Release: Sep 04, 2011 - Author: Mario - Translator: DaxRider123 - external link: IMDB - more from this series
Comparison between the American Version (represented by the German DVDs released by Anime House) and the Japanese Version included in the limited Seijushi Bismark DVD box-sets 1 and 2 released by Pioneer LDC.
Runtime of the American Version: 00:21:47:14
Runtime of the Japanese Version: 00:24:08:20
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs is a 52-episode American TV series with a Japanese origin. The seriescombines Mecha-Anime and western-elements.
The theme song (performed by Dale Schacker) has a cult status and alwaysw brings back childhood memories every time you hear it.
Naturally, the series was also licensed for other countries: England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland, Russia, China, and others just to name a few. The series was also very popular in southeast Asia. It was pracically marketed and released all over the planet so you can really say that it was a huge success.
The Story of Saber Rider
In a remote future humanity lives on the planet Yuma. Soon, they start to colonize other planets. The Galaxy soon is called "New Frontier". To maintain all the laws and regulations, humanity created the Cavalry Command to protect all the planets. The peace is disturbed when aliens known as Vapor Beings or Outriders attack the planet Alamo. Unfortunately, the Cavalry Command's intervention comes too late - the battle of Alamo ends in a tragedy. Both the Outriders and the Alamos lost heavily. The Outriders fall back and planet Alamo breaks contact with Yuma. 15 years later, the Outriders strike again. The humans are heavily ountnumbered and seem to have no chance. Their last hope is a secret project which is called Ramrod - a huge battleship which is capable to transform into a giant robot. The project is planned under the direction of Commander Eagle - leader of the Cavalry Commando's special unit "Star Sherrif". When a spy named Vanquo finds out everything about Ramrod they face a race against time. Star Sheriff agent Saber Rider is supposed to catch Vanquo before he makes Ramrod's secret location public. When his mission fails, Saber Rider forms an alliance with race driver Fireball and headhunter Colt. In company with Commanrer Eagle's daughter April they're able to save Ramrod and use to obtain and keep peace for the New Frontier.
The Origin of Saber Rider
The series is based on the anime series Sei jūshi Bismarck produced by the Japanese company "Studio Pierrot.CO LTD". In Japan, the series bombed, therefore it was sold to the American company "World Events Productions"(WEP) in 1986. WEP wanted to create a child-friendly series for afternoon television in the tradition of other Sci-Fi-western series such as Galaxy Rangers 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 Hole in the Wall Gang
Several meterological control satellites circle around planet Yuma which control the weather on Yuma. The Star Sheriffs are supposed to guard these satellites. They're there when the Outriders attack. One of the Outriders feels to Yuma. The Star Sheriffs follow him and spot an Outrider base underneath the biggest dam of the planet. The Star Sheriffs report this to the dam's chief who ensures them to send some backup. Fireball meets his old schoolfriend Philip who is the dam's chief engineer. Fireball tells him about the Outrider base. Philip wants to protect the dam at all costs which is why he's not happy about the Star Sheriffs' intervention. Saber Rider orders a military unit to protect the dam and to provoke the Outriders. However, there's a problem - the Outriders own a neutron beam which they use to destroy the military unit and to damage Ramrod. While they repair Ramrod the Star Sheriffs discuss the problem with Commander Eagle. The dam's staff needs to be evacuated. Fireball plans to attack the Outrider's beam again. He says that the Outriders might get nervous and protect the beam. Then Fireball talks to Philip about the evacuation. Unfortunately, Philip refuses to evacuate the dam and they start to argue. Subsequently the Star Sheriffs attack the neutron beam. Just as they expected, the Outriders repulse to protect the beam. Ramrod is hit by the beam and falls into the water. Suddenly, a Renegade appears and they have to fight it. At the hazard of his life philip opens the dam's sluices. Due to the pressure, the dam breams and destroys the Renegade along with Gattler's base.
Plot Differences in Episode 9
Note: Since the official SJB webpage was offline while this report was made (the webpage's operators were also not available) it is possible that the story differences are not complete. Everything that's still missing will be added as soon as possible.
Runtime of the Japanese intro: approx. 1.43 min
Runtime of the American intro: approx. 1.29 min
If you want to have a look at a more detailed comparison of the intros then have a look at the report about episode 1.
Title of the Episode
In the Japanese version, the title of the epsiode is shown during an additional scene right after the intro. In the American version the title of the episode is shown during the beginning of the episode. The Japanese version is 5 seconds and 24 frames longer.
5 sec. and 24 frames
Saber Rider's Monologue
At the beginning of the episode Saber Rider has a short opening monologue:
"Planet Yuma was the first planet on the New Frontier. Weather satellites were launched to maintain the eco-system - and without them it would have been ravaged by hurricanes, floods, and volcanos. That's why they needed the protection of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs."
At the beginning of the epsiode the American version fades in. However, the difference in time is so small that it's not worth mentioning.
No difference in time.
02:47:16 - 02:49:17
For whatever reason you don't see the Outrider-ship exploding after being hit by Ramrod's missile. The first frame of the following shot was cut out as well.
2 sec. and 1 frame
03:29:24 - 03:31:11
Ramrod is shaken by the explosion a little longer.
1 sec. and 12 frames
05:31:14 - 05:32:06
Saber Rider's dialogue was shortened.
05:32:07 - 05:36:01
The tracking shot of the dam is shorter.
3 sec. 19 frames
At this point they included a transition-effect (image 3) in between two scenes (images 1 & 2). Since the 2 scenes fade into each other it's quite hard to recognize the exact differences in time for each scene. For the sake of simplicity I will just name the overall difference in time: the American version is 5 frames shorter.
The Star Sheriffs follow the Outrider. When the Outrider shoots at Ramrod, Fireball steers him directly into a lake. The Outrider believes that the defeated the Star Sheriffs and then flies to the secret base. Proudly, he tells Gattler what he did. Suddenly, the Star Sheriffs appear who secretly followed the Outrider to the base. Naturally, Gattler is royally pissed that his men lead the Star Sheriffs to the base. In the Japanese version the Outrider gets executed. For the American version they cut the execution away in an awful way and replaced it by a ridiculous argument. This scene is one of the most ridiculously censored scenes of the whole series. The following images are just shown to accentuate the dialogue.
"It's that Ramrod unit. Why can't we have one like that?! And you said you've knocked them into the lake. I think you were just out trying to have fun!"
"No, I didn't have any fun, I never have fun, honestly... I... I'm miserable."
"Slacker! I sentence you to stand in the corner for 3 years!"
06:09:09 - 06:10:11
When the Outrider is shot this happens off-screen. The only thing you see is the Outrider guards shooting (their rifles sound less like laser guns and more like machine guns). Additionally, they didn't cut this scene too well - 3 frames are still visible, resulting in a very ugly jump cut.
1 sec. and 2 frames
After being shot, the Outrider screams - of course, he doesn't in the American version.
No difference in time.
06:13:03 - 06:13:11
After the execution Gattler issues a short command. This sequence was shortened.
In the American version he just says: "All right, who wants Slacker's job?"
07:25:08 - 07:26:01
This sequence was shortened.
Attack on the Base
At this point they added a short transition-effect. The following shot was slightly shortened (8 frames are missing).
+1 sec. and 1 Frame
07:52:23 - 07:53:09
Saber Rider's dialogue was slightly shortened.
07:59:06 - 08:01:14
April turns to Fireball and asks him something.
2 sec. and 8 frames
08:06:03 - 08:06:14
The end of this shot was slightly shortened.
Again, they added a short transition-effect.
+1 sec. and 1 Frame
08:25:21 - 08:26:14
The officer talks a little longer and shortly moves his arm.
09.00:05 - 09:03:21
A jet fighter is shot down. However, all you see is the jet fighter diving towards teh ground. In the American version you hear the pilot talking. He says: "Prepare for emergency landing!" You're made believe that the pilot survives (see next cut).
No difference in time..
09:03:22 - 09:11:06
The jet fighter crashes onto the ground. Subsequently follows a tracking shot over the wreckage.
7 sec. and 9 frames
09:24:10 - 09:26:06
The Star Sheriffs shoot at the neutron beam's socket for 3 additional seconds. Then follows an explosion.
1 sec. and 21 frames
09:36:20 - 09:37:08
This sequence was shortened. There's no missing dialouge.
Another added transition-effect.
Ditto. The scene after the transition (image 2) was distinctly shortened. Despite the transition, the Japanese version still is 6 frames longer.
10:42:09 - 10:43:17
April's dialogue was shortened.
1 sec. and 8 frames
11:43:10 - 11:43:21
This shot was shortened. During these 11 missing frames you only hear the rest of Fireball's dialogue - you don't really miss out on too much footage.
11:46:23 - 12:01:09
After the following shot of Saber Rider the 2 versions differ from each other.
In the Japanese version the said shot of Saber Rider fades out, followed by a short black screen. then follow the typical cut scenes.
Instead of fading out, the American version they added the Saber Rider transition. After this transition follows the scene that in the Japanese version was included after the cut scenes - due to the transition, it is 18 frames shorter. The shot from image 4 was cut out completely.
Overall, Saber Rider misses out on 12 seconds and 16 frames.
After their first (unsuccesful) try to destroy the neutron beam they need a new plan. Fireball has quite a simple idea. If they were to attack the beam for a second time, the Outriders will think that they found a way to destroy the beam and therefore leave the base.
This is a good example for the problematic leader-situation that results from the alterations of the series. Since Fireball is the leader of the group he tells the others what to do next. Normally, Saber Rider should be the one to tell them what to do in the American version, after all, Fireball is just a stripling in "Saber Rider".
12:21:18 - 12:34:00
Saber Rider talks a little longer (image 1). Fireball then asks something. Then follows another shot of Saber Rider talking (image 2). Two frames of the following sequence (image 3) were cut out as well.
12 sec. and 7 frames
Another added transition-effect.
13:10:24 - 13:20:00
An additional shot of Philip insluting Fireball.
9 sec. and 1 frame
13:36:09 - 13:40:01
2 to 3 missing frames where Philip stands with his back to Fireball. Then you don't see Philip leaving while Fireball watches him.
3 sec. and 17 frames
At this point they added the typical Saber Rider transition-effect. 23 frames of the following scene are missing. The transition lasts for 2 seconds. Therefore, the American version overall is 1 second and 2 frames longer.
+1 sec. and 2 frames
At this point you hear another one of Saber Rider's monologues:
"Meanwhile - out on the Vapor Trail - Nemesis - the supreme Trail boss - was awaiting the word from his most evil operative.... Gattler!"
13:50:10 - 13:54:01
The tracking shot towards Nemesis' headquarters was shortened.
3 sec. and 16 frames
14:04:21 - 14:05:01
When Gattler talks to Nemesis 5 frames were altered for no obvious reason. Gattler talks to Nemesis via a huge screen (image 1). During the conversation the image on the screen changes and shows the command center (image 2) before it switches back to Gattler (image 3). The following 5 frames were altered.
You see 3 frames of Gattler's command center followed by a 2 frames lasting black screen. Then you see Gattler again.
Instead of these 5 frames you see Gattler 5 frames earlier.
No difference in time.
14:18:11 - 14:30:01
The last frame of this sequence (image 1) is missing. Then you see an additional shot of the Outrider squadron which is then fading into another shot of the sqadron. The second shot of the squadron was shortened for the American version.
11 sec. and 15 frames
14:49:18 - 14:50:01
This shot was shortened.
14:54:00 - 14:54:06
At this point, the last 2 frames of the shot of Colt and Saber Rider as well as the first 4 frames of the following shot were cut out.
15:02:02 - 15:14:15
At this point the Star Sheriffs talk to each other. Since Fireball pretty much dominates the whole conversation you again see that he's the leader in the Japanese version. For this (or maybe also another) reason this dialogue was cut out.
In this scene you see Fireball who asks April something. After she responded he also talks to the other two Star Sheriffs. Colt says something and then Fireball talks some more. The American version continues when Saber Rider talks.
12 sec. and 13 frames
At this point they added another transition-effect.
Getting Ready for the Second Battle
The dam is evacuated. The only one who wants to stay is Philip. Meanwhile, the Star Sheriffs fly towards the neutron beam to bring Gattler out of his shell.
At this point they included a transition-effect (image 3) in between two scenes (images 1 & 2). Since the 2 scenes fade into each other it's quite hard to recognize the exact differences in time for each scene. For the sake of simplicity I will just name the overall difference in time: the American version is 26 frames shorter.
1 sec. and 1 Frame
Another added transition-effect.
16:46:04 - 16:48:04
Philip watches the battle in shock.
17:00:20 - 17:02:01
One of the Outriders is hit by the Star Sheriffs. Before he crashes he shoots a truck which is full of evacuated dam-workers. In the American version you only see that the truck catches fire. You don't see that it burns a little longer and in the end explodes.
1 sec. and 6 frames
17:02:02 - 17:04:15
After the truck exploded Philip desperately screams. In the American version he says: "My supplies!" Even though his reaction doesn't quite fit to the dialogue they still wanted us to believe that the truck is filled with supplies and not with human beings.
No difference in time.
17:31:05 - 17:32:24
When Ramrod is hit by the neutron beam and crashes April screams with fear.
1 sec. and 19 frames
18:07:04 - 18:07:10
When Fireball hits the button to initiate the transformation the American verison used an alternative version of this scene where Fireball moves his finger towards the button slightly longer. Therefore, the American version is 6 frames longer.
The Transformation Sequence
+1 sec. and 2 frames
+14 sec. and 11 frames
In the Japanese version you in the last 10 frames see Ramrod raising his head. In the American version you instead see the typical ending which is used for most of the American episodes.
Overall, the American version is 2 seconds and 6 frames longer.
+2 sec. and 6 frames
18:35:12 - 18:36:05
This shot was shortened. However, there's no missing dialogue.
18:37:20 - 18:38:12
19:53:02 - 19:53:20
18 missing frames before Philip starts to talk.
20:19:19 - 20:21:02
Fireball's dialogue was shortened.
1 sec. and 8 frames
20:26:01 - 20:30:02
Before Colt aims at the Renegade and fires they exchanged the previous scene. In the Japanese version Fireball tells him to fire and Colt affirms it. In the American version, of course, it's Saber Rider who tells him to do this. It's a classic example of showing that Saber Rider is in charge.
The Japanese version is 16 frames longer.
21:33:12 - 21:35:22
The tracking shot towards Philip was shortened towards the beginning.
2 sec. and 10 frames
At this point they included a transition-effect (image 3) in between two scenes (images 1 & 2). Since the 2 scenes fade into each other it's quite hard to recognize the exact differences in time for each scene. For the sake of simplicity I will just name the overall difference in time: the American version is 38 frames longer.
+1 sec. and 13 frames
21:53:17 - 21:56:23
The Squadron flies a little longer in the Japanese version.
3 sec. and 6 frames
At the end of this scene the American version fades out (image 2) followed by a black screen that lasts for about 12 frames. Apart from the loss of footage there's no difference in time.
No difference in time.
Added Fade-In/Shortened Scene
22:03:17 - 22:04:00
Towards the beginning of this shot there are 8 missing frames. Additionally, the scene fades in after the cut (image 2). Apart from the loss of footage the American version is 8 frames shorter.
22:13:01 - 22:14:23
In the Japanese version Fireball talks to Philip a little longer.
1 sec. and 22 frames
22:14:24 - 22:16:14
Fireball's dialogue was shortened towards the beginning.
1 sec. and 15 frames
22:18:09 - 22:24:18
The last 7 frames of Fireball's dialogue are missing as well. Subsequently there's a completely missing dialogue of Philip. The first frame of the following shot (image 3) was cut out as well.
6 sec. and 9 frames
22:32:06 - 22:36:06
A short missing camera panning. You see Fireball and Philip in the background while April, Cold, and Saber Rider are shown in the foreground.
22:36:07 - 22:38:00
This shot was shortened. In the American version you only see 1 frame of this shot, directly followed by a camera panning upwards to Ramrod's head. In the Japanese version, this shot is shown a little longer as a still picture.
1 sec. and 18 frames
22:45:01 - 22:48:07
The last sequence of this episode was distinctly shortened. Both versions fade the last scene out, followed by the credits. In the Japanese version, however, the fade-out anda the black screen before the credits are longer. Overall, the American version misses out on 3 seconds and 6 frames of footage.
3 sec. and 6 frames
A more detailed comparison of the credits can be found in the report about the first episode of Saber Rider.
Runtime of the Japanese credits: 00:01:19
Runtime of the American credits: 00:01:02