Release: Aug 22, 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: 00:21:47:04
Runtime of the Japanese Version: 00:24:10:01
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs is a 52-episode American TV series with a Japanese origin. The series combines Mecha-Anime and western-elements.
The theme song (performed by Dale Schacker) has a cult status and alwaysw brings back childhood memories every time you hear it.
Naturally, the series was also licensed for other countries: England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland, Russia, China, and others just to name a few. The series was also very popular in southeast Asia. It was pracically marketed and released all over the planet so you can really say that it was a huge success.
The Story of Saber Rider
In a remote future humanity lives on the planet Yuma. Soon, they start to colonize other planets. The Galaxy soon is called "New Frontier". To maintain all the laws and regulations, humanity created the Cavalry Command to protect all the planets. The peace is disturbed when aliens known as Vapor Beings or Outriders attack the planet Alamo. Unfortunately, the Cavalry Command's intervention comes too late - the battle of Alamo ends in a tragedy. Both the Outriders and the Alamos lost heavily. The Outriders fall back and planet Alamo breaks contact with Yuma. 15 years later, the Outriders strike again. The humans are heavily ountnumbered and seem to have no chance. Their last hope is a secret project which is called Ramrod - a huge battleship which is capable to transform into a giant robot. The project is planned under the direction of Commander Eagle - leader of the Cavalry Commando's special unit "Star Sherrif". When a spy named Vanquo finds out everything about Ramrod they face a race against time. Star Sheriff agent Saber Rider is supposed to catch Vanquo before he makes Ramrod's secret location public. When his mission fails, Saber Rider forms an alliance with race driver Fireball and headhunter Colt. In company with Commanrer Eagle's daughter April they're able to save Ramrod and use to obtain and keep peace for the New Frontier.
The Origin of Saber Rider
The series is based on the anime series Sei jūshi Bismarck produced by the Japanese company "Studio Pierrot.CO LTD". In Japan, the series bombed, therefore it was sold to the American company "World Events Productions"(WEP) in 1986. WEP wanted to create a child-friendly series for afternoon television in the tradition of other Sci-Fi-western series such as Galaxy Rangers or Bravestarr. Therefore, they had to change a lot of things.
The Story of Seijūshi Bismark
It's the year 2069. Humans have left the earth to colonize other planets of the solar system. However, the peace they wanted to achieve recedes into the distance - the aliens "Deathcula" attack the planets of the solar system. The humans mobilize against the offenders and form a confederation to fight against the Deathculas. However, some sectors refuse to be a b part of this confederation and choose to fight on their own. One of these "mavericks" is planet Ganymed. While the confederation is already able to defend itself against the attacks, there's a decisive battle between the Deathculas and the army of planet Ganymed. The battle is lead by General Domes. Domes asked the earth for help but didn't get any. The battle seemed to become a shellacking when susdelny pilot Shinjiro Hikari steps in the battle. Thanks to the spacepilot's brave behavior they were able to beat the Deathculas. However, Shinjiro pays for his fame with his life. The following time of piece is characterized by the cold-hearted relationship between Ganymed and the earth since general Domes lost any trust in the humans living on planet earth. The Deathculas had to return to their home planet Meteus and then tried to rebuilt their army. 15 years later in the year 2084 the enemy strikes again and starts to attack all the peoples (who now live in peace with each other) of the solar system. The solar system cofederation can't protect all the humans on all the planets who are unable to defend themselves against the enemies. Scientist Dr. Charles Louvre develops a new battle group which is called "Bismark". It is a special unit which is capable to transform into a giant robot. With this weapon they now have the strength to fight back. The team consists of 4 high qualified and very different persons: 17-year-old Japanese Shinji Hikari, 16-year-old American Bill Willcox, 18-year-old Richard Lancelot from Scotland on his Majesty's service, and 15-year-old Marianne Louvre from France who is Bismark-designer Charles Louvre's daughter.
This information was taken from the German "Seijūshi Bismark" webpage.
Editing the Series
The central topic of the Japanese original is an unadorned war where innocent people die.
Thus, the Japanese version is rather violent and (despite the humor) has a very serious and aggressiv undertone.
To form this into a childrens TV series they had to change this undertone as well as reduce the violence.
They also changed a lot of other things (either for the different American notion or other reasons), resulting in a completely different series in terms of story as well as mood and style.
One of the major changes of the series are the characters. Especially the "leader issue" has far-reaching consequences for the whole series.
They had to change several things in order to make Saber Rider the leader of the troop.
Even though they really tried to cover up Fireball's position as the leader of the group, it still doesn't work every time.
Fireball still is a way too dominant character. He mostly assumes control and almost constantly gets the final word for important decisions. Additionally, he's always standing in the front while Saber Rider can rather be seen in the far right.
The dubbing is the key element of the changes as well as the censorship of the series. Due to the change of names and the plot as well as the censorship, most of the dialogues had to be re-written. Some dialogues were just rephrased, while several were mitigated / changed in order to make them funnier than in the Japanese version. Other dialogues were completely changed. The American version also offers dialogues where the Japanese version is just silent. Most of these additional dialogues are just for the sake of fun.
Censorship via Dubbing
With the help of the dubbing the characters sometimes say things that are included to censor the series. These dialogues are mostly very conspicuous and one of the series' trademarks.
In the American version there are 2 types of transitions:
A transition-effect that pays tribute to the titular character.
This type of transition moves fast from right to left / left to right. Depending of the direction of the movement, the transition is either green or brown. This type of transition originates from the Japanese version, however, there it occurs way less frequently.
Most of the transitions are just regular transition effects that you know from movies.
The Japanese original was released in 2 seperate DVD-boxes as a limited edition in Japan.
Unfortunately they don't include any subtitles and have so far only been released in Japan. By now, these DVD-boxes are very rare and unbelievably expensive. So far, there are no future plans to release the series in any other country.
Comparison of the Names
You now will see a list of the most important characters along with their names in both versions.
Comparison of the Images
The Japanese version has a better image quality than the American version.
For this comparison, the images come from the German and the Japanese DVD. Generally, the image of the German DVD is more blurred and paler. Additionally, the German DVD includes interlace flickers (resulting from a bad transition from NTSC to PAL) which are very apparent when you watch the DVDs.
It's not easy to say which of the versions is the better one. The Japanese version is more complex, more serious and more realistic than the American version. The American version tones down the violence and pretty much erased death from the series. There are a few plotholes which most of the time result from all the alterations from the American version. However, the great dubbing of Saber Rider as well as the music are a great advantage of the American version. Still, the Japanese version has quite a good soundtrack as well.
So, it pretty much is a matter of your own taste, so check out both versions and make up your own mind.
If you want to have more information on Saber Rider and Seijūshi Bismark, there are plenty of webpages to choose from.
We would like to thank the following webpages for supplying us with background information about both of the series, covers, and translations for this report:
Plot differences in Episode 3
This episode is a perfect example for the story differences in the US Version. Usually, the reasons aren't reasonable. To make it easier to understand, I'm gonna name the differences right here. In the comparison itself, I'm just gonna mention the particular scenes. For some reason, the background story of this episode has been totally changed / simplified. It's not a big deal in Saber Rider, nevertheless the story of the Original Version is much more complex. The remaining differences are censored action scenes.
The background story
There are lots of meteoroid showers on Yuma / Ganymed. The Star Sheriffs want to check out that phenomenon. Out of the blue they're being attacked by the Outriders.
For some unmentioned reason, the Star Sheriffs are being called to Dakota. They aren't aware whether the Outriders are involved or not. They're being attacked while looking around.
Hoydt (Domingo in the Original Version) is a 10-year-old kid. His character and his background have been heavily modified. The censorship is actually pretty bad and cause a lot of weird moments in the episode.
After the Star Sheriffs were attacked, Colt can confront an Outrider to get information. Suddenly the Outrider gets shot by Hoydt from the background. It turns out Hoydt's town got mugged by the Outriders. His parents were killed and others were forced to build a base for the Outriders. Hoydt could escape and and took the Outrider out as an act of revenge.
The Star Sheriffs agree to free the people hold captive in the base.
After the Star Sheriffs were attacked, Colt can confront an Outrider to get information. Colt wants to know if he hold any people captive and where. Suddenly Hoydt shows up and the Outrider vanishes. The Outrider's execution has just been removed. In Saber Rider, Hoydt's parents haven't been killed but abducted with the others. Instead an unfinished base, the people have to work in the silver mines. The Star Sheriffs agree to free Hoydt's parents and the others in the silver mines.
In the Original Version, the meteorites aren't only reason for the plot. The Outriders use the meteorites as transportation for construction material to build the base. That's why there are extraordinarily much meteorites showers. All that isn't an issue in Saber Rider.
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
Saber Rider starts with an introductory monolog. That monolog justifies the opening sequence with the meteroite showers. In opposite to the Original Version, the US Version doesn't bear the meteroites in mind. Without that monolog, the meteroites wouldn't be out of context and pointless.
The meteorite shower
Meteroite shower on Yuma / Ganymed at the beginning of the episode.
Missing dialog scene.
The shot of the second guy stepping forward to the monitor and standing still is longer. Furthermore a part of the scene has been added a second time. If you watch precisely, you can notice the guy's head moving. In the Original Version, the guy has a short dialog. In Saber Rider, the other guy talks.
Transition in Saber Rider.
Shortened shot of Colt's face because Saber Rider speaks for an extended period in the background.
Saber Rider talking in front of a shell.
Extended shot of Colt talking.
Saber Rider's dialog has been shortened.
Same with Fireball's dialog.
The conversation between Colt and Fireball and has been shortened and removed. 21 frames of Colt's dialog are missing and so is Fireball's entire dialog.
Arrival on Dakota
Funnily enough, a short scene of the planet of the Outriders has been added here. Some space ship is approaching the planet. The scene is supposed to illustrate that the Star Sheriffs have arrived on Dakota.
3 dialog scenes have been added here. First of all the removed/shortened scene from 04:30:12-04:34:23 plus one of Fireball and one of Saber Rider from another passage of the episode.
Colt says they were going to see a lovely spot. Fireballs is affirmative and realizes those were the Black Hills on Dakots. Saber Rider says to have a look from close range.
Extended shot in the Original Version before Colt turns around and starts talking.
Missing shot of the characters standing in front of Ramrod. Saber Rider says sth. Suddenly noises of Outrider ships in the background. Fireball is irritated and looks sideways.
Here Saber Rider restarts. Fireball notices the hostiles, gets scared and warns the others. To avoid continuity faults, the audio track of Saber Rider contains shooting noises at the beginning. The noises are supposed to explain why Fireball suddenly notices the hostiles because the shot of Fireball hearing the ships and looking at them is missing.
An Outrider gets hit in the chest.
Extended shot of the Outrider flying over Ramrod.
The explosion is only 9 frames long in Saber Rider. In the Original Version, it's longer.
Colt's starting scene has been reinsert. He says sth. to start the Bronco Buster.
After Colt hit the ship of the Outriders, the shot of the Outrider getting tossed out of the ship and hitting the ground is missing.
Colt's Dialog is shorter.
Comparison of the Dialog
In the Original Version, Colt questions the Outrider about the permanent meteorite showers.
Colt says he was going to give him a good advice. He tells him not to touch the gun. Then he asks why he didn't leave into his own dimension. He adds he knew he had a captive around there and wants to know the exact location.
Colt tells the Outrider to forget that because he'd never expected to get a serious answer anyway.
The Outrider wants him to wait because he was going to tell him. He says he was over there.
The conversation doesn't make any sense and is supposed to cover up the following cut, which didn't really work.
The Outrider gets shot in the stomach from behind. Colt takes cover behind a tree. The camera pans to the wood glade. The beginning of the pan shot (the dead Outrider on the ground) is missing.
Because of the cut, the Outrider just vanishes into thin air. The so-called captive (please see the differences in the dialog) is just standing around with a gun in his hand. All that ought to cover up the fact that a kid has a gun and uses it.
Extended shot of Hoydt. In the Original Version, Colt doesn't say anything but he comes up with rhetorical question in Saber Rider.
Colt's dialog when he sees Hoydt has been censored. He explains to a kid with a toy gun not to walk around with that kind of toys because it could become dangerous for him.
Though I don't know the original dialog, I know that this alternate dialog has been used because of censorship with the intention to cover the fact that a kid is walking around with a real gun.
Colt approaching the Outrider lying on the ground and turns around to Hoydt.
Colt's dialog is longer. In the Original Version, his voice sounds pushier.
Colt grabs Hoydt's arm. Hoydt looks oddly. It seems like it hurts.
Added transition of Saber Rider.
In the Original Version, Hoydt waits longer until he responds to April.
Extended zoom to Hoydt before the flashback in the Original Version. The transition effect to the flashback is also missing. As a result of that, the beginning of the flashback is missing as well.
The flashback of the attack of Hoydt's village has been shortened and modified.
In Saber Rider, the entire flashback is surrounded by a white frame. Furthermore the flashback is accompanied by a voice over of Hoydt. That's not the case in the Original Version.
The captives get locked up.
Hoydt's dad leaves the house and yells sth. He gets shot by an Outrider but he can take him out with his own gun. Now Hoydt's mom shows up. Then both of his parents get shot but that's hardly recognizable. At least the Original Version contains the parents' screaming in the audio track.
Extended shot of Colt's face in Saber Rider.
A longer part of the conversation is missing here.
Saber Rider's dialog is 7 frames longer.
Another longer part of the conversation.
Added Saber Rider transition.
After the transition, a scene from another episode has been insert here. Gattler (Zatora) lands his ship in one of the mines. Two outriders in a vehicle are coming closer.
Gattler says he was back. One of the Outriders says everything was fine in the mines and Gattler tells him to get back to work.
The Way to the Mine
The scene is slightly shorter. The shot of Saber Rider is missing here.
A removed/shortened scene has been insert here.
An Outrider says to Gattler the captives were weak. Gattler replies to let them work harder because that mission mustn't fail. He adds they needed more silver. The Outrider obeys Gattler's order.
The time difference is at the passage where the scene has been placed in the Original Version.
For some reason, 3 frames of the beginning of the dialog are missing here. As a result of that, Hoydt's mouth is closed in Saber Rider but open in the Original Version when he starts talking.
Comparison of the Dialog
The following scene hasn't been changed but it's still pretty important for the different plot.
Taking a close look at the scene, one can notice a meteorite on the ground. A vehicles drives out of it. Bottom line: the meteorites are being used to transport components for the base in the Original Version.
Colt tells the others to check out the facilities. Saber Rider replies the mine had to be the main source for silver. Colt says Gattler wasn't going to be very happy if they pulled the plug.
Shortened tracking shot to Hoydt.
A Saber Rider transition has been added here.
Missing eyecatch scenes in the middle.
A man with some metal plates on his shoulders is walking across a bridge. The following is missing: the man drops with exhaustion. A guard yells at him and starts whipping him. Then he wraps the whip around the man'd neck and pushes over the handrail of the bridge and the an falls down.
The scene is slightly shorter and has been removed to 11:57:23.
Another kind of surprise attack
Freeze frame for approx. 1 sec at the beginning. That means the shot of the Outrider is longer and he says it was safe. In the Original Version, the camera just pans over the Outrider.
The dialog between Fireball and Hoydt is shorter.
A short scene from another episode has been insert here.
Gattler says there was a security breach.
Saber Rider flies to three hostiles standing on a rock with his jetpack (screen 1+2). The shot of him slicing and dicing them with his sword. The footage of the last screen is also in the US Version.
Colt and Hoydt are fighting with a couple of Outriders. It's very likeley that this scene has been removed because Hoydt uses his gun.
Added scene from this episode. The scene has been extended by freezing the last frame.
Gattler implies he is going to kill the Star Sheriffs if they make it in. Then he laughs maniacally.
Then a transition.
Clearance of the Mine
Colt leaps down into the room. The shot of him knocking out a hostile with his gun is missing.
Because of that, it looks like Colt jumps onto him.
Slightly shortened scene.
Added scene with the Nemesis (Hyuza), the head of the Outriders. He tells Gattler to stop the Star Sheriffs or he (Gattler) had to get the silver from the mine with bare hands. Thanks to the scene, Nemesis shows up much earlier than in the Original Version.
A man has to take a lethal hit by the tank. The camera pans from the body to the Star Sheriffs and the others.
The tank keeps shooting. Distance shot of the dead guy. Fireball says sth. So does Colt. Then he looks up to a pipe at the ceiling. Colt asks the guy next to him (presumably) what the deal with the pipe was. The guy responds and Colt makes Fireball aware of it. The tank comes closer. The Star Sheriffs shoot the pipe which destroys the tank. That very last scene is also in Saber Rider.
Slightly extended scene in Saber Rider.
Added transition in Saber Rider.
Slightly shorter dialog.
Two added scenes here.
Nemesis tells Gattler to stop them and he replies he wasn't going to let them get out.
The scene from 18.15.05 has been added for 1.5 sec here. This time Colt doesn't say anything.
This scene has been freezed, that's why it's longer than the Original Version.
After the Star Sheriffs set foot on Ramrod, the shot of Ramrod passing by the Renegade is missing.
A scene from another episode has been insert here once again. Fireball saddles and pushes the transformation button.
The Transformation Sequence
The electric shocks from the Original Version, when Ramrod's legs are being driven out, are missing in the US Version. Other passages are slightly shorter in the Original Version and I'm not talking about the standards like the blazing fist, the bridge scebe etc. I figure the length of the sequence needed to be adjusted to the music rhythm but that's just a wild guess.
11 missing frames at the beginning of the transformation.
The Original Version is shorter than Saber Rider.
The transformation of the bridge has been reinsert here.
The Original Version is shorter than Saber Rider again.
The End of the Transformation Sequence
The Original Version only contains a short distance shot of Ramrod's head.
The standard ending of the scene in Saber Rider.
Saber Rider is approx. 0.5 sec longer.
The Fight with Renegade
Missing shot of Ramrod landing on the ground after the transformation.
The scene is slightly shorter.
Extended shot of Ramrod shooting at Renegade.
A transition has been added.
Added scene from another episode here. Gattler is being taken to Nemesis by two guards.
One of the guards tells Gattler to move. Nemesis says Gattler was becoming useless for him because he'd failed again. Gattler asks Nemesis for foregiveness but Nemesis has had it with him, he doesn't want to see him anymore.
Cut to the next scene during the last second of Nemesis' dialog. That scene doesn't make any sense at all because Gattler has lots of appearances in the followong episodes. Though Nemesis just doesn't want to see him anymore, it's still pretty weird.
The Final Sequence
For censorship reasons, the end sequences are different. In Saber Rider, Hoydt's parents survive. That's why the entire sequence needed to be modified.
Colt and Hoydt in front of the grave of Hoydt's parents. Hoydt lays a wreath. He and Colt are talking before the camera moves away to the other Star Sheriffs and the sun going down. Then the credits.
The final sequence has been assorted with dialog scenes in the woods, which have been redubbed to make it suitable.
Saber Rider congrats Hoydt because he did really good. Colt says they were all going to miss him and he'd really liked having him there. Then he tells him to take care of himself. Fireball agrees with Colt and cals Hoydt a true hero. April mentions Hoydt had good news for them and she wants him to tell. Hoydt explains he'd found his parents and that they could escape with the others. Saber Rider thinks he (Hoydt) was a lucky one. April says she loved happy ends.
Then the credits.
A detailed comparison of the credits can be found in the comparison to episode 1.
Runtime of the credits in the American Version 00:01:19
Runtime of the credits in the Japanese Version 00:01:02