Very rarely do I watch an anime that is so good, I don’t even know how the hell I can convey how good it is through the written word. Very rarely do I ever see an anime as good as Outlaw Star. The last nine I gave was about ten or eleven reviews ago, and that was an anime that I could easily review and talk about how good it was. This, on the other hand, is like Gurren Lagann for me. Outlaw Star is the kind of anime that I want to give a ten, not because I’m a fan boy who saw this as a child (this did play on Toonami for quite a few years but I never actually saw it) but because it deserves all my praise. It’s got everything I could possibly want in an anime, kick ass characters, comedy, great action, and it uses its sci-fi setting well.
The story is not the most complex, but it is still good. Gene Starwind, a repair guy and bounty hunter, along with the tiny Jim Hawking, get thrown into a whole new world of outlaws, pirates, and space ships with arms (called grapplers). They meet the mysterious Melfina, a bio-android who knows nothing of who she is or what she was created for. Gene winds up with possession of the XGP, the Outlaw Star, a space ship that everyone seems to be after. Gene faces off with pirates who can use magical tao abilities, brothers who killed Gene’s father many years before, and many others, all in an attempt to reach the treasure at the Galactic Leyline. The story runs episodically, but there are some multi-parts.
Outlaw Star’s plot isn’t tough to comprehend, nor is it as large as some anime, but it gets the job done and provides ample entertainment. The ending alone is worth the price of admission. It’s killer. While the plot is not tied up conclusively, it still ends nicely and doesn’t leave too much to be desired plot-wise (other than a second season). One of the only episodes I really had a gripe about was the hot spring episode, which didn’t fit in with the typically serious tone, but is forgiven for being possibly the best hot spring episode of any anime. Not only was it used to explain things, it was also uproariously hilarious.
The animation of Outlaw Star is, duh, dated. It doesn’t look bad, it just looks average. The characters look off sometimes (Aisha during the hot spring episode has glowing blue eyes when they stand outside of the entrance) and are fairly wooden usually. But the character design is pretty cool and I have to say that the spaceships and sci-fi elements look fantastic. The Outlaw Star is awesome looking and really shines during the space fights. Otherwise, I can’t really complain. Nowadays the animation would probably be a four or a five out of ten, but I’m going to rate the animation decently for fairness’ sake.
The sound is a mixture of awesome and okay. The opening theme song is one of the best…ever. When I am watching an anime on my computer and I can skip the opening, I typically do, but I watched it all twenty-six times for Outlaw Star. Like Gurren Lagann’s theme, it gets you pumped. The ending is a little less exciting but not bad. The voice acting ranges from good to meh. Aisha, despite her yelling every line, does imbue some emotion into lines, while Gene is typically wooden. Melfina is laughable, Jim is okay, and Suzuka is alright.
The characters are good and together take on lives of their own. Gene is a great main character, strong, manly, a real Ernest Hemingway character. He’s an all-around badass. This is offset immensely by Jim, who wasn’t an exciting nor likeable character, but is his opposite and the brains of the operation. Melfina is not a great character either and doesn’t have a lot to her, but as the series continues she grows on you more. It seems that toward the end her character started to get some work and started to become more life-like. But at the end, it’s too late to turn cardboard to a human (or bio-android, whatever).
Suzuka is another bland character who is just kind of…there. On the opposite hand Aisha, who many people may dislike for her loud mouth, actually has a lot more character than anyone else. I really liked her because she seemed to be a lot more like Gene than anyone else. She was a loud-mouth badass with a lot of pride in herself.
The bad guys are all pretty two dimensional. The MacDougall brothers are a bit of an exception, though they don’t have a ton of character. Fred Luo is the only other character worth mentioning. He’s the gay comedic relief and accomplishes his goal of lightening the mood tremendously.
I hate to stir the hate soup that will obviously be created by saying this, but I like Outlaw Star over Trigun and Cowboy Bebop. These are the triumvirate of late 90’s space operas. Outlaw Star is number one. with Cowboy Bebop at number two, and Trigun at three. I don’t know what it is about Outlaw Star that I think sets it above the rest, but I just felt that as a whole, Outlaw Star is an impressive package. Its sci-fi elements are well thought out, its plot is exciting, its characters are fun to be around, and I didn’t want to stop watching. It’s just so much fun to watch and knows the perfect time to include some light-heartedness, some seriousness, and some action. It’s well-balanced.It feels more like if Cowboy Bebop and Gurren Lagann had a child than anything else. (YES, I know Gurren Lagann came out later. I'm using an analogy to help you understand what this anime is like)
Outlaw Star gets a 9.5/10