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"Outlaws. This was the name given to those who travelled space with only his freedom as his guide."
Based on a popular manga by Takehito Ito, the first show in Sunrise's Toward Stars universe, Outlaw Star is an old-fashioned Space Opera writ large.
In the universe, there are three major powers: the Space Forces who enforce the law, the Space Pirates who defy it and the "outlaws" who owe allegiance to neither side. Gene Starwind, a big fish in the small pond of his home planet, dreams of going to the stars. A simple bodyguard job quickly spirals out of control and ends with him coming into possession of the most advanced spaceship in the galaxy (which he dubs the Outlaw Star) and the biological navigation system that controls it, an Artificial Human named Melfina.
This is only the beginning of his problems, as between trying to scrape together enough cash to pay for his new ship's upkeep, he has to contend with both the Space Forces and pirates trying to get the ship back as they all race against each other to reach the mysterious "Galactic Leyline". Helping Gene are his young partner Jim Hawking, the exotic but hot-tempered Catfolk alien Aisha Clan Clan, the sword-wielding assassin Twilight Suzuka, the somewhat incoherent shipboard AI Gilliam, and others who come and go from the plot. If you like "pulp"-era science fiction, you'll like this show.
Outlaw Star is available uncut on VHS and DVD from Bandai in North America, and an edited version of most of the series has been shown on both Toonami and Adult Swim. The show is available in Australia from Madman.
Rumor has it that Joss Whedon's Firefly was heavily influenced by Outlaw Star. This has, appropriately enough, been Jossed by the man himself on multiple occasions in interviews, who says that he was actually inspired by The Killer Angels. Certain common elements between the two still raise a few eyebrows, though.
See also Angel Links, also a part of the Towards Stars universe.
Outlaw Star provides examples of:
- The Abridged Series: As seen here.
- The Alcatraz / Penal Colony / Death World: Hecatonchires. A Shout-Out to Hal Clement's Mesklin, with three gravities at the the location of the prison and ten at the poles (the punishment zone).
- Akashic Records: Kahn comes to the Leyline theorizing that it is such. It states that it can be that and much more.
- All There in the Manual: Sort of. The pre-credit scene is usually a narrated montage containing exposition about the setting related to the episode in question. For example, before the episode featuring The Alcatraz mentioned above, it's a quick description of the prison. Other narrations sum up characters, alien races, planets, cultures, and organizations, among other things.
- Always Camp Gay: Fred Luo.
- And the Adventure Continues...
- Asteroid Thicket: Several, one of which is passed through during the race, and is later the site of a duel between the Outlaw Star and the El Dorado.
- Battle Royale With Cheese: Twice!
- Black Box: Technology from Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, which was put into Melfina to make it work.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Just about everybody; it's a common trait of Takehito Ito's character designs.
- Broke Episode: Most of the time, mainly due to the sheer cost of the ship's upkeep: docking fees, repair costs, ammunition, etc.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience:
- Red: Gene
- Orange: Fred
- Yellow: Jim
- Green: Aisha
- Blue: Melfina
- Violet: Suzuka
- Commercials: Isn't this a slogan that just screams "We'll do anything, please pay us!"
Jim Hawking: Hello! You've reached Hawking, from Starwind and Hawking Repairs! We fix everything from tractors to relationships, so how can we help you today?
- Cool Starship: If its name is given, it's this. The titular ship, El Dorado & Shangrila, and Geomancer.
- Deadly Upgrade: The three rare Caster Shells, numbered 4, 9, and 13, are so powerful that when one is fired it also takes away part of Gene's life. Furthermore, all the numbers are synonymous with death or misfortune in different cultures.
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Caster shells are rare shells containing just enough mana to activate the spell on/in them. Think of a caster gun as a gun that casts Ultima and that's the reasonable explanation for Gene preferring them so much.
- Do Androids Dream?
- Dragons Up the Yin-Yang
- Epic Race: One episode is like this.
- Expy: The Outlaw Star itself is an expy of the Real Life pseudo-spaceship the X-15A-2. In the first few episodes the Outlaw Star even has a strikingly similar color scheme and its designation of XGP-15A2 is no coincidence either.
- Facial Markings: Aisha has a little blue triangle on her left cheek. It stays with her even when she morphs.
- Failure Is the Only Option: C'mon, did anyone believe they'd really strike it rich, ever?
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: In SPACE!.
- Five-Man Band:
- Forgotten Superweapon: The Caster pistol -- justified by the difficulty of getting ammunition.
- Get Into Jail Free: Gene arranges himself to be sent to an outer-space Alcatraz in order to get the information that an inmate has regarding the MacGuffin.
- Girl in a Box: End of the first and second episodes.
- Hand Cannon: Gene describes Duuz's blaster like this.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Gene has one, with a Standard FPS loadout. To note: pistol, revolver(one loaded with paintballs), Sawed-Off Shotgun, Grenade Launcher, Caster Gun.
- Hot Springs Episode: Episode 23, "Hot Springs Planet Tenrei" (as might be suspected from the title) dropped its Hot Springs Episode dead smack dab in the middle of the series' climactic plot Arc. Toonami dropped this episode from the dubbed airing in the U.S. simply because of how much nudity would have to be edited out of it. However, unlike typical fanservice episodes, there is a significant plot point in this one that may lead to confusion in following episodes, as Gene obtains four exceedingly rare caster shells; that's why he really went there in the first place. Another discontinuity involves Tobigera, one of the Anten Seven, who is named in the group's introduction, but only seen in this episode. The reason he's never seen afterward is just part of why this episode is also highly regarded for being funny as hell. Fortunately, it's available on DVD.
- He is seen afterwards. He's the one left behind on the Geomancer, and is made part of the ship when Hazanko combines with it.
- Improbable Weapon User: The titular ship, and others like it, is called a Grappler ship. Meaning it has arms. And uses knives and handguns.
- Indy Ploy: All of Gene's plans seem to degrade into this. It's a common theme for the series.
- Instant Oracle, Just Add Water
- In the Future We Still Have Roombas: The titular ship is full of little canister-shaped robots that do repairs and minor labor, and which act as extensions of the ship's AI. The crew paints faces on them.
- Lady Land: Mount Nyotai: from episode 23, complete with a sign that warns, "No Men Allowed!" Justified as a women-only bathing area on a hot springs planet with the added Bilingual Bonus of "nyotai" meaning "female body."
- Laying On a Hillside
- Large Ham: Lord Hazanko! The mightiest Tao Master in the universe! Caster Shells will not work on him!
- Ley Line: The Galactic, uh, Leyline.
- MacGuffin Location: The Galactic Leyline.
- Mad Scientist: Gwen Kahn, the designer of the Outlaw Star and Melfina. Just one conversation with him is enough to show that he's a bit off.
- Magitek: Space pirates use magic on their ships.
- Mirthless Laughter: Jim suffers a bout of nervous laughter, in the midst of a panic attack, during the 14th episode.
- Missing Episode: "Hot Springs Planet Tenrei" was never aired on Toonami or Adult Swim due to the excessive Fan Service.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: Fred Luo, who is unwillingly engaged to Reiko Ando, the "Strongest Woman in the Universe." Of course, Fred doesn't swing that way in the first place.
- Noodle Incident: How the crew came into possession of caster shells #4, #9, and #13; if the viewer doesn't see the Hot Springs Episode omitted from Western television. Which was explained as a noodle incident in the following episode.
The episode, of course, is the kind of thing you get when someone does explain a Noodle Incident. It's every bit as weird as your imagination would make it out to be.
- 108: The Big Bad's pirate faction is the "One Hundred and Eight Stars."
- Only Sane Man: Jim Hawking when he attempts to weather the storms of Gene's Indy Ploy.
- Our Werebeasts Are Different: The Ctarl Ctarl are a race of Catfolk aliens who can shapeshift into big alien feline beasts. And of the Anten Seven can change into a two-tailed wolf.
- Perpetual Poverty: Starwind and Hawking Enterprises. Profit, you ask? Never heard the word before!
- Planet Terra: Humans are mostly referred to as just that, but some characters refer to them as Terrans. Notably Aisha, and usually with a note of derision.
- Poorly-Disguised Pilot: The cast meets two secondary characters from Angel Links, a series in the same 'Verse.
- Reality Ensues: The crew never gets out of Broke Episode territory and in the epilogue for the final episode, Gene ends up having to serve time for the crimes he committed escaping pirates at the beginning of the series.
- The Rest Shall Pass: The fights inside the Galactic Leyline proceed this way.
- Rise From Your Grave: Shimi at the end of episode 15.
- Sapient Ship:
- The titular ship has a sentient onboard AI called Gilliam, but must also be connected to the Wetware CPU, Melfina, in order to function properly.
- Hilda's ship, Horace, seems to have a similar AI system.
- Screw Destiny
- Shout-Out: Jim Hawking == Jim Hawkins?
- Solemn Ending Theme: This for the first thirteen episodes, and this slightly less solemn theme for the remainder of the anime.
- Space Is an Ocean: A major theme given by the opening narration at the beginning of each episode. Also physics.
- Space Is Noisy: In almost any space scene in the anime. Most likely related to the fact that space is also an ocean.
- Space Opera
- Space Pirates: It's kind of a major portion of the plot.
- Space Western
- Spell My Name with an "S": Nguyen Khan is actually the scientist's official name. Most people spell his name as the pronunciation Gwen, which is correct pronunciation of Nguyen (for North Vietnamese anyway).
- Spoiler Opening: There's a reason Hilda doesn't appear in the opening's Team Shot. Though she does often appear in other official art, like posters.
- Starfish Aliens: That psychic cactus thing.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Galactic Leyline is an artifact from these.
- Swiss Army Gun: The Caster
- Team Shot
- Theme Tune Cameo:
- "Through the Night" plays from the ad ship the Outlaw Star is hired to tow in episode 14.
- Then in episode 21, Melfina sings one of the ending themes.
- Trigger Phrase
- Troperiffic: As anime critic Jesu Otaku puts it:
"This show gets a free pass for being the most wish-fulfilling sci-fi title ever. Everything you can love about sci-fi is here: space races, space combat, diverse planets, alternate dimensions, weird aliens, hot aliens, aliens of questionable gender(seriously, what is that?), giant robots, bio-androids, human cyborgs, cold-sleep beauties, shapeshifting beast men, laser-gun fights, sword fights, fistfights, paintball, Mad Scientists, Tao magicians, robotic panthers, kung-fu housecats, and a Hot Springs Episode that is actually funny.
- Truce Zone: Blue Heaven.
- United Space of America: Thoroughly averted. The galaxy in the TS timeline is thoroughly Chinese in culture if not in government. Complete with Hong Kong-style Truce Zones such as Blue Heaven.
- The currency is also called 'wong' (both singular and plural), which may be related to the Korean 'won' (though much more valuable).
- Unobtainium: Dragonite apparently one of the rarest substances in the universe. Given that it's needed to power faster then light drives, and its nonrenewable one wonders how they've kept from running out of the stuff.
- Perhaps because space is infinite and the human sphere of influence is constantly expanding so new sources are found.
- The Unseen: The Tendo King, enigmatic Man Behind the Man with Tao magic ability implied by Hazanko to be god-like. The Tenpa Emperor takes this Up to Eleven with implied power far exceeding that.
- Used Future
- Wagon Train to the Stars
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Doubles as Fridge Horror. One episode features Aisha entering a fighting tournament. Because Ctarl Ctarl aren't allowed in the tournament, she poses as a professional wrestler named Firecat, locking the real Firecat in a locker and stealing her uniform. At the end of the episode the entire building is set on fire, and the main characters are shown to have escaped. But what happened to the real Firecat, last shown still being stuck in the locker?
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?
- Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Suzuka seems to be able to cut anything with her wooden sword, up to and including oncoming trucks. This seems to be because she mostly uses it to make cutting shockwaves.
- The Worf Barrage: Gene's bazooka
- ↑ but still far more solemn than the opening theme