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Manga: Outlaw Star
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. 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.

Tropes:

  • 108: The Big Bad's pirate faction is the "One Hundred and Eight Stars."
  • The Abridged Series: As seen here.
  • Adult Fear: Harry's stalking of Melfina gradually moves in frightening resemblance of the two being in an abusive relationship.
  • The Alcatraz/Penal Colony/Death World: Hecatonchires. A Shout-Out to Hal Clement's Mesklin, with three gravities at the the location of the prison and ten at the poles (the punishment zone).
  • Animal Theme Naming: All members of the Anten Seven are named after Japanese beetles.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Now compiled into one manual shaped video, for your convenience.
  • Always Camp Gay: Fred Luo.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The final scene is the crew blasting off to a new adventure in a new sector of space.
  • 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.
  • Battle Chant: Ctarl-Ctarl Space Marines do this all the time.
  • Black Box: Technology from Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, which was put into Melfina to make it work.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Just about everybody; it's a common trait of Takehito Ito's character designs.
  • Broke Episode: Pretty much all of the series, mainly due to the sheer cost of the ship's upkeep: docking fees, repair costs, ammunition and so forth. Gene may have the most advanced ship in the galaxy, but he's such a small fish in a big pond that the best he can hope for are basic jobs like cargo-hauling.
  • Climactic Battle Resurrection: Happens during the final battle at the Galactic Leyline.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • Red: Gene
    • Orange: Fred
    • Yellow: Jim
    • Green: Aisha
    • Blue: Melfina
    • Violet: Suzuka
  • Commercials: Isn't this a slogan that just screams, "We'll do anything, please pay us!"
    Jim Hawking: Hello! You've reached Hawking, from Starwind and Hawking Repairs! We fix everything from tractors to relationships, so how can we help you today?
  • Coordinate Confusion. Every range and bearing used is about 180 degrees from a standard one.
  • Cool Starship: If its name is given, it's this. The titular ship, El Dorado, Shangri-La, and Geomancer.
  • 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 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.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Melfina certainly seems to.
  • 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.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang
  • Epic Race: One episode is like this.
  • 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.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: C'mon, did anyone believe they'd really strike it rich, ever?
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: In SPACE!. For one thing, there's magic.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Forgotten Superweapon: The Caster pistol. Justified by the difficulty of getting ammunition.
  • 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".
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Melfina, on the first page of the entire manga.
  • Get Into Jail Free: Gene arranges himself to be sent to an outer-space Alcatraz in order to get the information that an inmate has regarding the MacGuffin.
    • 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.
  • Hand Cannon: Gene describes Duuz's blaster like this.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Gene has one, with a Standard FPS "line-up of melee, pistol, revolver(one loaded with paintballs), Sawed-Off Shotgun, Grenade Launcher, overpowered exotic thing that he rarely has ammo for and only uses in boss fights anyway..."
  • 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 not filler – 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 is seen afterwards. He's the one left behind on the Geomancer, and is 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.
  • Instant Oracle, Just Add Water
  • 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."
  • Laying On A Hillside
  • Large Ham: Lord Hazanko! The mightiest Tao Master in the universe! Caster Shells will not work on him!
  • Ley Line: The Galactic, uh, Leyline.
  • MacGuffin Location: The Galactic Leyline.
  • Mad Scientist: Gwen Kahn, the designer of the Outlaw Star and Melfina. Just one conversation with him is enough to show that he's a bit off.
  • Magitek: Space pirates use magic on their ships.
    • 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.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Fred Luo, who is unwillingly engaged to Reiko Ando, the "Strongest Woman in the Universe". Of course, Fred doesn't swing that way in the first place.
  • 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  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 , every episode had wildly varying quality.
  • Only Sane Man: Jim Hawking when he attempts to weather the storms of Gene's Indy Ploy.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: The Ctarl Ctarl are a race of Cat Folk aliens who can shapeshift into big alien feline beasts. And of the Anten Seven can change into a two-tailed wolf.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Starwind and Hawking Enterprises. Profit, you ask? Never heard the word before!
  • Planet Terra: Humans are mostly referred to as just that, but some characters refer to them as Terrans. Notably Aisha, and usually with a note of derision.
  • Pocket Protector: Jim's PDA saves Gene's life this way in the first episode.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The cast meets two secondary characters from Angel Links, a series in the same 'Verse.
  • 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.
  • The Rest Shall Pass: The fights inside the Galactic Leyline proceed this way.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Shimi at the end of episode 15.
  • Sapient Ship:
    • The titular ship has a sentient onboard AI called Gilliam, but must also be connected to the Wet Ware CPU, Melfina, in order to function properly.
    • Hilda's ship, Horus, seems to have a similar AI system.
  • Screw Destiny
  • Seinen
  • Shout-Out: Jim Hawking == Jim Hawkins?
  • 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 Opera
  • Space Pirates: It's kind of a major portion of the plot.
  • Space Western
  • 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.
    • You could also make a case for Aisha, as she doesn't join until near the halfway point in the anime.
  • Starfish Aliens: That psychic cactus thing.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Galactic Leyline is an artifact from these.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The Caster
  • Team Shot
  • The Teaser
  • Theme Tune Cameo:
    • "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†  – 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.
  • Trigger Phrase
  • Troperiffic: As anime critic JesuOtaku puts it:
    "This show gets a free pass for being the most wish-fulfilling sci-fi title ever. Everything you can love about sci-fi is here: space races, space combat, diverse planets, alternate dimensions, weird aliens, hot aliens, aliens of questionable gender (seriously, what is that?), giant robots, bio-androids, human cyborgs, cold-sleep beauties, shapeshifting beast men, laser-gun fights, sword fights, fistfights, paintball, Mad Scientists, Tao magicians, robotic panthers, kung-fu housecats, and a Hot Springs Episode that is actually funny.
  • Truce Zone: Blue Heaven.
  • United Space of America: Thoroughly averted. The galaxy in the TS timeline is Chinese in culture if not in government (or most of the names). Complete with Hong Kong-style Truce Zones such as Blue Heaven.
    • 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.
  • The Unseen: The Tendo King, enigmatic Man Behind the Man with Tao magic ability implied by Hazanko to be god-like. The Tenpa Emperor takes this Up to Eleven with implied power far exceeding that.
  • Used Future
  • 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.
  • Wagon Train to the Stars
  • 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?
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A significant source of Melfina's angst.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Suzuka seems to be able to cut anything with her wooden sword, up to and including oncoming trucks. This seems to be because she mostly uses it to make cutting shockwaves.
    • Her first episode reveals her main reason for using a sword made of wood: a metal detector can't detect it.
  • The Worf Barrage: Gene's bazooka
    • Also the missiles used in ship to ship combat; thanks to a massive inversion of Point Defenseless, missiles never hit their targets.
      • Considering the primary form of fighting for the XGP is to rush in and fight in melee, it stands to reason that the missiles primarily exist as a distraction.
      • Another reason is that they keep buying cheap missiles with crap guidance. About the only decent weapons they can afford are anchors.

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alternative title(s): Outlaw Star; Outlaw Star
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