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Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1

(return to disc)

Content rating: 7
Posted 2004-04-05 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by kurt on 2004-04-06 13:47:00

Outlaw Star is simple, honest, unapologetic space opera -- like Star Wars -- and that's fine. It mixes action with occasional bursts of comedy, but keeps a hint of deeper, dark waters running beneath the surface at all times. Best of all, it has engaging characters who manage to step outside their cookie-cutter outlines every now and then. It's enough to make me almost forgive the writers for all their blatent disregard for the laws of physics :-/

The story follows the adventures of Gene Starwind, the not-quite-stereotypical rogue with a dream for glory and an eye for the ladies. He has a few features which separate him from Just Another Good Guy: for one, although he's great in a fight, he gets carsick in space. He's not above whining about it, either. Together with his partner, the short and pragmatic Jim Hawking, he is drawn into an intergalactic struggle between several clans of space pirates and the Federation government. A beautiful (of course) but ruthless outlaw, Hilda, has stolen the most advanced spaceship in the universe, together with its enigmatic navigator/pilot/distributor cap, a shy girl named Melfina. A series of accidents and a nasty set of pirates end up leaving this ship in Gene's hands. He flees quite happily into space, determined to find out just what is so special about this spaceship that everyone seems to want it. Oh, and to avenge the death of his father, too.

It may sound like pretty standard fare -- a better-than-average Joe thrown into a maze of politics and violence, armed with nothing but a clean conscience, resourceful partner and a quick right hand -- no different from any number of Hollywood action films. And, to a large extent, it is pretty standard. But there are always enough touches to keep it interesting. Hilda, for example, who sets the whole plot in motion by stealing the ship, is not a nice person. Her original plan is to force Gene and Jim to make some repairs and then kill them. It's clear that she has her own agenda, on which spreading joy and helping the downtrodden does not appear. No heart of gold beats within her bosom. Another good sign is the way the first episode ends: a large suitcase opens to reveal a naked female figure. Is it alive? Dead? Human??? Now that's entertainment.

Having a computer on board the mystery ship with the personality of Marvin, the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is another reason to watch the series. And yet another is the obligatory cat-girl Aisha, who desperately wants to be fearsome and powerful, but never quite succeeds. Aisha's voice really bothered me at first, since it just seemed wrong for her character -- until I finally recognized her seiyuu as Yuko Miyamura. I had recently heard the same voice coming from Casca of Berserk, and I can tell you that there is nothing -- NOTHING -- that these two characters share. No wonder I was confused. On the other hand, Miyamura-san also did the voice of Asuka Langley from Neon Genesis Evangelion, who is actually quite a good match for Aisha. Therefore, I recommend watching NGE before Outlaw Star to wash the sound of Casca out of your mind, if you've recently seen Berserk.

The show does have some weak points. Melfina, for example, must be plugged into the ship for it to run properly. She must step into a cylinder filled with liquid which sits at the back of the ship's bridge. Well, okay. But what bothers me is that she has to be naked inside the transparent cylinder .... which has metal bands encircling it at just the right places to make her nakedness acceptable to the PG-13 crowd. Aaaarrgghh. I wish the writers would either a) not force Melfina to disrobe in the first place, or b) have the guts to show her naked. Instead, we get a very calculated dose of titillation to boost the ratings among 13-year old boys. Sigh.

The character of Suzuka, an assassin who teams up with Our Heroes near the end of the second disc, also annoys me slightly. She and Gene are set against each other when first they meet. Gene defeats her when he accidently loosens her obi so that her robes fall open, causing her to fall to the ground and cover herself with her hands instead of fighting. Come ON: this woman is a renowned mercenary who has killed tens or hundreds of people in cold blood, yet she's rendered helpless when her shirt falls open? Oy vey. Fortunately, she's cool enough in just about all other respects that I'm willing to overlook this first false step.

What I'm NOT willing to overlook are the many occasions on which the laws of physics are not just set aside, but trampled. In episode 4, the group explores the new ship while it sits in the depths of space. They float in midair as they discuss their plans; okay so far. But when they decide to move to another part of the ship, they don't push off the walls to move; nor do they walk forward; nor do they press buttons on their jetpacks to shoot down the hallway. No, they simply look forward and, uh, fly, using some kind of, uh, will power. Ugh. The orbital dynamics of a rather crucial close pass by a star are way, way, too fast, but I guess I can excuse this; watching characters sit and wait for several days wouldn't be very exciting, I'll admit. But the biggest problem I have with the series is one that pops up several times in this first pair of discs and will appear again throughout the series: the Grappler Arms. Apparently, the ultimate weapon on spaceships in the Outlaw Star universe is not lasers, nor missiles, nor thermonuclear devices. No, it's a pair of big arms. Pilots match velocities with their victims (at thousands of kilometers per second?!?!) and then GRAB them, punch them, and shake them into submission (without injuring the arms in any way). What the heck? That makes about as much sense as a soldier who walks into a modern battlefield armed with a baseball bat. The writers attempt to show us how excellent a pilot Gene is by having him use the Grappler Arms to pull out a really big gun and use it to shoot an enemy ship as they two fly past each other. All they end up doing is causing me to sputter, "But -- but -- but -- why not just mount the gun on a turret and shoot from there?"

Don't take my ranting too seriously. Despite its weaknesses, Outlaw Star provides solid entertainment. I'll be watching the remainder of the series as soon as I can, and I recommend it to viewers who want something along the lines of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or "The Perils of Pauline."

The only extra worth mentioning is a nice gallery of character sketches; they look like guides to the animators. The text on these sketches is all Japanese, though, so unless you can read the language, you won't be able to understand the commentary.

Equipment used when writing this review:
Sony DVD player, JVC 27-inch TV, stereo speakers

Content: 7 Video: 7 Sound: 7 Packaging: 6 Menu: 6

Buy this disc from AnimeNation
Other reviews of this disc:
Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by CmdrTaco (Rating: 8.00)
I'd seen a few bits and pieces of Outlaw Star on Toonami, and was fairly unimpressed. But several people told me that the actual show is much better then the butchered version that I had seen snippets on. Boy were they right.


Content: 8 Video: 8 Sound: 8 Packaging: 8 Menu: 8

Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by Cacophanus (Rating: 6.00)
Outlaws. We are oft led to believe are a bunch of affable rogues. Banished from a society due to a glitch in social ethics. Not because they are bloodthirsty criminals.

Admittedly a take on outlaws being obvious psychopaths and a...(continues)

Content: 6 Video: N/A Sound: N/A Packaging: N/A Menu: N/A

Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by BrikHaus (Rating: 8.60)
Outlaw Star is another great show that can be seen on Cartoon Network. I highly recommend that you watch it unedited. They cut out so many funny scenes it is ridiculous. I watched the entire series on TV and then on DVD. The second time...(continues)
Content: 10 Video: 9 Sound: 8 Packaging: 7 Menu: 9

Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by Darthbert (Rating: 8.60)

So you've finished up Cowboy Bebop, gotten fed up with Tenchi In Tokyo and are killing time before Evangelion Perfect Collection DVD comes out? Need a good strong series with likable characters, a coherent storyline and nifty...(continues)

Content: 9 Video: 8 Sound: 8 Packaging: 10 Menu: 8

Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by guiler (Rating: 9.00)
It needs to be said, right here, that Outlaw Star is a great anime. It's a fun-filled, action-packed, funny, intelligent explosion-o-rama.

Think of it as sort of a hard-edged anime Star Wars, completely from Han Solo's point of view....(continues)

Content: 10 Video: 8 Sound: 9 Packaging: N/A Menu: N/A

Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by crkscrew13 (Rating: 7.80)
Unfortunately, with the selectively restrictive nature of American TV, and the American view on animation, certain anime series that are shown here are shredded into almost unrecognizable crap before they're placed on TV. Another example...(continues)
Content: 9 Video: 7 Sound: 8 Packaging: 8 Menu: 7

Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by jdsauer (Rating: 8.80)
I loved this show on Cartoon Network and definately came to enjoy it much more after getting the DVDs. Gene Starwind acquires a ship called the XGP that was designed by both the lawful and the lawless.

This ship was designed to find...(continues)

Content: 10 Video: 8 Sound: 9 Packaging: 8 Menu: 9

Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by starwind_lovergirl (Rating: 9.00)

I purchased this dvd set from Anime Nation a few monthes back and fell in love with this series. Outlaw Star is about a bounty-hunter named Gene Starwind and his partner Jim Hawking. It follows their exploits through space with a...(continues)

Content: 8 Video: 10 Sound: 9 Packaging: 10 Menu: 8

Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 by kakkarotDBZ (Rating: 9.80)
Outlaw Star is one of the coolest Anime's ever. It has the perfect mix of Action, Adventure, Romance and Comedy. It also has a great storyline that keeps you going from one episode to the next. Also it has huge explosions!...(continues)
Content: 10 Video: 10 Sound: 10 Packaging: 10 Menu: 9

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