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Anime Profile: Outlaw Star

Fields
USA Info
Japanese Info
Image
Title
Outlaw Star Seihou Bukyou Outlaw Star(星方武侠アウトロースター)("Space Hero Outlaw Star") Outlaw Star
· · ·
  Space Hero Outlaw Star
Released
26 TV episodes 26 TV episodes
Dates
July 16, 2000 Jan. 8, 1998–Jun. 25, 1998
Company
Bandai Ent.(original licensor), FUNimation(new licensor), Animaze Inc. Morning Star, Sunrise, Shueisha, Sotsu Agency
Creator
  Takehiko Itoh
Director
  Mitsuru Hongo
Genre
Action, Mecha Action, Mecha
Related
Angel Links Seihou Tenshi Angel Links
Characters
"Hot Ice" Hilda  
· · ·
Aisha Clan-Clan  
· · ·
Duuz Delax Rex Duuz Delax Rex
· · ·
-- more listed below -- -- more listed below --

Last I checked, this anime was available on DVD at Anime Nation and Amazon, and on VHS at Amazon.

Anime Characters: Outlaw Star

English Name
Japanese Name
English Name
Japanese Name
"Hot Ice" Hilda --?-- Iraga Iraga
Aisha Clan-Clan --?-- Jim Hawking --?--
Duuz Delax Rex Duuz Delax Rex Leilong/Shimi Leilong/Shimi
Fred Luo --?-- Lord Hazanko Lord Hazanko
Gene Starwind --?-- Melfina --?--
Gwen Khan --?-- Ron MacDougall --?--
Hamushi Hamushi Swanzo Swanzo
Hanmyo Hanmyo Tobigera Tobigera
Harry MacDougall --?-- Twilight Suzuka Suzuka
Hitoriga Hitoriga Valeria Vertone Valeria Vertone

Anime Description: Outlaw Star

Welcome to outer space: the Wild West of the future. In this future universe (year 0158 on the Toward Stars Calendar), there are three kinds of people. First are the Space Forces. They are the law in the galaxy that strive to maintain peace and order. Second are the Pirate Guilds. These ruthless bands rob and plunder at will, flying in the face of the law and leaving chaos in their wake.

In between are the Outlaws. They are the free spirits of space. They go where they want, do what they want, and answer to no one but themselves.

This is the story of three significant points of interest: Gene Starwind, a carefree man who will do anything for the good life; the XGP15A-II (re-christened the Outlaw Star), a state-of-the-art grappler ship that happens to come into Gene's possession; and the Galactic Leyline, a supposed treasure trove that everyone seeks...and the Outlaw Star is destined to seek out.

Note: One episode was not presented on US television due to nudity issues.

Anime Description: Outlaw Star

Outlaw Star came out in 1998, the same year as Trigun and Cowboy Bebop. Some critics have said that it suffers unfairly from the inevitable comparisons to these others, especially the latter.

While I am very fond of Cowboy Bebop, I don't think this is the case. Outlaw Star, considered on its own merits, is a mediocre space shonen adventure series with annoying characters who have no more depth than the animation cels they're painted on.

Principal protagonist Gene Starwind is a cheerfully sociopathic martial arts tough guy, a horndog, and a mouthy jerk. He has lots of scars; in fact, when he takes off his shirt, he looks like he's gone one-on-one with someone who brought a chainsaw to a fistfight. He's a hot-tempered musclebound moron. He seems to have a poorly developed grudge against space pirates. There's nothing more to him. Period. Full stop.

He's flying around space looking for a quick buck doing bounty-hunting jobs, preferably dead-or-alive bounties, and hunting for a McGuffin called the Galactic Leyline, which is mainly just a plot device to string 26 episodes together. He hunts and is hunted by recurring villains whose motivations are unclear and who mostly have no more psychological depth than he does.

Accompanying him as he wades through gore on his quest for a quick buck, some nookie, and the Space McGuffin (not necessarily in that order) are four cardboard cutouts, straight from Central Casting:

Kid genius sidekick Jim Hawking is a level-headed and precocious 11-year-old. He's a kid genius sidekick. You now know how he will react in any situation, and can probably predict most of his lines. Where are his parents? We don't know. Where did he come from? We don't know. How did he become the kid sidekick of a bloodthirsty, battle-scarred, violently antisocial bounty-hunter like Gene Starwind? We don't know. Full stop.

Shy, soft-spoken android girl Melfina may have some feelings for Gene, or not, but we don't get into her head, so it doesn't matter. She's sad and she simpers and she makes goo-goo eyes at Gene. He rescues her a lot. He may feel something for her, or not. Full stop.

Exotic alien catgirl (complete with collar and bell, just in case the ears, tail, and constant "nya! nya! nya nya!" catgirl-accented Japanese were too subtle) Aisha Clan-Clan is short-tempered, violent, superhumanly strong, and not very bright. One hopes she isn't representative of her species, who supposedly have conquered a vast interstellar empire. She's a half-wit, even stupider than Gene. She's mainly there for comic relief and perhaps a bit of fanservice. She is voiced quite capably by Yuko Minamura, perhaps better known for portraying Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion; her performance stands out here, sort of like a maraschino cherry atop a turd. Her talent is wasted on material like this. Full stop.

Beautiful sword-wielding assassin Twilight Suzuka is an enigma. This is a characteristic she shares with, well, everybody else in this series. Who is this ravishing beauty? She's an "Ultra Class A Assassin." What does that mean? We don't know. Why doesn't she have big honkin' shaggy eyebrows like everyone else? (All character design was by Takehito "Big Honkin' Shaggy Eyebrows For Everybody, Even Women And Kids" Ito.) We don't know. Where did she come from? We don't know. Why, in a retro-future straight out of a 1950s television sci-fi serial, does she always wear a kimono and obi, as if she'd just stepped out of medieval Japan? Why does this cool, competent (callous and cold-blooded, even) assassin with a fearsome reputation for light-years around freak out and lose her cool when she fights Gene Starwind? We don't know. How did this petite and rather young-looking woman become such a superhuman expert with the sword? We don't know. Why did this woman, who presumably once had a mother and father who loved her, become an assassin for hire? We don't know. But at least she doesn't simper like Melfina, and she's not an idiot like Aisha. Full stop.

Does anyone else see a pattern developing here? We spend twenty-six episodes with these characters. Yet at the end we don't know anything about them that we didn't learn by the third time we see each of them. If any of them has an internal monolog, we never hear a word of it. When I watched Cowboy Bebop, I learned about the characters and began to care about them. When I watched Outlaw Star, I noticed that it doesn't really matter what order you watch the episodes in, and I found some of the antagonists (particularly Hanmyo and her genetically engineered supercats, Kemi and Mata... all three of whom are rather brutally killed by Gene Starwind, who doesn't bat an eyelash) to be far more appealing and far more sympathetic than our cheerfully homicidal, two-dimensional "hero."

Even the ending of the series feels like a cheat, as it opens the door to the possibility of a sequel. However, as it's been almost ten years at this point, I suppose we dodged that particular bullet. Be glad.

It's a shame, really. The Toward Stars universe looks like an interesting place, and has had a lot more thought and effort put into it than any of the characters who adventure in it. The existence of real, functioning magic ("Tao sorcery," to be precise) pushes the mood of the series more towards fantasy than science fiction, I suppose, but it hardly matters, with such an unappealing, unsympathetic, simplistic protagonist. So much unrealized potential. "Future Hero Next Generation," my ass.

Audio Files: Outlaw Star

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