Left to right: Melfina, Aisha Clan Clan, Gene Starwind, Twilight Suzuka and Jim Hawking.
"Outlaws. This was the name given to those who travelled space with only his freedom as his guide."
Based on a popular manga by Takehito Ito, the first show in Sunrise's Toward Stars universe, Outlaw Star is an old-fashioned Space Opera writ large.In the universe, there are three major powers: the Space Forces who enforce the law, the Space Pirates who defy it and the "outlaws" who owe allegiance to neither side. Gene Starwind, a big fish in the small pond of his home planet, dreams of going to the stars. A simple bodyguard job quickly spirals out of control and ends with him coming into possession of the most advanced spaceship in the galaxy (which he dubs the Outlaw Star) and the biological navigation system that controls it, an Artificial Human named Melfina.This is only the beginning of his problems, as between trying to scrape together enough cash to pay for his new ship's upkeep, he has to contend with both the Space Forces and pirates trying to get the ship back as they all race against each other to reach the mysterious "Galactic Leyline". Helping Gene are his young partner Jim Hawking, the exotic but hot-tempered Cat Folk alien Aisha Clan Clan, the sword-wielding assassin Twilight Suzuka, the somewhat incoherent shipboard AI Gilliam, and others who come and go from the plot. If you like "pulp"-era science fiction, you'll like this show.Outlaw Star is available uncut on VHS and DVD from Bandai Entertainment in North America, and an edited version of most of the series has been shown on both Toonami and [adult swim]. The show is available in Australia and New Zealand from Madman Entertainment.Rumor has it that Joss Whedon's Firefly was heavily influenced by Outlaw Star. This has, appropriately enough, been Jossed by the man himself on multiple occasions in interviews, who says that he was actually inspired by The Killer Angels. Certain common elements between the two still raise a few eyebrows, though.See also Angel Links, also a part of the Towards Stars universe.
Animation Bump: The first episode and last episodes have the most fluid animation of the entire series, with episode 21 being the runner up. The other episodes, have a hit and miss, for example episode 13 has very Off Model and static animation, while the following episodes 14 and 15, have much higher quality in animation.
Akashic Records: Kahn comes to the Leyline theorizing that it is such. It states that it can be that and much more.
All There in the Manual: Sort of. The pre-credit scene is usually a narrated montage containing exposition about the setting related to the episode in question. For example, before the episode featuring The Alcatraz mentioned above, it's a quick description of the prison. Other narrations sum up characters, alien races, planets, cultures, and organizations, among other things.
Deadly Upgrade: The three rare Caster Shells, numbered 4, 9, and 13, are so powerful that when one is fired it also takes away part of Gene's life. Furthermore, all the numbers are synonymous with death or misfortune in different cultures.
A slight inversion in the fact that these shells weren't originally designed to be harmful. It's just that there's so little mana left in the universe, that taking away lifeforce is the only thing powerful enough left.
Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Caster shells are rare shells containing just enough mana to activate the spell on/in them. Think of a caster gun as a gun that casts Ultima and that's the reasonable explanation for Gene preferring them so much.
Doing in the Scientist: Gene's caster looks like futuristic super science but its actually a really old model that was formerly used by mages. It can counter Tao magic because the two are based on a similar principle. That's why its called a Cast-er.
Expy: The Outlaw Star itself is an expy of the Real Life pseudo-spaceship the X-15A-2. In the first few episodes the Outlaw Star even has a strikingly similar color scheme and its designation of XGP-15A2 is no coincidence either.
As an interesting note, if you pay attention to his doctored criminal record, Gene did technically do over the course of the series the majority of the things it says he did (aside from the rape charge, which he only almost did to Mel). Being the charismatic hero, the audience just doesn't notice as quickly.
Hotter and Sexier: The Manga compared to the Anime. While the Anime did have some nudity and fanservice, the Manga definitely has more. In particular, the Anime (initially) portrays a certain scene between Gene and Hilda as a Did They or Didn't They scenario. In the Manga, that same scene very explicitly shows Gene and Hilda having sex; as in borderline but just not quite Hentai explicit.
Hot Springs Episode: Episode 23, "Hot Springs Planet Tenrei" (as might be suspected from the title) dropped its Hot Springs Episode dead smack dab in the middle of the series' climactic plotArc. Toonami dropped this episode from the dubbed airing in the U.S. simply because of how much nudity would have to be edited out of it. However, unlike typical fanservice episodes, there is a significant plot point in this one that may lead to confusion in following episodes, as Gene obtains four exceedingly rare caster shells; that's why he really went there in the first place. Another discontinuity involves Tobigera, one of the Anten Seven, who is named in the group's introduction, but only seen in this episode. The reason he's never seen afterward is just part of why this episode is also highly regarded for being funny as hell. Fortunately, it's available on DVD.
He is seen afterwards. He's the one left behind on the Geomancer, and is made part of the ship when Hazanko combines with it.
Image Song: The first soundtrack has two; Edge for Gene, and Another Day for Aisha. The second soundtrack CD brings two more; A Date for Melfina, and Setsuna for Suzuka.
Improbable Weapon User: The titular ship, and others like it, is called a Grappler ship. Meaning it has arms. And uses knives and handguns.
Indy Ploy: All of Gene's plans seem to degrade into this. It's a common theme for the series.
In the Future, We Still Have Roombas: The titular ship is full of little canister-shaped robots that do repairs and minor labor, and which act as extensions of the ship's AI. The crew paints faces on them.
Lady Land: Mount Nyotai: from episode 23, complete with a sign that warns, "No Men Allowed!" Justified as a women-only bathing area on a hot springs planet with the added Bilingual Bonus of "nyotai" meaning "female body."
N.G.O. Superpower: Pirates, particularly the Kei Pirates. Explained as being because the Space Force doesn't patrol out near where most of the events in the series take place, so nothing's stopping pirates and outlaws from doing whatever they want.
Noodle Incident: How the crew came into possession of caster shells #4, #9, and #13; if the viewer doesn't see the Hot Springs Episode omitted from Western television. Which was explained as a noodle incident in the following episode.
The episode, of course, is the kind of thing you get when someone does explain a Noodle Incident. It's every bit as weird as your imagination would make it out to be.
Off Model: As mentioned in the "Animation Bump" entry. As there were seven teams of animatorsnote Studio Giants (episodes 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 13 & 22), Nakamura Productions (episodes 5, 7, 11, 12, 17, 18, 20, 21 & 23), Production I.G (episodes 4 & 25), Ad Cosmo (episodes 15, 16, 19 & 24), Studio Myu (episodes 17 & 23), Studio Mark (episode 5) and Sunrise themselves (episodes 8, 12, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25 & 26) , every episode would have wildly varying quality.
108: The Big Bad's pirate faction is the "One Hundred and Eight Stars."
Reality Ensues: The crew never gets out of Broke Episode territory and in the epilogue for the final episode, Gene ends up having to serve time for the crimes he committed escaping pirates at the beginning of the series.
Space Friction: Used inconsistently. The ships visibly use fore thrusters to slow down when docking, and in grappler fights oven pull insane 180 degree turns without banking or changing direction, though sometimes they bank in long dramatic turns anyway. Though the maneuvers they tend to take while in grappler combat would probably pull enough G's to turn the Outlaw Star's crew into toothpaste. But then again, the XGP was built to withstand just about anything.
Space Is an Ocean: A major theme given by the opening narration at the beginning of each episode. Also physics.
Space Is Noisy: In almost any space scene in the anime. Most likely related to the fact that space is also an ocean.
Spell My Name with an S: Nguyen Khan is actually the scientist's official name. Most people spell his name as the pronunciation Gwen, which is correct pronunciation of Nguyen (for North Vietnamese anyway).
Spoiler Opening: There's a reason Hilda doesn't appear in the opening's Team Shot. Though she does often appear in other official art, like posters.
Visual Pun: In Law & Lawlessness, the heroes have been captured and disarmed by private security forces. As they make their way back to their ship, they are confronted by a pair of pirates - Suzuka charges forward and strikes both down, Single Stroke Battle style;
Suzuka:"That's one way to get them to pipe down."
The camera pans away from her face... revealing she used a length of pipe in place of her sword.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Doubles as Fridge Horror. One episode features Aisha entering a fighting tournament. Because Ctarl Ctarl aren't allowed in the tournament, she poses as a professional wrestler named Firecat, locking the real Firecat in a locker and stealing her uniform. At the end of the episode the entire building is set on fire, and the main characters are shown to have escaped. But what happened to the real Firecat, last shown still being stuck in the locker?