By Anthony Thomas
I’ll always remember Outlaw Star as one of the essential anime to watch from my youth – I’d argue it’s essential now too, but you might think I’m being paid to say that. It was pre-Y2K and my main source of anime knowledge came directly from message boards courtesy of the one computer connected to the Internet in my school’s library. Its 28k modem struggled to load the image-heavy threads where American friends were raving about Outlaw Star, along with the likes of Cowboy Bebop, Perfect Blue and Trigun.
I remember Perfect Blue being released from Manga Entertainment on VHS, and buying it immediately because of the online recommendations. It was every bit as awesome as everyone said. I waited patiently for something like Outlaw Star related to materialise in the UK, I knew it must be excellent as well. In 2002 my prayers were answered, kind of. Brit cable channel CNX began broadcasting the series, except no one I knew had cable, so I still couldn’t watch. Flash forward more than a decade and I can finally grab a legit region 2 DVD or Blu-ray of the complete series! Teenage-me would be proud.
The anime is a space age swashbuckler that sees wannabe bad-boy Gene Starwind land a job as a bodyguard aboard the most advanced ship in the galaxy – the Outlaw Star. The trouble is, the ship he’s paid to protect doesn’t belong to his employer – it’s been knicked – and the owners want it back!
The opening song (and the track used for Outlaw Star’s English language trailer) was just as fun as the show! It was called Through the Night, and was a hit for a pair that were no longer a duo… Let me explain.
Kazuhiro Hara had just finished touring with 80s rock diva Mari Hamada. He was buzzing from playing such huge shows and wanted to form his own band. So he decided to form WILD STYLE, featuring himself playing keyboard and looking after the composing, arranging and production side of things while his buddy Masahiko Arimachi would provide the eye-candy and smooth but powerful vocals. Previously Arimachi had one claim to fame already under his belt; he had sang an insert song as a character in the 1989 anime Legendary Idol Eriko, whose main character was real life idol Eriko Tamura, who you may have seen playing Mai in 20th Century Fox’s less than legendary Dragonball Evolution.
In 1995 WILD STYLE made their major label debut with the single Tomadoi wo tachikitte, which means “to cut off confusion”. The pair would have a short-lived career and eventually split up in 1998. Arimachi would go solo while Hara would take a step away from the limelight and become a producer and arranger for other artists, including Koda Kumi, EXILE and BoA. Ironically, that same year Arimachi released his debut solo single, the ace Outlaw Star theme song Through the Night, and guess who produced it? Hara! Talk about cutting off confusion… this was the last time the WILD STYLE boys would work together, but what a belter of a tune to go out on.
The first English language Blu-ray release of Outlaw Star is available from Anime Limited now.