Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs

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For Japanese version of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, see Bismark (anime).
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.jpg
Screenshot of the title screen from Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
星銃士ビスマルク
(Sei Jūshi Bisumaruku)
Genre Space western, Mecha
Anime television series
Directed by Franklin Cofod
Studio Studio Pierrot
World Events Productions
Network first-run syndication
Original run September 14, 1987September 2, 1988
Episodes 52 (46 of 51-original episodes + 6 extra episodes) (List of episodes)
Related works
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs is an animated television space western, similar to the series The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers and BraveStarr. The series premiered in the United States in 1987 and had a run of 52 episodes.

The show was based on Star Musketeer Bismarck (星銃士ビスマルク Seijūshi Bisumaruku?), a Japanese anime series created by Studio Pierrot that achieved moderate success in Japan. The English language rights to the series was purchased by World Events Productions (WEP), the same company behind the English-language version of Voltron, in 1986.[1] WEP reorganized and rewrote the series, incorporating the original episodes and creating 6 new ones, before releasing it under the name Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.

Plot[edit]

The series is set in the distant future. Humans have spread beyond living on Earth and have colonized planets across the universe, creating a New Frontier of man. In order to protect these new settlers and maintain law and order in the New Frontier, Earth's Cavalry Command was created. Cavalry Command is a military organization that maintains an army and fleet of ships to protect the New Frontier and the residents of the planets within it known as Settlers. Within Cavalry Command is a unit of special operatives known as Star Sheriffs that function as the organization's field agents, investigating any crimes and plots that threaten the security of the New Frontier.

The main foe of Cavalry Command and the Star Sheriffs is a race of non-human creatures known as Vapor Beings (also sometimes called Outriders) that have jumped into our dimension in order to conquer it. They attack the Settlers, destroy settlements, and kidnap humans in order to mine various metals or crystals from the soil of various planets.

Outriders are superior to humans in battle technology. They control a legion of gigantic robots with weapons greatly superior to the weapons and defenses of the space-going fleets of Cavalry Command. In response to the Outriders' threat, Cavalry Command develops a prototype spaceship known as the "Ramrod Equalizer Unit" (or simply just Ramrod) that has the ability to transform from a spaceship into a powerful robot that can fight the Outriders on equal terms.

Characters[edit]

Protagonists[edit]

Saber Rider
Original name: Richard Lancelot
The title character in the American version of the series, Saber Rider is the captain of the Ramrod Equalizer Unit. He is occasionally referred to by the nickname "Top Sword". He is a young man, yet is described as having "legendary" skills and marksmanship. Saber Rider hails from the Scottish Highlands, and is an expert with both swords and horses. He is generally depicted as being a gentleman, with a cool head for tactics and decisions. In Sei Jūshi Bismarck, the character is of British nationality. The American version retained the British Union Jack on the upper arm and the helmet of Saber Rider's uniform.
Saber Rider often rides a robotic horse named Steed, who has high–powered thrusters, and the ability to fly, run, and function in space. However, he is not capable of long–range space travel, so Steed is kept stored in Ramrod's cargo bay during journeys. He is used mainly to travel to planets from orbit, or utilized on a planet's surface. Steed is almost sentient as he is capable of recognizing his master's voice commands, and working independently when Saber Rider is in danger.
Fireball Hikari
Original name: Shinji Hikari
Fireball, a former race car driver, was the youngest driving champion in history. He now serves as the pilot of the Ramrod Unit, and also controls the chest cannons and heavy weaponry located in Ramrod's chest region. He drives the Red Fury Racer/Turbo, a race car armed with an extensive arsenal of weapons. He has a somewhat quick temper, and at one time boasted of having a perfect memory. In the original Sei Jūshi Bismarck, Fireball is the Japanese leader of the crew. The Japanese flag is on his sleeve and his helmet.
During the course of the series, he discovers that his father was a fighter pilot who fought alongside King Jaray of the Legendary Kingdom of Jarr when the Outriders first attacked fifteen years prior to the series' time frame. Sacrificing himself, Fireball's father sent his ship into Nemesis' command ship, robbing Nemesis of his body and sending them both into the Outrider dimension where he is still lost to this day.
Colt Willcox
Original name: Bill Willcox
Colt is introduced in the series as a bounty hunter on the trail of Vanquo, an Outrider spy. Colt has an almost infallible accuracy with firearms and serves as the gunner on board Ramrod. His character is depicted as somewhat of a loner, but also as an outrageous flirt; he flirts with nearly every woman he meets. His parents were attacked and presumably killed by Outriders just after Colt left to join a traveling rodeo. This event prompted him to become a bounty hunter.
For personal transportation and solo battles he uses a blue and white one-man spaceship he calls the Bronco Buster. In Sei Jūshi Bismarck, the character comes from the United States, therefore a US flag is seen as a patch on his uniform.
Commander Eagle
Original name: Charles Louvre
Commander Eagle is the leader of Cavalry Command, which includes all of the fleets and armies that protect the United Star Systems, including the Star Sheriffs. Eagle takes his responsibilities seriously, but underneath has a warm heart and caring nature.
April Eagle
Original name: Marianne Louvre
April Eagle is the daughter of Commander Eagle. She is the engineer who designed, and was in charge of, Project Ramrod. Before joining the Star Sheriffs, she was a professional tennis player. She was trained at Cavalry Command under General Whitehawk. April has a robotic horse named Nova with the abilities of Saber Rider's Steed.
April is the subject of several romantic plot arcs. In early episodes of the series, April had an unrequited crush on Saber Rider. In later episodes, Jesse Blue had an unrequited love interest in Eagle. Finally, April and Fireball did begin a romantic relationship. Unlike most similar series, in Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs the heroine does not end up in a romantic relationship with the main hero. This is because her eventual love interest, Fireball, was the hero in the original Japanese version.
In the Japanese version, April is French, which is why her uniform bears the French tricolor.
Ramrod
Original name: Bismark
Ramrod (voiced by Peter Cullen) was developed by April Eagle as the technological "miracle weapon" that would allow humans to counter the threat of the Outriders. Although it can be flown by one person, the ship is designed to be operated by four people, each sitting in separate units that control specific functions: navigation (April), weapons (Colt), pilot (Fireball) and the commander/tactician (Saber Rider).
A highlight of nearly every episode is Ramrod's transformation from an airborne battleship into a giant fighting robot. When the Ramrod Equalizer Unit undergoes the "Challenge Phase" (usually activated by Fireball pressing a button in the center of his unit console), April calls out that Ramrod is taking over the navigational controls during the transformation. Ramrod acknowledges this while the 4 control units are shifted to new positions inside of Ramrod's head. As it completes the transformation it calls out its rallying cry in a heavy Western drawl, "Head 'em up, move 'em out...power stride, and ready to ride." The Ramrod vehicle will transform into a giant robot packing an over-sized six-shooter at the hip and appears to be wearing a cowboy hat and a cape. The battle conversion to robot form is used mainly when the Star Sheriffs encounter the Outriders' giant robots, which are known as either a Renegade or Desperado Unit. In "Maverick Quick-draw" mode, an array of assorted cannons will be deployed at Ramrod's chest, delivering the final blow to send an Outrider "Renegade Unit" back to the Vapor Zone. The Star Sheriffs sometimes refer to Ramrod's robot form as the "Big Sheriff."
Ramrod was named Bismarck in the Japanese version, hence the series' name Sei Jūshi Bismarck. The Americanized name for the battleship possibly originates from a cowboy slang referring to the person-in-charge of an outfit, the leader of the pack, or the person who gets the job done.
The Ramrod Equalizer Unit Challenge Phase is essentially the sequence in which Saber Rider And The Star Sheriffs becomes similar to a "monster-fighter series"; otherwise the series' American form, is mainly Western-oriented.

Antagonists[edit]

The main antagonists are called the Outriders who are humanoids from the Vapor Zone, an alternate dimension. They do not require oxygen, but do require great quantities of water. They have the ability to disguise themselves as human beings, to the point where even a medical examination will not reveal their true identities.

Their personal existence is bleak, as is their home dimension. They have squandered all the resources on their home planet, forcing them to move to an artificial planet. The Outriders' goal is to conquer mankind and control the universe unhindered—they think the human dimension has much more to offer than their own. When an Outrider is shot or wounded, they do not die, but rather dimension jump, a process where they vanish and return to their home dimension. After dimension jumping, a wisp of poisonous, green gas, and a smudge where the Outrider stood remain. A self-initiated dimension jump leaves no trace at all. Outriders who are shot or killed in the vapor dimension will turn to human. Under unique circumstances an Outrider, while in the human dimension, is in a situation that prevents them from making a dimension jump may also turn to human.

Nemesis
Original name: Hyuza
Nemesis, a huge, darkly clad, masked being, is the evil genius in charge of the renegade Outriders. He created the Vapor Trail that allows the Outriders to cross from their dimension into the human dimension. His primary motivation for ordering an invasion of the New Frontier is the unbearable boredom he feels in the Vapor Dimension. In the last episodes of the series it is revealed Nemesis is a cyborg, and his consciousness also existed as the Nth Degree, a powerful computer on the Outrider's artificial homeworld.
Saber Rider is the only member of the Star Sheriffs to meet Nemesis one-on-one. In the episode "Stampede", the two faced each other in a laser sword duel after Saber crossed into the Vapor Zone in the wake of an Outrider ship travelling along the Vapor Trail. When Saber Rider was on the verge of winning the duel, Nemesis saved himself by emptying the oxygen from the chamber where they were fighting, rendering Saber Rider unconscious.
Jesse Blue
Original name: Perios
Jesse Blue is a man with odd traits; he has blue-green hair and a sarcastic streak. He was a promising cadet at Cavalry Command, until he fell in love with April Eagle during a training exercise. When April rejected his advances and inadvertently embarrassed him in front of the other cadets, he turned against the Star Sheriffs.
Jesse cultivated a personal grudge against Saber Rider because he thought it was April's affection for Saber Rider that made her refuse his love. He planted a bomb aboard Ramrod, in an attempt to kill Saber Rider. When he learned April would be aboard at the time it would detonate, he panicked and confessed what he'd done to Saber. While it was too late to stop the bomb from exploding, Saber Rider was able to reach Ramrod in time to prevent the ship from being destroyed. Jesse Blue escaped and became a fugitive, turning his back on Cavalry Command and joining forces with the Outriders. He became obsessed with defeating the Star Sheriffs and conquering the New Frontier.
Gattler
Original name: Zatora
Gattler (occasionally referred to as Gattler the Rattler) wears a foreboding, fanged space mask. When his mask is removed, his form is revealed to be a glowering, dark villain. He is heavy-handed with a heart of stone, and answers only to Nemesis.
Vanquo
Vanquo is a ghostly Outrider with vacant eyes and a long pale face. He is a sinister character with a chilling laugh. Dressed in a serape and sombrero, he is an incredibly fast draw.
Vanquo ultimately had a strange fate for an Outrider: he became human. He was confronted by Saber Rider in the Vapor Zone shortly after Saber Rider's duel with Nemesis in the episode "Stampede". Vanquo presented a rather piteous figure, abandoned by Nemesis and knowing he was defeated, he was at Saber Rider's mercy. Saber Rider reasoned that if he shot Vanquo inside the Vapor Zone, he would not be able to dimension jump and reform anew since he was already in his own dimension. This meant that shooting Vanquo would make him a solid being. Saber Rider consoled Vanquo by telling him he might like being a human. Afterwards, Vanquo looked down at his new human body and said, in somewhat teary happiness, "I think I might."

Music[edit]

The program's music score was composed by Dale Schacker, who was given complete artistic freedom in his composition of the whole score. The score features guitar based music in a fast, rhythmic, yet very fashionable Country Western style. Despite the fact that the music uses synthpop elements, its predominant instrument is the electric guitar rather than a synthesizer, creating a unique sound. Just like a Western movie score, the music is sometimes enriched by whip cracks, rattle snake, harmonica or similar Western sound effects. The music is also intentionally composed with a recurring musical theme, so that the show can be easily recognized, adding a sense of familiarity each time the show is viewed. Despite this aspect, the music does not sound repetitious, since only key elements of the composition are repeated. The opening and closing credits vocals were also sung by Schacker himself.

Two soundtrack compilations are available, each containing 2 CDs.

  • Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs - Soundtrack I
  • Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs - Soundtrack II

Video game[edit]

Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs - The Game is an upcoming game developed by a German group called the "Saber Rider Game Team",[2] under license from both World Events Productions and Studio Pierrot. The game is planned for multiple platforms, and is targeting a 2015 release.[2]

Originally announced in 2010, the game's development faced several problems, including the shuttering of the original developer Firehazard Studio. Whilst development continues at a slower pace, the future of the game remains dubious. The head of development, Chris Strauss, originally worked on an earlier video game adaptation project, a 2D side-scrolling shooter initially planned for the Game Boy Advance, and later the Nintendo DS. However, the original game was then scrapped due to notions that more "casual" games sold better on the Nintendo DS.[3]

Cast list[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Availability[edit]

Ten episodes of "Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs" were released in America on DVD.[4] by the U.S. rights-holders, World Events Productions. Several episodes were also released on VHS. At Otakon 2008, WEP announced that the entire series would be released on DVD through VCI Entertainment. The first of three DVD sets was released on November 18, 2008.[5] The second DVD set was released on August 25, 2009.[6] The complete Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs DVD boxset was released on October 20, 2009.[7]

In the UK, one DVD, titled Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs - Volume 1, has been released by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Two additional DVDs have been released under their Kids Entertainment label. The entire series has been released in German by Anime House on 10 DVDs. Special Editions of Volumes 5 and 10 featured a slipcase to hold 5 DVDs each. A limited-edition box featuring the complete series as well as three tin figures was also released.

References[edit]

External links[edit]