Outlaw Star Series Review

I’ve got a pair of shows from Madhouse to review today and because it’s Tuesday I guess I could call this a Two-for-Tuesday offering Wednesday I can’t call this a Two for Tuesday. 🙂 This one is a relatively old offering from them and the next one is a much more recent show. 🙂

Final Series Score: 7/12 B
Rewatchablity:
0.5/5 – Very Low; Outlaw Star doesn’t do much that would make viewers want to watch it more then once
Ending:
1/5 – Profoundly Deficient; The ending was very disappointing not just because it left the viewer feeling unsatisfied, it also felt tacked on and rushed.
Animation: 2.5/5 – Average; It is apparent that this series is now 11 years old but it’s holding up pretty good
Pros:
Interesting premise, decent action sequences, fun vibe to the show
Cons: For a show about interstellar travel, Outlaw Star never felt like it was going anywhere – each story arc would reset the show with nothing to show for the time and trouble, characters were not interesting or engaging and the weak characterization never made them likeable, ending felt really rushed and tacked on and it relied too heavily on deus ex machina to resolve things

Story

Gene Starwind and his young partner Jim Hawkings are mechanics/bounty hunters/entrepreneurs looking to strike it big so they can leave their backwater planet and go to space. A once-in-a-billion opportunity comes knocking on their door and the pair end up with a prototype spacecraft that is much more then it seems, a mission to find the “Galactic Leyline”, and the enmity of magic-wielding space pirates.

Thoughts and impressions

The inspiration behind picking this series to watch came from it’s use in a skit from AMV Hell 3. I know clips for AMVs are often used out of context for laughs but I figured the show was worth a shot. And initially, I liked what I saw; I didn’t mind all the little things that mark a show as being a decade old (though I was always glad when Gene took off his giggle-inducing cape with monster shoulder pads). The characters were a little weak but there was plenty of time to flesh them out as, presumable, they searched for the Galatic Leyline but it slowly became apparent that the majority of the show was not going to be about the search for the Leyline. Instead the show was going to be about how the pair was going to pay off their debt that owning the most awesome ship in the universe incurs. Initially I applauded this twist because it was realistic to see Gene and Jim, a pair of normal people, having trouble outfitting a spacecraft but after awhile even these two should have been able to figure out a way to use their most awesome ship to make money except they don’t.

As a result the show started to remind me of the first part of Samurai Champloo where the entire show is about if and how the main characters will eat. I got to the point that I just didn’t care if the characters will eat that day or, for Outlaw Star, if they’ll pay off their debt. Samurai Champloo breaks out of this around the halfway point which left enough episodes that I could enjoy the series and not consider it a waste of time but Outlaw Star never breaks out of this.

Nor did the show bother with developing the main characters so the weak, not-very-likeable, characters we meet at the beginning are still the same weak, not-very-likeable characters at the end of the series. It’s telling when the best character of the series is the computer AI for the spaceship.

Awhile ago I mentioned in a post that watching anime out of chronological order could be dangerous when forming conclusions about a show because the wrong conclusions could be reached. In this case, having watched Gurren Lagann long before watching Outlaw Star I would be very tempted to conclude that Outlaw Star was a very poor attempt to create a show that felt like Gurren Lagann. Of course that’s not the case because Outlaw Star is much older and some of the feeling that the two are linked come from both being the same type of genre show. It’s a solid comparison, though, because it really summarizes my feelings about the show – namely, Gurren Lagann was meant to fill the same niche as Outlaw Star and Gurren Lagann does everything Outlaw Star does better, much better.

As such, I can’t really recommend Outlaw Star to anyone. If you’re looking for Space Opera SF – try Banner of the Stars. If you’re looking for an action-packed, “manly” show try Gurren Lagann. If you’re looking for a fun, slightly over-the-top SF anime that’s not Space Opera try Freedom.

Essential Information

And it still has a pair of the oddest closings ever.

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9 thoughts on “Outlaw Star Series Review”

  1. Outlaw Star seems to have that place in people’s heart and somehow never entered mine. I just found the characters to be too shallow to really care a whole lot about them since none of them really develop beyond caricatures and the plot was fairly nonsensical with none of what makes space opera interesting. So yeah, your thoughts here are fairly spot on.

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  2. I always like to see someone else agree with me. 🙂

    Did you also watch Outlaw Star after you’d been a fan of anime for awhile or towards the beginning? I have a feeling that for many anime fans this was one of the first titles they watched and didn’t realize there was better stuff out there and now nostalgia makes it so they can’t look at it objectively.

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  3. outlaw star is a pretty episodic series
    each episodes has its own story

    my anticipation level when i chose to watch this is like gungrave (i used animeplanet for recommendation -_-)
    but i was disappointed
    anyway,
    a decent anime. not bad but not good

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  4. @Steelbound
    Towards the beginning. I think it might have been the 3rd anime series I completed after Lodoss War and Nadesico. Even back then I wasn’t able to appreciate Outlaw Star =P

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  5. I truly loved Banner of the Stars. One of the things that really stood out to me (in comparison to Outlaw Star, and most other shows as well) was how tight the story was. Or I should say stories, because the three seasons are really three tight stories, each of a different type. Of the three, my favorite was Banner I, because I really liked the strategizing over the war; it had the most “space opera”-ish quality to it, I suppose, because it operated on such a large scale.

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  6. When the show first aired back around 2000 i thought it was going to be terrible, I fell in love with this anime when i happened to turn on the TV to find episode 15 i believe it was Gene Starwind Vs Shiimi the first of the Anten 7 which i thought was amazing. This anime is up in one of my top favorites.

    it isn’t an anime that has 100+ episodes or a huge fandom the characters are basic and I actually lke them.

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