In this sci-fi flick edited down from the 1978 Japanese TV series Star Wolf, our hero, Ken Shinsei, is a, well, Star Wolf: part of a Proud Warrior Race of Super Soldier Space Pirates from the planet Valnastar (or "Valna" for short), who can't let you do that. During a Valna raid on the planet Earth, Ken suddenly hesitates to shoot a child he finds in the street when the child's mother runs to "Ken" — triggering a flashback to Starwolf Ken's Parental Abandonment issues. When his best friend, a fellow soldier (possibly also named Ken -- the dub isn't clear) tries to shoot both of them, Ken attempts to stop him, and the gun goes off. Ken is immediately marked as a traitor to the Valna, and barely escapes pursuit by his former comrades by faking his own death in The Asteroid Thicket. He's rescued by the passing Earth starship the "Bacchus 3". Alcoholic Captain Joe discovers evidence that Ken is a Star Wolf Raider, but hides it from the rest of the crew, who still don't quite buy his flimsy cover story. After singlehandedly saving the Bacchus and its crew from a Star Wolf attack, Ken is brought back to Earth under "protective custody". He escapes.
The fugitive alien tries to hijack the Bacchus to escape, but he gets caught by a very drunk Captain Joe. He has his reasons — he just learned that he'd lost his wife and child in the Valna attack, just when he was planning to retire. Despite his anger at what Ken's people did, Joe actually listens to Ken's story, and is convinced enough to end up "inviting" Ken, who is STUCK HERE!, to join the rest of his crew: Rocky the pilot, some other guys, and Tammy the morale officer. Ken accepts. At first, Rocky distrusts Ken, and he even tries to kill Ken with a forklift and fails, which would at least hint that Ken's a Star Wolf; but later they become friends. Tammy has an unrequited crush on Ken.
Meanwhile on Valna(star), Rita, the sister of Ken's dead friend — and also Ken's girlfriend, is ordered by Valnastar ruler Lord Halkon to avenge her brother's death by finding and killing Ken. The Bacchus 3 visits the planet Kararan, populated by Japanese people pretending to be Arabs, on a diplomatic mission. Ken disobeys orders, leaves the ship, and gets himself thrown in prison. Via two-way radio, Captain Joe orders Ken to find a Colonel from the planet Caesar in the same prison and break him out. After accomplishing this mission, Ken abruptly runs into Rita. But Rita still loves Ken, so she can't bring herself to kill him. Rita is then killed when she and Ken are attacked by Kararan guards. She blames Ken with her last breath. Ken and the Caesarean Colonel make it back to the Bacchus 3. The story ends here until the sequel, Star Force: Fugitive Alien 2.
In the sequel, the Bacchus escapes a Negative Space Wedgie and reaches the planet Caesar with the Colonel. Their mission: infiltrate a military base with said Colonel's help and sabotage a secret weapon being developed there. Despite the Colonel having a fatal attack of conscience over, let's face it, betraying his homeland, the mission is a success. Fast forward to the end of the series: everyone has new uniforms, Ken finds someone who might be his Missing Mom, and the final battle between Ken and Lord Halkon rages in the skies...
The original Japanese serial was based on the Starwolf trilogy novels by Edmond Hamilton, who also authored most of the Captain Future stories; Hamilton cooperated with the production of both the series and an anime version of Captain Future.
Fugitive Alien has examples of:
- Adaptational Heroism: In Hamilton's original novels, John Dilullo ("Captain Joe")'s team of mercenaries is just that, a dangerous and well-trained team of operatives and killers. Morgan Chane is also a much darker anti-hero than Ken, being a ruthless pirate who killed a fellow Starwolf out of self-defense rather than to save anyone, and would happily have continued a life of piracy if his fellow Starwolves hadn't turned on him. He does ultimately lighten up a very little bit, though, mostly due to a growing respect for Dilullo.
- The Alcoholic: Captain Joe, a running gag on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Alien Invasion: The film opens with one of these, although it's not very successful.
- Artistic License Astronomy: It's implied that stars in the same constellation are actually close to each other instead of just looking that way from a specific point in space, as if space were two-dimensional.
- Bald of Evil: Lord Halkon
- Big Bad: Halkon.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation:
- Several dials/meters on the Bacchus 3 are labeled hilarious things, such as: Space Speed, Cabin Air Presser, Tenperature, Sunny Side, and Other Side.
- Or the members of the Bacchus 3 wearing jumpsuits emblazoned with the badge "Security Guard".
- The computer actually shows a shipping manifest.
- From freakin' UTAH!
- The Captain: Joe
- The Chick: Tammy/Hime.
- Compilation Movie
- Cool Shades: Captain Joe's shades
- Cool Ship: The Bacchus 3
- Dub Name Change: Hime to Tammy, and Ryu to Rocky.
- Expy: Ken #1 suddenly transforms into Han Solo at the end of the second film.note
- Follow the Leader: Star Wars — especially the turret guns in Star Force and the expies of C-3PO and R2-D2 that appeared in Star Wolf. Ken even ends up dressed like Han Solo as he becomes a rakish mercenary.
- Forklift Fu: An infamous action scene afterwards scored with an instrumental of the show's theme song.
- Genki Girl: Tammy. It is part of job of being the morale officer.
- HA HA HA No: "YOU'RE STUCK HERE!"
- Heavyworlder: Ken and anyone else from Valna. Apparently it kicks in pretty fast, since his parents were from Earth but he's strong even by Valna standards.
- Hong Kong Dub
- I Have Many Names: The Star Wolves. Also their planet: is it Valna, Valnastar or Valna's Star? (In the original novels its name was "Varna," but the translators were either unaware the show was based on a pulp series in English, or didn't care.)
- It Works Better with Bullets. The Captain never keeps bullets in his gun, which makes it easy for him to overcome Ken when he grabs it out of his holster.
- The Lancer: Rocky/Ryu.
- Leitmotif: The theme song, heard in instrumental form many times.
- Meaningful Name: People drink a lot on the Bacchus 3. Especially Captain Joe.
- Mood Whiplash: The outburst by Captain Joe.Ken: What did I do to deserve this?Captain Joe: (pensive) We don't deserve half the things we get. (laughs maniacally, then throws down his pen angrily) You're stuck here!
- Nice Hat: Captain Joe's Joe baseball hat.
- Notable Original Music: Some of it, like the series theme vocal, is actually Earwormishly catchy.
- Planet Looters: This is apparently the Star Wolves' Planetary Hat.
- Planet of Kens: Seemingly due to the way episodes were edited together.
- Ret Irony: Inverted. Just as Captain Joe was getting ready to retire and settle down with his family, his wife and daughter are killed by Valna Raiders.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The attacking aliens wear blond wigs and white makeup.
- Satellite Characters: Billy and Dan.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Try to figure out how the setting is organized. The ship can reach speeds of "Mach 56," planets are part of "constellations," and that's just the beginning.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Ken's bar fight scene is accompanied by "wacky sitcom" music.
- Space Clothes: They appear to be made out of vinyl.
- Space Jews: Did anybody else find it odd that the evil alien races are all made up to resemble non-Japanese people? The Valna raiders have blond hair (well, it's kind of unclear whether or not they're wigs; Ken's certainly is, but he's not actually a Valnastar native, and Rita's hair is probably her "real" hair), the Caesarians have pale makeup, and there was that one sort of Arab sheikh guy...
- Space Romans: The Space Arabs don't seem to be that evil in and of themselves, especially contrasted with the Wolf Raiders; they're just transparently a Counterpart Culture.
- Stab the Scorpion: Subverted for Wangst. After Ken succeeds in using Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand to persuade Rita not to kill him, he starts trying to persuade his old lover that they can't be together anymore — and suddenly he grabs his gun, turns around and fires in Rita's direction. Naturally, he was aiming at a Space Arab watermelon-headed mook about to attack; but Rita gets fatally wounded in the crossfire, and she dies in Ken's arms, cursing his name for killing her.
- Stock Footage: Yet another bank turn.
- Super Strength: Ken and the other Star Wolves all have this.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha... YOU'RE STUCK HERE!!"
- Theme Music Power-Up: The Star Wolf series opening theme, used in the famous forklift scene.
- Those Two Guys: Billy and Dan.