English: Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
Japanese: 星銃士 ビスマルク
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 7, 1984 to Sep 29, 1985
24 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.341 (scored by 1008 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
SynopsisIn the distant future, humanity has explored beyond Earth and colonized both the inner and outer planets of the Solar System. In order to protect the colonies and maintain law and order in the solar system, the Earth Federation Government (EFG) was created. Soon, many settlers started to resent the EFG's and its sphere of influence, straining the relationship between the central government and the colonies.
While a strained peace was being forged between Earth and the colonies, a race of non-human creatures known as Deathcula invaded the System. Without provocation, they attacked the colonies and killed many of the colonists. The EFG quickly realized that the Deathcula were technologically superior and their forces were hopelessly matched. In order to have a chance at survival, Dr. Charles Louvre developed a transformable starship known as the Bismarck.
Knowing that an advanced team of specialists were required to operate the Bismarck, four individuals came together and were charged with keeping the outer colonies safe from further Deathcula attacks.
Characters & Voice Actors
VALUE SECTION: 4/10 (back then, it was 9/10)
More commonly known as Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Sei Juushi Bismark is the very first not-so-just-for-kids series that ever aired on television outside of Japan.
For a mecha series, it was the first to offer true character interaction. The protagonists did not spend the entire show inside their base just waiting for the next attack. They were going on holidays, discussing their futures, loving and hating others. Oh, sure, older series like Battleship Yamato and the first Gundam series did the same; but they were only offered on VHS. I never got to see those titles because they were scarce and generally not for mass viewing. But Bismark was! It was aired on television while the aforementioned, didn’t. So, although Yamato and Gundam are no doubt superior series to Bismark, their absence from our childhood lives made no impact, while Bismark did. Oh, the irony of censorship and publicity did it again!
Bismark was also the first aired series with plot twists. It was the first time I got to see traitors from the “good side” that didn’t evolve greed as a reason, but instead, it was jealousy. It was the first time I got to see defeat for the protagonists by… internal politics! The atmosphere changed a lot in the second half, making the first drastic scenario change I ever witnessed. And I loved it!
Bismark’s good points are quite typical in today’s action/mecha series. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was the first to offer those typical elements and prepare us for what was about to follow in later series. I can say that thanks to this title, my opinion about mecha series improved a lot. In my mind, they stopped being just transforming robots, fighting each other. They became extensions of their pilots’ emotions. This series made me and many others a lot more otaku than we already were.
ART & SOUND SECTIONS: 6/10
The graphics are old and typical, like in most 80’s series. A special remark must be given to the based-on-real-history setting of the story, which is reminiscent of a high-teck Wild West (very original back then). The alien bad guys’ uniform had a hint of a 19th century England/Spain military look, and the good guys’ a hint of cowboys and the American cavalry, making the whole war a reference to the American Revolution. Before this series, all settings were always either Japan or some imaginary country.
A rather good attention was given to the otherwise typical drawings, so the scenes with deformity problems are very few. Even the repeating clips (reuse of footing) are not overdone, like in most series of that time.
As for the sound department, it’s totally mediocre. I can only point out a thumps up for the English opening theme, the first and still amongst the best rock opening songs I ever heard. DO YOU FEEL THE THUNDER INSIDE has become a common ring tone in cell phones around here. The same cannot be said about the original Japanese opening theme. That COME WITH ME pop song was rather distasteful and it’s one of the few times I liked the English change in the music.
STORY SECTION: 4/10 (back then, it was 7/10)
Starts very commonly but gets better along the way, thanks to some good plot twists. (spoiler alert!)
In the future, humanity has colonized other planets. An evil alien race attacks the New Frontier (a Wild West reference) and is unstoppable until special teams of Star Sheriffs (another Wild West reference) are formed to stop them. They are highly trained soldiers that pilot huge robots that can fire hundreds of lasers/missiles in just seconds.
The first part of the story is very typical and even boring most of the time. Most episodes are stand-alones and almost all battles end in less than a minute. Characters remain stale and only some light comedy scenes is all there is to expect here. But then… the second part comes to change everything!
The second part is quite short and in fact, it was made exclusively for the American version of the series. Yet, it is the magic touch that turned the story from boring to good. A low-ranked Earth soldier was in love with the main woman in the story. But he was continually mocked, as he was quite inexperienced before the Star Sheriffs. Even the woman made fun of him as she was clinging on the arms of the main males in the story. Getting obsessed with revenge and getting the woman for himself, he betrays humanity and joins the aliens as a spy and elite warrior. Also, the aliens ask for truce and request for the leading mecha and its assembly line to be destroyed as a sign of good will. The human leaders agree and before the dreaded eyes of the heroes, the mecha is destroyed by the traitor with the approval of their own politicians! (I almost cried in this part. The good guys were screwed by their own leaders!)
Of course, the aliens lied and soon the truce broke. And as another surprise… so did the good guys! Another mecha was built in secrecy in case something happened. So, the story continues in a new setting. No longer Earth-bound scenery but the endless vacuum of space and alien-infested planets and bases. Action and plot get a lot better and the last episodes are still amongst the best I have seen in ways of epic scale and way of closure.
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
It’s not so much their personalities but their presence that you will like.
The leading team is three males, an American, an English man and a Japanese man (it almost sounds like an anecdote, doesn’t it?). In the Japanese version, the red suit Japanese is the main lead, yet through some weird editing, the lead in the American version was the English man. Hmmm… Plus, there is a gorgeous longhaired, blonde woman as an aid (Boy, she was my first anime girl crush!). They pilot a spaceship that transforms into a huge mecha, called Ramrot (Bismark in the original Japanese series). They do not exactly mature throughout the series but their interactions are well made and are sympathetic most of the time.
The main villains are the traitor (whom you get to excuse a bit for his actions, as being mocked and ditched by beautiful women does tend to make men do stupid things), and Nemesis, the alien leader, a very cool-looking skeleton-like robot that controls an entire mechanical moon! They are both megalomaniac and treacherous enough to be considered decent bad guys.
Even the aliens’ origin makes an impression. They appear as gray-skinned humans but they are in fact beings, made of steam from another dimension (!!!). They form solid bodies in tubes inside the mechanic moon and when they are killed or retreating they literally go “poof!” and only their clothes remain (a nice trick to hide dead bodies and give the bad guys an easy way to escape on each episode). Grey-colored steam means they died, green-colored means they retreated to reform naked in a tube. Very original.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10 (back then, it was 8/10)
The first part sucks, the second is mediocre to good by today’s standards. It reformed many peoples’ opinion on what a good series should look like. Fan favorite to many older otaku that didn’t get to watch Gundam in their youth.
The accused is found … NOT GUILTY! … He is repetitive and shallow but in a cool way. read more
This show brings back a lotta memories, but to be honest this time around I didn't find it as entertaining. I've come to realize that Saber Rider is the boys' equivalent to Sailor Moon. But while at least Sailor Moon makes some kind of sense, Saber Rider does not.
The animation/art is pretty standard for TV shows from the 80's, so don't expect to be "WOW'ed" by any flashy imagery, also there are a lot of reused/recycled scenes. Then you have those episodes that have art that look totally different from the rest of the series...[per Wikipedia, these are made up episodes done by American animators], it's totally trippy looking. Also watching Ramrod do the same transformation for 50+ episodes is kind of lame, he keeps saying "Ramrod challenge phase 1" which implies there are other challenge phases....but we never get to see those, WTF?
The theme song is catchy but super cheesy and they used it for both the OP and the ED. It's not really worth listening to unless it was a part of your childhood.
The voice actors are a mixed bag, some are good and some are just OK while others are kinda terrible! Fireball has the best voice, it conveyed the right level of emotions and it was age appropriate, same thing for Saber Rider. Colt's voice was OK but it was kind of stereotypical and had a little bit too much "twang". However, April's constantly hoarse voice sounds like should be Marge Simpson's younger sister. Someone needs to hurry up and toss the poor girl a Luden's cough drop. And then there's Jesse Blue, like, I love this dude...but the voice! WTF is up with that voice?
Due to the butchery of American editing the story is pretty cheesy, like for example sending the outriders "back to the Vapor Zone" when CLEARLY it's a euphemism for being killed or when some other character dies they edit or script it to appear like they never died they only "went away" or fainted. Sometimes it's kinda hard to watch for example, episode 41 - The Amazing Lazardo, is definitely about some kind of religious cult, just LOOKING at it visually and you can gather that's what the story is SUPPOSED to be about. However it has been scripted to be about some magic show with some kind of dastardly magician...as if that even makes sense. There are a couple of other episodes that are equally as painful to watch.
The only thing that got me thru this series was the fact that I could not take it seriously. I'm sure they originally wanted to present the show as something serious when they released it stateside but you can't take it seriously...not when Earth is supposed to be "Planet Yuma" and alcoholic beverages are nothing but "cactus juice"...AS IF!!! This show is pure camp and that's the only way this show could be watched...basically like an anime version of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
I don't care what anyone wants to tell me; anime characters generally look more like Anglo-Westerners than Asians, and shows like these only seem to reinforce my theory. Without researching the history of the show, I'm pretty sure no one would have guessed who's supposed to be the "Asian" on the team. It's not like I think the Japanese suffer from some kind of self hate or anything, I just think there's a deliberate "Anglicization" behind most character designs...and that probably had to do with being able to market the anime to the US and Europe. Even so it's interesting to see the supposedly "Asian" Fireball take a backseat from being the leader [as in the original anime work] to the blonder, more statuesque and much more Anglo, Saber Rider, probably so the show could be marketed through the US and Europe.
Anyway, racial politics and subliminal hegemony aside, the key characters of the series are an alright bunch...but again they're not to be taken any more seriously than you would the Power Rangers crew.
The story for this show really doesn't go anywhere, it's basically 52 barely related adventure episodes...but without the consequence of death from all the violence, then it's a little too squeaky clean for my current tastes. I'd say this show is only worth watching if you remember it from the 80's or are interested in [bad] anime shows from that era read more
In both anime a group of people come together to fight against evil. It happens in the future and they get the most modern equipment. The evil seems to seek the power over the whole world. At the end of the show a major battle happens against the main villain.
Opening Theme"Fushigi Call Me (不思議CALL ME)" by MIO
"Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs" by Dale Schacker
Ending Theme"Yume Ginga (夢銀河)" by MIO
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