I’m starting to notice that, while I have, many times, been caught up in loving the newest good shows, when I really sit back and consider my favorites, most of the front-runners are older favorites from my teenage years. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Outlaw Star is a science fiction adventure set in the far future, after humanity has spread out through the stars. It tells the tale of Gene Starwind and his friends as they get caught up in a fantastic odyssey of pirates, conspiracies, and the search for an ancient treasure of immense value and power. There’s mystery, laughter, tears, some tragedy, a bit of revenge, a small love story, and a whole lot of the colorful cast fighting for their lives.
There’s a lot to be said for this anime.
The characters, as with most quality anime, are a lovable bunch. Whether it be Gene’s reckless toughness and rascal wit, Jim’s more well-grounded maturity despite his young age, Melfina’s sweet spirit and innocence, Aisha’s supreme strength and hyperactivity, or Suzuka’s calm, stoic demeanor, you have to love them. Their friends and allies, as well as their enemies, also all feel like proper characters with their own stories, though some of them appear only briefly. Thus, their triumphs and tragedies, their hopes and their failures, are something we are all interested in. And though they have skills which make them strong, it’s all well-balanced, nothing too extreme.
The story is a fairly tight, well-told, well-paced narrative, from start to finish, with everything since the beginning coming together to create the end. Not that there aren’t any breaks from the overarching plot, but they don’t leave it hanging, and they don’t rush it either.
The themes include the contest between freedom and power among the stars, and the colliding desires of those who fight for either. There are questions of the self, of one’s purpose in life, and what meaning one has in the grand scheme.
The texture of this universe envelopes the audience. The narrations before each episode serve to draw us in even as some relevant aspect of the show is explained. The technology is cool and super-advanced, yet also has a realistic sort of flavor to it. The powers at work in the stars, including governments, militaries, pirates, and outlaws, is riveting in its way, and sets the stage for the plot, including the grand finale.
The animation is fluid, the action is thrilling, the music is beautiful, the scenes are well-crafted, and the voice-work is amazing (mind you, I only really know the English dub, but I doubt the original Japanese is lacking in any way).
About the only complaint I have has to do with the content. This is not something meant for little Western children, and there is a reason it was censored when it first aired on Cartoon Network. When I finally got to see the original uncensored version, I had to admit that the even less child-friendly content added nothing of particular value to it, so the censoring didn’t really diminish it at all. The more graphic violence and death was a little unsettling, and thankfully rare. The display of Gene’s perverted tendencies, and of female nudity, was completely unnecessary, even useless, and also thankfully rare.
Outside that, I do wish they would have explained Gene’s most classic weapon, the caster, a bit earlier on, instead of waiting until right before the finale, and in an episode so risque that it was actually skipped on Cartoon Network, but whatever. Minor quibble.
With exception to these imperfections, I have rather loved the show ever since it first aired. Heh, I actually managed to catch the second half of it first before the reruns caught me up on what was going on, and it was perfectly all right either way. 🙂
Outlaw Star is a fun, thrilling adventure in space, as everyone tries to find the most powerful treasure in the universe, and it all comes down to one outlaw tipping the scales. All in all, very well done.
Rating: 9 stars out of 10.