Stories are retold across different times, places and culture. While the forme of their symbolic power may change and morph to adapt to each new context, the underlying power remains whenever they are invoked. Stories can split off from each other and be shaped by the forces of mythopoeia, and can become as different from each other as they are similar.
It’s fitting that Dirty Pair: The Motion Picture be named after the first Star Trek movie as it’s existence is every bit as much of an inexplicable puzzle as that of Gene Roddenberry’s abortive magnum opus. The last Dirty Pair outing had been the OVA Affair of Nolandia two years ago, an open acknowledgment of the franchise’s by this point niche audience and a direct attempt to court them. Affair of Nolandia, despite being unambiguously brilliant, was not (and still isn’t) terribly well received by fans who had long since fallen in love with the first Dirty Pair series, with which it was explicitly and manifestly made to contrast with. The same month, that very show had been canceled with two episodes left to air for reasons that remain uncertain, but are widely believed to have something to do with poor ratings. One might speculate then that with the sort of property the animated Dirty Pair franchise seemed to be turning out to be, the next logical step would *not* be a lavish, big-budget feature film released to theatres.
Indeed, Dirty Pair: The Motion Picture seems like the complete opposite of Affair of Nolandia in every conceivable way: While Affair of Nolandia was a conservatively-budgeted OVA aimed at a niche group of science fiction fans (even, *gasp* using limited animation!) that bent over backward to differentiate itself from the TV series, this is a glitzy, grand-scale motion picture extravaganza self-consciously trying to ape the look-and-feel of the TV show in order to attract the broadest possible audience while also constantly trying to one-up and build upon it and somehow still trying to function as a standalone work. It really does feel like Sunrise’s MO was “whatever we did on Affair of Nolandia, do the complete and total opposite this time”. Where Affair of Nolandia felt organic, Dirty Pair: The Motion Picture is all bright lights and neon strobes. Where Affair of Nolandia was atmospheric, contemplative and intimate, Dirty Pair: The Motion Picture is sprawling, flashy and spectacular. Where Affair of Nolandia felt psychedelic and spiritual, Dirty Pair: The Motion Picture is a digital, computerized, high-tech sensory overload.
This has both positive and negative consequences. The first major plus is that, anticipating all this, the editing and cinematography here is beyond amazing and as a result Dirty Pair: The Motion Picture is a movie that understands the power of imagery, mood and emotion like nothing else. This is, in all honesty, the most visually astounding and mesmerizing science fiction movie I have ever seen. The first twenty minutes alone are worth watching all by themselves: The film throws us Dirty Pair, Star Trek, Miami Vice, Dune, 2001: A Space Odyssey, James Bond, Cold War thrillers, MTV, late-80s house jazz influenced synthpop and every piece of Golden Age science fiction cover art you’ve ever seen crushed and blended together and served up as a hyper-concentrated tropical drink that’s like a sledgehammer to your senses.…