Outlaw Star: A Space-tacular Anime Adventure [Recommendation]


pace, the final frontier, these are the voyages of the starship Outlaw Star. Its mission is to escape from the murderous Kei pirates, locate the Dragon Vein, and uncover the secret of an android that everyone wants — oh, and to make sure that its captain does not throw up while he mans the ship. 

Let the chase begin. 

Outlawed Beginnings 

Stellar Gallants Outlaw Star (Seiho Bukyou Outlaw Star) began in 1994 as a manga by Takehiko Ito published in Shueisha‘s ULTRA JUMP. The story further expands the alternate future series entitled Space Hero Tales (Uchu Eiyu Monogatari) that Ito first developed. Due to the popular response to the Outlaw Star manga, a TV series was commissioned and produced for the late-night, post-midnight slot on TV Tokyo, joining the line-up of Eat-Man and Those Who Hunt Elves. 

The story of the TV series begins with Gene Starwind, a bounty hunter with a bad case of space phobia living in an age of space travel. He operates a small-time business with an 11-year-old whiz mechanic and computer expert for a partner named Jim Hawking. Their base of operation is Sentinel III, the farthest outpost of the Earth Federation, with a cultural mix akin to that of Hong Kong and Shanghai. 

The duo’s monotonous Terran lifestyle is interrupted when a woman named Rachel Sweet commissions them for some cargo transfer and bodyguard duties. Gene readily agrees thinking that the pay is good, it’s just a routine job, and he has nothing better to do. Plus, their new boss is quite a babe with long blond hair and a curvaceous body. 

The two, however, get more than what they bargained for. 

Rachel Sweet turns out to be a disguise for a notorious outlaw named “Hot Ice” Hilda. She enlists Gene and Jim’s help against the Kei Pirates, some of the meanest pirates in the galaxy. Caught in a messy crossfire and paid to be her bodyguards, Gene and Jim have no choice but to assist Hilda in her plans. They also find out that the cargo that they are supposed to transfer is a suitcase containing a cryogenically frozen android named Melfina. 

Hilda’s plan to escape her pursuers is to board her ship Horus and fly off to space. Unfortunately, Gene’s fear acts up. He puts up a good fight against setting foot on the ship. However, Hilda’s taunts on his masculinity lower his defenses and give his companions enough leverage to throw him onboard. 

And so the adventure begins. 

Outlawed History 

Eons before Gene and Jim cross paths with Hilda, an asteroid containing a rare and precious metal crashed into the Arashon Desert in northern China. Scientists discovered that the metal, which they named Dragonite, had unique properties that allowed the new, faster-than-light engines they were developing to tap into a form of warp space thus finally making space travel an easy reality. The metal suddenly became the equivalent of gold. 

The Munchausen Drive — named after Baron Von Munchausen, the 18th-century loony best known for his tall and highly improbable tales of adventure into the unknown — was developed. Wild galactic fervor swept the entire Earth and heralded a new era. Interplanetary colonization became possible. New planets and races were discovered. New empires were built. New styles of space stations were constructed. New breeds of criminals evolved. 

War broke out among different worlds, especially in those planets already populated by sentient species. Some of these wars were settled with peace treaties and both races interacted amicably enough with each other — some of them were Nayans, Corbonites, Silgrians, C’tarl- C’tarl, Lorgans, and Siths. However, there were still those volatile areas that persisted in battling with each other. 

Chaos was imminent. 

To show a semblance of law and order, four major empires — USSA, Einhorn, Piotr, and Tin’Pa — created the Earth Federation with the Space Force as its main tool of peace. Underneath this facade, internal power struggles were still rampant as the various factions battled for dominance. The Space Force was also helpless against two major bands of lawbreakers — the pirates and the outlaws. 

The pirates hunted for treasure, collected tolls from passing ships, and generally harassed anyone that passed their sectors. There were four major pirate groups that fought for control, mirroring the four major empires. Foremost were the Kei Pirates under the Tin’Pa Empire. They belonged to the 108 Suns, the most brutal member of the Chinese Pirate Guild. A mysterious man named Tendou was their overload. Under his blanket leadership, several smaller groups existed, led by their own individual leaders. The Kei Pirates were identified by their kung fu style outfits and their distinctive starships. They were allied with ninjas called Sentouin who wear yin-yang symbols on their chests and armed with metal claws. 

The outlaws were usually bounty hunters who distinguished themselves from the pirated by their nomadic lifestyle and code of honor. Outlaws didn’t usually align themselves to a faction or empire. However, the thin line between piracy and outlaw activity was so thin that not many bothered to distinguish the two. 

The lawless situation was further aggravated by the legend of the Dragon Vein (or Galactic Ley Line). It is said that this treasure was worth the universe and eclipsed every other legendary hidden trove of treasure that ever existed. The myth was so tempting that many people risked their lives just to search for it. Proof of its potency on the human imagination was that even mortal enemies were willing to work together just to find a clue to its existence. 

Unfortunately, one of the members of this new alliance forgot to pay “Hot Ice” Hilda her fee. She stole a suitcase, the content of which she didn’t even bother to check and an XGP starship in lieu of payment. 

Now, the Kei Pirates have realized their mistake and they want their stuff back. In typical bad guy fashion, they will eliminate all those who stand in the way, even two idiot bounty hunters who were only tricked into helping an outlaw. 

Outlawed Crew 

Once in space, Gene has to drink a lot to control his fear. He, however, makes up for his lack of bravery by showing off his impressive marksmanship when his new crew runs into some gunfire against some of Hilda’s former buddies. Apparently, the MacDougall Brothers are also after what Hilda stole. These two ruthless mercenaries will do anything for money and power. Gene, however, is not about to give the cargo to them since he was paid to protect Melfina and Hilda. Plus, he believes that the brothers are somehow responsible for his father’s death. 

The group manages to escape their pursuers and recovers the XGP 12A5 ship that Hilda stole and stowed in some remote space station. After changing ships and finally catching their breaths, Hilda reveals that the XGP starship is a top-secret joint project between the pirates and the Space Force to find the Dragon Vein. In the middle of her story, they are ambushed and Hilda sacrifices her life so that the new crew can escape. 

Forced to become the new captain, Gene christens the XGP starship the Outlaw Star in Hilda’s honor. Together, the three remaining crewmembers try to find out more about the mystery of the Dragon Vein and what Melfina’s true purpose really is. It seems that she can’t remember how or why she was created. She does prove to be a good navigator so Gene enlists her help in operating the ship. With Jim becoming the chief mechanic and accountant, the trio moves on. 

The small crew is supervised by the ship’s onboard computer named Gilliam. It oversees the maintenance of the ship via Gilliam II robots, small cylindrical worker machines. It is rather proud of being the computer of the most advanced starship in the galaxy and doesn’t like it if the Outlaw Star is scratched even just a bit. If Gene and space don’t mix, then Gene and Gilliam equal danger. The two are constantly at odds. Gene always says things to confuse or anger the Gilliam IIs. Gilliam meanwhile is the voice of reason whenever Gene’s recklessness endangers the crew or the ship. Its best friend is Jim who becomes so emotionally attached to it that he decides to one day paint one of the repair robots pink to make it stand out among the rest. When away from the ship, the crew takes this particular robot to have a constant link with Gilliam. 

After losing Hilda, the trio returns to Sentinel III to refurbish and restock their supplies. Gene visits a foppish weapons dealer named Fred Luo. While fending unwanted advances from the merchant, Gene accidentally saves Fred from Twilight Suzuka, who is hired to assassinate him. Her nickname Twilight refers to her preferred time of executions. Gene manages to defeat her but ends up with a new crewmember. The assassin says that she must kill Gene first before she can kill Fred. Actually, she also has a grudge against the Kei Pirates who are still hot on the trail of the Outlaw Star. 

Another pain on their behind is a former ambassador of the C’tarl- C’tarl race name Aisha Clan-Clan. The C’tarl-C’tarl is a race of cat-like beings. Aisha was commissioned to find the Dragon Vein. Unfortunately, she has a run-in with the Outlaw Star crew and loses her status as Ambassador. Cut off from any financial support from her clan, Aisha vows that she will get her revenge on Gene and the gang and find the Dragon Vein so that she can resurrect her dignity. 

Will the Outlaw Star gang finally put together the clues and find the Dragon Vein while simultaneously tasked to accomplish odd jobs in between skirmishes with pirates, aliens, assassins, and bizarre creatures? It sounds like a tall order for a ragtag crew of outlaws. But the key to the Dragon Vein is actually much closer than anyone expects.