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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Outlanders: 20th Anniversary
Outlanders: 20th Anniversary
Central Park Media // Unrated // February 7, 2006
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted February 21, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Originally released in Japan as an OVA in 1986, Outlanders was distributed in the US as a dub only video tape in the early nineties. (At least if there was a subtitled version, I never saw it.) Since Dark Horse had released the manga series on this side of the Atlantic, the tape sold fairly well. This was back in the day when there were few licenced releases of anime shows, and even though the dub was about par for that time (i.e. horrible) fans were happy that some anime was being released. Now CPM has acquired the rights to this early show and released it on DVD with both the original track, for the first time in the US, and a new English dub. While this show did have a lot of charm a decade and a half ago, it hasn't stood up well to the test of time.

This show starts off with a bang as a giant space battle fortress enters Earth's atmosphere and causally destroys the fighter jets that move to stop it. Landing in the middle of a city, the spaceship destroys the tanks and missile launchers that have been deployed without hardly seeming to notice their presence.

Out of the ship comes a scantily clad female with a sword who proceeds to maim and kill the soldiers who attack her. Witnessing this is a young photographer named Tetsuya. He snaps some pictures of the alien warrior, and when she notices him....she falls in love. It turns out that this woman is Kahm, the princess of Saint Escuraize and daughter of the emperor. She takes Tetsuya aboard her ship and leaves the Earth with the intention of marring the poor young man who has no idea what is going on. Of course Kahm's father has already arranged a marriage for her, and doesn't like the idea of his only daughter marring a monkey-man.

This anime is a violent and funny sex romp across the galaxy. There is a lot of fan service (and a good amount of full frontal nudity) some flying severed heads, and a lot of bad jokes that played well 10 years ago. There are a few problems with it though, and these really lower the enjoyment factor.

First off the animation is very crude, even for the late 80's. The movements are jerky and everything has a clunky feel to it. Nothing flows smoothly like it should. Some of the action scenes are particularly painful to watch since fast motions accentuate the problems. Also the character designs are very primitive by today's standards, with little flair given to any of the people appearing in the show.

The story needs some work too. Taken from a manga series, this show tries to put too many events into a very short time span. Running only 47 minutes, there hit some of the main plot points, but leave out the supporting details. Things seem to fly from one location to another with only a sentence or two to explain what's going on. Because of this, there was almost a total lack of characterization which also really hurts the film.

While there are some fun moments in this show, (such as the time that Tetsuya and Kahm are trying to consummate their love just as the ship exits hyperspace. After the jolt to real space Tetsuya asks "Did we just have sex?") but they aren't nearly as frequent as they should be. Mostly this is just sex, explosions, and violence thrown together and mixed up a bit. While this was good when there weren't many alternatives, today there are many.

The DVD:



Audio:

This show has both the original Japanese audio, and a newly created English dub track, both in stereo. I listened to bits of both tracks, and they both had their advantages and disadvantages. The On the Japanese track, the voices seemed to fit better and the quality of the performances was just a bit higher. This track did sound a hollow though and much more flatter than the English track. The English audio was more dynamic and the music was mixed at a more appropriate level. The English voice actors did an okay job, but not outstanding. In some of the scenes it just didn't sound like they had their hearts in it, reading the lines rather than really experiencing what was happening on screen. Overall I enjoyed the Japanese track more. There sound quality was fine, with no dropouts, distortion, or other audio defects.

Video:

The full frame image was about average for a 20 year old OVA. The image was pretty clean overall, but it was pretty soft. The colors have faded just a tad too and the blacks weren't as solid as they could be. There was also a little aliasing in the show, but besides those flaw the picture was fine. There weren't any spots of print defects and the level of detail was fine..

Extras:

CPM did something a little different when it came to dubbing this show. They ran a poll on the internet were fans could listen to actor's auditions and vote for who should play which role. The only extra on this disc, aside from some trailers, is a short featurette on this casting process. They introduce the actors, who say a few words, and then show them in the dubbing booth. It was a nice look behind the scenes.

Final Thoughts:

Unfortunately, Outlanders comes across as rather dated and silly when viewed today. The animation and character designs are mediocre at best, and the show tries to cram too much story into the short running time. Though there is a lot of sentimental value for those who remember tracking down the original release all those years ago, fans looking for something new and exciting would be better off renting this one.

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