Monday, January 3, 2011

Anime Review: Outlaw Star

I’d heard about Outlaw Star before it popped up in anime club one night (namely that Firefly had some similarities to it and I thought I saw somewhere that Joss Whedon was actually inspired by it) but I hadn’t been really impressed by the art I saw. But we voted, gave it a shot, and I enjoyed it quite a bit* and promptly borrowed the set from the guy who brought it.

Outlaw Star

Summary: Gene Starwind and Jim Hawking run a do-everything-and-anything business and try to make enough money to get by, although both of them dream of bigger jobs for bigger pay offs. And they do get a bigger job when they’re hired by the outlaw Hilda to be her bodyguard as she transports a mysterious android to the most advanced ship in the galaxy.
The Good: This was a pretty darn fun show to watch, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a hot spring episode (especially considering the fanservice in those episodes are aimed towards the male fans, not the female ones, and yet I still found it hilarious). There’s something going on in nearly every episode so it was addictive to watch as well, I’m sure if I’d had the whole set over the summer I would’ve marathoned it in a heartbeat. And I can really see why Firefly is compared to this show, beyond the fact that both of them have an eccentric cast of characters on a special ship (heck, if it wasn’t for the no aliens rule in Firefly I’d even say they’re in the same ‘verse), both of them give off a very laid back feeling and I felt satisfied after each episode. It's a fun adventure show where, even if the plot isn't the most original or even there some of the time, it always managed to be stranger than I expected.
The Bad: Having spaceships get into fights where they basically arm wrestle each other makes no sense, not even the rule of cool can justify that.  And, while I liked the ending, after the fridge logic set in I realized there were a lot of loose ends. I have heard that Outlaw Star manga is actually part of a larger ‘verse and that those stories explain some things (mainly about the last group of villains) but I have yet to track down any real information on those series. So if the show’s strength is how it plays fast and loose with the explanations all in the name of good fun then that’s it’s biggest problem**.
The Art: Not nearly as bad as I feared from the stills but the art is clearly from the 90s so it’s not as smooth as I’m used to. Combine that with some odd character designs (Melfina’s outfit is actually one of the ugliest outfits I’ve seen in a long while) and I have to admit that I’m not in love with the look of this series.  But the fight scenes all looked very good (Sunrise does have quite a bit of experience with fight scenes after all) so it evens out in the end, just don't expect me to be cosplaying anything from it.
The Music: The OP for this series is super catchy and fun (and pretty simple, I can remember the Japanese lyrics for almost half of the song over a month later) but I didn’t really like either of the EDs. Possibly because they were accompanied by some pencil drawings (which didn’t seem to be connected to the story at all) that were in a completely different art style than the rest of the series. Besides, with as fast paced as this story is, having a ballad for an ED just doesn’t seem like the right choice to me.

So, I really enjoyed this series and would love to own it on DVD to watch again, heck, it made me want to get Firefly on DVD so I could watch that again. And I’ve noticed lately that I seem to be really enjoying a lot of shows that were American fan-favorites in the 90s and I’m going to try to track down more older shows in the future. I’ve got a friend whose willing to loan me Wolf’s Rain and there are a few other shows I really want to watch. Now, to see if any of my other friends happen to have them...

*I believe the part that sold me was when the space pirates were flying through the air on a craft made from the bodies of space ninjas while they were doing magic, I mean, how can you not laugh at something that ridiculous?
**although not explaining some things in the end wasn’t as big a problem as it was for Firefly, and I’m quite sure that similarity at least was purely accidental