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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.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. One day, 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 was available uncut on VHS and DVD from Bandai Entertainment in North America until Bandai went out of business. It remained out of print for a few years until Funimation rescued the series in 2013. Most of the series has been shown in edited form on both Toonami and [adult swim]. The show is available in Australia and New Zealand from Madman Entertainment, and in the UK from Anime Limited.See also Angel Links, also a part of the Towards Stars universe.
108: The Big Bad's pirate faction is the "One Hundred and Eight Stars."
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, are much higher quality.
Anti-Climax: A lot was made of the Anten 7's abilities, but the fights against them were all very short, especially Tobigara.
Somewhat subverted, since Shimi and Hamnyo nearly kill Gene on their first encounter.
Asteroid Thicket: Several, one of which is passed through during the race, and is later the site of a duel between the Outlaw Star and the El Dorado.
Big Ol' Eyebrows: Just about everybody; it's a common trait of Takehito Ito's character designs.
Bounty Hunter: Deconstructed. Gene Starwind and his kid partner Jim are technically odd-job men rather than bounty hunters, not least because bounties occur far too infrequently for them to make a living on hunting alone. And in the rare case where a bounty is put out, the reward they get is usually far less than the trouble they spent on it. In the end, most of their time is spent on unrelated activities like treasure-hunting and squaring off against the pirate clans.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Gene suspects the Mc Dougals killed his father, and asks the elder brother point blank if he did it. His response: "I suppose it's possible. It's been so long, I can't be expected to remember every little job."
Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Subverted with Harry MacDougal. The more that his body is converted into cyborg parts, the calmer and more peaceful he becomes. When he's in his final state as basically just a machine body to house his head and organs, he's practically serene.
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 culturesnote In addition to the linked tropes for 4 and 13, 9 is synonymous with "torture" in Japanese kanji.
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.
"GP" is thrown into the designation to indicate it's really, really fast and just to be cool. The real X-15's were coated with asbestos to keep from melting because that was just about the only material we had which could actually handle the temperatures caused by the speeds the X-15 could reach.
Facial Markings: Aisha has a little blue triangle on her left cheek. It stays with her even when she morphs.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: There's one in the first episode when Jim is examining the profile data on the client who's hired them to escort her. Among the basic info is a line that lists her "3 sizes" as "dynamite".
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 Melfina). Being the charismatic hero, the audience just doesn't notice as quickly.
Girl in a Box: End of the first and second episodes. In fact, this series is one of the prime examples.
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". However, "Tenrei" is different from most other examples of this trope because, even though it's something of a Breather Episode placed smack dab in the middle of the climactic plot arc, it is notfiller Gene obtains four exceedingly rare Caster shells here (in fact, it's why he went to the planet in the first place). Unfortunately, because editing out the absurd amounts of fanservice would have been cost-prohibitive (and resulted in a much shorter episode), "Tenrei" was dropped from both US broadcast runs, resulting in a big Dub Induced Plothole for those who never bothered to check out the uncut DVD's.
This episode also shows us 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 known for being funny as hell. He makes a brief scene later when he's left behind on the Geomancer, but is quickly made part of the ship when Hazanko combines with it.
How We Got Here: Episode 14 opens with a scene situated in the latter half of the episode.
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 the Hot Springs Planet Tenrei, 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."
There's also the magic guns known as "Casters" which get their names from the spellcasters that would imbue its ammo with magic.
Mirthless Laughter: Jim suffers a bout of nervous laughter, in the midst of a panic attack, during the 14th episode.
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 the Western broadcast.note The episode in question is on the DVDs, which are completely uncut. 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, every bit as weird as your imagination would make it out to be.
Off Model: As mentioned in the "Animation Bump" entry. Since 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 Mu (episodes 17 & 23. Also directed episodes 5 & 12), Studio Mark (episode 5) and Sunrise themselves (episodes 8, 12, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25 & 26) , every episode had wildly varying quality.
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.
Solemn Ending Theme: This for the first thirteen episodes, and this slightly less solemn (but still far more solemn than the opening theme) song for the remainder of the anime.
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.
Space Pirates: As a rather interesting variation, they are Chinese and use Tao-magic. They seem to be modeled after the Triads. It's also interesting to note that the space pirates in this series were the pioneers of warp speed travel and it was their creation of grappler ships that changed the nature of space warfare.
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 how it's both spelled and pronounced in the dub). This 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.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Let's face it, the MacDougal Brothers pretty much stole the Big Bad role from the Kei Pirates once they were properly introduced.
You could also make a case for Aisha, as she doesn't join until near the halfway point in the anime.
"Through the Night" plays from the ad ship the Outlaw Star is hired to tow in episode 14.
Then in episode 21, Melfina sings one of the ending themes.
Translation Convention: This universe is basically Hong Kong IN SPACE!. Chinese regularly appears on signs (especially in Blue Heaven), and it's stated that Chinese pirates colonized space first. Also the Triad-like pirate clan, the names of several planets and some minor characters, and some of the readouts on the XGP. BUT, on the other hand, many of the major characters have English names Gene Starwind, Jim Hawking, Rod & Harry MacDougal, "Hot Ice" Hilda, Gilliam, Fred Luo (well, his given name is English, even if his surname is Chinese) and the sign for Gene & Jim's business is quite blatantly in English. Also, many names in this world contain sound clusters that just flat-out don't exist in Chinese. SO... it's probably safe to assume that most characters we see are speaking English to each other, but also know enough Chinese to get by if they have to deal with officials.
The currency is also called 'wong' (both singular and plural), which may be related to the Korean 'won' (though much more valuable).
Unobtainium: Dragonite, apparently one of the rarest substances in the universe. Luckily, it's just a catalyst and not a fuel, otherwise burning it in stardrives would have ended star travel centuries earlier.
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?