Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
1.23 Sharpshooter (IMDB) OT:
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: 00:21:29:18
Runtime of the Japanese Version: 00:24:08:13
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
is a 52-episode American TV series with a Japanese origin. The seriescombines 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
. 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 series (obviously) was renamed from "Seijūshi Bismark" to "Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs".
- Almost all the persons, places, planets, organizations, and vehicles were changed / Americanized (for this, take a look at the chart below).
- Many of the places/vehicles/etc. were named after American words/cities such as Eagle, Yuma, Colt, New Dallas, Dakota, Alamo, and so on. Thus, they eliminated all the Asian-sounding names.
- By changing the names they also blanketed any connection to the real world. In the Japanese version the series takes place in our solar system. Because of the different names for the planets, the American version takes place in an unknown galaxy far away.
Intro and Credits
- The intro as well as the credits are completely different. For further details, look at the main report of the first episode.
Music and Sounds
- All the music for the American version was composed by Dale Schacker and has a "Wild West" feel to it.
- All the sounds were (gunfire, engines of space ships, and so on) were edited / added by the American company.
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.
- Diferent Background Story
The background story of the series was completely changed (for this, read the paragraph "Outriders").
- Different Story of the Episodes
The crucial course of the episodes stayed intact but had to be adapted to the American mentality as well as the American TV standards (some characters stayed alive even though they were killed in the Japanese version). This sometimes changes the whole story of the episodes.
- Violent Scenes
They mainly cut out violence against human beings (especially if the scens show humans being shot, hit, or blown to bits). However, they also cut out drastic violence against the alien Outriders.
- Morally Alarming Scenes
Morally alarming scenes (e.g. the consuming of alcohol, bad/aggressive behavior, violence against kids, kids carrying guns, ...) had to be cut out.
- Humor and Emotional Scenes
Funny scenes (including weird facial expressions) as well as emotional scenes were cut out.
For each episode they shortened numerous dialogues. They did this in order to fit the dialogues to the American dialogues (which were more or less rewritten) in terms of length, timing, and lip synch.
- Various Scenes
For all the episodes thes deleted various scenes (e.g. pan shots of buildings and places).
These scenes probably didn't quite fit in the American storyline or were just not needed there.
However, they mainly cut such scenes away to achieve a consistant runtime for every episode.
There are numerous cuts that only cut away a few frames and that would fit into the above-mentioned category. Lots of these cuts are probably a result of a faulty master or something like this.
Every now and then they cut a few frames away to eliminate minor mistakes (e.g. a black screen in the middle of a scene).
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.
- Alteration of the Ages
The main characters are older. In the Japanese version they're aged between 15 and 18. In the American version they seem to be way older.
- The Leader Issue
The "leader issue" is one of the main differences of the series and concerns the characters Saber Rider and Fireball.
While in the Japanese version Fireball (Shinji Hikari) is the leader of the Star Sherriffs (Team Bismark), the American version made his older brother Saber Rider (Richard Lancelot) the leader of the team.
He's the leader because he's the oldest, most experienced and most balanced characters of the bunch; Fireball is a little younger and hastier.
- Saber Rider now is the name giver of the series.
- Saber Rider also is the narrator of the story. In the first episode he introduces the series like a story by telling the audience what the series is all about. In the individual episodes he always introduces and ends the story. This makes him a person of authority which makes it easier to accept him as the leader.
- Whenever Fireball gives orders or commands, they tried to cut these out as often as possible or just replaced them by orders/commands given by Saber Rider.
- Even though Saber Rider often rather stays on the sideline, he still very often is a conversational topic and gives orders.
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.
Additional Changes of the Characters
- In the Japanese version, April Eagle (Marianne Louvre) is 15 years old and therefore acts more childlike and emotional than the other characters. In the American version she seems to be a little more mature.
- Archenemy Jesse Blue (Perios) is not a human being in the Japanese version, he's an Outrider (Deathcula) and also their security chief.
In the American version he's an arrogant ex-cadet of the Star Sherriffs who fell in love with April Eagle. Because of injured pride and rejection he leaves the team and defects to the Outriders. He wants to prove to April that he's a good fighter. This background story is told in 2 additional episodes that were exclusively produced for the American version.
The Outriders (Japanese: Deathcula)
- In the Japanese version, the Outriders are an intelligent and brutal alien race who want to conquer the human galaxy.
- In the American version teh Outriders are rather stupid. They often have sily conversations along with dumb-sounding voices (one example would be a scene where one Outrider asks another one what time it is. The other Outrider replies that he doesn't know the time since he doesn't know how to read a clock.).
- The Outriders are said to be "phantom beings" who don't die but rather jump back to their own dimension every time they're wounded/shot. The American version underlines this fact by several dialogues that talk about this ability.
This change suggests that the Outriders can't die. This also means that it doesn't matter how many Outriders are killed in each episode. This makes the American version a little less menacing than the Japanese version.
- The reasons to why the Outriders attach the humans is rather ridiculous:
- In the Japanese version, the Outriders want to conquer a new habitat since their home planet was completely destroyed and exploited. Additionally they want revenge for their critical defeat.
- In The American version the Outriders attack the humans just for fun.
Since the Outriders neither have feelings nor fun they want to win a war against the humans in order to find out what fun is.
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.
- One of the best examples are the stupid dialogues of the Outriders (for a more detailed description, read the paragraph "Outriders").
- Humans are never killed but shot with capture guns (they often switch their guns to a torpidity-mode).
- If any secondary characters die in the Japanese version, the American version usually contains dialogues that "save" them from death (such as "He's just unconscious but not heavily injured.").
- Every time the Outriders attack, they only destroy remote-controlled cars or emptiy / evacuated buildings.
- Deleted Episodes
5 Japanese episodes were completely deleted since they didn't fit in the concept / idea of the American producers. Two of these episodes include a character named "Captain Holiday" who's constantly drunk.
- Added Episodes
6 episodes were exclusively produced for the American version. The drawings are a little worse than those of the original episodes and are include a very stereotypical Wetern community by e.g. also including native Americans.
- Inserted Scenes
A regular method was to include scenes from other episodes. Most of the time they added some dialogue-scenes to feature characters that were originally not included at this point in the Japanese version of the episode. Many of these scenes are rather irrelevant for the story and often just inlcude funny dialogues.
- Altered Order
For the American version they altered the order of the episodes. One can only spaculate to why they did this. Maybe the storyline was the main reason for this akteration. In the first two thirds of the episodes, Commander Gattler is the opponent of the Star Sheriffs. In the last third you only have Jesse Blue as the main villain. By changing the order of the scenes, the series seems to have a little more variety, however, this also carries problems. During the episodes with Jesse Blue, Commander Eagle originally was taken hostage - not so in the episodes with Commander Gattler.
Additionally, there are episodes including Gattler that take place after his last appearance in the episode "Gattler's Last Stand". Even though they could explain this inconsistency by saying that the Outriders don't die but just warp back to their own dimension - then again, if that's the case, why did they call the episode "Gattler's Last Stand"? This just causes confusion.
For the German version (which is the main source of this report) they used the original Japanese order of the episodes. Only the 6 episodes that were exclusively produced for the American version were not included in a sensible way but rather just included after the last epsiode. For the DVD they remedied this mistake.
- Inserted Transitions
The American version regularly fades from one scene to the next one. In the Japanese version this happens way less frequently / not at all.
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.
- In the years 2003/04 the complete season was released as a DVD box-set with 10 DVDs. In april 2007 they also released a limited collector's edition that included pewter figures of the main characters.
After this limited box-set was (almost) out of print, they released yet another edition of the series in september 2009. It was released in 2 different boxes (each including 5 DVDs).
- In the USA they at first released a "Best Of" DVD, including 10 episodes of the series. Then in november 18th, 2008, they startet releasing the complete series in 3 different box-sets. Finally, in October 2009, they also released a complete box-set (including 6 DVDs) with all the episodes in 1 box.
- In the UK they momentarily just sell a DVD that includes 4 episodes.
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.
|Japanese Version:||American Version:|
|Team Bismark||Star Sheriffs|
|Solar System Confederation||New Frontier|
|Planet Earth||Planet Yuma|
|Planet Ganymed||Planet Alamo|
|Richard Lancelot||Saber Rider|
|Chales Louvre||Commander Eagle|
|General Domes||King Jarred|
|Road Leon||Red Fury Racer|
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.
|Japanese DVD:|| German DVD:|
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:
- The time designations refer to the Japanese version.
- To ensure a comparison that is frame-exact, the version was converted from NTSC to PAL.
- The Japanese titles of the episodes will be translated - therefore, they might not be 100% accurate.
- Framecuts up to 5 frames will be ignored for the reports - after all, they're already very extensive; including every single difference would just simply break the mold. However, if any of these cuts include important footage, they (of course) will be mentioned.
- Both versions always include a little preview of the following episode. These previews won't be mentioned in the reports.
This is a three-part episode (the story continues in episodes 22 and 24).
King Jarred wants to expel the Outriders from his country once and for all. For this he wants to use his newest battleship - the Monarch Supreme. The Star Sheriffs try to convince king Jarred to let them help him. However, he wants to defeat the Outriders by himself to restore his kingdom's honor. Jarred is told that an Outrider squadron is approaching them. Soon, the royal squadron (commanded by the Monarch Supreme) starts to fight the decisive battle.
Meanwhile, the small city New Dallas radios the Star Sheriffs for help. When they arrive, Saber Rider, Cold, and Fireball are attacked by Outriders. While shoot their way through Ramrod is attacked by the Outrider Squadron from nowhere. Commander Gattler wants to either conquer or destroy Ramrod once and for all. April has to control Ramrod all by herself and is shot down by Gattler. Luckily, king Jarred's squadron arrives - the final battle is soon to begin.
Plot Differences in Episode 22
Note: Since the official SJB webpage was offline while this report was made (the webpage's operators were also not available) it is possible that the story differences are not complete. Everything that's still missing will be added as soon as possible.
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 6 seconds longer than the American verison.
At the beginning of the episode they added a fade-in in the American version. The minor loss of footage can be ignored.
No difference in time.
Saber Rider's Monologue
At the beginning of this episode gives one of his famous monologues:
"Out on the New Frontier one must always be prepared for an Outrider attack. And prince Roland was determined to show us just how prepared he was. So, he planned a very special demonstration."
The Sharpshooter Competition
You see prince Roland doing a sort of shooting-training. He walks through a recration of a Western city and has to shoot Outrider-figurines as fast as possible. When he's done the Star Sheriffs arrive. While Roland in the American version welcomes Colt, he in the Japanese version seems to be surprised that they're there. This is probably due to the fact that Colt makes fun of Roland's demonstration. In both versions they then have a little Sharpshooter competition.
This shot is distinctly shorter. In the Japanese version Colt says something to Roland (the dialogue sounds quite mocking, apparently he makes fun of Roland's training). In the American version Roland says: "Hello Colt."
1 sec. and 7 frames
During the shot of Fireball there's a transition. However, there's no difference in time.
No difference in time.
The Monarch Supreme is shown longer.
2 sec. and 1 frame
At this point the shot of Jarred's dialogue (image 1) and a few frames of the shot after his dialogue (image 2) were shortened. Even though these are 2 cuts they are taken together for the sake of simplicity.
1 sec. and 7 frames
King Jarred's dialogue was extended.
The first few frames of Jarred's dialogue were cut out.
The shot of the passage (image 1) is shown longer in the Japanese version. A shot where King Jarred approaches the Star Sheriffs was cut out as well.
2 sec. and 23 frames
In the American version they added a transition-effect.
This transition overlaps the last 14 frames of this shot (image 1).
Overall, the American version is 11 frames longer.
+ 11 frames
After king Jarred left without accepting the Star Sheriff's help there's a missing tracking shot of the Star Sheriffs looking quite surprised. Then follows a zoom to Fireball's face.
8 sec. and 11 frames
The helicopters fly over a completely destroyed city.
Note: In the American version follows a radio message that informs us that a decoy base was destroyed. They probably did this because you're supposed to think that the city was not inhabited by civilians but instead was a military facility.
5 sec. and 24 frames
The helicopter explodes.
1 sec. and 19 frames
A helicopter crashes against the wall.
1 sec. and 4 frames
The helicopter slithers over the floor a little longer. Then it crashes against the wall and explodes. In the American version they included a transition-effect after the cut. Overall, the Japanese version is 4 seconds and 3 frames longer.
4 sec. and 3 frames
The Star Sheriffs watch king Jarred's squadron a little longer. The following close-up shot of Fireball was cut out as well.
3 sec. and 15 frames
The scene of the squadron flying around is shown twice in the Japanese version. This is why they deleted it here in the American version.
Then follow the typical Japanese cutscenes and another shot of the squadron.
23 sec. and 18 frames
Emergency Call from New Dallas
The Star Sheriffs receive an emergency call from New Dallas and decide to help them.
At this point they re-cut the scenes a little. The Star Sheriffs confirm the proper functioning of their systems and then take off with Ramrod. In the Japanese version you at first see Fireball (being the leader and all) and then the others. In the American version you of course at first see Saber Rider. The shot of Fireball was slightly shortened towards the beginning. You don't see him jumping in his seat and using the control levers.
Fireball tells them to fly off. (In the American version Saber Rider does this from off-screen while you see Ramrod flying off in the next scene.)
At this point they added a transition-effect.
Attack on New Dallas
The attack on the city misses out on those scenes where civilians are hurt.
Several people flee from the Outriders' rockets.
4 sec. and 23 frames
At this point there is a noteworthy stupid little auditory censorship. To make sure that nobody could think that any human being was hurt, the Outriders who destroy the city have a pretty stupid conversation.
"I got 14 Outrider-points!"
"Yeah? I got 15!"
"No you didn't!"
"Will you stop quibbling? We didn't capture a single settler, they all escaped! All we got was a bunch of buildings. Zero points!"
In the Japanese version one of the Outriders talks to the base via radio and probably gets the information that the Star Sheriffs are currently approaching the city. The Outriders fall back to ambush the Star Sheriffs.
At this point they added a transition to Ramrod.
This shot is still shown in the American version, however it's slightly shorter due to the transition.
No difference in time.
Colt's dialogue was shortened.
1 sec. and 2 frames
The panning shot towards Fireball is shorter.
1 sec. and 3 frames
Fireball's "taking-off-scene" was added. He says "Red Fury Turbo on!"
+4 sec. and 21 frames
A camera panning was distinctly shortened. Additionally, they added a transition- effect.
3 sec. and 3 frames
Battle in New Dallas
Colt's and Fireball's convesation over the radio was shortened.
1 sec. and 13 frames
This shot was shortened.
2 sec. 1 frame
Auditory Censorship/Noteworthy Scene
At this point there's another noteworthy scene. Apparently WEP either didn't pay enough attention or simply ignored it. Fireball radios Saber Rider and asks him if he spotted something. In both versions you then see Saber Rider - for a few scenes you see him carrying a dead person. Therefore, it is a little disturbing when Saber Rider responds "No. I'm afraid this is a ghost town."
Saber's dialogue was shortened.
1 sec. and 1 frame
The 2 dead Outriders are shown longer while in the background there are some more Outriders approaching. In the American version they instead repeated a scene which was already shown before - 2 Outriders arrive and start shooting. Overall, the American version is 1 second and 20 frames longer.
+1 sec. and 20 frames
At this point they corrected a little error. Colt shoots at an Outrider. The Outrider's ship explodes but in the next moment it falls to the ground undamaged. Therefore they simply cut out the explosion to correct this inconsistency.
The majority of the Outrider's crash (from the previous cut) and the ship bursting on the floor were cut out.
4 sec. and 8 frames
This shot (image 1) was shortened. The first few frames of the tracking shot towards Ramrod were cut out as well.
1 sec. and 19 frames
This shot was shortened since April's radio message is a little shorter in the American version.
1 sec. and 15 frames
Gattler's Squadron Appears
April's dialogue was shortened. This was done due to the fact that in the Japanese version she wants to contact the others while in the American version she just talks to herself. Ramrod is shaken by an explosion. April stands up from her seat and sees the Outrider squadron through the window. This scene was probably deleted due to April's anxious reaction.
9 sec. and 9 frames
Another explosion shakens Ramrod. April sits back down.
2 sec. and 18 frames
An Outrider is tattered.
1 sec. and 1 frame
The shot of April was shortened. Subsequently they cut out a shot which was already shown before.
3 sec. and 10 frames
You see April's shocked face. She tries to make an emergency landing and pulls the control lever back as strongly as she can. Then you see a POV shot of Ramrod flying towards the ground. Since she can't hold the lever anymore, April is pushed forward.
7 sec. and 8 frames
The camera pans away from April (who is unconscious).
Gattler's squadron flies towards Ramrod a little longer.
1 sec. and 11 frames
Gattler's ship's control room is shown.
2 sec. and 24 frames
Gattler's dialogue was shortened. The first few frames where the scene fades to the monitor were cut out as well.
A missing dialogue of Gattler.
2 sec. 24 frames
The dialogue in the control room of the Monarch Supreme is a little longer. The voice from off-screen (probably an officer) talks to king Jarred a little longer and the latter responds. The voice from off-screen then say something again.
8 sec. and 9 frames
Saber Rider's Final Monologue
At the end of the episode Saber Rider wraps it up with a little monologue which unfortunately takes away a lot of tension from the next episode.
"King Jarred was a proud man, but he could not fight the Outriders alone. Though Ramrod was temporarily down we had it running again by the time he called for our help. Now, but that's another adventure of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.
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