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Outlaw Star: DVD Collection (Vol. 1)
Action takes the forefront, but the potential for a good plot is there in this tale revolving around a man named Gene and his adventures in space.
Solid visuals for the time it was produced. While it lacks the bright and full colors present in more recent anime, it holds its ground against the norm. Character designs are both distinctive and imaginative without looking out of place.
The English audio provides a great mix, with voices clear and crisp and the action sequences nice and loud. Nearly every character introduced thus far seems to have a fitting voice, so no complaints there. Suzuka may be hard to hear at times, as her quieter tone of voice can be muffled by other sounds, but that's only a minor issue at best.
I'm not too familiar with the Japanese cast, but everything sounded good on that end as well.
A great-looking shot of Gene Starwind holding his trademark gun fills the front side while the beautiful Melfina graces the back amidst a small collage of screenshots with the typical DVD jargon. The DVD case itself differs between the original case (about 1/3 bigger than an average DVD case with a small flap inside that holds the second DVD) and the follow-up release, which is slimmer (the same size as a regular DVD case) with a swinging flap that holds the second DVD. Both have their positives and negatives, though by now it's more likely you'll find the latter available. The insert inside replicates the front cover and opens to reveal more information about the Caster, Gene's main weapon of choice.
The nine episodes in this release are split between the two DVD's, with five on the first and four on the second. The menu is simple but effective, though the volume when in the "Options" section is inexplicably higher than anywhere else. Extras are on the second DVD and consist of the textless opener and some character sketches along with the usual Bandai previews for other shows.
The description on the back covers this better than I ever could:
Gene Starwind dreams of a life as an Outlaw, and fate smiles on him as he seems to suddenly wind up with a great job. But things go awry, and he finds himself the new owner of the fastest, most technologically advanced space ship in the galaxy. Unfortunately, it's stolen and the owners want it back...
Along with his partner Jim and the lovely Melfina, Gene must fight his way across the galaxy battling pirates, aliens, and assassins as he attempts to discover the secrets of the Outlaw Star.
...well, there's a lot more to it than what they say, but that's the basic gist of it.
One of my top reasons for supporting this series is the believability of the universe it takes place in. The prologues to each episode serve to expand upon the world the characters inhabit, which allows the viewer to be almost "immersed" into the story. While primarily an action series, there's plenty of comedy sprinkled all over to lighten things up. Gene Starwind proves to be an amusing protagonist who isn't afraid to speak his mind, leading to some interesting situations. Multiple plot paths are opened within the first batch of episodes while the last couple manage to set up potential events in volume two.
The main strike against this series is that it fails to bring much of anything new to the table. While it presents a few interesting ideas, it's basically an "action-adventure in space" show that's been done countless times in the past. Those looking for something fresh may be disappointed.
Anyone looking for an enjoyable series full of action and comedy should definitely give this series a try. With nine episodes, you'll have a third of the series in one purchase and can decide from there whether or not to continue watching. The suspense dies down a bit around episode eight, but the last episode will leave you hanging until you can find volume two. I'd easily recommend this to anyone with a slight interest in anime, and especially for fans of the show's Toonami run, who will only enjoy the unedited release that much more.
Grade: 8 of 10 (4 Stars)
1.) More on the differences between the DVD cases. The first one does a better job of securing the DVD on the flap, almost completely preventing it from making contact with the second DVD (which is in the usual location of any DVD case). The sacrifice is that the case itself is bigger, which may cause problems as it won't fit in certain DVD shelves/towers. The second one takes up the space of a normal DVD case, but the flap is much more loose and can easily make contact with the second DVD (since the space between them is reduced), which can and has caused that DVD to pop out of its button and could concievably lead to damage depending on the situation. It's honestly not as bad as it sounds, as you'd really have to intentionally do this to damage it in the first place, but everyone has their preferences. I believe Bandai went exclusively with the second case for the other two volumes anyway, so this basically becomes irrelevant for the rest of the collection.
Added: June 18th 2003
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