it’s just that as a consequence it traded in things like lengthy exposition and cohesive constructed worlds for heavy subtext, symbolism and a structure so unabashedly episodic that the one time it wasn’t was a big clue things had gotten serious. Sunrise knew that while this tonal shift would give the show more broad-strokes and mainstream appeal, it was also going to very probably alienate a huge portion of people coming to it from the novels. So, all while the first series was being produced by one team, Sunrise gave a second team the assignment to make an OVA movie completely unrelated to the TV show that would overtly cater to the novels’ hardcore science fiction fans.…

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