Outlaw Star(星方武侠アウトロースターSeihō Bukyō Autorō Sutā,? lit. "Starward Warrior Knight Outlaw Star") is a seinen manga series written and illustrated by Takehiko Itō and his affiliated Morning Star Studio. The series is a science fiction 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".
Outlaw Star was originally serialized in the monthly Shueisha magazine Ultra Jump between 1996 and 1999 for a total of 21 chapters. Three volumes of collected chapters were published in Japan between August 1997 and January 1999. Although no official English version of the manga exists, it has been published in Chinese, German, and Italian. Sunrise Studios produced a 26-episode anime adaptation that was directed by Mitsuru Hongo and aired on the Japanese stationTV Tokyo in early 1998. The animated series has since been translated and broadcast worldwide. This includes an English version from Bandai Entertainment that received a censoredairing on the North American Cartoon Network blocks Toonami and Adult Swim starting in early 2001. Outlaw Star has been licensed for release in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment and in Europe by Beez Entertainment. A few Japanese-exclusive audio CDs andlight novels have been spawned since the start of the manga's publication.
Critical reception for Outlaw Star has been mostly positive. Many reviewers praised the anime series, particularly its animation style and its balance of dramatic and comedic elements. However, some found fault with the show's pacing, believing that the storyline quality begins to wane after the first few episodes. A spin-off series of light novels titled Angel Links (星方遊撃隊エンジェルリンクスHoshi Hou Yuugeki Tai Enjieru Rinkusu?) was published beginning in late 1998 with its own television adaptation airing in Japan in 1999. Morning Star Studio made preliminary plans to create a direct sequel original video animation (OVA) series to Outlaw Star, but production never began.
Outlaw Star is a Space Western set in the fictional "Towards Stars Era" universe. During its past, an asteroid containing a material known as "dragonite" crashed in the Arashon desert in 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 Tin'Pa. However, internal power struggles within the factions and conflicts amongst one another become abundant, leading to inevitable lawlessness. The manga's storyline starts shortly after an infamous outlaw named "Hot Ice" Hilda flees from the Kei Pirates, a branch of the Tin'Pa. 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 Starwindand his 11-year-old business associate James "Jim" 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" (銀河の龍脈Ginga no Ryuu Myaku?, lit. "Galactic Dragon Vein"), 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 of the Ctarl-Ctarl, a race of cat-likealiens.
The incomplete Outlaw Star manga series and its concluded animated television series are paced differently than one another. 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 MacDougall, 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 theAnten Seven, who seeks the Leyline to gain ultimate power. The series climaxes when all parties meet on the physical plain of the Leyline. In the end, the MacDougall brothers retreat, Khan is integrated into the Leyline as data, and Hanzako is defeated by the Outlaw Star crewmembers. Once the conflict comes to a close, Gene and his friends go their separate ways but ultimately reunite to continue their adventures together.
Production Outlaw Star, fully titled Seihō Bukyō Outlaw Star (星方武侠アウトロースター?, lit. "Starward Warrior Knight Outlaw Star"), was created by Morning Star Studio. Takehiko Itō was the manga's director, writer, and chief artist. Itō was aided in his duties by Hajime Yatate, a pseudonym of writers at Sunrise Studios.Others who contributed to the work include producer Kenzoh Tomita; starship designer Masaharu Kawamori; character concept and imageboard illustrators Yutaka Minowa and Hajime Jinguji; and a team of production designers and assistant artists. Outlaw Star takes place in the Toward Stars Era, the same universe as Itō's Uchuu Eiyuu Monogatari (宇宙英雄物語?, lit. "Future-Retro Hero Story"), a pulp-science fiction manga that was first serialized by Kadokawa Shoten in 1988. Itō has described this earlier work as "something out of boy's dream" and took a much more mature, scientific approach when writing Outlaw Star. The author also referenced aspects of Chinese culture when creating Outlaw Star.
The animated television series of Outlaw Star was produced by Sunrise and directed by Mitsuru Hongo, whose previous credits include the comedy Crayon Shin-chan and the magical girl series Shamanic Princess. The script was chiefly written by Katsuhiko Chiba, who wrote about three-quarters of the episodes. Character designs were handled by Hiroyuki Hataike (Detonator Orgun, Armored Troopers Votoms) and Takuya Saito.] The show's vehicles were designed by Juniya Ishigaki and Macross and Gundam mecha artist Shōji Kawamori, the latter of whom designed the Outlaw Star ship itself.Kow Otani composed the musical score for the Outlaw Star anime. The series features the opening theme "Through the Night" written and performed Masahiko Arimachi, and two closing themes, "Hiru no Tsuki" (昼の月?, lit. "Daytime Moon") and "Tsuki no Ie" (月の家?, lit. "House of the Moon"), both written and performed by Akino Arai. "Through the Night" was chosen for the opening among several candidate songs. Itō and Sunrise agreed that the theme should be one that had not been used in a recent animation and that it should feature male vocals. Arimachi wrote the song to resemble a story, took into account its longterm impact, and felt it fit Outlaw Star perfectly.
Outlaw Star was serialized in Japan's monthly Shueisha magazine Ultra Jump between 1996 and 1999. A total of 21 chapters were published, and 17 of these chapters were compiled among three tankōbon (collected volumes), released in Japan from August 1997 to January 1999. Each volume also contains information on the series' universe; detailed spaceship and planet descriptions; and character profiles. A Chinese version of the manga was published in Hong Kong by Sharp Point Press. The series has also been published in German and Italian by Planet Manga. No official English translation of the Outlaw Star exists, though Morning Star Studio's official website suggests that a release in the United States was planned at one time.
The 26-episode anime adaptation of Outlaw Star aired weekly on TV Tokyo from January 8, 1998, to June 25, 1998, though it technically began airing on January 9, as it was in a 1:15 A.M. time slot. An English language version of the series was licensed by Bandai Entertainment and ZRO Limit Productions, and was aired on the evening Toonami block beginning on January 15, 2001. This broadcast of the show was heavily edited due to it 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. Episode 23, in which the Outlaw Star crew visits a hot spring planet, was skipped entirely because of 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, 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". 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". Outlaw Star was also aired on the channel's late night Adult Swim block throughout 2002. However, the broadcast was cancelled late in the year and, according to Akins, the network allowed its rights to the anime to expire by 2003.Outlaw Star was aired in the United Kingdom on CNX in October 2002. Bandai released the first 13 episodes of Outlaw Star on DVD in Japan on August 25, 1999, and the remaining 13 episodes on November 25, 1999. A Japanese "remastered" DVD boxset containing the entire series was published by Bandai on September 22, 2006. Yet another DVD boxset, Emotion the Best: Seihō Bukyō Outlaw Star, was released in Japan on September 24, 2010. Bandai released the series in North America in three DVD collections on September 1, 2000, February 14, 2001, and March 6, 2001. The Outlaw Star Perfect Collection Box Set, a DVD compilation of the entire series, was released on September 10, 2002. The series was again re-released on March 28, 2006 as the Outlaw Star Complete Collection. Outlaw Star additionally received DVD releases in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment on June 23, 2004, and in the United Kingdom by Beez Entertainment on April 25, 2011.
The opening theme and the two closing themes of Outlaw Star were published in Japan in 1998 as CD singles by Victor Entertainment andJVC respectively. Victor Entertainment published a two-volume original soundtrack for the series on March 31, 1998, and June 24, 1998. The CDs consist of a total of 61 background and vocal music tracks. Another two-disc album containing several drama tracks,Seihō Bukyō Outlaw Star Sound & Scenario Tracks (星方武侠アウトロースター サウンド&シナリオトラック