Outlaw Star is based on a manga series written and illustrated by Takehiko Ito. The anime was produced Sunrise and was directed by Mitsuru Hongo. The series aired on Japanese television from January 8-25, 1998. Bandai Entertainment originally held the North American distribution license for Outlaw Star. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American rights.
Outlaw Star is set in the distant future, and the main character of the series is a man named Gene Starwind. Gene’s a player and a slacker, who manages to eke out a living by doing the occasional odd job or by doing some bounty hunting. Jim Hawking is Gene’s 11-year-old business partner and sidekick. Jim’s a computer expert and accountant, and it’s up to him to take care of the finances and the plans. They run a small business on a planet known as Sentinel III.
One day, a woman going by the name of Rachell calls and asks for their assistance to acquire parts and to serve as bodyguards. It turns out that Rachell is an alias, and the woman is a notorious space pirate named Hilda. Hilda is being followed by other space pirates who want a treasure that she has, which is a space ship known as the Outlaw Star and a biohuman named Melfina that helps to run the ship.
Early in the series, Hilda is killed. Gene takes possession of the Outlaw Star and Melfina, and he also learns that there’s an intelligence inside the ship that goes by the name of Gilliam. Gilliam and Melfina work together to run the ship.
Along the way, Gene and Jim pick up a couple more crew members: Suzuka and Aisha. Suzuka is an assassin who was hired to kill Gene’s wealthy friend, Fred. However, Gene thwarts Suzuka’s attempt, and now she is trying to assassinate Gene. Suzuka joins the crew in order to keep him alive through the adventure so she can get her bounty.
Aisha is a catgirl from the Ctarl-Ctarl alien race who is being punished for having unknowingly let Hilda escape early in the series. She tricks Gene into letting her on the ship during the Space Race, and she has remained on the ship ever since. Together, they are looking for the Galactic Leyline, which is rumored to have treasure.
Overall, Outlaw Star is a rather enjoyable series. I really liked most of the characters and thought that they had a lot of good interactions between them.
However, I do have a couple of small nitpicks about the ending of Outlaw Star. The first is the fact that there’s a noticeable decrease in the animation quality in the last few episodes of the series. The second nitpick is the fact that the series doesn’t truly end, and that the viewer is expected to simply accept some of the things that happen right at the end.
After watching through all the episodes of this series, I believe that viewers who are fans of Cowboy Bebop could potentially also end up becoming interested in Outlaw Star, because there’s a similar idea and feel between the two series.