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Anime / Sei Juushi Bismarck

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Clockwise from upper left: Richard Lancelot, Shinji Hikari, Bill Wilcox and Marianne Louvre. In the center: Bismarck.

Sei Juushi Bismarck takes place far in the future, when much of the solar system has been colonized by humanity. However, a race of alien invaders known as the Deathcula launched an attack 15 years before the story began, but were repelled.

Now, the Deathcula have returned and set their sights on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter undergoing colonization. In response to their attacks on isolated towns and garrisons, the Earth Federation creates the Bismarck Team: a squad of four explorers aboard the experimental ship Bismarck.

Shinji Hikari, team leader, race car driver and main pilot. Bill Wilcox, gunslinger, ace pilot and weapons expert. Richard Lancelot, swordsman, equestrian and all-round ace. Marianne Louvre, daughter of the Bismarck's creator who also had a hand in its development and so knows it better than most. Their goal: to protect the colonists of Gandymede (and later the citizens of the solar system) from the malevolent Deathcula imperium.

Although not as popular as Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, an Americanized (and arguably Macekred) dub produced by World Events Productions, it is more sophisticated—and unlike Saber Rider, it does have action figure toys in its own country.


  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Towards the end of the series Deathcula successfully tricks the Federation into signing a peace accord and allowed to settle on Mars alongside the human colonists who're already there. They then launch a massive assault, massacring just about the entire population. In response, the Federation musters a massive war fleet and proceed to curb stomp them into oblivion. They don't even need Bismarck's help; even Deathcula's feared giant robots crumbled under the unending assault. By the time the battle is over, all that's left of the Deathcula species is on their space station, and it's destroyed by the Bismarck team.
    • It's hinted that the only reason Deathcula even manages to do as well as they do is because the Federation just didn't really consider them a big threat and at most just raiders. Once they massacre the population of Mars, however, the Federation unites in the cause of vengeance and wipes them out.
  • Big Red Button: Shinji's console has the button that converts the Bismarck from space cruiser to giant robot.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Bill Willcox, is always chasing after women, but his advances are constantly rejected, although he evetually proposes to a woman named June.
  • Childhood Friends: Marianne and Shinji have known each other for years, and she actually went to Ganymede to find him because her father decided he was the best fit to be Bismarck's main pilot.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: By the end of the series, Marianne and Shinji are all but stated to be a couple.
  • Combining Mecha: Some of the Deathcula mecha turn out to be these, usually disguised as ordinary vehicles. However, they also tend to be more fragile than the regular humanoid Deathcula mecha, as they can be destroyed by Bismarck's weaponry even without transforming.
  • Commander Contrarian: Bill to Shinji. Bill generally prefers straightforward tactics while Shinji pays more attention to what their actual mission parameters are. Bill usually backed down once the plan is actually explained.
  • Cool Car: Shinji's Road Leon. It's armed with a minigun and missile launchers.
  • Cool Horse: Richard's steed Donatello. It's a robotic horse.
  • Cool Plane: Bill's Arrow Striker. While lightly armed compared to the Road Leon (only having a pair of laser cannons), it is also the fastest and most maneuverable of the personal vehicles.
  • Cool Ship: Bismarck itself. Besides being a powerful warship, it's also able to function as a reasonably comfortable home for the Bismarck team.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Deathcula massacre the colonists of Mars by disabling the life support systems that create breathable atmosphere, leading them to suffocate to death en masse.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. Deathcula disintegrate upon death (rather than being sent back to the Vapour Zone as in Saber Rider), and there are multiple reaction shots of people both human and Deathcula screaming as they're consumed in explosions. There are also several on-screen shootings of people.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: What Deathcula's main tactic boils down to. While their basic fighter craft are well armed with blasters and missiles, they're not as effective against a genuinely hardened target like a sizable, fully functional military base. As a result, they target isolated towns and bases in order to wear humanity's will down.
  • Disappeared Dad: Shinji's father Shinjiro was a war hero who saved the solar system from the Deathcula's first invasion 15 years ago. This also means that Shinji (being 16 years old) has virtually no memory of him and so is always interested in learning more about him.
  • Faceless Mooks: Most Deathcula troops are basically this, though several unmasked ones are seen throughout the series.
  • First-Name Basis: To underscore how tight-knit the team is, despite them meeting for the first time in the first episode (barring childhood friends Shinji and Marianne), they're on first name basis from then on.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Charles would like to believe that the Deathcula peace overtures are genuine... but he doesn't. While he plays along in case it isn't a trick, he still takes steps under the assumption that it is. Most notably, a second Bismarck is brought online after the original is dismantled.
  • The Gunslinger: All three of the male leads have this aspect to them, though Bill is easily the one who most closely adheres to the whole "cowboy" image.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Generally, the team is very good about keeping their helmets on when responding to a Deathcula attack on foot. However, there were a few occasions where, after surveying the aftermath of an attack and thinking the Deathcula forces have left, they remove their helmets to discuss things (seemingly for comfort's sake).
    • When such occasions turn into a firefight because Deathcula was waiting to ambush them, generally they don their helmets as soon as possible, or when it's safe to do so (e.g. Bill shooting his attackers and making sure no hostiles are around before putting his helmet back on).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Shinjiro Hikari, Shinji's father, who saved the galaxy from the Deathcula's first invasion 15 years before the series took place.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When the Federation signs a peace treaty with Deathcula, Deathcula representive Perios is such a Smug Snake that Charles Louvre and the Federation higher-ups realise that the "peace treaty" is a sham.
  • Humongous Mecha: Deathcula have several models that reappear throughout the series, making it clear they are simply another piece of military equipment rather than custom models.
    • Bismarck's Battleload formation transforms it from ship mode to robot mode.
  • Hurting Hero: In the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown described under that heading, Shinji screams that it was the humans who went to the trouble of terraforming the worlds and moons of the Solar System, and Deathcula has no right to just come in and try to steal them. The bitterness behind those words suggests it's been weighing on him for some time.
  • Kick the Dog: Deathcula seem genuinely unable to not do this.
  • Logical Weakness: Deathcula's combining mecha are generally more fragile than their humanoid ones, since they're generally made up of mundane-looking vehicles and the connection joints tend to be weak points. In fact, Bismarck is fully capable of destroying them without transforming into Battleload mode.
    • Justified in that the combining mecha tend to be used as ambush machines relying on surprise against soft targets, as opposed to the humanoid mecha that are outright war machines.
    • As mighty as the Bismarck is, it's still only one ship. As such, the Deathcula Zerg Rush battle tactics occasionally come close to bringing it down.
  • Monster of the Week: Deathcula generally has at least one Humongous Mecha on hand to deploy as a last resort. This isn't always the case, though.
  • Multinational Team: Shinji is Japanese, Bill is American, Richard is British and Marianne is French. This is reflected by the flags they wear on their Protect Gear.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In one episode, Shinji is so enraged by a particularly despicable Deathcula agent (and the war overall) that he beats him to death with his bare hands. Considering the agent had blackmailed a couple of girls into taking part with his scheme by kidnapping their friends, then pulling a Released to Elsewhere before gunning them down, he most definitely had it coming.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted by the Bismarck itself. When it is disassembled by the Federation towards the end of the series as part of the peace treaty with the Deathcula, the moment Charles Louvre and the Federation bigwigs suspect a trick they immediately order the preparation of the second Bismarck.
  • Obviously Evil: The villains are called Deathcula.
  • Parental Abandonment: Shinji's and Bill's parents are dead, as is Marianne's mother. Only Richard has both parents still alive.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Shinji is a hot-headed Red oni while Richard is the unflappable Blue oni. Although Bill is the one wearing blue armor, he's sort of in between.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Shinji and Marianne start out the series as childhood friends who haven't seen each other in some time, and while sometimes people tease them about being a couple they generally seem to just be friends. As the series progresses, however, they start engaging in more and more couple-like behaviour until the last few episodes make it clear they're now in a relationship.
    • Notably, there's isn't a specific moment where they become a couple (i.e. no big Anguished Confession Of Love or the like), but the last few episodes show them as quite clearly an item. For one thing, Marianne is in Shinji's corner during one of his races, and when they're playing on a beach later Shinji actually attempts to kiss her before she playfully splashes him in the face.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Marianne. When she first shot a Deathcula marine, she was disgusted. In another episode, she almost throws up when she hears the death screams of numerous Deathcula dying after the unleashes a load of Bismarck's missiles upon them. Shinji has to tell her to hold it together, at least until Bill could arrive and take over weapons again.
  • Sentai: Downplayed. On the upside, the heroes are a team unit, with colored Sentai-esque uniforms and helmets, and they use custom vehicles and weaponry AND a Transformable Humongous Mecha, and do battle the evil Mooks as well as the Monster of the Week. On the downside, they don't have a Transformation Sequence themselves since they are not Henshin Heroes, instead being Badass Normal fighters, they don't make use of "Super Sentai" Stance and, while they CAN throw punches and kicks when they need to, they fight mostly by shooting and blowing stuff up.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: While it's very clear that Marianne is very fond of Shinji and he's happy to see her too, he denies that there's anything deeper to their relationship than being childhood friends who haven't seen each other in some time. For her part, it seems that Marianne is simply eager to pick up their friendship where they left off, in one early episode making him a garland of flowers like she did when they were younger.
    • It should be pointed out that even by the end of the series when the two are now a couple, there's no big confession scene where they explicitly start dating. They simply get closer and closer as the series progresses until it's all but announced they're now together.
  • Terraforming: Much of the solar system has been terraformed, allowing humanity to set up colonies almost everywhere.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: In one episode, Deathcula forces attack a space station and kill everyone aboard, leaving the corpses floating out in space. In another, the Bismarck team wipes out a Deathcula bridge crew (including the fleet commander) by opening the bridge's viewport and sucking them all out into space.
  • Title Confusion: Many viewers refer to the series as Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, under the mistaken impression that Sei Juushi Bismarck is simply the Japanese name of the same show (e.g. how "Kimetsu No Yaiba" is given the name "Demon Slayer" in English). In truth, Saber Rider and Bismarck are as different as Robotech was to Macross. Furthermore, World Events Productions did not use all the episodes, as some content was much too dark for US tv of the time.
  • True Companions: The Bismarck team quickly become this, despite their rather rough first meeting.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: It's mentioned that the Federation was barely able to fight off the Deathcula's initial invasion 15 years prior to the show. In the last few episodes when the Federation decides to exterminate the Deathcula once and for all, it's a complete Curb-Stomp Battle in humanity's favour.
  • Villainous Valour: Several Deathcula fight to the end rather than flee. Zatler, the Disk-One Final Boss of the series, chooses to die in a final one-on-one shoot-out with Shinji.
  • Was It All a Lie?: When Richard discovers a young woman he met and was smitten by turned out to be a Deathcula spy, he asks her this. She instead asks him to join her, and tries to kill him when he refuses. She's dead in seconds.
  • Was Once a Man: Hyuza was mortally wounded by Shinjiro Hikari in the initial invasion 15 years ago, and had his mind transferred into the main super-computer of the Deathcula space station to survive. No one is aware of this until the last couple of episodes.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Due to their function as an independent unit outside the usual chain of command, how much cooperation the Bismarck team gets from friendly Federation military personnel can vary. Generally this isn't a problem, but on occasion tempers can flare due to Jurisdiction Friction.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Deathcula make no distinction between man, woman and child, nor between combatants and non-combatants. In one particular attack, a Deathcula marine encounters a trio of young teenagers, one of whom tries to shoot him. The marine responds by chucking a grenade into the room, killing them all.
    • In addition, the massacre of the Mars colonists almost assuredly included children.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: When the Federation finally decides to wipe out the Deathcula once and for all, they wipe out all of them. The Deathcula forces trying to defend against the onslaught are completely overwhelmed by the humans they disregarded as weak and stupid.
  • You Are Too Late: The Bismarck team often arrives after the Deathcula have already destroyed whatever town or base called for help. This isn't really their fault: generally the distress signal comes in when the attack has already begun, and the Deathcula battle tactics involve overwhelming defenders before help can arrive.
  • Zerg Rush: The basic Deathcula tactic is to overwhelm the enemy with masses of small, one-man attack craft launching missiles and blaster fire from all directions. It's actually very effective, and even the Bismarck has almost been overwhelmed. Unfortunately for Deathcula, in the final few episodes the Federation uses the same tactic against them... except the Federation forces are much, much, much bigger and use freaking warships instead of one-man attack craft.