Release: Aug 19, 2011 - Author: Mario - Translator: DaxRider123 - external link: IMDB - more from this series
Comparison between the American Version (represented by the German DVDs released by Anime House) and the Japanese Version included in the limited Seijushi Bismark DVD box-sets 1 and 2 released by Pioneer LDC.
Runtime of the American Version: 00:21:42:09
Runtime of the Japanese Version: 00:24:08:22
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs is a 52-episode American TV series with a Japanese origin. The series combines Mecha-Anime and western-elements.
The theme song (performed by Dale Schacker) has a cult status and alwaysw brings back childhood memories every time you hear it.
Naturally, the series was also licensed for other countries: England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland, Russia, China, and others just to name a few. The series was also very popular in southeast Asia. It was pracically marketed and released all over the planet so you can really say that it was a huge success.
The Story of Saber Rider
In a remote future humanity lives on the planet Yuma. Soon, they start to colonize other planets. The Galaxy soon is called "New Frontier". To maintain all the laws and regulations, humanity created the Cavalry Command to protect all the planets. The peace is disturbed when aliens known as Vapor Beings or Outriders attack the planet Alamo. Unfortunately, the Cavalry Command's intervention comes too late - the battle of Alamo ends in a tragedy. Both the Outriders and the Alamos lost heavily. The Outriders fall back and planet Alamo breaks contact with Yuma. 15 years later, the Outriders strike again. The humans are heavily ountnumbered and seem to have no chance. Their last hope is a secret project which is called Ramrod - a huge battleship which is capable to transform into a giant robot. The project is planned under the direction of Commander Eagle - leader of the Cavalry Commando's special unit "Star Sherrif". When a spy named Vanquo finds out everything about Ramrod they face a race against time. Star Sheriff agent Saber Rider is supposed to catch Vanquo before he makes Ramrod's secret location public. When his mission fails, Saber Rider forms an alliance with race driver Fireball and headhunter Colt. In company with Commanrer Eagle's daughter April they're able to save Ramrod and use to obtain and keep peace for the New Frontier.
The Origin of Saber Rider
The series is based on the anime series Sei jūshi Bismarck produced by the Japanese company "Studio Pierrot.CO LTD". In Japan, the series bombed, therefore it was sold to the American company "World Events Productions"(WEP) in 1986. WEP wanted to create a child-friendly series for afternoon television in the tradition of other Sci-Fi-western series such as Galaxy Rangers or Bravestarr. Therefore, they had to change a lot of things.
The Story of Seijūshi Bismark
It's the year 2069. Humans have left the earth to colonize other planets of the solar system. However, the peace they wanted to achieve recedes into the distance - the aliens "Deathcula" attack the planets of the solar system. The humans mobilize against the offenders and form a confederation to fight against the Deathculas. However, some sectors refuse to be a b part of this confederation and choose to fight on their own. One of these "mavericks" is planet Ganymed. While the confederation is already able to defend itself against the attacks, there's a decisive battle between the Deathculas and the army of planet Ganymed. The battle is lead by General Domes. Domes asked the earth for help but didn't get any. The battle seemed to become a shellacking when susdelny pilot Shinjiro Hikari steps in the battle. Thanks to the spacepilot's brave behavior they were able to beat the Deathculas. However, Shinjiro pays for his fame with his life. The following time of piece is characterized by the cold-hearted relationship between Ganymed and the earth since general Domes lost any trust in the humans living on planet earth. The Deathculas had to return to their home planet Meteus and then tried to rebuilt their army. 15 years later in the year 2084 the enemy strikes again and starts to attack all the peoples (who now live in peace with each other) of the solar system. The solar system cofederation can't protect all the humans on all the planets who are unable to defend themselves against the enemies. Scientist Dr. Charles Louvre develops a new battle group which is called "Bismark". It is a special unit which is capable to transform into a giant robot. With this weapon they now have the strength to fight back. The team consists of 4 high qualified and very different persons: 17-year-old Japanese Shinji Hikari, 16-year-old American Bill Willcox, 18-year-old Richard Lancelot from Scotland on his Majesty's service, and 15-year-old Marianne Louvre from France who is Bismark-designer Charles Louvre's daughter.
This information was taken from the German "Seijūshi Bismark" webpage.
Editing the Series
The central topic of the Japanese original is an unadorned war where innocent people die.
Thus, the Japanese version is rather violent and (despite the humor) has a very serious and aggressiv undertone.
To form this into a childrens TV series they had to change this undertone as well as reduce the violence.
They also changed a lot of other things (either for the different American notion or other reasons), resulting in a completely different series in terms of story as well as mood and style.
One of the major changes of the series are the characters. Especially the "leader issue" has far-reaching consequences for the whole series.
They had to change several things in order to make Saber Rider the leader of the troop.
Even though they really tried to cover up Fireball's position as the leader of the group, it still doesn't work every time.
Fireball still is a way too dominant character. He mostly assumes control and almost constantly gets the final word for important decisions. Additionally, he's always standing in the front while Saber Rider can rather be seen in the far right.
The dubbing is the key element of the changes as well as the censorship of the series. Due to the change of names and the plot as well as the censorship, most of the dialogues had to be re-written. Some dialogues were just rephrased, while several were mitigated / changed in order to make them funnier than in the Japanese version. Other dialogues were completely changed. The American version also offers dialogues where the Japanese version is just silent. Most of these additional dialogues are just for the sake of fun.
Censorship via Dubbing
With the help of the dubbing the characters sometimes say things that are included to censor the series. These dialogues are mostly very conspicuous and one of the series' trademarks.
In the American version there are 2 types of transitions:
A transition-effect that pays tribute to the titular character.
This type of transition moves fast from right to left / left to right. Depending of the direction of the movement, the transition is either green or brown. This type of transition originates from the Japanese version, however, there it occurs way less frequently.
Most of the transitions are just regular transition effects that you know from movies.
The Japanese original was released in 2 seperate DVD-boxes as a limited edition in Japan.
Unfortunately they don't include any subtitles and have so far only been released in Japan. By now, these DVD-boxes are very rare and unbelievably expensive. So far, there are no future plans to release the series in any other country.
Comparison of the Names
You now will see a list of the most important characters along with their names in both versions.
Comparison of the Images
The Japanese version has a better image quality than the American version.
For this comparison, the images come from the German and the Japanese DVD. Generally, the image of the German DVD is more blurred and paler. Additionally, the German DVD includes interlace flickers (resulting from a bad transition from NTSC to PAL) which are very apparent when you watch the DVDs.
It's not easy to say which of the versions is the better one. The Japanese version is more complex, more serious and more realistic than the American version. The American version tones down the violence and pretty much erased death from the series. There are a few plotholes which most of the time result from all the alterations from the American version. However, the great dubbing of Saber Rider as well as the music are a great advantage of the American version. Still, the Japanese version has quite a good soundtrack as well.
So, it pretty much is a matter of your own taste, so check out both versions and make up your own mind.
If you want to have more information on Saber Rider and Seijūshi Bismark, there are plenty of webpages to choose from.
We would like to thank the following webpages for supplying us with background information about both of the series, covers, and translations for this report:
Plot Differences in Episode 4
This time the differences concerning the stories are not that extensive.
Runtime of the Japanese intro: approx. 1.43 min
Runtime of the American intro: approx. 1.29 min
If you want to have a look at a more detailed comparison of the intros then have a look at the report about episode 1.
Title of the Episode
In the Japanese version, the title of the epsiode is shown during an additional scene right after the intro. In the American version the title of the episode is shown during the beginning of the episode. The Japanese version is 5 seconds and 24 frames longer.
5 sec. and 24 frames
The Pursuit of the Iguana
While Colt sneaks up to the iguana, the animal jumps up twice. The time in between the 2 jumps was shortened from 3.5 seconds to 21 frames. Therefore, Saber Rider is about 2.5 seconds shorter than Seijushi Bismark.
From a distance you can see how Colt runs after the iguana. In the Japanese version Colt at first is not on the screen - he enters it from the right. In Saber Rider Colt is already on the screen when the scene starts. They cut about 1.5 seconds out.
At this point you see the good old Saber Rider transition. The Japanese version directly cuts to the next scene.
Colt approaches Fireball and Saber Rider. The scene is about 1 second shorter. In the Japanese version Colt at first is not on the screen but enters it from the right. In Saber Rider he's already on the screen.
Fireball scratches the back of his head a little longer since Saber Rider and Colt talk a little longer in the background.
At this point they added a different dissolve. This dissolve technique and the Saber Rider transition are the most frequently used dissolves of the whole series.
Flight to the Outpost
You see Ramrod's control room and the 4 main characters. Each of them has a short dialogue. In the Japanese version this scene lasts 6 seconds. In Saber Rider they cut out 4 seconds. Only Saber Rider speaks. He asks the others if they're ready.
After the previous cut the American producers added 3 scenes of dialogue of Colt, Fireball, and Saber Rider (they originate from this episode). The 3 scenes were slightly shortened and then added to this point.
To Saber Rider's question, Colt and Fireball respond that they're more than ready. Saber Rider then tells Fireball to start the engines. At this point, the Japanese version continues and Fireball starts Ramrod. Saber Rider at this point is 4 seconds longer.
You don't see Fireball turning to Colt and issuing a command.
Again, they added scenes of dialogue from this episode.
Saber Rider: "Then kindly engage your Winchester tracking controls."
At this point, the Japanese version continues where Colt takes the order from Fireball. Since they cut the "original" order out it looks like Saber Rider was the one to tell Colt what to do. Again, they tried to underline Saber's position.
April's dialogue is 6 frames shorter.
This scene was shortened to 1.5 seconds and postponed to 04:51:21. Saber Rider's version of this scene is 7 seconds shorter. However, at the point where they added the scene, Saber Rider logically is 1.5 seconds longer (which was already mentioned).
A short scene of Fireball just before the landing.
Instead of the shot of Fireball you in the American version see a scene which was originally shown at 05.46.21-05.50.20.
Saber Rider: "All right. Let's go see what we're up against.
The scene was shortened to 2.5 seconds.
The tracking shot outside the outpost is about 1 second shorter towards the end.
A tracking shot over the destroyed building was shortened.
The Star Sheriffs are being shot at from ambush. They can only save themselves by jumping out of the firing line. There's a missing close-up shot of Colt lying on April. The camera zooms out a little. April shouts something. The American version continues when April addresses Colt. They probably cut the scene away because April's scream is rather childish. In Saber Rider she seems to be a little more mature.
The Star Sherrifs are being shot at from ambush. You don't see Colt and April rolling over the floor to dodge the shots. In saber rider you only see their last roll.
Now follows a shootout with the Outriders. Fireball takes shelter behind a wall. When the wall is shot into pieces you don't see Fireball's weird facial expression.
Colt gives the others cover and is being shot at. Before he dodges the shots, he makes a stupid facial expression.
One of the Outriders is hit in the face. In the Japanese version you see the shot and the Outrider falling to the ground.
You don't see Saber Rider hitting an Outrider's head with his sword. However, they did include the scene where he splits the Outrider in half.
From off screen you an hear the Outrider being hit by Saber Rider's sword. You don't see the Outrider falling to the ground in slow motion - the sword is sticking in his heart. When he falls to the ground, the American version continues.
Saber Rider pulls his sword out of the corpse. The body moves a little and the head tilts backwards.
In the Japanese version Colt says something.
Fireball jumps on the Outriders' spaceship. There's a long shot of the Outrider choking Fireball. However, you don't see the close-up shot of the choking and Fireball's head being pushed backwards. Fireball is able to straighten himself shortly. Now the American version continues. Fireball's head is pushed backwards again before he hits his opponent in the face.
When a space ship explodes you see the word "POW!!" written out in huge letters. The American producers deleted this scene for Saber Rider.
This dialogue was shortened.
A short tracking shot of the building was cut out. Saber Rider says something in the background.
This dialogue was shortened. Even though we don't know the exact words of the original dialogue you can definitively say that the shortage was done due to censorship.
Saber Rider: "Vapor beings don't give up that easily. When we blast them it just sends them back to their own dimension. It doesn't help them if they keep trying."
This dialogue can be heard during this scene and the following one. This constant talk about Outriders just getting sent back to their own dimension is a classic example of the Saber Rider censorship.
The 2 scenes during the middle of the episode were cut out.
A short black screen was cut out. The following tracking shot over Ramrod was shortened.
They added a Saber Rider transition.
A flashback about events from the first episode was cut out.
Saber Rider and Colt argue a little longer.
Toss a Coin
2 scenes where they watch the coin were cut out.
When Colt flies off they added a short scene. Colt starts the ship and says "Stallion Power on! Just as Fireball, Colt also has his mantra when flying off.
The Quest for the Outpost
The end of the trackingshot as well as a short long shot of the outpost were shortened.
When Colt shoots the Outrider spaceship you don't see it exploding.
The Renegade appears in a close-up shot. Then it cuts to a long shot - you can see both Colt and the Renegade.
The Japanese version shows the tracking shot three times in a row. The three tracking shots aren't equally long. Colt says nothing.
In Saber Rider you only see the first tracking shot and the last 5 frames of the last tracking shot. These 5 frames were added to smoothly fade to the long shot.
Colt: "This is great... That thing's getting ready to blast me and I'm stuck here like a sitting duck."
Saber Rider misses out on 1.5 seconds of footage.
The tracking shot starts a little later in Saber Rider.
The long shot at the end of the tracking shot is shown a little longer in the japanese version.
They added a Saber Rider transition.
The scene is shown a little longer before Colt gets in the cockpit/ready to fly off.
April's dialogue is shorter.
7 sec. of dialogue between Colt and April were cut out.
Colt's "start scene" was added again. He shouts "Stallion Power on!"
The dialogue was extended for about 1.25 seconds. A part of the scene shortly freezes.
Again, they added a Saber Rider transition.
This scene is 7 frames shorter.
A short scene was cut out. The camera moves away from the smoking mountain.
The Japanese version's scene is 1.25 seconds longer before Ramrod appears.
After Fireball hit the button, there's a missing shot of the brightly illuminated control room.
The Transformation Sequence
If you want to have a more detailed comparison between the different transformation sequences have a look at the report of the first episode. Since these sequences are constantly repeated, here's a short summary of the differences in this episode:
In the Japanese version you don't see any lightning on Ramrod. In Saber Rider there's lightning all the time. When Ramrod's legs are lowered you also in Saber Rider don't see any lightning.
No difference in time.
In the Japanese version Ramrod's hand and fist are shown longer. Additionaly, the fist gleams. The Japanese version is about 2 seconds longer.
The transformation of the control room was added in Saber Rider.
The Ending of the Transformation Sequence
After Ramrod completely transformed you see a different ending in the original version. You see a close-up shot of Ramrod's head. Then follows a black background in front of wich the 4 characters run past it. Finally, there's a long shot of Ramrod (without any lightning).
After Ramrod completely transformed you see a short close-up shot of the control room, followed by a long shot of Ramrod with lightning and a different background.
The Japanese version is about 9 seconds longer than Saber Rider.
The scene where the Renegade burns was extended for Saber Rider - for this they re-included a short part of this scene.
April (in the background): "Talk about a meltdown...
If you look closely you see that the Renegade goes into pieces twice.
In the Japanese version follows a dissolve to the next scene. In Saber Rider there's a black screen in between the fade-out/in of the scenes.
You now see a shot of the horizon with planet Jupiter in the background. Then the camera moves downwards to Ramrod. In Saber Rider the horizon is only shown for 0.5 seconds.
Let the Iguana Go
At this point you see a dialogue of Colt. In the Japanese version this scene is 6.25 seconds long. In Saber Rider they re-included a scene from this epsiode. After 2.5 seconds you see Colt inside the cave with the Renegade waiting in front of it. The scene is surrounded by a white frame (indicating that this is a flashback). After this short scene the dialogue continues. During the whole scene, Colt has some very superb and moral lines. Fireball asks him if the iguana can do any tricks.
Colt sagt: "No but I've learned a few things. When I was trapped back in that cave... I found out what it feels like to be a little critter caught by a big critter. Now I know it's wrong to keep any critter that doesn't want to be kept - even a little (?) lizard. Surprises you guys, huh?
Unfortunately we don't know what exactly he says in the original scene. The added scene has a total runtime of 5.5 seconds. The dialogue scene is 2 seconds longer than in the Japanese version.
Overall, this scene is 7.5 seconds longer in Saber Rider.
You don't see the camera zooming to Fireball during his interior monologue.
The camera moves away from the characters. The tracking shot starts about 1.5 seconds later in Saber Rider.
Before the scene fades out and the credits roll, the scene lasts about 5 seconds in the original version. In Saber Rider it only lasts for about 1 second.
Saber Rider's Final Monologue
In the American version Saber Rider (=the narrator) always has a short final moral monologue. The monologue begins after Colt set the iguana free.
"The iguana never did get the sunglasses he'd been promised. But he did us a great service. He reminded us just what a big place the New Frontier is; big enough for all creatures - Great and small."
A more detailed comparison of the credits can be found in the report about the first episode of Saber Rider.
Runtime of the Japanese credits: 00:01:19
Runtime of the American credits: 00:01:02