Release: Sep 02, 2011 - Author: Mario - Translator: Tony Montana - 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: 00:21:46:14
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:
The Royal Monarch
This is the opening of a 3-part-episode.
The final battle between the fleet of King Jarred and Gattler flares up. Saber Rider, Colt and Fireball reach Ramrod and go aboard. King Jarred's fleet is too weak and almost beaten by the Outriders. Only on the issistence of his son, King Jarred pockets his pride and asks Ramrod for help. The Star Sheriffs intrude Gattler's primary ship and fight their way to the engine room. Here they get ambushed by Gattler. Thanks to her fast trigger finger, the Star Sheriffs can turn the tables and destroy Gattler's ship. Unexpectedly the Star Sheriffs get invited to the King's palace where a big christmas party takes place. King Jarred announces he was going to sign the pact of the cavalry. A big day in the battle with the Outriders.
Plot differences in Episode 12
Please note: Due to the SJB HP being down, I can't say anything about the story differences but I'm gonna add that information asap.
Running time Japanese Intro approx. 1.43 min
Running time US Intro approx. 1.29 min
A detailed comparison of the intro can be found in the comparison of the very first episode.
Title of the Episode
The Japanese Version shows the title of the episode in an additional scene after the intro. In the US Version, the title pops up at the very beginning of the episode. The Japanese Version is 5 sec 24 frames longer.
A transition has been added to the beginning of the US Version.
Saber Rider's Monolog
The episode begins with a flashback of the previous episode. As a matter of fact that review contains footage from the previous episode that has been cut out in the actual episode. Spread over the entire flashback, Saber Rider comes up with a monolog once again.
He says it was the Monarch Supreme, King Jarred's gigantic starship. He adds hewas determined to defend his kingdom from the Outrider attack. He also says the King was a proud man. But he was too proud because he insisted to do it on his own. He explains April tried to help because she was the first one who had seen the squadron. Then he says she directed Ramrod in a fight against superior forces. Under heavy fire she hit Gattler's ship perfectly but he absorbed the energy and sent it back to Ramrod. As a result of that, Ramrod crashed. Only with heroic effort, April could him from the total destruction.
Shortened offscreen dialog in this scene.
The first people die in the battle of the fleets.
3 sec 5 frames
Shortened explosion of the Outrider ship.
2 sec 6 frames
Jarred's dialog is slightly shorter.
Fireball's dialog is longer.
+1 sec 12 frames
The following shot is entirely missing in the US Version.
Attacking Gattler's Primary Ship
After Colt hit the Outrider's head/neck, the last 9 frames of the shot (the head gets pushed backwards) are missing.
Saber Rider flies through the corridor and avoids getting hit before he "jumps" to the top, chopps off the arm of an Outrider and slices his belly.
6 sec 4 frames
A goof has been corrected here. When Fireball is rolling on the ground, he changes the direction for a period of 6 frames. That has been removed.
Fireball shots an Outrider bloodily.
Same here. But this time Colt was the shooter.
Added transition which has been combined with the shot so that there's no difference in running time.
Extended zoom to Fireball plus missing eyecatch scenes.
12 sec 6 frames
The Japanese Version contains a longer shot of Gattler's ship. In the US Version, a redrawn scene with Gattler teleporting to the Phantom Zone has been put in here. That explains how Gattler could escape from the exploding ship. In the Japanese Version, the audience doesn't get to know how he made it.
The Japanese Version is longer.
1 sec 14 frames
The explosion is shorter.
1 sec 4 frames
1 sec 9 frames
Added Sword Transition
A sword transition has been added here.
Extended shot of Fireball taking a shower in the US Version, accompanied by a voice over from Colt.
The Christmas Party
Additional shot of King Jarred's palace in the Japanese Version. The US Version only contains a sword transition.
The Japanese Version is longer.
Missing pan shot to the surprised Star Sheriffs.
4 sec 24 frames
The last 4 frames of the shot of King Jarred are missing. Then Fireball, who talks to April while Saber is approaching and then standing behind April.
During the trumpet play, Colt says sth. and laughs.
3 sec 12 frames
Colt cheers and says sth. with a gleefully voice. Then a missing dialog from Jarred. The following shot of Fireball (Jarred's dialog from the off continues here) has been shortened as well. In the removed dialog, King Jarred asks Fireball wo follow him. In the US Version, that happens in Jarred's previous dialog.
6 sec 16 frames
King Jarred tells Fireball about his father. In the battle with the Outriders 16 years ago, Fireball's father started a kamikaze attack on Nemesis' primary ship and decided the battle for his people.
In the Japanese Version, Jarred speaks about the battle itself (battle scenes and the Monarch Supreme with young King Jarred are being shown here) and about the kamikaze attack.
In the US Version, the focus is on Fireball's father from the beginning. Jarred explains Fireball's father attracted the Outsiders' attention, so that the others were given the opportunity to escape. King Jarred also says Fireball's father had been catapulted to the Phantom Zone and he hopes his father would return one day. That makes sure that neither Fireball's father nor anyone else died in the battle.
Only in the US Version, all these scenes of the flashback are surrounded with a cloud-like frame.
Slightly shortened shot of Fireball.
Missing battle scene with has already been shown previously.
2 sec 13 frames
The Monarch Supreme gets hit and heavily damaged.
3 sec 18 frames
King Jarred looks shocked. Then a few battle scenes.
11 sec 16 frames
The camera pans over the bridge of the Monarch Supreme and zooms in to King Jarred. Meanwhile Jarred speaks from the off.
A scene with Fireball's father has been added here.
The Japanese Version is longer.
5 sec 19 frames
A transition has been added here. Most of the transition has been combined with the shot of Fireball, that's why the US Version isn't much longer.
While sitting at the table, April watches the dancing people. A man approaches and speaks to her but the dialog is inaudible.
8 sec 24 frames
Extended shot of Commander Eagle talking to his daughter. Cut to April, she's talking to her father. When she's done, her father responds.
19 sec 15 frames
Eagle's dialog is shorter.
2 sec 6 frames
The shot of the partying people in front of the Christmas tree is longer.
+2 sec 7 frames
A detailed comparison of the different credits can be found in the comparison of episode 1.
Running time of the credits in the Japanese Version 00:01:20
Running time of the credits in the US Version 00:01:03