Gene Starwind and Jim Hawkins work as machine repairmen by day. This all changes when they meet up with space outlaw Hilda and, through clashes with other space outlaws, ends up on the run with her and the cargo the space outlaws are interested in; a humanoid named Melfina.
While on the run, Gene and his crew learn about the Galactic Leyline, which is supposedly the resting place of the galaxy's biggest treasure, so naturally, they set their sights to uncover its secrets.
Rewatching this takes me back to when an anime title didn't have to have everyone look like teenagers. I picked up Outlaw Star from one of my fellow THEMers a good couple of years ago, and it was certainly not a purchase I regretted.
At heart, Outlaw Star is a good deal like Star Wars, or maybe I should compare it to US live action space adventure show Firefly instead. Most of the main cast are basically rogues and other kinds of outcasts, and much like in Firefly, space is now made of the same kind of frontiers that challenged the US settlers of yesteryear, sixshooter in hand and horse underneath his saddle.
Outlaw Star is also a curiosity from the nineties in that the art is rather gritty and spiky, and not just because our hero Gene carries the scars to prove the harshness of his lifestyle (and the gun to match.) But, like most other heroes, he has a dream, and his dream is to go into space. I'm sure Hilda's way of dragging him there wasn't what he had in mind, but beggars can't be choosers, so once he has the ship and the crew well in hand, he rides it for what it's worth. With him is his ever trusty sidekick Jim Hawkins; a diminiutive preteen kid who might have a bigger sense of responsibility than Gene, but nevertheless is a child at heart, at least as far as their lifestyle allows. Like most sidekicks, he doesn't have much to do outside of aiding Gene any way he can, and little is revealed about his family.
Perhaps equally mysterious is the young girl Melfina. When Gene meets with Hilda, Melfina is stowed away in a large container, but, due to various circumstances, she is woken up and taken along for the ride. This is done partially to protect her from the people who want her for their own purposes, but also because she's very important if the team want to get the ship Hilda stashed away running at all. Melfina is basically a creation of biotechnology that's been made to take the appearance of a young woman.
As they're hunting for clues about Melfina, and later the Leyline, our crew eventually picks up two more ship crewmembers in Aisha Clanclan, a member of the race of Ctarl-Ctarl, and someone who might get on your nerves at some point in the show. The Ctarl-Ctarl is basically a race of beast-people of sorts, and they generally act loud and braying, and are generally feared among the outlaws. You'd have a hard time believing that at first, though, given that she's mostly used for comedy relief for the better part of the show. The last member is "Twilight" Suzuka, an assassin who comes across the team and decides to go with them to get revenge on the Anten Seven, who were responsible for the death of her family. And that's pretty much all you'll learn about her.
Outlaw Star isn't a particularly old show, but it's not exactly a recent release either. Its focus is more on the main cast rather than where they're going, at least insofar that most of the places the crew ventures to isn't very distinctive, other than serving various purposes, be that gambling, industrialism or even sports. There's even a hotspring planet somewhere near the end of the show for those who wanted that sort of thing, and yes, said episode is definitely a good deal racier than the show's average. (Though sometimes that raciness backfires spectacularly.) In just about any case, travel to planets are made because of the requisite supporting cast that lives there, like the ambiguously gay Fred Luo and his numerous come-ons thrown in Gene's direction.
Being an outlaw universe, that also means that Outlaw Star isn't short on villains and other kinds of nefarious people. At the top of this list is the Anten Seven with its leader Lord Hazanko, who wants to gain the power to rule the universe. With him, he has the other assassins in the Anten Seven, most of which are sent to kill Gene Starwind and reclaim Melfina for themselves. And if you think that sounds kind of oldschool, then that's because it is. In some ways, that's the show greatest strength, giving the audience the chance to explore alongside the crew and take part in the near endless adventure. Because the show thankfully sticks to being mostly a lighthearted -- or occasionally a mediumhearted, if that's a word -- show. It never reaches the levels of opera you'd find in shows like Macross or Star Battleship Yamato, which, again, is either good or bad depending on what you're looking for. But the show is pretty solid for the most part, barring a somewhat predictable, game-ish ending. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, at least not for me. The campy opening theme did make me think that Outlaw Star was a bit older than it really is, but the ending themes can easily stand up even to this day.
Outlaw Star is also not a very deep show, although it still asks a few existential questions of the "what would you do" variety every now and then, hence the more dramatical moments of the show. Neither of them are all that heavy-duty, though, which is possibly Outlaw Star's biggest problem; it doesn't really tug on your heartstrings a whole lot, unlike some other shows I could mention. But when it comes down to it, this show is an entertaining show even to this day, and I feel that should count for a lot.
A strong three star at that. Feel free to add another depending on how important the — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Some violence, language, and adult situations lead us to recommend this for teens and over. Of course, the TV edit is okay for kids, as most of the potentially offensive material has been cut out.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Outlaw Star © 1998 Morning Star / Sunrise / Shueisha / Sotsu Agency
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