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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
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