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Bandai Entertainment presents
Outlaw Star: Perfect Collection (1998)

"Go and meet your destiny, Gene Starwind!!"
- opening narration

Review By: Dan Lopez  
Published: November 05, 2002

Stars: Shigeru Shibuya, Ayako Kawasumi, Rica Matsumoto, Yuri Sa
Other Stars: Yűko Miyamura, Takaya Hashi
Director: Wendee Lee, Hongo Mitsuru

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, language, nudity)
Run Time: 13h:00m:00s
Release Date: September 10, 2002
UPC: 669198082696
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-A-B+ C+

DVD Review

Serial adventure stories are one of the great, classic forms of storytelling, but it's a style that's not seen often enough these days. Sci-fi shows, whether live-action or animated, seem to have latched on to a certain method that no longer resembles that episodic atmosphere. It is for this reason that Outlaw Star stands out in a crowd of sci-fi adventure anime, because it so thoroughly embodies that pulp-fiction aspect of classic serial storytelling. Like a stylish Western set in outer space, the show knows very much where it's going, what it wants to accomplish, and that it wants to be intense. Dramatically, Outlaw Star might not be challenging any frontiers, but it's fun, and that seems to be what really counts. Perfect Collection is simply the originally published 3 volumes of the entire series put into box format, but it makes a great way to experience the show in one dose.

Set in the future when space-travel is a regular part of life and most of the universe is charted and inhabited, the plot concerns Gene Starwind and Jim Hawkings. The pair operate a sort of jack-of-all-trades business, hiring themselves out for all sorts of jobs from being bodyguards to locating obscure, expensive technology. They also make money by killing off wanted criminals who have high bounties on their heads. All this changes, though, when Gene is hired as a temporary bodyguard for a mysterious space pilot named Hilda. He soon finds out this secretive woman is actually being hunted by one of the largest and deadliest gangs of space pirates. Gene is unsure why these pirates are pursuing Hilda, but in the process, he is forced to travel with her into space, something he's never done before.

On top of discovering the wonders of space travel, Gene and Jim are both about to have their lives changed forever. It starts when Hilda's mysterious package (for which she wants protection) turns out to be some kind of biomechanically manufactured girl, Melfina, whose purpose is unknown. What is known, though, is that Melfina has the ability to mentally bond with a special kind of spaceship and serve as its navigational core. Why is Hilda trying to unite this special starship with Melfina? Gene and Jim will quest to find out, because when the Kei Pirates successfully assassinate Hilda, they are left to their own devices with a powerful spacecraft, a strange girl, and a host of new enemies. Gene christens his new craft the "Outlaw Star" and vows to set off on his own adventure to discover what Hilda was searching for amongst the stars.

Outlaw Star is one of the finest anime programs out there, succeeding mainly because of its fast-paced action, wonderful character chemistry, great comedy, and cliffhanger plots. The balance is near-perfect between all these factors, and it really makes an obvious effect on the show. While the series takes a little while to get going into its core story, that actually turns out to be a good thing since it allows the viewer to get to know the characters, the situations, and become immersed in its world. The series is very much like a Western, with some similar situations and general nods to that genre. Of course, the difference is, it's all set in outer space amongst the outposts and stations all over the universe. Regardless of the time period, though, the concept of outlaws wandering their world searching for missions to take on or bad guys to get rid of is timeless. Ultimately, as the story evolves, Gene realizes his goal is to discover the "Galactic Leyline," the source of a rumored treasure in space and what the Pirate guilds have beenseeking for ages. Unfortunately, others are searching for it too, including a mysterious female assassin and an interstellar detective (who's so bad at her job she's essentially disowned by her home planet) named Aisha ClanClan, who is a weird half-cat, half-girl hybrid, known as a Ctarl-Ctarl. It is the interaction between all these players that forms most of the charm to the show, and there's so much to see and do (along with plenty of action) there's never a dull or 'filler' moment.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Pioneer has always done a pretty good job with their transfers, and this is no exception. Artifact-free and generally clean of grain or major problems, the image is very cel-like and captures all the proper visual artistry of the hand-drawn work. Dark and murky scenes fare just as well, without any black level problems. There is almost no dot-crawl or moire, despite the clarity and sharpness, so that's definitely a plus.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 Surround audio is superb on all of the discs. It's amazingly energetic and uses surround channel effects generously to augment the on-screen action. The track is very "airy" and fills the room well with plenty of outer space activity. While the English dub has some rather obvious weaknesses, it's acceptable, but the Japanese audio is more expressive and conveys the humor and subtleties better.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 156 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Cowboy Bebop, Tenamonya Teenagers, Angel Links, Don't Leave Me Alone, Daisy.
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Conceptual art.
  2. Textless opening and closing animations.
Extras Review: Various discs in the set contain roughly the same extra features. There are textless opening and closing animations, some previews for other discs, and conceptual art galleries of spacecraft and other visual elements of the series. While there aren't loads of supplements, what is there seems to fit the general mood of the anime, and the presentation is quite nice to boot with some extremely nice menus, covers and the new box for the set.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Outlaw Star is an exciting series from start to finish. It is fantastically rewarding as both a classic adventure serial with nods to other genres, as well as just your basic sci-fi story. It has set the stage for a few series since, but in general, none can top the energy, characters, and sheer power contained here. This is definitely a must-see, whether you are into anime or not.


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