As a genre, science fiction, especially science fiction that is in some way descended from Golden Age Hard SF, seems largely focused on the machinations and inner workings of giant, authoritarian, monolithic institutions. Be it some futuristic extrapolation of the army, the navy, the intelligence sector, the police or huge, sprawling technoscience corporations, science fiction seems one the whole unsettlingly comfortable with mulling about the halls of power, likely owing to the genre’s futurist roots. Remember, James Blish, a member of the influential group of sci-fi writers the Futurians and the guy who novelized the original Star Trek series, thought, somewhat bewilderingly, that Pfizer would usher in a Trotskyist revolution so long as we pledged support to them and bought their products.
This is, suffice to say, equal parts untenable and unacceptable.
There are exceptions to this trend. The first two Alien movies, arguably The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Red Dwarf, bits and pieces of Doctor Who at various points in its history. Star Trek itself tends to go back and forth on this: Though the point of the franchise is very much that the Federation is anything but an unambiguous group of good guys promoting a utopia and how our crews operate under that knowledge, this fact seems to have been lost on a worrying number of creative teams and this isn’t as emphasized as frequently or as strongly as it really needed to be. Raumpatrouille Orion is better, though that crew is still a bunch of ace pilots. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was anything but this, but invoking Nausicaäin this case does feel a bit like bringing a nuclear bomb to a knife fight.
Then there is, of course, Dirty Pair. Kei and Yuri may job for the 3WA and United Galactica, but they have a much higher calling than that and, by virtue of being professional wrestlers operating by cyberpunk logic and the way this show has been portraying them, we’re very much meant to read them as working class characters. Even so, the series hasn’t done a story overtly about this yet, and this is what “Lots of Danger, Lots of Decoys” is about.
In some ways, this episode is “The Case of the Backwoods Murder” for Kei, with the Angels taking a job that puts them in contact with a childhood friend of hers who gets mixed up in the mission in some form. What this allows us to do is get a rare look at Kei’s backstory: Though the Sunrise anime and the light novels are of course two separate continuities, we can assume Yuri’s backstory is roughly similar here to what was described in “The Case of the Backwoods Murder”. In this episode though, we learn that our suspicions regarding Kei were correct: She grew up on a more urbanized planet and probably lived off of the streets. After Kaia, the leader of a fleet of space pirates who are after the precious gem the girls are tasked with escorting, introduces himself as someone from Kei’s childhood, Yuri even openly supposes he’s one of Kei’s “delinquent friends” from “back in the day”.…