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Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 2

(return to disc)

Content rating: 8
Posted 2004-04-12 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by kurt on 2004-04-15 21:09:00

The fun continues with Gene and the gang. The middle pair of discs in the Outlaw Star set don't really move the story forward very far, but they entertain mightily nonetheless. And the science consultants did a SLIGHTLY better job overall this time, though I'll still complain about a few things.

To summarize the action in a nutshell, we get a chance to see just how good the ship is, Gene's acquaintances bond into a small group of true friends, the MacDougall brothers are revealed -- but left as a menace to be resolved in the grand finale, I believe -- and someone who surely does seem to be Th3 3v1l hires a band of famed assassins to take care of Gene Starwind. In other words, the table is set. Thes episodes on these discs, numbers 10 to 18, put all the pieces in play.

As I watched, I caught sight again and again of little bits that might be homages to classic films and stories, or might just be fragments of the human experience common to any good story. The character of Harry MacDougall, the younger brother, seems a carbon copy of Dilandau from Escaflowne, at least during his common spells of smiling bloodlust. His exaggerated manners and false innocence in between, though, make him even creepier. Those who think they are real otaku should be able to name his blood type from memory. In episode 16, "Demon of the Water Planet," we find a man haunted by a giant beast from his past. His obsession to beat the creature which has stolen his leg (and hand, and eye) must be a reference to Ahab. And in a more recent vein, the villains in episode 14, "Final Countdown," pretend to be political revolutionaries in order to hide their true goal -- which is simply to get rich quick; just like Alan Rickman and his gang in "Die Hard."

The show bounces around from drama to comedy in a pleasant fashion. "Advance Guard from Another World", episode 13, brings us not only an alien race called "The Sith" (and a nasty race at that), but a psychoactive cactus. I respect any anime in which a character can shout "You cactus bastard!" :-) Aisha Clan-clan returns to make an even better impression than she did in the early episodes. I noticed that while waiting idly on the bridge of her own Ctarl-Ctarl ship, she hummed her theme song. Familiar music also appears on a billboard in space: it plays the opening theme as the ship flies past. Heh. And if you read the computer readout on Melfina during one of the introductory segments (which, in general, I don't much like), you'll see that she was equipped by her maker not only with a physical navigation system, and an emergency difference engine, but also with a "broken hart." I enjoy little throwaway jokes like that.

In episode 15, "The Seven Emerge," Gene is challenged to a duel by a mysterious figure who appears mighty quick on the draw. A good deal of the episode shows Gene acting genuinely nervous: he goes into a bar and is so out of sorts that he turns down the approaches of a comely wench. Instead, he knocks back a few with an older guy who seems willing to lend a little helpful advice. I was hoping that this wise soul would be just a random fellow, who would share a drink, walk out the door, and never be seen again, but he does show up just a few minutes later. The way the duel turns out is not quite what we expect at first -- but then turns into EXACTLY what we expect, with Gene's friends giving their all to help. The resolution seemed bizarre, just too improbable to be true; but then, when it all came to an end, I realized that the writers had taken another cliche and managed to add a twist which made complete sense. Bravo.

Note: don't mess with the Ctarl-Ctarl. We finally see just how nasty Aisha can get .... and it isn't funny. Yikes.

Okay, okay, so what about the physics. Well, they got quite a lot right: the big race through the Heifong system involves distances which are quite appropriate for interplanetary jaunts: about 11 AU round trip. We watch the ships travel at a few percent of the speed of light in their normal, "ether" mode (but the capabilities of the superluminal, "sub-ether" operation are left unsaid). The gaseous planet Heifong V (I believe) has an ocean of liquid hydrogen. Fine. On the other hand, the race also involved a checkpoint located between the components of a binary planet. No problem with that. The ship's computer described two possible courses to the checkpoint: one going up above the orbital plane, then diving down through the checkpoint -- that was the easy one -- and the other driving straight ahead in the orbital plane. The ship advised against the second, shorter path because it was too dangerous: "there are too many factors, including the influence of the planets' gravity, orbital velocity, and magnetism!" Ahem. I, personally, with pencil and paper, could keep up with the motions of the two planets around each other (especially given a ship which was moving a three percent of the speed of light). And magnetism is NOT an issue for objects as large as planets. Oh, and when the "tidal wave" of metal shot up off one planet to fly across space to the other planet -- ugh.

But, again, don't let my griping get you down. Watch Outlaw Star. You'll have fun.

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

Content: 8 Video: 7 Sound: 7 Packaging: 5 Menu: 5

Buy this disc from AnimeNation
Other reviews of this disc:
Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 2 by CmdrTaco (Rating: 8.20)
After watching Outlaw Star DVD Collection Vol 1 and being pleasantly surprised, I immediately went out and ordered Vol 2. Just days later, another 9 episodes of this Space Cowboy series was awaiting my inspection. This time I went in...(continues)
Content: 9 Video: 8 Sound: 8 Packaging: 8 Menu: 8

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