Release: Dec 20, 2012 - Author: Mario - Translator: DaxRider123 - external link: IMDB - more from this series
In the future, humanity has expanded into space and started colonizing the galaxy. The new centre is the planet Yuma. The Army High Command of the so-called “New Frontier” is supposed to protect mankind's planets. However, the peace is being disturbed when the Outriders, vapor beings from another dimension, raid the planet Alamo. Both sides' forces suffer heavy casualties and the Outriders lose by only a small margin.
After 15 years of rebuilding, the Outriders return with new technology and determination. This time, mankind is in an inferior position and close to defeat. The secret project “Ramrod”, a starship able to transform into a combat bot, seems to be the last hope. It belongs to the “Star Sheriffs”, a special force under the command of Commander Eagle. When the Outrider spy Vanquo finds out about the project, a race with time begins. Star Sheriff agent Saber Rider needs to capture the spy before Ramrods location becomes public. After he fails, he teams up with the race driver Fireball and Colt the Headhunter. Together with Commander Eagle's daughter they can save Ramrod and use it to fight against the Outriders.
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs (SRatSS) is a cartoon series from the US consisting of 52 parts. It combines the Science Fiction, Mecha and Western genres. Having been first broadcasted into people's homes in 1982, it quickly became very popular and has by now achieved cult status. The reasons for that were partly the catchy soundtrack and good synchronisation. Even in other countries – e.g. Germany – very good voice actors were hired to keep the atmosphere. Recent releases on DVD and even the announcement of a ”Saber Rider video game“ for 2012 as well as an audio drama show that the series' fan base is still numerous and active.
The Origins - Seijûshi Bismark
When Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs was released in the USA, nobody there had a clue which development the series had gone through. Originally, it came from Japan and was named Seijûshi Bismark (SJB), approximately meaning ”Star Musketeer bismark”
Seijûshi Bismark is a mecha anime series by Studio Pierrot, Japanese animation studio, which also created The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and, more recently, Naruto and Bleach. In 1984, Seijûshi Bismark was broadcasted for the first time on the Japanese Television network “Nippon Television”. However, it was not as successful because it did not really stand out against the mass of anime series at the time. A short plot extract:
It is the year 2069. Mankind has leath earth and started colonizing the planets of the solar system. However, the peace they hoped for does not last long because the “Deathcula” aliens attack the solar system. The federation of the planets gets together all their forces and can hardly fight the invaders back. 15 years later, in 2084, the enemy they thought defeated returns. The Federation this time cannot protect all the planet's inhabitants who are unable to defend themselves. The scienties and general secretary of the federation, Dr. Charles Louvre, develops a combat unit called “bismark”, an armed spae ship which can transform into a mecha bot. A team consisting of four specialists is supposed to steer it:
The 17 years old pilot Shinji Hikari from Japan, 16 years old head hunter Bill Willcox from the US, 18 years old agent Richard Lancelot from Scotland and the 15 years old Marianne Louvre from France, the scientist's daughter.
The Genesis of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
In 1986, worldwide rights for Seijûshi Bismark were bought by the US company
In the process, Seijûshi Bismark underwent the same alterations as other imported anime series. Violent and morally quiestionable scenes were cut or their dialog changed. The plot, characters and soundtrack were replaced and assimilated to the American culture. WEP also only published 46 of the series 51 episodes but produced 6 new episodes instead.
One of the main factors in the adaption was the underlining of the Wild West theme. Seijûshi Bismark combined Science Fiction with some Western elements, the latter playing a more important role in the US because WEP wanted to give it a certain Wild West style. This probably is connected to a certain trend in the TV series at that time, starting in 1986 with ”Galaxy Rangers”, followed by”Bravestarr”, appearing at the same time as Saber Rider one year later.
Seijûshi Bismark became Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. In this new form, the series was not only a hit in the US but also in Europe and South America.
How and why the series was changed so massively, is to be discussed in the following. From now on these names will be used:
Almost all of the names of characters, locations, organisations and vehicles were changed, most of the new names originate from the US or Wild West cultural background in order to emphasize this aspect further. Additionally, connections to the real world were cut and the story was moved out of our solar system. The most important nacmes are:
Note: From now on I will only use the names from Saber Rider as it is the more popular version. However, the first time I mention a name I will also mention the original name if known
The term “Americanization” describes the already mentioned process of assimilating a foreign series to US culture. Especially foreign elements as symbols or names are changed because they might seem strange to the viewer. In this case, however, this affects mostly the names (see last paragraph).
One of the most striking changes aimed at giving the series the Western flair was the newly arranged and partially rewritten soundtrack, responsible for this is the US composer Dale Schacker. For example, he completely rewrote the intro music.
The catchy”Saber Rider Main Theme” was surely one of the main reasons for the series' success. This main theme was replaced in some other countries, e.g. France (new theme: “Sab-Rider”) and Italy (“Sceriffi Delle Stelle”).
The sound effects had to be newly created as well because they were on the same audio channel as the soundtrack.
Intro and Outro
The US Version features a new intro and outro. Details about this can be read in article about the first episode.
There are short previews to the next episode in both versions. The Japanese Version shows the preview after the Outro and it is the characters who comment on it. In the US Version it is part of the Outro and there is a narrator saying something about the preview.
In the Japanese Version, the episode title is being displayed in an additional shot between the intro and the episode. The US Version, however, features a title overlay at the beginning of each episode.
The eyecatchers are two short sequences (accompanied by a jingle) which were used before and commercial brakes in Japan. They were also included on the Japanese box set. The American version doesn't have these sequences.
From epsiode 33 onwards, the eyecatcher sequences were revised.
Censorship of the series
Seijûshi Bismark is filed under the so-called Shonen-genre in Japan. Despite the violence and brutal scenes, series of this genre are declassified for young people aged about 8 – 17. A little blood, death and promiscuity are no problem for the young Japanese, resp. their parents. Unlike in America or Europe, where scenes of this kind have no place in children's shows.
This is the reason Seijûshi Bismark had to be censored thoroughly, since the series contained too many violent scenes for an afternoon-show. WEP used two methods for this. Aside from the simple cutting of scenes, the "verbal cutting" was done on a large scale. The characters were made saying fitting words during the dubbing to belittle questionable scenes without having to cut every single time. WEP censored in a way that there is not a single living being losing their life in the entire series. Some of the used censorings may come across as ridiculous.
Something basic concerning the verbal censoring. Basically, this kind of censoring was done to a huge part of all the dialogue, meaning that all dialogue was "toned down" and harsh language, cursing etc. cannot be found in the American version.
In the following, you find a listing of the common censorings.
Violent scenes against the outriders
Most violent scenes agains the outriders were censored by the dubbing. Since there are countless outriders killed in each episode, WEP couldn't simply cut this all the time, but had to use verbal censoring. The outriders are shown as "vapor creatures" in the American version, that don't die, but are teleported to their home planet, the so called "Vapor Zone". This censoring benefits from the fact that the outriders disintegrate even in the Japanese version after their deaths. Almost every time an outrider is killed, there is dialogue heard in Saber Rider, like:
"Back into the Vapor Zone!"
"You sent him back into his dimension."
Due to this change, the audience is fooled, thinking the outriders cannot die. In that case, it doesn't matter how many of them get killed. They return to their planet and attack again.
Despite this clever censoring-method, additionally there were the most violent parts were cut.
1. An outrider's arm is sliced off with a sword.
2. An outrider is shot in the head and black blood flows out.
Violent scenes against humans
Nearly all the scenes during which people are visibly being shot, hit or blown up, have been removed from the series. Other scenes were belittled with the verbal censoring. In these cases, the outriders use weapons that don't kill people, but merely tranquilize them. This is shown nicely in dialogues like "set your guns to tranquilizing".
During scenes, in which the outriders shoot vehicles or attack/bomb cities, there are only remote-control vehicles shot down and evacuated cities destroyed, thanks to the dubbing. For example:
1. "The people were rescued, but many of our automatic transport vehicles were destroyed in a shower of devastating bullets."
2. "The people were all gotten to safety. We've evacuated them as soon as the first signs of Nemesis' fleet have shown up on radar."
Aside the pure violence censoring, WEP has taken some more censorship-tweaks to the series. All the scenes that seemed in any way questionable and immoral, were cut or censored via dubbing, just like the violent scenes. Among others, these are:
Emotional scenes (aggressive behavior, outbursts of fury, sadness, tears and the like)
Example 1: A person bursts out in anger and curses.
Example 2: A person starts crying and talks with a desperate expression in the voice.
Censoring: Scenes like these were mostly belittled or completely purged by the dubbing, by having the respective person just speak "normally".
It has to be mentioned that solely by the pure violence censorings, many emotional scenes have become obsolete and therefore had to be censored, as well. When, for example, a person's death was cut out, the sadness about that also dropped. The scene became redundant that way. A good indication for censorings like this are scenes in which a character has visibly tears in their eyes, but still talks normally.
Consumption of alcohol
Example: The people are having a glass of wine.
Example of censoring: The "wine" is changed into "cactus-" or "guava-juice" by dubbing.
Violence against children
Example: A father hits his son as a punishment.
Example of censoring: Such, rather rare scenes have simply been removed.
Children with guns
Example: A child carries a gun and uses it, too.
Example of censoring: The real gun was turned into a "toy gun" by dubbing. The use of the weapon has been removed.
Plot scenes with doubtful content
Example: One of the main chaaracters plays russian roulette with a prisoner. He shouts angrily at the prisoner as he does that.
Example of censoring: A large part of the scene was cut out and the rest simply dubbed with a pointless dialogue, so the russian roulette is virtually gone.
Rarely there are some minor censorships regarding certain images. For this, the individual images were censored without having to cut them out. This was done by changing the image section so that the problematic part of the image was no longer visible.
Most parts of the episode The Amazing Lazardo take place in a church. Most scenes which show the inside of the church display a huge cross on the altar. Since they didn't want to cut all of these sequences or replace it with alternative footage, they simply altered the image section so that the cross is no longer visible.
At this point, it comes to nobody's surprise that the characters also had to have some changes. The list of differences is long. Apart from the earlier mentioned change of names, the characters' background have often been changed: e.g. their occupation/rank, the motives for their acting, relation to another person/kinship etc.
Also, an "evil character" could have been made a "good character" or the complete origin/race has been changed.
For censoring reasons, all the support characters who died in the Japanese version, had to be kept alive, too.
These are not all changes, though. Thanks to the censoring, there are less emotions shown in Saber Rider compared to Seijûshi Bismark. This leads to the characters coming across as less authentic considering their feelings, because part of their humanity has been taken away. In return, the American version offers more dialogue and puns compared to the Japanese version.
Based on some main characters, I would like to give a few examples for the changes in the characters.
In the Japanese version, Fireball is an army pilot and is later promoted to lead of the Ramrod fighting ship due to his outstanding qualities. He is a good friend of April Eagle's (Mariann Louvre) since school and takes part in car races in his free time. Fireball is a good leader, but also a hotspur, who likes to solve problems on his own.
In the American version, he is a professional race driver. By accident, he gets to know Saber Rider, Colt and April in the beginning of the series and is made a Ramrod pilot and Star Sheriff by some pieces of luck. He was stripped off the leader-rank, though, and he is officially called the "youngest" in the team. This disempowerment changes little in Fireballs' characteristic role in the series.
Saber Rider is the oldest, most mature and calmest main character, He is basically the "thinker" with most experience, who acts well-considered and provides his colleagues with useful information all the time. In the Japanese version, he works for the British secret service. Due to his skills in the field of intelligence services, he is deputized to a member of the Ramrod team by the government of the planet Yuma.
In the American version, he is a "Star Sheriff"-agent and supposed to guard the fighting ship Ramrod from the outriders. Due to his rank, he was made the ship's captain and the team's leader much earlier.
Saber Rider's leadership is one of the biggest changes in the series. This is clear by even the title change from Seijûshi Bismark into Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. There were more changes needed to make Saber Rider's leadership believable.
The question is, why WEP picked, of all the characters, Saber Rider for the leader's role. It is probable that an experienced and prudent character like Saber Rider is more fitting to direct a team and lead it with well-thought-out decisions. Young hothead Fireball is missing this role model-function since he always acts spontaneously and is ready to get into dangerous situations.
Despite the extensive changes, Fireball's original position could not completely be suppressed, he is too dominant for that. Most of the time, he takes the lead in discussions and always wants to have the last word. Also, he is standing in the front all the time, which confirms his leading role.
On first sight, the cowboy was changed hardly at all. In both versions, he is a former headhunter with a loose mouth, a weakness for women and a talent for putting a foot in it. He is also an excellent marksman. Since his parents were killed by the outriders, he has devoted himself to fight them.
In the Japanese version, Colt acts much more hate-filled, aggressive and willing to use violence against the outriders compared to the American version, where his parents' deaths are merely hinted at. There are prominent changes in Colt's introduction in the series.
In the Japanese version, he is supposed to find Fireball as a headhunter, hired by the government. It is finally revealed that Colt is supposed to become a member of the Ramrod team along Fireball, Saber Rider and April.
In the American version, he is headhunter the outrider spy Vanquo and only accidently meets the other main characters. Together with Fireball, he is made a member of the team and a Star Sheriff, due to a chain of lucky events.
Commander Eagle's daughter is the only female Star Sheriff in the Ramrod team. In the Japanese version, she is merely 15 years old and is therefore acting more childish and sensitive than the other characters. In the American version, she is depicted much more mature and adult. In both versions, she is agent and navigator of the Ramrod. In the American version, she was also made a scientist and Ramrod's developer. In the Japanese version, those are actually her father's jobs.
April's father is one of the characters that wasn't changed as much as the others. In the Japanese version he's the general secretary and thus the most important representative of the "Solar System Confederation", which does not exist in the American version. This confederation is an assembly of those planets of the solar system which are occupied by humans and thus is probably comparable to the UNO. Additionally, Eagle in the Japanese version is a scientist who developed and develops the Ramrod (Bismark) battleship.
In the American version, Eagle is one of the highest ranking officers of the "Cavalry Command", the most important army command of the "New Frontier" (i.e. the solar system). At the same time he's the head of a peace initiative and actively comes through for peace.
The Star Sheriff's arch enemy is the character who was changed the most in the series. In the American version, he is an arrogant Star Sheriff cadet, who falls in love with April eagle, but is rejected by her. Due to his hurt pride over this rejection, he defects to the outriders and starts fighting the Star Sheriffs. This way, he wants to prove April that he is better than everyone else and she should have never rejected him. In the Japanese version, Jesse Blue is no human, but a slick, high-rank outrider who fights the Star Sheriffs only because they are in the outriders' way.
WEP must be applauded here. Compared to the Japanese version, they managed to change the character of Jesse Blue positively. He is much more complex and interesting, since his fight against the Star Sheriffs is no order, but a personal campaign. Jesse's new background story is told in two of the six additionally produced episodes ("Cavalry Command" and "Jesse's revenge").
The fact that the Outriders are vapor creatures is not the only thing that was changed about them in the US Version.
In the Japanese Version, the Outriders are clever yet brutal aliens. Under the regime of their leader Nemesis (Hyuza) they want to conquer the human solar system and extinguish its inhabitants. Because all of the violent scenes were censored in the US Version, the Outriders seem a lot less gruesome and threatening. They are also being displayed as stupid, for example through funny voices and strange dialogs, for example:
Outrider A asks: “What time is it?”
Outrider B answers: “I don't know, I cannot read the clock.”
When analyzing the Outriders, it is important to have a closer look at their highest leader. Nemesis is the head of the Outriders who follow him loyally. His role in the series is kept rather simple, he mostly orders things to be done and then looks after their execution. His dark voice and threatening appearance make him a perfect leader.
In the US Version, the boss of the phantoms was given a rather comical edge because Nemesis seems to be permanently bored and always needs to talk about it.
This would be a typical Nemesis quote:
“I hate boring subjects. Especially if they don't know anything but boring excuses – and vapor creatures are the most boring. The Star Sheriff Dimension is completely different, they know how to have fun, we don't.”
This flaw does not exactly heighten his credibility and the viewer cannot really take him serious. The funny nick names his own people sometimes give him also do not exactly show respect towards their head of state.
Revenge and Colonization vs. Fun and Boredom
The last aspect which makes the Outriders seem ridiculous are their motives why they fight against the humans. In the Japanese Version, their home planet is completely destroyed and exploited so they are looking for new planets to live on, which they have to conquer first. Nemesis also wants revenge for his first defeat.
In the US Version, the motives are partially contradictionary and most of all not very credible. In contrast to the original, the Outriders do not know human feelings. As Nemesis is permanently bored, the Outriders are waging war against the humans in order to have fun respectively to learn what fun is. Eventually the Outriders are running low on energy towards the end of the series and they then try to conquer a new planet in order to serure their survival.
The WEP Episodes
As already mentioned, WEP produced six completely new episodes for the US market. They are usually being called “WEP Episodes”
These are the titles of those episodes:
In these episodes, one can see how WEP imagined the series, which makes them rather special in the series.
The Lost Episodes
The so called “Lost Episodes” are those original episodes WEP did not use for its adaption. We can now only speculate about the reasons for this. These episodes generally do not contain anything that cannot be seen in the other ones. If we have a look at the methods by which the other episodes were converted, it seems obvious that these could have been applied to these five episodes as well.
In August 2010, the German Label “Anime House” released the five lost episodes on two DVDs, including most of the original voice artists. As these episodes were made to fit into the Saber Rider series, the usual changes apply here as well, e.g. changed intro and outro. The names were changed as well, however, this does not apply to those names that can exclusively be found in these episodes as they remained unchanged. The so-called “eyecatchers” were removed as well, these are short scenes that are shown before and after commercial breaks. In every other aspect, these episodes remained untouched.
These are the names of the Japanese episodes (in brackets their translation to English). The episode numbers refer to the original order.
The reasons to why WEP did not release these episodes are unknown. In principle they do not include anything that was shown in any of the other episodes. If you look at the methods that were used to alter the other Seijûshi-Bismark-episodes one could claim that all the other Lost Episodes could have been altered in the exact same way.
Since august 2010 Saber Rider fans can get an idea of these episodes since the German label Anime House released the five Lost Episodes on two DVDs between august and october 2010. They did not only fulfill the fans' but also the dubbers' dream. For the German version they were able to get (almost) all of the original dubbers.
Since the Lost Episodes were never altered by WEP and thus were never a part of the Saber Rider universe, Anime House bought the license of the original Seijûshi Bismark episodes and then gently altered them to fit to the American series.
Apart from that, the Lost Episodes are entirely uncut and the plot remained unchanged. Thus there won't be any reports for these episodes.
There is not much left to say about the changed storyline. The already mentioned changes had of course a big impact. The main events and developments are still the same, but the changes and the censorship took their toll. A good example is the different story of Jesse Blue. In the US Version he talks about his love April Blue all the time, which he, of course, does not in the original as he barely knows her. Through such adaptions, a lot of scenes' meaning was changed partially or completely. However, some of the changes that were made in certain scenes are not related to any of these adaptions or censoorship.
Seijûshi Bismark: The Star Sheriffs receive order from Commander Eagle to monitor a certain area. While they do this, they are being ambushed by the Outriders.
Saber Rider: The Star Sheriff receive order from Commander Eagle to stop an Outrider Unit before they reach a strategically important base. On the way to the base they are being ambushed by the Outriders.
As Seijûshi Bismark was only released in Japanese and without subtitles, we can only cover the changed storyline with some restrictions.
Changed Episode Chronology
WEP did not only produce 6 new episodes and leave 5 of the original ones out, they also changed the original order of the episodes. This is not a problem generally as most episodes stand on their own and are not connected to others. Up to a certain point, a shuffling of the episodes is unproblematic, but the question for the reasons remains. After all, it would have been possible to keep the original chronology and just insert their own episodes in the right places. A possible reason is the series' storyboard. In first two thirds, only Commander Gattler appears as the Star Sheriffs' foe, whereas he is completely replaced by Jessy Blue in the last third. Maybe WEP wanted to give the series a bit more variation by alternating the villains the Star Sheriffs hae to fight agains. However, they made two small mistakes which produced rather severe logical errors:
2. “Gattler's Last Stand” is the last episode in which Gattler can be seen. That is, in the original chronology. In the US Version of the series, he has several more appearances afterwards, which is rather confusing.
Besides the cuts due to censorship, WEP removed a lot of other things for reasons which are unknown for the regular viewer. For example, they quite often removed scenes in which new locations or buildings are shown and introduced to the story. Dialogs are frequently shortened as well, probably to adapt the lips movement to the new synchronisation. Cuts were also used to correct some mistakes like micro black screens. In average, the Saber Rider episodes are two minutes shorter than their Japanese equivalents. They were probably made fit into the time schedules of Western TV stations.
WEP has not only removed but also inserted scenes into the series, for example the transformation sequence. Quite often, new dialog was given to Saber Rider in order to underline his role as the leader of the group. In some of the scenes without a lot of dialog, e.g. the fights between Ramrod and the Renegades, some dialog was inserted in order to break them up a bit. WEP also inserted new transitions between scenes. The Japanese episodes feature those a lot less or not at all. Of special importance is the saber transition, which was created using Saber Rider's weapon.
The Ramrod Transformation Sequence
One thing a lot of cartoon series have in common are certain sequences which can be seen in almost every episode. These are mostly transformation sequences of the main characters or their vehicles. These scenes usually have some catchy music or some easily recognizable dialog and quite often are the highlights of the episodes and key factors for a loyal fanbase.
In Seijûshi Bismark/Saber Rider, this trademark sequence is Ramrod's transformation into a battle robot. The Japanese series features several versions of this sequence, most of the time a shortened Version can be seen. This one cannot really be called a highlight despite the fast background music, which is probably why WEP recut the transformation sequence by putting together parts of the Japanese episode to construct the longest version there is. The complete scene has a catchy background tune, it is always started by Fireball pressing the red button before April says that Ramrod would now take navigational control, which it affirms before saying his trademark sentence (in a Western style):
”Head'em up and move'em out! Power stride and ready to ride!“
It is fairly reasonable to say that this scene has a cult status and is the highlight of every Saber Rider episode.
WEP also introduced another trademark scene. Each one of the male main characters owns a special vehicle: Fireball uses his armed race car, the “Red Fury Racer”, Colt's space craft is called “Bronco Buster” and Saber Rider rides his robot horse “Steed”. Each time the three want to use their transportation, they call out for them. For Fireball and Colt, WEP even inserted special scenes in which this can be heard.
The Series on DVD
Seijûshi Bismark: in 2002, the whole series was released in 2 limited box sets on overall 9 DVDs. These were only released in Japan and do not feature subtitles. Nowadays, these box sets are hard to find and incredibly expensive. All plans to release the series in other countries have failed so far.
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs:
In the USA there exists a "Best Of" box set which was released in 2006. It inlcudes 10 episodes on 2 DVDs that were picked by fans of the series. In 2008 followed the "Collectors Edition Volume 1" which includes the first 17 episodes of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. The rest of the episodes were released in two additional Collectors Editions. Finally, the "Complete Series" box set came pretty much out of nowhere - all episodes are included!
Between 2003 and 2004, the lable Anime House released 10 separate DVD releases which included the original TV episodes with an average image quality. IN 2007 there was a limited box set that included all 10 individual DVD sets plus action figures that could be painted. In 2008, the DVDs were released again in 2 box sets with five DVDs each. Finally, in 2010 followed the box set "Lost Episodes", followed by the "Ultimate Collection".
Miscellaneous: In the UK there only exists one DVD that includes 4 episodes of the series.
The Ultimate Collection
The Ultimate Collection includes all 57 episodes of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, including the Lost Episodes. Unlike the other German releases, the Ultimate Collection was based on the American master tapes which were remastered just for this collection. Thanks to this enhancement, all episodes of the series look and sound much better. Next to the German audio, the Ultimate Collection also includes the original English soundtrack.
Two more features: Since the Ultimate Collection was based on the American versions, the episode titles at the beginning of each episode are English (unlike the previous German releases). Additionally, instead of a simple scene change, a lot of transitions are fade out - fade in transitions. After asking the lable what this was about, we got the information that these transitions indicate the part of the episode where (during the original broadcast on American television) commercials would follow. Unfortunately, some episodes' image quality is worse that the quality of the others.
Differences of the Images
The image of the old German DVDs as well as the Ultimate Collection has several differences in comparison to the Japanese DVDs. These differences have nothing to do with the image quality - instead they are a result of the original alterations of the series. Whether it was WEP who changed the images during their alteration or if it was Studio Pierrot who changed the image during the production of the Japanese DVDs is unknown. It's possible that WEP didn't have a good master of the Japanese episodes - who knows. We believe that these alterations are true for all releases that were based on the American version. After all, the Ultimate Collection was based on the American master tapes which also included the following differences (except one).
In general, the American version uses a slightly different image section than the Japanese version. Thus, the American version shows some more information at some edges of the screen than the Japanese version and vice versa. This minor difference, however, is not the only thing that has to be said about the image section. According to a comparison on Yuma-City.de, the AMerican version (especially during the later episodes) uses a noticeably smaller image section than the Japanese version. In order to check if this is true, we compared the last episode of both versions. The result was both surprising and annoying: The entire episode of the American version uses an immensely smaller image section - a lot of footage is lost. The individual reports for the episodes will include an information whether or not it is true for the presented episode.
Color and Contrast
Concerning color and contrast, both versions are a little different, too. The American version's contrast os often either too high or too low, making the image either very bright or dark; as a result, the colors look a little washed out. As a result, both versions look obviously different.
A special case of altered colors is the hair of the character Jesse Blue. His hair color is a mixture of blue and green which sometimes looks more green, sometimes more blue; so far, both versions are identical. However, in the last nine episodes of the American version, Jesse's hair is lighter blue. This difference could be a result of color and contrast alterations. However, since Jesse's hair still has some green spots every now and again, WEP might have altered the color themselves. The individual reports will analyze this in more detail.
The images of the American verison have horizontal lines which look like lines resulting from interlacing. Sometimes there's more of them, sometimes less; at times, this can be very annoying. The lines were already visible during the original broadcast; thus, they are included in the old German DVDs which are based on the TV master tapes. The US DVDs also include the lines. One explanation could be interactive toys which were available in (among other countries) France. The interlacing lines were used to interact with the toys. There won't be an example for these lines, since they can't be seen too well on small screenshots.
Regardless of the differences that were just listed, lets have a quick look at the image quality of the Japanese DVDs and the German DVDs, including the Lost Episodes.
The Lost Episodes, which were based on the Japanese master look - surprisingly - sharper than on the Japanese DVDs. Apart from that, the quality of the Lost Episodes is identical to the Japanese DVDs.
The German single DVDs, which are based on the old TV master, have the worst image quality of all releases. Apart from the differences that were already listed, the image sharpness is low and the colors look very pale.
The remastered image of the Ultimate Collection has a very good quality which is similar to the Japanese DVDs. The image is even sharper than the Japanese version. Additionally, the interlacing lines were deleted from almost all the episodes. The image quality of those episodes that still have the lines is worse than the quality of the other episodes.
Sources and Acknowledgements
DVDs and Booklets
Websites (mostly German)
I would like to thank the owners of these websites and all of the persons who are responsible for their contents.
I would especially like the following people for their support:Franzi, Collie, Neon, Katty, Marcus Herberger, Timo R. Schouren, Stefan-Harald Kaufmann and the team of movie-censorship.com
Notes regarding the Comparison
1. Cuts consisting of less than five frames will not be mentioned as long as they are not violence censorship or complete shots.
2. The changed scene transitions also include some frame loss which is usually irrelevant and will therefore not be mentioned either.
3. A detailed comparison between the different intro and outro can be found in the comparison regarding the first episode of the series. All subsequent comparisons will not include it.
This is a comparison between the American version (included on the German DVDs released by Anime House) and the Japanese original version (included in the limited Seijûshi Bismark DVD box sets 1 and 2 released by Pioneer LDC).
Runtime of the American Version
(Not including opening and end credits / PAL) : 19:16:18
Runtime of the Japanese Version
(Not including opening and end credits or the title of the episode / NTSC) : 20:57:25
NOTE: According to the course of the Japanese series this would be the 19th episode. In Germany, it's episode 21, while in America it is episode 42. There's no report for episode 13, since it is one of the WEP episodes.
There's an important meeting on planet Yuma between King Jarred and the other leaders of the New Frontier. They plan to establish an Anti-Outrider-Alliance. Of course, the outriders are not okay with the meeting that is set to take place in the Yuma Center. Thus, Commander Gattler plans to put the entire building to the Vapor Zone via a time bomb. For this, he sends to agents to Yuma City. A human agent is supposed to bring the bomb into the building which has a newly installed Anti-Outrider-Security-System. Soon, Gattler's agents shoot the man. The Star Sheriffs take notice of this by accident and of course intervene. Still, one of the Outriders is able to escape. The wounded man is brought to the hospital and the Star Sheriffs guard him. During the night, the escaped Outrider agent shows up at the hospital to finish his work. However, Fireball is able to decoy him into a trap. During the following fight, the Outrider blows himself up.
Meanwhile, Saber Rider found out that the unknown man used a fake ID to get into the building. They can only guess what he was trying to do there. Soon, they have a conversation with the guy but due to amnesia he can't remember a thing.
24 hours remain until the conference. Saber Rider tries to find out who the man is, while Fireball and Colt search the conference building for anything suspicious. They can't cancel the meeting since the Anti-Outrider-Alliance could otherwise never be established. April desperately tries to get the man's memory back by talking to him.
In the end, Saber Rider is able to find out who the guy is. His name is Frank Foggaty - a bomb planter and former architect. The Star Sheriffs are sure that he planted a bomb for the Outriders. Inside the conference building they couldn't find anything and time is getting short. April shows Foggaty some movie footage which is supposed to bring back his memory.
Suddenly Saber Rider has an idea. Since the bomb has not been found, it is probably inside the abandoned channel system underneath the conference building. While Saber Rider looks for it, Fireball and Colt have to fight a Renegade.
Meanwhile, Foggaty regains his memory. Even though he wants to hide this fact, April found it out already and vigorously tries to find out the bomb's position. In the end she picks up a gun and fires a warnshot. Foggaty decides to cooperate. Thanks to April's information, Saber Rider can disarm the bomb in the last moment and Ramrod destroys the Renegade. The conference can proceed as planned - an important step in fighting the Outriders.
Differences Concerning the Story
In this episode, there are some differences when comparing the stories, especially concerning the timebombs. In the Japanese version it is simply a regular bomb which is supposed to destroy the conference building. Even though the bomb does not explode, the function of the bomb was changed for the American version. Here, the bomb is supposed to bring the conference building to the Vapor Zone (Dino Crisis, anyone?) in order to take all participants hostage.
Another (possible) difference is the conference itself. In the American Version, King Jarred wants to meet up with the leaders of the New Frontier - all of them are former enemies. In the Japanese version, there could be another reason. Keep in mind that in Seijûshi Bismark King Jarred is ready to join the sun system frontier in episode 12 (which in the American version is an alliance between Jarred and the Cavalry Command). Thus, the conference might be connected to this plan.
The last and most important difference concerns this episode's main character - Frank Foggaty. In the American version he is a former bomb specialist and architect who planted several bombs in several important buildings. His motif is the kidnapping of his brother by the Outriders. However, we find out that it was Foggaty who got rid of his brother. Thus, his real motif is pure self interest. He thinks that men are worth less than Outriders and it would thus be better to be on the side of the winners. If this is true for the Japanese version we can't tell. However, the main motif of Foggaty is definitively different. In Seijûshi Bismark, Foggaty's wife and daughter are killed when a jet fighter of the cavalry shoots a ship from the Outriders which then falls down right next to his family. Foggaty has to watch his wife and daugther dying during the explosion. We can understand that Foggaty blames the cavalry to be responsible for his loss and wants to take revenge. Interestingly enough, Foggaty appears to be much more cold-hearted in the American version since he is only motivated by his own profit. His act of self-justice from the Japanese version appears to be more understandable (yet not better).
The American version suffers from a narrowed image section (which was already explained in the introduction). At the beginning, the image section is identical for both versions. However, from roughly minute 4 (when Foggaty walks through the park) onwards the American version's image section is much smaller: parts of the image are lost on all 4 sides of the screen.
At this point, the tracking from Jupiter towarts planet Yuma (including a short shot of Yuma) was shortened. In return, they added a scene transition to the tracking shot of the outrider ship (which was also shortened).
What is interesting is the fact that the Ultimate Collection does not include this scene transition. The scene is shortened but doesn't include the transition.
Commander Gattler gives his agents a bomb which they are supposed to give to a human agent. In the Japanese version this bomb is supposed to blow up the conference building – any other purpose would go against the Japanese version's style. In the American version the purpose of the bomb was censored, so that no human being will die. Gattler says that the bomb is supposed to bring the conference building to the phantom zone.
At this point they added a scene transition which is one second long.
The guard's dialogue was shortened.
The Star Sheriffs are inside the control room of the conference building. The camera pans over the monitor screens towards an important-looking device. In the Japanese version Fireball says/asks something (off-screen). Then we see a uniformed man sitting at the control panel who responds. Subsequently, Saber Rider says something as well.
In the American version, Saber Rider had to look more important. Instead of Fireball it's him who says something (off-screen). Additionally, his dialogue is much longer.
Saber Rider: "April tells me that this new security system can actually detect vapor beings.“
Uniformed Guy: "That's right Saber Rider. If a vapor head tries to through here, that wave unit will trigger an alarm and we'll nail him."
Saber Rider: "Excellent. But we'll stay in touch, just in case."
The main point of this scene – the security system is safe against Outriders – is probably true for both versions. However, Saber Rider obviously dominates the American version in order to fulfill his position as the leader of the Star Sheriffs.
Officcer Mully's dialogue was shortened.
1 sec 19 frames
Added Saber Transition
At this point they added the saber transition.
+1 sec 7 frames
Before you see Frank Foggaty inside the park, the American version misses out on a shot of trees underneath the blue sky.
3 sec 6 frames
This shot of Fireball was extended by using a freeze frame, since he only in the American version has an interior monologue: "I lost him."
In the Ultimate Collection, the scene fades out to a black screen and the next scene is then faded in. This form of transition was not included on the old German DVD version.
At this point they added a scene transition with a runtime of one second. Since the following shot (image 3) was shortened, the American version is only eleven frames longer.
Since all music was altered for the American version, this scene can hardly be called censored. Still, it's quite interesting: In the Japanese version you constantly hear organ music during this scene inside the church. This is not the case for the American version.
The Outrider agent stops in front of the confessional, shortly looks inside and then opens the door.
3 sec 3 frames
The conversation between commander Gattler and the Outrider agent inside the confessional was slightly re-cut. In the Japanese version, the outrider agent talks, takes a break and then continues. Then Gattler talks. In the American version they deleted parts of Gattler's dialogue and inserted it to the point when the agent takes a break. The part that was added was additionally shortened: six frames are missing at the beginning and seven at the end.
Added Saber Transition
At this point they added the Saber Transition.
The Outrider agent is getting at Fireball with a knife, however, the latter sandbags the attacker. During the fall, he rams his knife in his own stomach. Only in the Japanese version this results in a sound along with a scream of pain by the Outrider.
After blowing himself up, the shot of the crater was shortened. At this point Fireball has a short inner monologue in the American version:
"He went back to the Vapor Zone."
In between two scenes they added a transition.
1 sec 5 frames
April's dialogue was shortened.
This shot was shortened. What is interesting is the fact that in the Japanese version Fireball and Colt talk to each other. In the American version, however, it's only Saber Rider who talks. He says that he will check Foggaty's picture again while Colt and Fireball are supposed to look for the bomb inside the Yuma centre.
1 sec 24 frames
Saber Rider's dialogue was shortened.
The tracking shot slowly moves towards the hospital. Then follows a scene transition to April and Foggaty on the roof.
At this point they added a scene transition (one second).
Minus the scene transition the American version misses out on six seconds and 25 frames.
6 sec 25 frames
Added Transition/Added Scene
At this point they added a scene transition in between two scenes. Additionally, a scene that was already shown was added again. The result is a minor difference in time.
At this point they added a transition.
The shot of the screen was shortened.
After the camera zoomed towards the screen, the scene was extended by using a freeze frame so that the music doesn't have to be cut.
The eyecatcher was deleted.
Since there were not enough of them during this episode, they added another scene transition. In the Ultimate Collection we instead see a fade out, followed by a fade in.
Minus the transition, the American version misses out on nine seconds and 27 frames.
9 sec 27 frames
The shot of Foggaty and April standing inside the hospital was extended since April only in the American version says something to Foggaty: "Don't worry, the computer will tell us who you are."
In the Japanese version we instead hear dramatic music.
Foggaty and April are standing inside the hospital. Depressed because of his amnesia, Foggaty looks out of the window and mumbles to himself. Off screen, the Star Sheriffs enter the room. In the Japanese version Fireball says something to Foggaty. In the American version it's Saber Rider. He says: "We know who you are." In both versions the camera pans to Fireball who then is allowed to talk. Of course, the reason for this alteration is to have Saber Rider talk first (being the leader and all).
The end of Fireball's dialogue is five frames shorter, while the beginning of the following shot misses out on seven frames.
The Star Sheriffs confront Foggaty with the accusation that he planted the bomb for the Outriders. They want to know where he put it. In the American version they confront him with his past. He used to be an architect as well as a bomb expert. At some point in time he became a bomb planter. Of course, Foggaty can't remember anything and angrily leaves the room. April is moved by this whole scene. She asks Saber Rider if the information was part of the records which Saber Rider answers by giving her a document. What exactly happens during the Japanese conversation is unknown to us. However, while April looks at the document we see a flashback which explains Foggaty's motifs quite clearly. In the American version they constructed other motifs (which were already explained in the section „Differences Concerning the Story“).
The shot of April's face fades to the flashback. You see Foggaty and his family on an idyllic meadow. His daughter follows a butterfly. Suddenly, spaceships appear in the sky. We see jet fighters following a few outrider spaceships. The jet fighters fire at the Outriders. Foggaty and his wife call for their kid. While Foggaty seems to be frozen in shock, his wife runs towards the child. In this moment, one of the outrider ships is hit and falls exactly on Foggaty's family. Desperately, he screams their names...
30 sec 28 frames
In order to make up for the flashback that was cut out, the American version includes two scenes from the beginning of the episode which were then re-dubbed. At the beginning of each scene there's a transition effect. You see Gattler's ship in space. Then we hear him talking. He got to know that the Star Sheriffs are up to Foggaty. Gattler wants to make sure that none of the information they might gather will be of any use.
In the American version the end of April's dialogue carries on to the following scene which follows after a short transition effect. As a result, there's a small difference in time.
2 sec 7 frames
April shows Foggaty pictures of battles which are supposed to bring back his memory. A scene where people are killed by an explosion were cut out. This scene was also cut in episode eleven. However, the harmless beginning of this sequence was cut out as well.
While Foggaty is standing in front of the screen, the scene was cut out again.
Again, a transition effect was added.
Extended Scene/Added Transition
For whatever reason the scene from the first image was extended. Additionally, they added a scene transition (image two) to the next scene (image three). The American version thus is seven frames longer.
This shot of Saber Rider was shortened.
1 sec 18 frames
Saber Rider's dialogue was shortened.
While Saber Rider and Fireball talk about the possibility that Foggaty planted the bomb in the channel system underneath the conference building, the Japanese version shows the possible effect of the explosion. We see three freeze frames, which the camera zooms in to. During these shots we hear the sounds of explosions.
2 sec 29 frames
Before the Renegade appears underneath the buildings of the city, there's a missing shot of the city.
2 sec 29 frames
Instead of the shot of the city, the American version shows a scene transition.
A few frames of the collapsing church were cut out. Interestingly enough these frames were taken out right in the middle of the scene. Thus we still see three frames of an explosion (see image below).
The Renegade shoots at a few people who run away. After that it flies around as if nothing happened.
5 sec 14 frames
The Renegade again shoots at people (which is a simple repeat of the previous sequence).
1 sec 6 frames
Another transition was added.
A short missing close-up shot of Ramrod's igniting engine.
Added Saber Transition
At this point they added the Saber Transition.
In the Japanese version we see Saber Rider looking for the bomb inside the channel system. Then follows a close-up shot of the bomb and the timer. In the American version the bomb is shown first.
No difference in time.
Anoter added transition.
On the phone April gets to know about the Renegade's attack. Additionally, the bomb can explode any minute. In the Japanese version, April is motionless for a brief moment. Then she closes the eyes, which are still shaking. The American version we only see her closing her eyes. Both versions then show April looking at the clock.
1 sec 12 frames
April (off-screen) talks to Foggaty while the camera zooms in to the latter.
4 sec 13 frames
A lot of dialogue between April and Foggaty was cut out.
10 sec 27 frames
The shot of Foggaty is shown longer in the Japanese version.
1 sec 13 frames
After April fired a warning shot at Foggaty, the camera in the Japanese version zooms in to her a little longer.
1 sec 13 frames
Added Saber Transition
At this point they added the Saber Transition. Due to the transition, Ramrod's first blow (image one and two) was cut out.
Another added transition.
Ramrod ignites its engines and flies in the air to be able to shoot at the Renegade. In the American version they deleted the beginning of the scene where the camera pans up to Ramrod's backside while it is about to do a 180. Overall, we can't really see what is going on in this scene.
1 sec 23 frames
Ramrod in both versions is about to do a knee kick. Only in the Japanese version it hits the Renegade which then flies back a few metres.
3 sec 23 frames
A short part of the Renegade's explosion was cut out.
The end of the explosion was cut out as well.
In the Japanese version the shot of Ramrod (image one) is shown a little longer, followed by a transition to the next scene which shows the sundown. Then we see a long shot of the conference building with the participants' cars in front of it. Soon, they all drive away. In the American version the image fades out after the shot of Ramrod, followed by a short black screen. Then it fades back in to shown the conference building. Thus, the American version is five seconds and 13 frames shorter.
5 sec 13 frames
The Star Sheriffs are standing at the edge of the road near the conference building while the cars of the conference participants drive past them. One of the cars stops and King Jarred shortly talks to the Star Sheriffs. In the Japanese version you only see the first car, followed by King Jarred. This was shortened in a pretty clever way: The scene continues, when the third car almost left the screen. The animation of the first and third car are identical, thus the cut is hardly noticeable.
1 sec 16 frames
The shot of King Jarred and Prince Roland was shortened (13 frames are missing). The first nine frames of the following shot are missing, too.
After the King's car left the screen, the long shot of the Star Sheriffs was shortened.
Colt puts his hands on April's shoulder and says something to her. He probably praises her for her commitment which made it possible for them to disarm the bomb. Apris seems to be a little embarrassed but at the same time proud. She responds to Colt. The American version continues when Saber Rider asks how April was able to make Foggaty talk.
5 sec 2 frames
Fireball's dialogue was cut out. The first four frames of the following shot of April were cut out, too.
2 sec 24 frames
The shot after April's dialogue was slightly extended, since Colt's (off-screen) comment is a little longer than in the Japanese version.
+1 sec 4 frames
The last scene before the end credits was cut out entirely. While the Star Sheriffs laugh (off-screen) we see a close-up shot of April. She innocently looks at the audience and then sticks out her tongue. Meanwhile, the image fades out.
3 sec 27 frames
While the Star Sheriffs laugh (off-screen) a shorter version of the sundown sequence from 20:01:23 was cut back in for the American version. The scene fades out, followed by the end credits.
+2 sec 4 frames
Inspired by the Sailor Moon reports we want to tell you a few new things. Since the last report about Saber Rider, the „Ultimate Collection“ was released. Besides a video game there's also an audio drama in process of planning. Additionally, the introduction was revised and a few mistakes were patched. The most important alterations were done for the following sections:
The following sections are new:
For the screenshots of the American version we use the Ultimate Collection which is much better in terms of image quality.
Thanks to everyone who reads these reports and sorry for the fact that it took a while for a new report to come out. We will try to give you new material as soon as possible.