Outlaw Star Collection 1 (Mania.com)

By:David Owens
Review Date: Saturday, February 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000

The Review!
I think I missed the Outlaw Star boat the first time it came around, and now I really have to say I'm sorry I did. This is not only a great value for a series, but it's also a pretty great series if the first compilation disc is any indication.
The packaging is the first thing to catch my attention. The wrapping clearly had a sticker on it proclaiming that it contained 9 episodes on 2 DVD's. Skeptical, considering how thin the DVD case was, I picked it up and was amazed at its weight. It's certainly not as light as a normal DVD, that's obvious! I like the choice for how to store them though: I much prefer a case very close to the size of every other DVD I have, rather than something like Haunted Junction's, but that's just personal preference I guess. The way Outlaw Star does it is by packaging in a second "page" inside, which snaps into some hooks on the binder. This is where the extra weight comes from, incidentally, cause that thing isn't particularly flimsy.

The cover art, while nice, isn't as catchy as I would've hoped. I believe this was a cover of one of the VHS volumes, but I'm hoping they don't stick to that scheme because the back featured the cover of the 2nd VHS volume, of Melfina, and she's quickly my favorite character. I hope she gets her own cover, but ah well. I would have preferred a group shot for the first volume, just to make it more "interesting" I suppose.

The extras on the disc are nice, but nothing incredible. They're all on the 2nd disc, incidentally, as I guess they ran out of space on the first in an attempt to keep it single-layered. The creditless opening is the best extra, simply because the song is so annoyingly catchy (for some reason it reminds me of a Bon Jovi song. Maybe I'm dating myself by saying that though), and the animation during the theme is really cool as well. Through the Night has quickly jumped up into my top 3 or 4 anime themes, and the animation of Melfina, Suzuka and Aisha's "spotlights" are great, and fit in time with the music perfectly (woohoo!). Incidentally, the ending for Outlaw Star is ALSO incredible, the song and the art used...so I'm definitely hoping a creditless ending is on the 2nd compilation.

The audio on Outlaw Star is fairly good. It seems to make gratuitous use of some surround effects, particularly whenever ANY on-screen spaceship flares its engines (argh), but I guess this was predictable. It's not bad, anyways, just kind of annoying if you turned up the sound and suddenly get blown out of your seat.

Dubbing? (turn away, turn away!) It's good...so far it's nothing spectacular, but I tend to deal more with goofy anime like Dual or Tenchi, so anime on a more serious note is a bit tougher for me to place. I don't have any major gripes about the English voice actors used. Jim's voice actor sounds like Sailor Jupiter from the Sailor Moon dubs (could very well be, for all I know, as I don't know the names of the SM actors) but sounds kid-like at least. Melfina's voice is quiet and sounds very cute when someone tells her to do something, and she simply responds, "'kay.", and Gene's voice is nicely-cast as well. It's not the best dub I've heard, but it's no fault of the cast's...some of the dub lines are just a little out of place, that's all, but it's definitely not a bad one: it certainly wouldn't be enough to drive anyone away screaming.

Video on Outlaw Star is a potpourri. At the beginning of the first DVD, things are very fuzzy and indistinct. This is a major nuisance because of the fact that a lot of the series takes place in darker settings, so it was painful to deal with (I actually about-faced and didn't watch it the first time after seeing the intro, and instead went to watch something else...my bad). However, around the second episode, this starts to clear up, and by the fourth isn't noticeable really. The second disc, meanwhile, looks very good, so it's not even an issue. Throughout, the colors are extremely good however, and look very solid and noticeable.

The story of Outlaw Star won't seem very original, I suppose, but one key thing I like about it is that it seems to have a direction: unlike Bebop, which seems like "A day in the life of..." or something, Outlaw Star seems to have a driving force behind it. Mind you, I don't know what it IS yet (apart from the basic plot, and the presence of the "bad guys"), but it seems like it's there. That being said, I enjoyed Outlaw Star more than I enjoyed Bebop. The video quality isn't as sharp, but I enjoy Outlaw's artistic style for the characters, and this was probably due to the opening animation/theme snagging me. The music in Outlaw Star is also more appealing, as I'm not much of a blues/jazz fan. (watch the hate mail pour...!)

The characters are likeable, completely. Actually, there's nobody that I don't care for yet, which is amazing...usually, someone really annoys me within the first 2-3 episodes, but not yet. Melfina's extremely cute, Gene's amusing and cool at the same time, Jim seems more mature than anyone else, Aisha is pretty good comic relief, and Suzuka is intriguing. If anyone did annoy me, it was the "weird little pink girl" from the first few episodes, mainly because that eyes-bugging-out thing was really annoying. Other than that, I like the cast!

Outlaw Star gives you 9 episodes on a 2-DVD set, and I'm already needing more. I'm kicking myself for not having picked this series up on VHS the first time I saw it last year, and now I'm finding it very difficult to not buy some of the VHS tapes to see what happens next. After watching Outlaw, I immediately ran back to my local video store and prepurchased my copy of the second collection, and that's about the best praise a series can get from me. The grades may not show it too well, but Outlaw Star is one of my most enjoyed series nowadays, and it's certainly looking to be a great series in the long run.

Review Equipment
Pioneer Elite 610 HDTV, Pioneer DV-434 Prog-Scan DVD, Pioneer VSX-D509S DD/DTS Receiver, Pioneer ISO-drive speaker setup, Monster component cables

Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 44.95
Running time: 225
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Outlaw Star