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Outlanders Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Love at first sight? Not quite as it’s an alien invasion of Earth by a horny young princess.

What They Say:
Scantily clad space princess Kalm arrives on Earth to shake things up! As her father’s armada pummels the Earth’s forces this busty space maiden plunders the planet in search of a good man to call her own. Hapless Earthling Tetsuya finds himself caught between the alien invaders and the warrior woman who would be his wife!

The Review:
Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a very basic stereo mix to it which isn’t surprising considering its age and it’s a very center channel focused mix. Pretty much everything feels like it’s coming out of the center channel depending on how your setup is but it’s the kinds of show where it’s not that much of an issue. The mix overall sounds good and is free of any real high-level shrillness or distortions during regular playback and standard volume levels. We had no problems with dropouts on either language track either.

Video:
Originally released to video in 1986, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With this release done for the 20th anniversary of the show, it’s good to see that the source material here is in as good a shape as it is all things considered. The opening couple of seconds of the show are a bit iffy since it’s mostly black and blue backgrounds and the blacks are like most traditionally animated black background scenes that are more often a shade of gray than really black. Once it progresses into the program a bit though things even out and the softness of those opening seconds fades away. The print isn’t free of problems though as there is a fair bit of dust and dirt evident throughout and a few nicks here and there but nothing that’s unexpected from this vintage. Colors look good overall and it’s free of cross coloration issues and only some minor aliasing in a few fast-moving scenes. This isn’t a stand out OVA anymore in terms of its animation quality but it comes from a very big year of releases and stands well against a lot of its contemporaries of the time.

Packaging:
The front cover for this release, proudly proclaiming its age with the 20th anniversary banner along the top, has a great looking piece of character artwork of Kahm in her standard bikini plate armor while the various critters from the show are behind her up against the wall. Kahm’s sex appeal has always been a draw and it’s well played here. The back cover takes it a step further with a nice full-length shot of her as well as one of Battia while the top has clips from the show and a brief summary below it along with the discs basic features. The back cover is nicely laid out with plenty of skin and bright colors. The reverse side cover is definitely fun with the left panel given over to the cute race of aliens that serve Kahm in the episode while the right panel breaks down the chapters, the bilingual cast list and the dual production credits for the show’s release.

Menu:
The main menu uses some of that broken orange wall background from the front cover as the main layout here and has clips from the show playing underneath in one of the open window segments as bugs scatter about at various intervals while music plays along. The title and selections are lined down along the right and it’s your standard setup that looks and plays well but has the usual caveats of a CPM menu such as selecting language starting playback. The menu is nicely in theme and the layout overall easy to navigate. Our players’ presets were ready properly but the first English subtitle track on here is the sign/song subtitles so it had to be tweaked during playback.

Extras:
Only one extra is included here and it’s a fairly brief piece that covers the way the shows English cast was voted on by fans (over 18,000 votes apparently) and then goes in to show the director of the show and scriptwriter Tom Wayland talking about how that changed things up for them a bit and the overall result. There’s also a few brief moments with each of the leads talking about how it came about and showing them doing their stuff. Considering the push for fan involvement on it, I thought the dubbing aspect of this could have been covered in more detail overall but this is a decent piece that’s not overly long.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Rescued after years of not being able to be found on the market, CPM picked up the old 1986 OVA show Outlanders back in 2005 and gave it a long overdue release. Back in the 80’s, the creator, Johji Manabe, was one of the few big names that a good number of western fans knew of because several of his works were printed in comic book form by Dark Horse. The time period in which this was picked up was one of the beginnings of a golden age of sorts, or at least a critical time, as it was when more companies were trying to get into the game and produce shows with dubs to appeal to a wider market. Released by Dark Image Entertainment, Outlanders was released in dub only form and a controversial one at that due to some of the people involved.

Based on the manga of the same name, the 45 minute OVA is a fun fast paced show that kicks off with the alien force overwhelmingly invading Earth and causing mayhem. Violence was the name of the game back in the 80’s so you get some fun shots of Kahm, the princess of Saint Escuraize, lopping off heads and arms along the way as buildings fall all around her. When she comes across a young photographer there named Tetsuya and the two end up stumbling into an awkward embrace where he attacks her with his privates, it’s suddenly love and Kahm has decided to marry him. Tetsuya’s confused by all of this but she tells him that if they get married, her father the emperor will call off the attack on Earth. Apparently, Earth is considered a holy planet and the emperor wants to remove all traces of humanity from it in order to preserve its holiness. But if his only daughter is married to someone from there he’ll have to relent.

Along the way, as they had back home to tell her father about things, Kahm learns what it means to be a wife while Tetsuya just tries to figure out what the hell is going on. It gets worse when a subplot about one of the commanders trying to gain favor with the emperor comes into play and Kahm has to deal with her best friend Battia being unsure about all of this as well as her friend and lover Geobaldi not being keen on the entire concept of humans. With its short run time, the show covers the basics of the plot in a quick manner and lets the characters really run with it as they grapple with finding love in the middle of a war. It’s certainly a common theme and it’s played for good laughs here as the leads are personable enough but it’s the overall cast that really carries it through.

And the cast is definitely fun. Tetsuya’s a bit of the weak male at first with his being confused about everything, never mind a full-on invasion and then a gorgeous woman in a metal bikini. Kahm’s sort of your warrior princess without much of a clue about being romantic but she’s not overly hard or cruel and is interested in learning about her softer side. The real fun characters I think in this show are is the other couple of sorts, Battia and Geobaldie. Battia earns points as the knight of the empire and for being a catgirl in a similar outfit as Kahm. She’s interested in playing around with Geobaldi who is a dogman and one of those hardened warrior types who only wants to deal with people who prove themselves. They all have various moments of basic nudity and minor sexual playfulness with each other as couples and it works out nicely, giving them a chance to be more than just caricatures for a few minutes and show a different side.

It’s been years since I last saw a Johji Manabe manga but at the time it was coming out years ago and when this came out, I was a huge fan of his artwork style, attractive women and absolutely adored the squat little alien creatures that are used in this show. Manabe’s style, which is translated very well into anime form, has such an organic look to it that it stands out nicely against some of the colder kinds of things we’ve seen in the years since. A lot of what we saw in the 80’s was heavily influenced by the Alien look so it’s not surprising to see it here as well. His actual character designs translated as well into anime form with his clean lines and especially with his women with curves that didn’t also have massive breasts.

In Summary:
Outlanders is one of those good old “don’t make ’em like this anymore” OVA releases. Though part of a larger manga property, the anime here is self contained and tells the story it wants to tell here while certainly leaving room open for more. While it’s a great thing for fans of the manga it’s also open for anyone to jump right in and see what it’s all about unlike some that are more just love letters for fans of the manga. Outlanders is a show that’s been sorely missing on DVD for people of my age range who got into anime years ago and it’s great to see another classic finally rescued from virtual obscurity and given such a high profile release.

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: February 7th, 2006
MSRP: $19.95
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Panasonic PT50LC13 50″ LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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