Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- 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
Outlaw Star Collection 1
By Roman Martel
February 16, 2002
Release Date: October 03, 2000
Picture - 4
Sound - 4
Menu - 4
Presentation - 5
Extras - 4
Animation - 4
Sound - 4
Plot - 4
Acting - 4
Music - 4
If Bandai keeps putting out good deals on their anime DVDs I'm going to be broke. When I heard that Outlaw Star was two discs with a total of 9 episodes and that included catgirls... well I can't resist that. So I ordered the series and hoped for the best. What did I get? Well you gotta read on to find out.
All in all this is a pretty good couple of discs. Bandai discs have been looking good on all my set ups and this disc is no exception. The audio and the visual look good and clean. I didn't see any real problems at all with them. The menus are pretty nice, but the music in some sections is a bit loud... louder than the show is. I almost went deaf when I tried to select the languages. But other than that little gripe, the menus work smoothly and look great. The keepcase is a single style case with a plastic insert inside to hold the first disc (much like what was done in the UY cases). This is pretty handy and takes up less space than a typical duel box. The keepcase has Gene on the cover and should catch some attention. The back gives you all the info you need including chapters, length, rating, sound, region, number of discs and extras. In addition to getting nine episodes of the show, you also get an image Gallery and a noncredit opening. The insert of the case also has a description of the Caster Gun used by Gene in show.
I was gonna skip this series when I first heard about it. I was already getting Blue Sub (which I thought was a waste of money) and Cowboy Bebop (which is O.K.) from Bandai and I knew I wanted Escaflowne. Outlaw Star just didn't grab me. When they announced that it would be coming out in a set of 2 discs at a reduced price... I was tempted. And then I saw Wanted 2000. The trailer wasn't great, but I did see a catgirl. LadyCat will tell you that I am a sucker for Catgirls (I even got Geobreeders when I found out it had catgirls). So I put it on order and forgot I ordered it.
So I was a bit surprised when it showed up on my doorstep. Well, I popped it in just to check it out and boy was I surprised again. This is a real fun show!
The story revolves around a bounty hunter named Gene (what is with bounty-hunters lately... Boba Fett syndrome?) and his assistant Jim. They get entangled in a little adventure with Hilda, an infamous outlaw who's after something called the galactic leyline. With them goes the android/girl Melfina, and of course they run into a whole cast of strange characters including the assassin ("Twilight" Suzuka), and of course the catgirl (Aisha Clan-Clan). In the quest for the galactic leyline they come across the experimental ship, the Outlaw Star. With space pirates hot on their trail and the mysterious Mcdougal brothers playing their hands against all the sides, this show is a space adventure with plenty of action and some laughs.
The animation is pretty fluid and smooth looking. It's not quite as gritty as Trigun or Cowboy Bebop, but it's going for a more traditional sci-fi adventure look, than the cowboy or realistic approach. The production design is pretty interesting. The worlds that we see in these first two discs aren't too original but the weapon and ship design is pretty unique. The grappler ships made me raise an eyebrow and shake my head a bit. I mean, a ship with arms and hands... it's kinda weird but for some reason it works in the context of the show. The character design is pretty standard but the costumes are a bit different. All in all while it doesn't have a definite look (like Trigun and Bebop do), the animation is pretty good.
The sound works just right with the visuals. Again there wasn't anything that really stood out, but that's a good thing. Overdoing the sound work can be as big a danger as not doing it right. Outlaw Star manages to stay right in the middle.
The plot looks like it's going to be a fairly standard adventure story, with the main character and his crew running into all kinds of situations that will test them. If this is done right it will keep you entertained, especially if you get to know the characters. Luckily there is plenty of development for the characters; you get to see their strengths and weakness. The only downside is that most of them are pretty typical of the adventure show cast: the courageous and rash leader, the careful, grouchy sidekick, the mysterious stoic mentor, the even more mysterious and naïve android/girl, the wacky and hot tempered catgirl, the deadly assassin with a honorable heart of gold, and of course the fuddy duddy ship's computer.
What keeps the plot going is the quick pacing and fun spirited nature of the show. This show isn't trying to take itself seriously. It knows exactly what it's trying to do, entertain you for a half-hour and make you want to see what happens next. I'll be honest and say that I enjoyed the first disc a bit more than the second disc. I think this is mostly because the characters had a definite goal in the first disc, to get to the Outlaw Star and "borrow" it. The character of Hilda helped push the story forward toward the Outlaw Star. When you get to the second disc, the ship has been obtained, and the characters are just trying to get it outfitted. The action slows down and the pacing slips a bit. It doesn't ruin the show, but after the first disc ended I couldn't wait to see the next one. After the second disc, I want to see more, but I'm not in a huge hurry.
The acting on this disc is a mixed bag. In the first few episodes it feels like the actors are having a bit of trouble getting into the characters, but by the time you get to the forth and fifth episodes the acting improves. Some of the supporting cast is either over the top or bored sounding. Right now I don't mind watching the English cast, most of them are doing great by the second disc (especially the Aisha and Jim).
The music is also pretty good. After watching Bebop and Escaflowne I'm a bit spoiled by Yoko Kanno's wide use of musical styles. Again Outlaw Star seems to be going down a familiar path, the music is what you'd expect it to be. It works great with the show, but it doesn't stand out on it's own, and make you want to look into getting the soundtrack.
Outlaw Star was a pleasant and fun surprise. It's great space adventure entertainment. It's not made to strain your brain or make you think there is something deep going on. It's pure fun and is definitely rewatchable. Plus you can get two discs for a fairly reasonable price. And it's got a catgirl... I mean how can you go wrong ;-)
Roman J. Martel
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Panasonic A110, Pioneer Elite Pro-107 (45 inch screen), Kenwood THX certified 4.1 receiver, Boston Acoustics (5 speakers and 2 subs)