DVD Review: Outlaw Star – The Complete Series

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It’s been a long time coming but Anime Limited’s UK DVD Release of Outlaw Star is finally upon us, but what can we expect from this ‘ever-aging’ product – well let’s find out in our DVD Review of Outlaw Star.

Synopsis:

Gene Starwind and his partner Jim Hawking run a small business on the backwater planet of Centinel 3. But all that changes the day that Hilda hires them for a bodyguard job.

Now, thrust into a mystery they don’t fully understand, they’re on the run from the cops, the pirates, an angry alien, and a mysterious assassin. But they’ve got one thing going in their favor – they have the galaxy’s most advanced ship!

Our View:

In our eyes Outlaw Star is a comedy based sci-fi series that sees Gene Starwind, Jim Hawking and their crew travel the galaxy in search of money, fame and women – but this indirect approach to storytelling comes after a rather steady and solid introduction. You see the series starts off with Gene and Jim running their own business as bounty hunter and repairman, however after a chance encounter with the mysterious Hilda the group are soon recruited into being bodyguards for her and her precious cargo. At first it seems like a simple job, but when the notorious Kei Pirates attempt to kill them Gene starts to suspect Hilda’s intentions and her mysterious cargo is explored, a large briefcase which opens to reveal a humanoid woman.

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It is later explained that this humanoid woman is Melfina, an independent AI unit with human emotions that is used to control the galaxies most advanced spaceship, the XGP15A-II, a ship which Hilda (and the Kei pirates) are after. After some comical debates and action-packed gunfights with the Kei Pirates, Gene, Jim, Hilda and Melfina eventually find the the XGP15A-II, but at a great sacrifice to everyone involved. With the the XGP15A-II safely found and the Kei Pirates defeated, the crew set out for new adventures… but even this is only the beginning.

This first five or so episodes of Outlaw Star is basically an introduction, an introduction that ‘could’ have been shortened to move swiftly onto the real storyline, a storyline which sees Jim, Gene and Melfina travel the galaxy with no real goal in sight. Until Anime Limited’s release I had ‘never’ seen Outlaw Star, so I was quite disappointed to find out that after the initial episodes the storyline doesn’t seem to go anywhere. For instance the first seven episodes each tie into each other and continue the story, but once that is over the story doesn’t seem to move in any steady direction, that aside at least crucial details, such as renaming the ship to the Outlaw Star and interacting with new characters (such as the Ctarl Ctarl girl and Fred the merchant) do follow on from each other and carry onto future episodes, so at least some continunity is had within the series.

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Maybe it’s because I’m used to the ‘usual’ storytelling method, whereby each episode progresses the story (or) has a self-contained story, but with Outlaw star it seems to have both. Basically I don’t find Outlaw Star ‘that’ memorable, the first disc is easily the best selection of episodes of the series and after that the story just ‘drops off’ for repetitive banter, humour and the occasional gunfight and when things do eventually pick-up it’s nothing that we haven’t already seen before in previous episodes, or to a certain extent, anime series.

Of course with this release of Outlaw Star the ‘main’ selling point is the re-mastered picture quality, and while I can’t compare it to the previous release (as I never saw it) I can say that the picture is extremely sharp and clear, so much so that I’m actually surprised it’s a DVD.

Extras:

Anime Limited’s trend of continuing to have ‘extensive’ extra features on their discs (Durarara was an exception) continues on their release of Outlaw Star, as while the traditional textless opening and closing songs are included there is also the inclusion of various promotional materials and production artwork.

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Majority of the extra features is made up of original Japanese promotional materials, such as trailers and TV spots for the ‘original’ Japanese TV and DVD release of the series, but there is also the inclusion of promotional trailers for the ‘remastered’ DVD release of the series. Its nice to have this variety as the difference in visual quality showcase a distinctive distance between the original and remastered sets.

The final piece of bonus content, excluding the opening and closing songs, is the Art Gallery. The Art Gallery is an extra feature that is absent from most newer releases, which is a shame as it highlights the different character, background and location designs used within the series. When it comes to bonus content Anime Limited always receive ‘top marks’ and its no different with their release of Outlaw Star as there is plenty of ‘promotional’ and ‘production’ content to keep viewers entertained after the series has ended. It’s also worth noting that all of the extra content is located on the final DVD disc.

Specs:

Media: DVD 9 x4
Region: 2
Running Time: 2:56:18 (Disc 1), 2:55:54 (Disc 2), 2:56:31 (Disc 3), 2:07:02 (Disc 4)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 256kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 480
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

My impression of Outlaw Star is that it’s a series based upon comedy and space exploration, with no sense of direction or purpose – it’s fun and entertaining but the lack of a goal (other than money to keep the adventure going) was a bit of a letdown. There is an underlining story to the series, such as Gene trying to uncover who really killed his farther, but it easily gets overshadowed by the events of the individual episodes – for example the only reason Gene entered the Space Race so that he could see if his farthers killer was taking part, but then because he owes so much money to fred (a merchant) the story becomes about winning the race, rather than finding his farthers killer.

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There is variety to be had with Outlaw Star though, as some episodes focus on a particular ‘action’ element while others focus on exploring a characters personal background but it’s noting we haven’t already seen before. Like I mentioned previously the ‘selling point’ of this release is the re-mastered picture quality, a feat which makes Outlaw Star stand out and feel fresh however this DVD release is still littered with some minute issues.

For starters the DVD Menu design and layout feels ‘extremely’ basic and mimics those seen in Malaysian imports. For example each menu uses a screenshot / promotional shot taken from the series while white text lists the menu options (such as Play All, Chapters, Languages), this isn’t the only issue with the menu either as by choosing the chapter option it not only lists each individual episode but their chapter marker as well. Some might say this is a detailed way of making a DVD menu, but in my eyes it feels very cluttered and un-professional, and to a certain extent looks like a home-made DVD rather than a professional manufactered release.

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The menu layout wasn’t the only issue I found either, as during one of the episodes (Episode 9) the sound momentarily cut out (like a glitch) on the English Audio track. This could be the issue that caused Anime Limited to delay the release until a potential solution was found, a solution which results in the audio dipping out so that the rest of the episode remains in sync. Of course this is just my theory, but when in comes to audio both the English & Japanese language are clearly presented in 2.0 Stereo, however since the series is relatively old (over a decade old) the voice acting is starting to feel dated, especially on the Japanese language track.

Overall Outlaw Star is a hit-and-miss release, the re-mastered visual quality of the series and the extensive collection of bonus features is a real positive but the inclusion of basic menus and on-disc glitches does make it feel rather ameaturish. In my eyes this release of Outlaw Star is for the fans of the franchise, as newcomers may not like it’s unique old-skool approach to animation and story-telling, although if you did enjoy Cowboy Bebop then you may like this as it has a similar vibe to it.

Score: review-stars-3

Outlaw Star – The Complete Series will be available on DVD from the 2nd June 2014.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

One Response to DVD Review: Outlaw Star – The Complete Series

  1. SnowWolf says:

    It’s a shame it still has faunts, especially after waiting a year for it’s release. Outlaw Star was my Cowboy bebop when I was younger so I’m still excited for this release. Though Japan has just announced a Blu ray so “Here we go again!”

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