Outlaw Star Collection 1 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000
What They Say
Gene Starwind and his partner Jim Hawking run a small business on the backwater planet of Centinel 3. But all that changes the day that Hilda hires them for a bodyguard job. Now, thrust into a mystery they don’t fully understand, they’re on the run from the cops, the pirates, an angry alien, and a mysterious assassin. But they’ve got one thing going in their favor – they have the galaxy’s most advanced ship!
Bandai's latest move in the affordable compilation releases has taken the form of Outlaw Star. Originally it was announced in the six disc format similar to Cowboy Bebop, but likely due to the success of the Eat-Man and Haunted Junction sets, Bandai's trying it again with this 26 episode series.
One of the main differences between this set and earlier sets of other series is that there's a full dub of the whole thing. The Japanese and English tracks both sound great, and though there are some rather odd changes in the dub, it's pretty accurate for the most part. Audio levels on both sound quite good and distortion free. We listened to the disc in Japanese during the full review period of it but really enjoyed what we heard of it during the review writing phase. This disc will likely be revisited soon to watch it in English only.
Overall, we were pretty pleased with the video aspect of things, but there appear to be some rather odd choices made that in the end kept the rating down. The nine episodes in this set are spread across two discs, five on the first and four on the second. Previous shows done with five episodes by Bandai have been placed on dual layered discs, giving the show more room to move in terms of space and compression. Unfortunately, the first disc in this set is on a single layered disc and squeaks in just below the maximum space allowed on it. What this results in is in some areas, there's more jagged edges showing and around some of the characters at times there's some minor pixellation. The show overall on this disc seems to be a bit more soft as well. A good portion of this is less evident on the second disc, leaving only line noise and the occasional rainbows. Moire effects were pretty minimal overall, which was a bit surprising considering some of the line art used on faces and the like. That said, we were still very pleased with how the disc came out and enjoyed it a lot. But I think it could have looked better.
The double disc keepcase used takes up only a little more space than the single kind. The cover artwork is the standard pose of the main character with the smirkish grin. It looks decent but not really all that eye-grabbing. The back cover is a collage of screenshots and a large picture of one of the other characters. The plot summary is minimal but does give an idea of where things start off. The insert provided has some neat information about the weapons and technology used in the series. I believe it was on this insert where the use of Chinese characters in the background was actually taken from newsprint, and as mentioned on the forum, talks about trade relations between China and Taiwan and even mentions President Clinton. All fully approved by the Japanese licensors as well. Ah, who cares, it's cool looking!
The menus... oh, the menus. Design wise, they're pretty basic yet solid. A large portion of the main menu has the Outlaw Star logo with the selections below it. The first disc only has a few things and the second one has the added menu for the extras section. Access times are pretty quick and everything loaded without any problems. So what didn't I like about the menus? They're loud. I don't mean a hair or two, but significantly so. Going into the show after the menu, it almost feels like you can't hear the show at all. So as to not wake a sleeping baby, we pretty much avoided the menus after the first time.
The extras, found on the second disc, are somewhat minimal but have one of my favorites. After checking out the character designs in the image gallery, we launched into the textless opening. This is one of my favorite things to see as an extra and this opening is no exception. Without all the credits flashing by, we saw lots of things we missed during the regular presentation. All I really want know is a textless ending. The one for this show is just beautiful and needs to be seen without the credits cluttering it up. Please!
One of the great things about this set is in what it covers. Over the course of the nine episodes, we get the first arc covered completely and then start in on the secondary episodes (i.e. filler style/character development) with the last one. So right from the get go, there was little disappointment here with the story.
The story itself revolves around Gene Starwind and Jim Hawking. Both of them are partners on the far flung planet Centinel III. Their jobs tend to be bounty hunting and jack of all trades kind of work, such as bodyguard work and equipment/weapon procurement. Things change considerably for them when they're hired out for bodyguard duty for one particular woman who isn't all that she seems.
It's not long after they're in her service that a group of pirates are chasing them down. This is a rather interesting group of pirates, as they're headed by a couple of very powerful sorcerers. The crew appears to be mostly made up of robots, which allows them to be rather quickly dispatched and with a minimum of bloodshed.
Throughout the nine episodes we do learn more and more about each of the characters. The central focus is of course on Gene Starwind. We learn more about his past in flashbacks throughout, as well as why he's not big on being in space. The moments during the escape from Centinel III when he refuses to do anything due to sickness (what kind of hero are you supposed to be!) were hilarious. We also get a fair amount of near-nudity by the woman who interfaces with the Outlaw Star ship itself, though it's fairly restrained. It's okay though since she's a hottie, right?
We saw this show over the course of two days and looked forward to each subsequent episode. Yes, we know it's not all that original (not that a lot else is either). The animation isn't top of the line but looks good. The character designs aren't the usual cookie cutter type but they're not wholly unique. And we even saw a few sequences lifted directly out of Star Wars. I think that's part of the allure though, in the familiarity with things and the lack of a real lag or downturn in the story. Up until the ninth episode, things move along at a pretty good clip and consistently.
We've got swords, sorcery, starships, pirates and smartass ship computers with great user interfaces (even the pink one!). We're eagerly awaiting the next collection.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Textless Opening,Image Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 40" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 225
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Outlaw Star