Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fight Every Fight Like You Can Win (Love Is Everything. Risk Your Life to Elope!!)

First things first: this memo talks about spoilers for the episode of “Dirty Pair,” Love Is Everything. Risk Your Life to Elope!! As such, it’s recommended that you watch the show before you read this memo. Sadly, there are no legal ways of watching the series as the numerous video-sharing sites that typically showcase anime legally (such as Hulu and Chrunchroll) do not have the series on their sites for free (here’s the link to the YouTube page with the episode, available if you pay $16.99 for the season pass, though the OVAs and films are available on YouTube for free). As such, either buy the DVDs (which are surprisingly still in stock) or watch it on extra legal video sharing sites like KissAnime (episode 7, if your source lacks the name).

Now that that’s out of the way, we should perhaps begin with an article by Cheryl Morgan entitled “The Future of Gender Is the Present for Trans* Characters in SciFi Novels.” In this article, Morgan talks about the history of trans* people in both the real world and in fictional ones. She talks about how the majority of genre fiction tends to have issues when it comes to dealing with people of alternative gender performance ranging from keeping them within stereotypes of gender performance (Steel Beach), outright disgust at the very concept (The Transexual Empire), and relatively decent portrayals (Triton). The article ends optimistically, with a desire to see what new stories might come. However, the works Morgan cites are entirely from western cultures, what about the works from Eastern Cultures about trans* people?

Enter “Dirty Pair.” “Dirty Pair” began as a series of Hard Sci-Fi short stories in various Japanese magazines written by Haruka Takachiho. The series chronicles the adventures of a pair of trouble consultants (basically space cops) by the names of Kei and Yuri who go under the name “The Lovely Angels.” However, because they are so good at their jobs that they can find a secret arms deal while searching for a missing cat then accidentally blow up the entire government because they were complicit in this cruel and illegal system, they are given the disparaging nickname of “The Dirty Pair.” Kei, the narrator of the stories, talks very much like the narrator of Jelani Wilson’s 22XX: One-Shot, where the narrator is preoccupied with thoughts of a significant other. But where Wilson’s Sasha Sangare is very much in line with the heteronormative relationship of pining for the girl next door, Takachiho’s Kei is simultaneously hitting on you the reader (regardless of what your gender is) while also talking about how much she most assuredly doesn’t want to make sweet passionate love to Yuri. The characterization of the Lovely Angels is typically read as being a Tomboy/Girly Girl dynamic, however if you pay attention you’ll notice that’s actually a performance done by the characters for the benefit of the audience (Yuri has a very verbose use of French and Kei can get a bit focused in physical appearance). The stories deal with themes of performativity, karma, and big as all fuck explosions. Also, they have a pet cat named Mughi who is from a species of hyper intelligent cats from the short story Black Destroyer. In short, it’s the greatest Star Trek series ever made. (No, I am not explaining that. There are some rabbit holes one should dive into without assistance.)

A few years after the first of the novels for the series was released, Sunrise began work on two OVAs (one of which is amazing, but has an unnecessary rape scene and the other is Project Eden, which is the kind of film that should one should only watch the first 20 minutes of and ignore the rest) and a 25 episode series. For the seventh episode of that series, we have Love Is Everything. Risk Your Life to Elope!!

Rather than go through the story shot for shot, as the episode is not the kind that is based on its visuals (though there are some interesting ones), I’ll give the base outline. Clicky Goldjeff (because Japan), son of an intergalactic cruse line mogul, was kidnapped on the day of his wedding to several women (because Japan (also holy shit, the wedding. He is literally being chained and dragged to the alter by the women out of a skyscraper sized cake while men dressed like Playboy bunnies hand out drinks to the rich people watching)) by a woman named Joanca. Allegedly, she kidnapped him for a large sum of money, which the Lovely Angels are meant to deliver. They hate this case because it’s a really crap case where everyone is crap both to each other and in general. Clicky’s a sycophant, Joanca’s a user out only for herself and a perpetual liar, and the elder Goldjeff is misogynistic dick head. There’s no one likeable.

And then, the penny drops. As it turns out, Joanca and Clicky genuinely love each other and want to be with one another, much to the dismay of the elder Goldjeff. The mogul sates his reasoning quite plainly: Joanca’s a transwoman. This is immediately followed by our protagonists siding with Joanca and Clicky, citing that 1/10 people in the universe identify as trans* and such viewpoints are “old fashioned.” Even the elder Goldjeff respects the gender identity of Joanca, never misgenders her, and yet is still a reactionary because she “used to be a man.” The show, which need I remind you came out in 1985, just showed a utopian future where even the reactionaries accept all gender identities. Better than Star Trek!

Morgan ends her article with the question as to whether or not trans* people will even be a thing in the future, to which “Dirty Pair” answers, “Yes. Yes you will still exist. You will still matter. And you will still be as beautiful as you are now. Yes, there will still be those who hate and fear what they almost understand, but so long as you are loved, and you are indeed loved even if you can’t feel it on your arms, you can soar through the sky like an angel.”

Discussion Question:
-I mentioned briefly that the show deals in the themes of performativity. Kei dons on disguises of alternate gender types including flower girls, black hatted cowboys, and bartender at a dingy bar where you’re more likely to get stabbed in the back than anything else. Indeed, the episode in question explores the ways in which people appear to one another, with several characters acting as a surface level interpretation of other characters and showing specific aspects of themselves to others. How do these themes of performativity tie into the way Dirty Pair handles gender? 

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