Anime DVD Review: Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs Complete Collection

The Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs Complete Collection is a six-disc DVD box set that contains all 52 episodes of the series. In addition to this, special features appear on discs one, two, and four of the set. Only the English dub of the series is available on this release.

Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
English Publisher: VCI Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: October 20, 2009

In the series, humankind has colonized planets across the universe, creating a New Frontier. In order to protect the new settlers, as well as to maintain laws and regulations, Calvary Command was created on Earth. Calvary Command is essentially a military organization, and maintains an army and a fleet of ships to protect the New Frontier. There is a special group of operatives in Calvary Command known as the Star Sheriffs, who investigate crimes and plots against the security of the New Frontier.

The main adversary in the series is a race of non-human creatures known as the Outriders. They jumped into our dimension to conquer it, because they have exhausted all the resources on their planet and are now forced to live on an artificial planet.

The Outriders attack settlers, destroy their settlements, and kidnap humans in order to have workers to mine metals and crystals. The Outriders are superior to humans when it comes to battle technology, and possess gigantic robots. To combat these giant robots, Calvary Command developed a prototype ship called the Ramrod Equalizer Unit (Ramrod for short). Ramrod can transform from a spaceship into a powerful robot.

The lead of the series is Saber Rider, the Scottish captain of Ramrod. He is a young man with incredible skills and marksmanship, but is also a gentleman with a cool head for tactics and decisions. Saber Rider has a robotic horse named Steed, which has high-powered thrusters and the ability to fly, run, and is able to travel through space long enough to travel down to planets from orbit.

Fireball is a race car driver, and is the youngest champion of all time. He’s the pilot of Ramrod, and also controls the cannons and weaponry located in Ramrod‘s chest region. He drives a race car called the Red Fury Racer, and it’s armed with an extensive arsenal of weapons. He has a somewhat quick temper, as well as a crush on fellow Star Sheriff April Eagle.

Colt starts out as a bounty hunter on the trail of Vanquo, an Outrider spy. He has great skill with firearms, and controls Ramrod’s six-iron. Colt is somewhat of a loner, but also tends to flirt rather unsuccessfully with every woman that he meets. For his personal transportation, as well as for solo battles, Colt uses a blue and white one-man spaceship named Bronco Buster.

April Eagle is the daughter of Commander Eagle, and she is also the engineer in charge of the Ramrod project. April has a robotic horse named Nova, which has the same abilities as Saber Rider’s Steed. Over the course of the series, April was involved with three love interests: Saber Rider (which was one-sided on her part), Jesse Blue (which was one-sided on his part), and Fireball (which is eventually reciprocated on both sides).

Nemesis is in charge of the Outriders. He was the one who created the Vapor Trail that allows the Outriders to cross over from their dimension into the human dimension.

Jesse Blue has a sarcastic streak, and was a promising cadet at Calvary Command. He fell in love with April Eagle during a training exercise, but after she rejected his advances and inadvertently embarrassed him in front of the other cadets, Jesse turned against the Star Sheriffs. Jesse became a fugitive, and joined forces with the Outriders.

The series focuses on the Star Sheriffs as they find themselves having to fight with the Outriders and stopping their evil schemes. The story itself shows a lot of promise, but choices were made in the English dub script to include corny jokes that really didn’t work in the dialogue, as well as other changes in order to water the series down for the child audience that World Events was aiming for. I wish there was a way to legally see the original Japanese version of the series so I could compare it to Saber Rider.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the first disc contains two special features. The first is labeled as “Commercials.” This contains four commercials for a Saber Rider fan club and each commercial runs for about 30 seconds each. The only two characters featured in these commercials are Saber Rider and Colt. All four commercials play back-to-back in one feature.

The other extra is labeled as “Photo Gallery,” and it runs for seven minutes and 10 seconds, and it features line art, production art, books, and promotional materials for Saber Rider. This is done as a slideshow; however, the viewer has no control over when the pictures change. The song “I Computer” by RadioRadio is used as the background music, but this song has no direct connection to the Saber Rider property. The slideshow opens and closes with an ad for the song.

On the second disc, it lists that the special features are theme songs and bios. What you get are bios for Ramrod, Saber Rider, Colt, Fireball, and April. The bios have one of the character’s themes playing in the background as you read the bio text. Ramrod’s bio is one minute in length, Saber Rider’s bio is 56 seconds in length, Colt’s bio is one minute and two seconds in length, Fireball’s bio is 41 seconds in length, and April’s bio is one minute and six seconds in length.

The fourth disc contains two extras. The first is labeled as “Sei Juishi Bismarck Clips,” which is referencing the original Japanese anime series that served as the basis for Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. I was expecting this extra to feature some clips from the original series. However, what you actually get is the original opening from Bismarck, one short scene of Bismarck‘s transformation sequence and a battle, and then the original ending from Bismarck. There are no subtitles provided on this feature.

The other extra is an audio interview with Dale Schacker, the man who composed the music for Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. The interview itself is audio only, and is accompanied by stills from the show, production art, and pictures of promotional materials. The interview runs for almost 13 minutes in length.

When it comes to the set as a whole, I do have a couple of complaints. First, the volume levels are not consistent across each disc. The opening bump at the beginning of each disc is mastered really loud, then the volume gets very soft when the menu comes up, and then the audio level changes again when an episode actually starts. However, the audio levels remain consistent within the episodes themselves. Unfortunately, I found myself constantly having to change volume levels whenever I put one of these discs into my player, which became an annoyance rather quickly.

My other complaint is that the first two discs were authored very differently from the remaining four in the set. On the first two discs, you can’t skip over the logos at the beginning of the disc, there are no chapter marks within episodes (which means you either have to watch the beginning and the ending credits in addition to the entire episode, or you have to fast forward through them), and the commercial break bumps are not included. However, on discs three through six, you can skip over the opening logos, there are chapter marks within each episode on those discs, and the commercial break bumps are included. It really gives the impression that the first two discs of the set were authored by different people than the remaining four.

Between the audio mastering issues, the inconsistent DVD authoring, and the relative lack of special features, it would be very hard for me to recommend this set to casual fans or to people who are unfamiliar with Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. However, since this is the only DVD pressing that exists for the property, I have to recommend it to Saber Rider fans who want to own the series on DVD.

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