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Outlaw Star is a Japanese anime series based on the manga series of the same name, written and illustrated by Takehiko Itō and his affiliated Morning Star Studio. The manga series was originally serialized in the monthly Shueisha magazine Ultra Jump between 1996 and 1999 for a total of 21 chapters.

The series is a space opera/Space Western that takes place in the "Toward Stars Era" universe in which spacecraft are capable of traveling faster than the speed of light. The plot follows protagonist Gene Starwind and his motley crew of an inherited ship dubbed the "Outlaw Star", as they search for a legendary, outer space treasure trove called the "Galactic Leyline".

Sunrise Studios produced the 26-episode anime adaptation that was directed by Mitsuru Hongo and aired on the Japanese station TV Tokyo in early 1998. The animated series has since been translated and broadcast worldwide. This includes an English version from Bandai Entertainment that began airing on Cartoon Network's Toonami block on January 15, 2001. However, the broadcast of the series was heavily edited due to its adult content.

Sunrise produced a spin-off television series titled Angel Links, which aired in Japan in 1999. Outlaw Star and Angel Links take place in the same universe; characters from both series appeared in an episode of Outlaw Star, but the two have little else in relation. Morning Star Studio also drafted a proposed, OVA sequel series to Outlaw Star titled Outlaw Star 2: Sword of Wind on its official website with character designs and a plot outline. Set three years after the events of Outlaw Star, it was to continue the adventures of Gene Starwind and Jim Hawking in their new starship named "Sword of Wind". Due to the lack of the franchise's popularity in Japan and the busy schedule of animation director Mitsuru Hongo, no production date was set. In October 2001, Takehiko Itō commented that his team only had static, preliminary plans for the sequel series and that they could perhaps continue the manga series in the future.

Plot

Outlaw Star is a space opera/Space Western set in the fictional "Towards Stars Era" universe. During it's past, an asteroid containing a material known as "dragonite" crashed in the fictional Arashon desert of northern China. Scientists found that the dragonite contained properties related to "ether", an energy source that would allow spacecraft to travel faster than the speed of light, and thus traverse large distances of the universe in a short time. As new colonies were formed throughout the vast reaches of outer space, pirates, assassins, and outlaws began to threaten humanity's new frontier. To create order, the Earth Federation established four empires: USSA, Einhorn, Piotr, and Tenpa. However, internal power struggles within the factions and conflicts amongst one another become abundant, leading to inevitable lawlessness. The storyline starts shortly after an infamous outlaw named "Hot Ice" Hilda flees from the Kei Pirates, a branch of the Tenpa. Hilda has stolen from them a highly-advanced prototype ship dubbed the XGP15A-II and a suitcase containing a bio-android called Melfina, the only being capable of interfacing with the ship.

Outlaw Star opens on the backwater planet Sentinel III, on which the protagonist Gene Starwind and his 11-year-old business associate James Hawking run a small jack-of-all-trades business. After the two take a job as bodyguards for a disguised Hilda and engage in a brief skirmish with the Kei Pirates, Gene and Jim find themselves the owners of the XGP15A-II (which they nickname the "Outlaw Star") and the caretakers of Melfina. Hilda reveals that the ship's true purpose is to locate the "Galactic Leyline", a place which popular claims say is a holder of immense treasure, knowledge, and power. Throughout the course of the series, the crew grows to include the kimono-garbed contract killer Twilight Suzuka and Aisha Clanclan, a catgirl of the Ctarl-Ctarl alien race.

The anime episodes often involve Gene and his comrades taking on various jobs or missions to fund their ship's massive maintenance costs. Throughout their travels, the crew often encounters Ronald and Harry McDougall, a pair of bounty hunters responsible for the death of Gene's father. Ronald acts as a rival to Gene, while Harry wishes to form a bond with Melfina, a bio-android like himself. The crew also contends with others that learn of the Outlaw Star's connection to the Galactic Leyline. They are Nguyen Khan, a scientist wishing to gain omniscience through the Leyline; and Lord Hazanko, the leader of the ruthless assassin organization the Anten Seven, who seeks the Leyline to gain ultimate power. The series climaxes when all parties meet on the physical plane of the Leyline.

Characters

Gene Starwind

Gene is a 20-year-old man who developed a fear of space flight and a hatred of pirates during an attack when he was 15. This attack resulted in his father's death at the hands of a band of mercenaries led by Ron McDougall. Gene was thrown into an escape pod moments before their ship exploded, and landed on Sentinel III where he would remain until the beginning of the series. Gene is scared of space, until Hilda questions him, Hilda's questioning of his courage is the turning point where Gene's fear of space gradually begins to fade.

While on Sentinel III, Gene met the much younger Jim Hawking and the two went into business, forming a company called Starwind and Hawking Enterprises. Gene is a reckless ladies' man and a bit of a pervert who shamelessly flirts with almost every woman he meets; he would rather try to achieve his goals with a minimum of effort, and his reckless attitude proves a continuous source of frustration to Jim.

Despite his brash nature, Gene does have a caring side to his personality which he usually displays toward Melfina. After realizing Melfina had no recollection of her purpose or function, Gene promises to help her find her past and protects her from the various individuals in pursuit of her. Throughout the course of the series, he begins to develop feelings for her, but is hesitant to act on them for fear of making himself vulnerable. It also results in him forming a rivalry with Harry McDougall, who is far more open in his pursuit of Melfina's affection.

Gene is well armed with a variety of weapons, including a pistol, grenade launcher, knife, rocket launcher, etc. His special weapon, a Caster gun, fires special Caster shells; magic bullets that are effective against Tao priests and other entities protected against normal weaponry. Caster shells are projectile capsules containing a spell cast by a wizard that has been contained, allowing non-magic users to fire the spell from a gun. Caster shells are also numbered by power level (although not incrementally), the three most powerful being 4, 9, and 13. Caster shells are considered antiques, however, and are difficult to acquire. Some of the effects of the caster shells include opening up small controlled black holes in order to absorb an opponent, as seen by the shell being used effectively against Hamushi and ineffectively against Hazanko. Gene only reserves these particular caster shells for powerful opponents, since they carry the extreme danger of killing him if he uses them consecutively. Gene's ear piercings are also incredibly useful to him, as they possess a communication device that serves like a two-way radio which allows him keep in contact with Jim, who holds the other communicator piercing.

James "Jim" Hawking

Jim is the 11-year-old business partner and sidekick of Gene Starwind, though how they met is unknown. He is the son of a famous computer hacker known as the "Computer Wizard." Jim serves as the team's computer expert, hacker, strategist, and back-up. Unlike Gene, he is responsible, concerned, and worries about the team's finances and plans, preferring to earn money the hard way rather than to take risks.

Jim becomes good friends with fellow Outlaw Star crew member Aisha Clan Clan, who is in some ways his opposite: Jim gets treated like a child even though he acts like an adult, while Aisha, though an adult, acts like a child. Jim also looks up to the android Melfina as a mother figure (whom he occasionally has to protect from Gene's lecherous advances), and gets along well with the Outlaw Star’s on-board computer, Gilliam II. Jim has trouble, however, trusting strangers such as Hilda, who first approaches him and Gene under false pretenses, and Suzuka, who tries to kill Gene and whose motives are unclear.

Melfina

Melfina is a bio-android created by Professor Nguyen Khan using ancient biotechnology found within the Grave of the Dragon ruins. The complexity of the information was so vast that even a great mind like his couldn't understand it all. Some time after she was created, both Melfina and the Outlaw Star were stolen from the Kei pirates by the outlaw Hilda, who intended to use them to find the Galactic Leyline. Melfina's appearance is of a petite and slender young woman with shoulder length black hair and large brown eyes. While her physical age appears to be eighteen, her real age is that of only two. She has no recollection of her past or why she was created, which often troubles her throughout the series. Later, on the planet holding the ruins of the Grave of the Dragon, she sings a mysterious song (the ending song for episodes 1-13) which possibly signifies the weight of the questions about her existence that she wants answered.

Despite being an artificial humanoid, Melfina possesses both free will and human emotions as well as the physical need for food and rest (although for some unexplained reason she lacks the ability to dream). Her personality is sweet-natured, with a polite and loving -albeit generally naive- demeanor, and because of this Jim thinks of her as a mother figure. She's noted as having a natural talent for cooking, and serves as the Outlaw Star’s official chef in addition to being the ship's navigator.

After the death of Hilda, Melfina travels with Gene after he promises to find her purpose, and gradually begins to develop feelings for him. Later in the series, it is revealed that she was created to navigate to the Galactic Leyline, and is the only one able to act as a medium to access its vast powers. Because of this, the pirates referred to her as the "Maiden of the Leyline".

Melfina navigates the Outlaw Star from within a cylindrical chamber on the bridge that rises from the floor and fills with a clear, liquid-like substance, supposedly to help her link with the ship. The liquid is most likely a stabling agent to help ensure that her link is static-free, and because of this she has to navigate without wearing any clothes. She covers herself with her arms across her chest, and her lower area is obstructed by the chamber's outer retractable metal coverings. As part of Cartoon Network's editing, she is portrayed as wearing tight black shorts and a strapless black bra.

Aisha Clanclan

Aisha is an 18-year-old Ctarl-Ctarl officer with a considerable ego and superhuman strength. She is also far more durable than any human and also claims to have the best ears in the universe. While it is unknown if they are the best, she is shown to be able to hear small noises that no one else on the crew can. In episode 5, she claims to be immortal, but it is unknown whether or not this is based in fact or is merely Aisha's immense ego and racial pride. Even if it is true, it is more likely a reference to how difficult Ctarl-Ctarls are to kill than to an increased life-span. Aisha can be rather absent-minded at times, acting on rash impulse and not really caring about anyone other than herself, and she tends to act like a child. She does have a closer relationship with Jim over the course of the series, and starts to concern herself with his well-being, acting like an older sister to him in many ways.

As with all Ctarl-Ctarl, Aisha has access to an ability referred to in the dub as "Beast Strength", where she taps into the primeval powers of her racial ancestors. This allows her to increase her strength and possibly her speed and durability, but is extremely energy-draining; Aisha burns a lot of calories by using this ability, and is always depicted as eating massive quantities of food afterwards. This ability is somehow tied to lunar bodies, both their presence and their phase, though it is unclear if these make it easier for her to access the ability, or if they reduce the amount of energy it drains. Using Beast Strength makes Aisha more animalistic in form and, apparently, in mentality; at less than full power, her fingernails elongate into claws and she sprouts a tail, while at full power she assumes the form of a feline-like creature that resembles a white tiger with elongated ears.

Aisha was originally in charge of locating the Galactic Leyline for the Ctarl-Ctarl Empire, but after she unknowingly allowed Hot Ice Hilda to escape, her government ordered her to stay behind on Blue Heaven to look for clues as punishment. Aisha finds out that Gene Starwind is connected to Hilda and tries to pump him for information. However, Gene knows nothing of the Galactic Leyline, and eludes her by stunning her with a Caster and leaving her to pay the considerable restaurant bill she racked up. Later in the series, Aisha was able to trick Gene into letting her on board the Outlaw Star during the Space Race, where she finds out that the McDougall Brothers have more information on Hilda than Gene does. Aisha then decides to join the crew, since they are the ones who were indirectly responsible for her demotion in the first place.

During the series, Aisha entered the universe's strongest woman tournament whilst under the guise of a wrestler called "Firecat" (the real Firecat had been captured by Aisha, and was kept tied up and gagged in a locker.) The Ctarl-Ctarl were banned from the tournament five years before when one transformed into her beast form and, after being reprimanded and disqualified for biting off her opponent's ear, went berserk and killed over nine hundred people with thousands injured. In the final fight with Iraga of the Anten Seven, Iraga transformed into a wolf, forcing Aisha to transform into a tiger. Aisha eventually defeated Iraga and secured her place as the strongest woman in the universe. It should be noted, however, that as Ctarl-Ctarl were banned from the competition, it is unknown whether Aisha was crowned the universe's strongest woman or simply disqualified after the final fight.

"Twilight" Suzuka

Suzuka is a female Ultra Class A ninja-assassin who only kills when the sun is setting, hence her nickname "Twilight". Her preferred weapon of choice is a bokken, or wooden sword, which through secret, semi-mystical swordplay can be used to slice metal and smash concrete. On the next stroke, however, it will land only a knockout blow on her opponent. She uses a wooden sword instead of a metal one to prevent it from being identified by metal detectors as a weapon. She first appears when she tries to kill Gene Starwind's friend Fred Luo as part of her contract with a rival weapons seller. Gene is able to outsmart her and force her to consent to come after him before she kills Fred as part of her pride. However, in her next appearance, Suzuka saves Melfina from a Kei Pirate and decides to help the group against the Kei Pirates, mainly to go after a member of the Anten Seven named Hitoriga, who killed her family. Surprisingly, Suzuka seems to know more about the Kei Pirates than the rest of the crew.

Among the various members on Gene’s ship, Suzuka could best be considered the lone wolf, relying very little on outside help to accomplish her goals. To add to her already enigmatic demeanor, she frequently disappears at ports to take care of "business." She is quiet and pensive, and once tells Gene that she sticks around only because she finds him interesting, much to his chagrin. Throughout the series, there are only three known battles that she has lost; once in the past to Hitoriga (who killed her family), once to Gene, and once to Shimi (possibly due to a meal Aisha had cooked rather than lack of skill).

Much about Suzuka's past is unknown, such as why the Kei pirates would target her family, how she survived, and who trained her. Even her age is never really mentioned during the run of the series, though she is estimated to be around Gene's age. All that is known is that her pursuit of the Kei Pirates is of a personal nature, particularly towards the assassin Hitoriga. Near the ending of the series, it is implied that she has feelings for Gene. During her fight with Hitoriga, he says, "Well wonders never cease. I'm surprised that you would even consider a partner (referring to Gene Starwind). So Suzuka, are you in love with him?" She responded by telling him that he will hear her answer after she kills him, as a sort of gift in order to see him off to the after life. After the fight and Suzuka wins, she never tells Hitoriga her true feelings for Gene so the nature of her feelings for him have been left unresolved.

Cartoon Network heavily edited references to Suzuka being an assassin on the first episode she appeared in (Episode 6) when this show aired on Toonami, though some references managed to slip by.

Cast

  • Robert Wicks - Gene Starwind
  • Brianne Siddall - Jim Hawking
  • Emilie Brown - Melfina
  • Lenore Zann - Aisha Clanclan
  • Wendee Lee - "Twilight" Suzuka

Episodes

Main Article: Outlaw Star/Episodes

Broadcast History

Outlaw Star premiered in Japan on the Japanese station TV Tokyo from January 8, 1998 to June 25, 1998.

An English language version of the series was licensed by Bandai Entertainment and ZRO Limit Productions, and was aired on the evening Toonami block on Cartoon Network beginning on January 15, 2001 and ending on March 30, 2001. The series began it's second run on the block on July 16, 2001 and ended on August 17, 2001. Outlaw Star also aired on Toonami's late night Midnight Run block beginning on January 15, 2001.

The series next aired on Cartoon Network's late night Adult Swim block throughout 2002. However, the broadcast was cancelled late in the year and the network allowed it's rights to expire by 2003.

Outlaw Star was aired in the United Kingdom on CNX in October 2002.

In 2012, one episode of the series appeared on Adult Swim's Toonami April Fools Event that resulted in the rebirth of Toonami.

Censorship

Outlaw Star Toonami Edits

Digitally inserted clothes

On Cartoon Network the broadcast of the show was heavily edited due to its adult content. Profanity was removed, scenes with violence and lewd behavior were cut or toned down, and many scenes containing nudity were altered by digitally inserting clothing onto characters.[1]

Episode 23, in which the Outlaw Star crew visits a hot spring planet, was not aired due to nudity and suggestive themes. However, some instances of adult language were not removed for the anime's initial run. Sean Akins, Toonami's creative director at the time, claimed that Cartoon Network made all of their own edits to their licensed properties during this time period, which they did "in a way that preserves the story".[1]

The role of Fred Luo, a recurring homosexual character, was considerably toned down. Cartoon Network had no specific editing policy with regard to gay characters, but that "overt sexuality or implied sexuality of any kind are not allowed".[1]

External Links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pope (March 4, 2002). "Edit List Special - Cartoon Network Interview". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/edit-list/2002-03-04/cartoon-network-interview. Retrieved on July 1, 2014. 

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