I was really excited going into this show. I was told that it is a lot like Cowboy Bebop, and I loved Cowboy Bebop. After watching it, I can say that it is a lot like it. Just imagine Cowboy Bebop more light hearted. Some might call OS a rip off of Bebop, but remember that Outlaw Star did air before Cowboy Bebop (though it only started three months before).
The story was really fun, and enjoyable. The show was pretty episodic, but each episode tied in to the main story in some way. Some episodes were directly related to the previous episode. This made it really fun to watch. When I started watching the show, I watched the first ten episodes in one night. It was hard to stop. I basically stopped when I realized, that it was 4 AM, and I probably should sleep. The overal plot was pretty good, but I found that I was more interested in the sub plots in each episode. Some people may wonder if they could skip certain episodes, and the answer is "kind of." Even the most random episode has something that connects to the big story.
One of my favorite things about the show was the characters. They all had strong, and very different personalities. They all had their roll. They were all fun, and they worked well with each other. The main problem I had was character development. Some characters had a lot of backstory revealed, while others had very little. I just wished that they could have dedicated a little time into letting us know more about some of the characters.
The animation was good, but then it was bad. Each episode looked a little different. Maybe they drew hats to see who drew the characters in each episode. One episode, the characters were drawn great, next time the characters looked kind of bad. Even the ships varied. One episode the ship, the Outlaw Star, will look kind of plain, and simple looking. Next episode will have the ship with all these shadows, and nice lighting. Even so, when it was "bad" it was still appealing.
I had the choice of watching the dub or sub, so I decided to give the English dub a chance. It was surprisingly good. I was really surprised. The acting wasn't amazing, but it was casted well. The voices fit the characters, and they were likable. A few characters were plain bad though. Melfina's voice was the main problem. It was very unatural. It just sounded like the actress was doing a voice. It was too too high. Sometimes though her voices sounded too old for the character. I was still able to overlook that. Cowboy Bebop fans who watched the dub might be glad to hear Jet's and Faye's voices in the cast.
I liked the show so much that it got into my top ten list. So if you haven't seen it yet, check it out. Fans of Bebop's style, might enjoy it.
Never in my life will I ever give another solid 10 on an anime for two reasons. One, modern animes are trash compared to the classic ones (Same with Disney movies for that matter). And two, this anime has EVERYTHING a good story needs. This anime has it all, a good story, an interesting hook, good characters, no dull moments, good bad guys, an overall objective from beginning to end, and everything that makes a story enjoyable to watch. Could an anime be better? Perhaps, but since Outlaw Star's release, only very few have come close to matching it's granduer, though none have surpased it. There are simply no bad sides to this anime, so here is what it has that is good:
- Openening music is amazing.
- First episode hook is super inticing (I've yet to seen one as good as this, even Death Note).
- Characters are not perfect, far from actually, but they are awesome none the less.
- Ending music for both seasons is awesome as well.
- Bad guys are cool, very likeable.
- Nobody at any time is overpowered or unbelievable.
- Voice overs in are just as good or if not better in English as they are in Japanese.
- Very episodic but follows an overall goal that is actually reachable (Not One Piece).
- Doesn't wrap up the story in the last 2 episodes (like <insert every anime here>)
- Doesn't kill off every character you like (like <insert hated anime here>)
- Every episode has an objective that gets the characters closer to the final goal
- Every episode is filled with adventure and there is only 1 filler episode!
- Filler episode turns out not to be a filler episode and it is pretty funny.
- No stupid twists (like <insert every anime here>)
- A cat girl (Can't have a good 90's anime without one)
I will say, the ending could have been better, but that's like saying The Matrix could have had a better sequel (It's not exactly easy to follow up a movie like that and it's not exactly easy to have a matching ending to an anime this awesome.) Though, after watching houndres of bad endings, knowning Japanese are horrible at ending stories, I think this one is exceptionally good, even for them.
Bounty Hunters, cool music, similar sounding currency, battling space ships. Space isn't big enough for two Cowboys, or maybe it is when it comes to a predecessor of the most popular intergalactic pirate show.
Story - 9/10
Outlaw Star is very much a simple story of a treasure hunt, though how and why they search for it tends to be less than so.
After being hired for an important job, Gene Starwind and Jim Hawking are entrusted with the care of a unique space ship and the special girl that controls it. What starts off as a search to help find this girl, Melfina, information about her past, turns into a battle with pirates and old foes, and a search for a long lost treasure.
While some feel the story was a lot of filler, each episode built towards, and added an important piece, to the final puzzle. The episodes showed that these characters were human and had to deal with typical problems, like trying to run and ship when you can't seem to make any money. Sure they could have cut the series down and just had the gang flying all over the place and getting to the leyline, but then whats the point, if they have the money to do that why do they need more from the leyline? These made the episodes stick out as more real, as opposed to others where the main character can just muster up all the strength to destroy their enemy is a single punch.
For the most part they kept everything straight forward, one plot, one goal. Unfortunately they seemed to have planned ahead of time to have a second season of sorts, because the last episode created a perfect transition to what their next hurdle would be, but instead, like most anime, they ended with a hastily put together ending that tied up a few loose ends, but made you want more.
Animation - 8/10
For the time the animation on the show was extremely nice, and you can see from episode one to episode twenty six it went from nice to top notch. The characters and scenery are very detailed and colored with that mid nineties bleakness we saw used very often. With all they had to create, many space battle ships, different planets with unique land and fun one off characters, no one could fault them for starting off in that average zone and then picking up the look as they became more seasoned.
Two other great parts of the series were the lack of reused scenes. Some shows tend to use the same scene every other episode or throw another here or there with a useless flashback, but I can only remember them doing so just at the end, and it at least made sense. They also stayed away from that late nineties fad I hate with a passion, flash animation. Every series used it from a crappy driving scene or out of place space race, but OS skipped all of that, thankfully.
Sound - 8/10
Though not a ton of music what is there is done pretty well. As much as I hate to do it, and like basically every review before and all those after me will do, you look at Cowboy Bebop as a comparison, and they just blew it out of the water with their soundtrack. OS has a great opening number, and some catchy battle and mood music, but nothing to really build a CD out of, as the two ending themes aren't that great and a terrible match for the anime.
The English voices are as good as it gets in Anime and it's a shocker to see most of the voice cast weren't big name VO artist before and had very small parts after. Each voice was well suited to the character's personality, even the proper englishman, errr Englishbot?, Gilliam.
One point where OS separated itself from other shows was it's cold opening. The scene used was always accompanied by a voice over that set the tone for the show, it really added that little extra something to set them apart.
Characters - 7/10
Despite running 26 episodes, the series kept their cast of characters pretty small. You have the two hero's their three partners and few accomplices on once side, and a small handful of enemies on the other. Even the throw away characters tend to be few and far between.
Looking at the series now one would think the main character of our story, Gene Starwind, is just a typical anime lead man. Handsome, fearless and the best shot in the land, well I guess he is the typical anime lead man, only difference is he was one of the first. Spike Spiegel, Vash the Stampede, and Onizuka all came after Gene when it came to Anime (though Trigun was an earlier Manga) Gene wasn't perfect though, and thats why he had a slightly unlikely sidekick, Jim Hawking. Jim was the brains and logical thinking of their two man operations, what set him apart from other typical anime sidekicks was his age, only 11 years old.
Shockingly when it comes to these two we end up knowing very little about them. Outside of the death of Gene's father at a young age, we know nothing about how he made his way in the world and under what circumstances he and Jim teamed up. A real bummer in the story as their are pretty interesting characters and a deeper backstory would have helped build the show.
Joining Gene and Jim on their search for the Leyline are the bio Android Melfina, the mysterious Samurai Suzuka and the wacko alien Aisha Clanclan. These characters, despite being minor, but import characters, actually get more of a backstory than Gene and Jim. As to not spoil any of the show, I'll leave out the details of those backstories, but as in Melfina's case it's the basis for the whole show and for Suzuka it's a nice little subplot that surprises you in the end.
The villains of our story are interesting, voiced nicely and again drawn to perfection, but they're as deep as a rain puddle. We know the Pirates are after Hilda and the XGP, but they just seem to pop up here and there, and besides the last episode we find out little about them. The more well thought out pair of villains are Harry and Ron MacDougal, two brothers who are partly responsible for Gene's lot in life. They're are Hilda and now intern after Gene, Jim and Melfina. They could have used an episode or two to help build these characters up, as they are pretty interesting and looked as if they'd be the basis of a second season, but outside of a few key points, we're left to make it up for ourselves.
Despite some of its flaws I hold Outlaw Star as one of the best anime series of all time. The stories, characters and animation are timeless, and even after seeing it for a fifth time it's entertaining. (which is tough for a series over 10-12 episodes) Though always compared with Cowboy Bebop I feel they run more parallel than they do against each other, as they do start off with some of the same elements, but end up taking different paths.
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: September 10, 2013. Review #57: Outlaw Star
This is ground control, calling Outlaw Star. Please inform everyone that your crew is going where no man has gone before. Outlaw Star, Liftoff!.
Gene Starwind and his kid partner Jim Hawking run a small business on the backwater planet of Sentinel III. However, all that changes the day that Hilda hires them for a bodyguard job. It turns out that Hilda is being pursuited by the Kei Pirates. Gene and Jim discover a girl in a metal box. And no, Joss Whedon did not rip that scene off when he made Firefly, that comparison turned out to be coincidental.
Now, thrust into a mystery beyond their comprehension, they're on the run from the cops, the pirates, an angry alien, and a mysterious assassin. But they've got one thing going in their favor...they have the Outlaw Star, the galaxy's most advanced ship. They fly the Outlaw Star in space to discover the mystery within the universe.
To be technical, this is a Sunrise production and the animation is mostly good in this show. The action scenes are fantastic and are nice to look at. But, it is often inconsistent with character designs. Don’t get me wrong, the characters look the same, but the way it’s animated at times is where I’m trying to get my point across. The animation is good for the most part, but it does have some inconsistencies. It may be old school, but there should be nothing wrong with that, right?. Usually referencing other animes may be a stupid move to make, but I think sharing this little observation wouldn’t hurt. Outlaw Star was made in 1998. This was not the only Sci-fi show to be made by Sunrise that year. Cowboy Bebop was made that same year in April of 1998. Now I shall get back on topic. The animation is not perfect, but damn...it’s done pretty well that it’s nice to look at because Outlaw Star is an entertaining show.
The music by Ko Otani is nothing too special I’m afraid, even though this is a late 90’s anime. If there’s an action scene, well… the music compliments the action scenes pretty well. That’s pretty much it. However, if there is a specific tune in the show that is worth noting about. It is the opening theme “Through the Night”. That opening theme is pretty catchy and this may be a fond memory for the American anime fanbase that remember the Cartoon Network block “Toonami”. The majority of 90’s kids probably know Toonami pretty damn well. I was a 90’s kid too and I loved Toonami years ago and still do now since it’s back. Outlaw Star did air on Toonami (albeit with edits being made because of content). I did not watch Outlaw Star because I did not get Cartoon Network on my cable at the time. Back on topic. The music fits, but is not too memorable to say the least. There’s a few good themes here and there but that’s it…
I could say the same with Japanese casting. Shigeru Shibuya is okay as Gene Starwind, Jim Hawking was an interesting voice to hear in the Subbed Version because he is voiced by Rica Matsumoto who often voices Satoshi in Pokemon before and since Outlaw Star. Oh… I forgot to explain. When Pokemon was brought into America. Satoshi was renamed Ash. You probably won’t ever hear Ash’s Japanese voice in the Pokemon releases because the only way to see it is to watch the edited Americanized version. Which in my opinion is still watchable by today’s standards compared to the newer material kids are getting these days. Outlaw Star has Ayako Kawasumi’s debut role where she plays Melfina and she’s pretty good as Melfina. The late Sayuri was great as Twilight Suzuka, and Yuko Miyamura fits the role as Aisha Clanclan. The Japanese cast is decent, so is the English Dub. Robert Buchholz (credited as Robert Wicks in Outlaw Star) is one of the memorable voices in the dub. Brianne Siddall is pretty good as Jim. But Wendee Lee gets the job done with a femme fatale voice that is pretty damn se… I’ll stop right there. So there’s the good voices. There are two voices I felt were off. One being underacted and the other being overacted. Bridget Hoffman (credited as Ruby Marlowe) was the voice of Melfina and I have heard better from her but she does underact a bit as Melfina. I will give her credit that she tried her best with the performance, but all I could say is that Melfina could’ve sounded better at times with the dub. Aisha is played by Lenore Zann (credited as Zan) and she overacts as Aisha in the dub, This is by far the only character in the dub that is hit and miss with the performance. I understand that because she’s a catgirl, they have to give her that feline-like quality to the performance. After comparing both the voices, Miyamura-san fits the role near-perfectly, Ms. Zann does not. She over-exaggerated on the feline quality to the voice. I may be nitpicking about this a bit much, but Aisha is annoying in the dub when the character herself really isn’t too annoying. She just acts on rushed impulses, much like you would expect in a catgirl character, it’s a common trope I guess, but the over-exaggeration in the dub does make the character sound pretty annoying at times. Noteworthy voice actors and voice actresses include Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as “Hot Ice” Hilda, Peter Spellos as Gilliam, John Snyder as Ron MacDougall, and Steve Staley as Harry McDougall.
As far as characters go. Every single character is not terrifically written and I will say that the main characters are at least “two-dimensional” and they at least get some character development in time. Gene is probably one of the most complicated characters in the show even though he’s got the “cool factor” in him. There is a part of him that isn’t seen much in the show but is thrown in nicely to see another side of him. Jim Hawking is a nice kid character and he’s fun to watch whenever he gets embarrassed about *ahem* “adult topics”. Again, kind of a common trope, but it’s still a bit funny. Melfina is interesting as the show progresses. Twilight Suzuka is a femme fatale that’s dead sexy. Aisha is well...a catgirl that lives up to the catgirl trope. As far as antagonists go, The MacDougall Brothers keep the show going but Harry is by far the more fascinating brother of the two. Don’t get me wrong, Ronald McDonald… Uh, I mean Ronald MacDougall is kind of intimidating, but Harry MacDougall was a lot more interesting than his brother. I don’t have a problem with the Kei Pirates or the Anten Seven. If there is a character that I found a bit one-dimensional was Professer Nyugen Khan (or Gwen Kahn). Why? Because he does play a part in the last third of the show, but his motives were a bit of a mystery, but the payoff was not far-fetched or cliched, but it wasn’t really all that thrilling. My problem is that he had a connection with Melfina and sided with the MacDougall Brothers to acheive his goal. The MacDougall Brothers really weren’t painted as the main villians in the show. No, not at all. If there was a potential main villian in the show, it would be KHAAAAAANNNN! Speaking of Khan’s name, did you ever think that the name could be a reference to Star Trek? Here’s a theory of mine that may support this. The main character is named “Gene”. The creator of Star Trek was Gene Roddenberry. Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge of that. But I will say that the characters are fun to watch and do make the show watchable.
I will say that this show has one major problem. This show contains Outlaws, Bio-androids, a whiz kid, action, comedy, mystery, some fanservice, planets, the universe, The Past and the present, death, a female assassin, a catgirl, Space Pirates, Spaceships, Space battles, Laser gun fights, computers, cyborgs, Space Racing, A mind-controlling cactus, Terrorists, wrestling, a Prison break, a hot springs episode, and a revelation.
You’ll see this in the show, but it all fits into the universe of Outlaw Star, but here’s the problem. The story was off to a pretty decent start, but once the show starts moving after 4 episodes, the show then turns very episodically and almost goes nowhere until near the end. If you love Sci-fi, you probably will love this show because some things to love about Sci-fi is in Outlaw Star. The direction however is mostly bad and Mitsuru Hongo might be to blame about that. Does that mean that you should stop watching it and drop it? No! Absolutely not. If you are looking for something with a good blend of Action and comedy, this is a decent viewing. If Story and characters are more important to you. The characters are likeable but the story has no direction. I think most people agree that Outlaw Star is no Masterpiece, but it is a different viewing experience for some if they are used to plot and characters. I have noticed that this show may have heavily payed tribute to certain cliches or tropes because even the Deus Ex Machina cliche is in this show and there is literally a Deus Ex Machina in Outlaw Star. Even though the story is a mess, this is a ride worth sitting through if you are looking for something that isn’t a Masterpiece, but is a decent viewing. If you think that I’m being a little too judgmental with Outlaw Star now that I’ve said everything I wanted to say, I got two words for you buddy… BITE ME!
Outlaw Star was available by Bandai Entertainment, it was out of print for some time, at the time this review is being posted, Outlaw Star will be available by Funimation eventually since they rescued this anime from being Out of Print. The manga by Takehiko Ito has not been released stateside, The light novels such as “Chapter of the Galactic Dragon Vein" (which was written by Katsuhiko Tiba and illustrated by Takuya Saitou) and "El Dorado Covered With Clouds: Starward Warrior Knight Outlaw Star" (which was written by Sakai Miho and illustrated by Takuya Saitou) were never released stateside. The Outlaw Star spin-off known as Angel Links was available by Bandai Entertainment, like Outlaw Star, it was out of print until Funimation came along and rescued it. It will soon be available by Funimation.
With all that said, Outlaw Star is an action and comedy ride with lots of Sci-fi elements in it. It has some good animation, decent music, and fun characters. It does suffer greatly with the plot as a whole, but if you look past that. Outlaw Star is a decent viewing if you like Science Fiction or if you liked 90’s anime.
I give Outlaw Star a 7 out of 10. It is GOOD!.
Feel free to leave a comment, and I’m signing out for now.
So this was a show I heard some really good things about from one of Professor Otaku’s videos and I thought it would be interesting to watch. I was not disappointed. The show actually had the same feeling as Firefly, a live action series based around a group of mismatched characters all together on a spaceship. It was so awesome to see something that wasn’t a big moe fest with cutesy characters that just want to get into the main characters pants. I’m not saying there aren’t characters that are doing that, but it’s so much more to the story. I know I did this review once before, but I am redoing it. The reason why, I re-watched the show and there was so much I didn’t remember. That and I think some of my old reviews need a tune up.
The story revolves mostly around the character Gene Starwind; a sort of butch, scruffy guy who isn’t really known for his high class attitude. What I mean by that is he doesn’t have a high class bone in his body. He acts so much like a womanizer around ladies that I am not really sure why I like the character but in a strange way, I do. The character reminds me a lot of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly in the laid back attitude to everything but when something is about to affect his ship or crew, he takes charge. It’s hard to explain him except maybe that he will also talk with his guns before thinking with his head. He also has a rather strange phobia that I actually have never really seen when talking about space travel. He was scared as a kid about being out in space and yet he always wanted to get a space ship and go into space.
Malfina is much like River Tam. In fact, she even shows up in exactly the same way, in a cold storage suitcase. When talking about her personality, it’s a bit hard as there seems to be dual sides of her in a way. She can be very happy one minute, like a normal girl and then suddenly be wondering exactly why she was born. We never get a lot of info about her and I am guessing the artwork we see at the end of each episode is supposed to be her but they don’t explain it. She is always left in mystery, and I would say even at the end of the show, we never find out exactly what is going on with her. She is normally sweet and the most innocent of the group but one thing sets her different then any of the other characters, she is needed to pilot the ship. She is like a controller, you plug her into the vat of ‘water’ and she makes the ship move.
Jim Hawking (I really believe that his name is a play off of a character from Treasure Island) is a rather crazy computer wizard. I consider him a bit like Edward from Cowboy Bebop but with a much saner mind. I do like this about him as he isn’t always doing some strange wacky thing out of the blue. He keeps Gene’s and his business afloat surprisingly and is very grown up in some ways. In other ways, he still is very innocent when it comes to relationships. When that happens, he actually gets rather shy.
This may be a large space opera and drama show, but it has some fun comedy to it, especially between Gene and Hawkings. The chemistry is actually really cool although we don’t get much of a back story about how they met. I would have loved to learn more about that since we only get a little back story about Gene and what his father did. Other then that, their background is just thrown to the side like everyone else’s background. On one hand I can see how this gives us more room for awesome space battles and cool action fights but on the other hand, I really want to know the background of the characters. They give us history lessons in the beginning of the show that makes no sense half the time, so why not give us character backgrounds or something?
Even though this is a lot like Firefly (Yes, I know it came first), to me, this is actually something different that they put together. Firefly has only human people but in this, they have aliens that can look like frogs to tiger cat girls. Sadly, you don’t seem to see much of these aliens and I would like to learn a bit more about them and their culture. You only see one character most of the time, the cat girl character whose name always escapes me. (I blame the very little background that makes it hard to remember her and all the other minor characters of this show.)The story is pretty slow and they only get underway at about the 9th episode. Even then though, there wasn’t really any filler and were actually building up the plot line. When they do get up and running, it’s more about getting money for the ship. There is a story line that ties the whole thing together though and it makes you want to watch even more.
I do have to ask how there are people that seem to be able to use magic when they are in a really high technology heavy show? They never seem to explain about that in the little historical information given in the beginning of each show (good call to the creators by the way). The historical information does actually help since they don’t really explain it in the actual show much.
The artwork is very good, and has a design that is much different then the style we see now. Sure its cel drawn and was made in the 1990s, but I think it has a bit of character all its own. The show is mostly very dark and almost as though they have a dark filter cast over everything. This gives the show a very apocalyptic or underground feeling which I believe is perfect when talking about Outlaws. Characters have very sharp looking features to where even the eyes look as though they have seen things that really didn’t want to be seen. This is even in the most innocent eyes like Jim and Malfina, they just always have this bit of sadness to them. There really isn’t any time that I see gravity defying hair like what we see in Dragonball Z, but it still has this sort of unkempt look about them which only adds to the characters rough appearance. Backgrounds don’t really show off much, being somewhat generic at times. They do give a good sense of space though when things are a bit claustrophobic.
The English voice acting is actually rather interesting, especially when they have the narrator sometime saying something philosophical. It is hard to understand sometimes, but watching this show a second time has helped me understand what the philosophy is actually supposed to be about. On the other hand, when he is giving the background to the show, you can’t figure out why he is saying it because sometimes it seems irrelevant. Even with a second time watching, I don’t understand that part. When we are talking about the script, we sometimes get a little bit clunky. It’s like they directly translated the script but yet it actually works at times. The voices they picked work pretty well and you could tell they got into the characters. Bob Buchholz is really good as the voice of Gene and has enough of a boyish charm that keeps him young. Something tells me that this was the first voice dub that Ian Hawk did, he was perfect for Jim Hawking, and Emilie Brown is wonderful for Melfina. She has a way of speaking that sounds partly like an android and yet she has a lot of feeling behind her words. The music is really well done, and I love the opening song. The opening artwork is alright, though it just seems a bit odd in how it has been cut. The ending is somewhat alright, though it is a little slow and the thing of stills just seems a little off since it isn’t in an anime style. They are also much more detailed then the actual show.
After re-watching this show, I still love it. Sure it has some flaws, but the story line makes up for it. Overall, it was a pretty solid show and I would of loved for a second season or something to add more info on the characters and help clear up more of the mystery.