Gene Starwind and Jim Hawking are in trouble. They've been bequeathed one of the galaxy's most advanced starships from a now-dead acquaintance. Problem is, everybody else they run into seems to want a piece of their action.
This is a universe where three forces are at work. There's the Federation, the supposed upholders of law and order, an organization to which most of the empires and planetary governments belong. There are the various clans of Pirates, who run most of the illegal business operations throughout the galaxy. And then there are those who profess to take sides with neither of these, who grab what they can, whenever they can, and are proud to live on the edge of Galactic society. This last group, of which Gene and Jim are self-proclaimed members, are the Outlaws.
And so, Gene, Jim, and the rest of their ship's ragtag skeleton crew - the most unique band of misfits to sail the skies since Red Dwarf - have set out from their home planets in search of the mysterious Galactic Leyline, which will lead them to the greatest treasure in the universe ...
This series has a little of everything. Among the crew of the Outlaw Star are a handsome but occasionally dorky hero; his teenage-genius sidekick; a cute but painfully shy android girl; a tradition-loving female ronin; the ship's cantankerous computer, with the personality of a depressive who's resigned to his fate; and a predictably spazzy catgirl. This should give you some idea of how well it sticks to all the cliches of 90s-era sci-fi anime.
And yet it transcends those cliches at the same time. There are those who say this series does everything and does nothing very well, but personally I'm inclined to disagree. Maybe it doesn't go anywhere that other series haven't already been, but boy, does it have a damn good time getting there. It's wildly funny at times, more than worthy in the action department, and there are quite a few mysteries along the way that make the whole series worth watching.
The animation quality of the show is consistently high, but then again it seems the standards have increased in Japan. Much like the art of Trigun or Cowboy Bebop, the show's visual style is breathtaking and entertaining in its own way. The quality of the sound is also admirable; the DVDs have no noticeable glitches whatsoever, in sound OR video. And I haven't watched it with the dubbed dialogue much, but from what I've heard so far the dub's not as embarrassing as one might think.
I've not been able to get my hands on a copy of the second DVD set; at this writing, two packages are available, and the whole series is, I think, already available on VHS--but that makes for a very bulky package. But they've managed to cram two discs and seven to nine episodes into every DVD set, which I'm not aware of anyone having done before ... it may cost a little more, but I think it's worth it.
This show doesn't necessarily cover any new ground, but damn it, you've got to give them credit for trying. All in all, a very entertaining series. — Jacob Churosh
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: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles; broadcast airing, English dub; R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (24/26)
Outlaw Star © 1998 Morning Star / Sunrise / Shueisha / Sotsu Agency
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