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Saber Rider - The complete Series (US Version)

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Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs

1.21 Snake Eyes

original title: Sei jūshi Bismarck


  • US Version
  • Japanese Version
Release: Aug 31, 2011 - Author: Mario - Translator: Tony Montana - external link: IMDB - more from this series
Comparison between the American Version (represented by the German DVDs released by Anime House) and the Japanese Version included in the limited Seijushi Bismark DVD box-sets 1 and 2 released by Pioneer LDC.

Runtime of the American Version: 00:21:46:09
Runtime of the Japanese Version: 00:24:06:20

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 series (obviously) was renamed from "Seijūshi Bismark" to "Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs".
  • Almost all the persons, places, planets, organizations, and vehicles were changed / Americanized (for this, take a look at the chart below).
  • Many of the places/vehicles/etc. were named after American words/cities such as Eagle, Yuma, Colt, New Dallas, Dakota, Alamo, and so on. Thus, they eliminated all the Asian-sounding names.
  • By changing the names they also blanketed any connection to the real world. In the Japanese version the series takes place in our solar system. Because of the different names for the planets, the American version takes place in an unknown galaxy far away.

    Intro and Credits
  • The intro as well as the credits are completely different. For further details, look at the main report of the first episode.

    Music and Sounds
  • All the music for the American version was composed by Dale Schacker and has a "Wild West" feel to it.
  • All the sounds were (gunfire, engines of space ships, and so on) were edited / added by the American company.


The central topic of the Japanese original is an unadorned war where innocent people die.
Thus, the Japanese version is rather violent and (despite the humor) has a very serious and aggressiv undertone.
To form this into a childrens TV series they had to change this undertone as well as reduce the violence.
They also changed a lot of other things (either for the different American notion or other reasons), resulting in a completely different series in terms of story as well as mood and style.

  • Different Background Story
    The background story of the series was completely changed (for this, read the paragraph "Outriders").

  • Different Story of the Episodes
    The crucial course of the episodes stayed intact but had to be adapted to the American mentality as well as the American TV standards (some characters stayed alive even though they were killed in the Japanese version). This sometimes changes the whole story of the episodes.

    Shortened Scenes

  • Violent Scenes
    They mainly cut out violence against human beings (especially if the scens show humans being shot, hit, or blown to bits). However, they also cut out drastic violence against the alien Outriders.

  • Morally Alarming Scenes
    Morally alarming scenes (e.g. the consuming of alcohol, bad/aggressive behavior, violence against kids, kids carrying guns, ...) had to be cut out.

  • Humor and Emotional Scenes
    Funny scenes (including weird facial expressions) as well as emotional scenes were cut out.

  • Dialogues
    For each episode they shortened numerous dialogues. They did this in order to fit the dialogues to the American dialogues (which were more or less rewritten) in terms of length, timing, and lip synch.

  • Various Scenes
    For all the episodes thes deleted various scenes (e.g. pan shots of buildings and places).
    These scenes probably didn't quite fit in the American storyline or were just not needed there.
    However, they mainly cut such scenes away to achieve a consistant runtime for every episode.

  • Framecuts
    There are numerous cuts that only cut away a few frames and that would fit into the above-mentioned category. Lots of these cuts are probably a result of a faulty master or something like this.
    Every now and then they cut a few frames away to eliminate minor mistakes (e.g. a black screen in the middle of a scene).

The Characters

One of the major changes of the series are the characters. Especially the "leader issue" has far-reaching consequences for the whole series.

  • Alteration of the Ages
    The main characters are older. In the Japanese version they're aged between 15 and 18. In the American version they seem to be way older.

  • The Leader Issue
    The "leader issue" is one of the main differences of the series and concerns the characters Saber Rider and Fireball.

    While in the Japanese version Fireball (Shinji Hikari) is the leader of the Star Sherriffs (Team Bismark), the American version made his older brother Saber Rider (Richard Lancelot) the leader of the team.
    He's the leader because he's the oldest, most experienced and most balanced characters of the bunch; Fireball is a little younger and hastier.

They had to change several things in order to make Saber Rider the leader of the troop.

  • Saber Rider now is the name giver of the series.
  • Saber Rider also is the narrator of the story. In the first episode he introduces the series like a story by telling the audience what the series is all about. In the individual episodes he always introduces and ends the story. This makes him a person of authority which makes it easier to accept him as the leader.
  • Whenever Fireball gives orders or commands, they tried to cut these out as often as possible or just replaced them by orders/commands given by Saber Rider.
  • Even though Saber Rider often rather stays on the sideline, he still very often is a conversational topic and gives orders.

Even though they really tried to cover up Fireball's position as the leader of the group, it still doesn't work every time.
Fireball still is a way too dominant character. He mostly assumes control and almost constantly gets the final word for important decisions. Additionally, he's always standing in the front while Saber Rider can rather be seen in the far right.

    Additional Changes of the Characters
  • In the Japanese version, April Eagle (Marianne Louvre) is 15 years old and therefore acts more childlike and emotional than the other characters. In the American version she seems to be a little more mature.

  • Archenemy Jesse Blue (Perios) is not a human being in the Japanese version, he's an Outrider (Deathcula) and also their security chief.
    In the American version he's an arrogant ex-cadet of the Star Sherriffs who fell in love with April Eagle. Because of injured pride and rejection he leaves the team and defects to the Outriders. He wants to prove to April that he's a good fighter. This background story is told in 2 additional episodes that were exclusively produced for the American version.

    The Outriders (Japanese: Deathcula)
  • In the Japanese version, the Outriders are an intelligent and brutal alien race who want to conquer the human galaxy.
  • In the American version teh Outriders are rather stupid. They often have sily conversations along with dumb-sounding voices (one example would be a scene where one Outrider asks another one what time it is. The other Outrider replies that he doesn't know the time since he doesn't know how to read a clock.).
  • The Outriders are said to be "phantom beings" who don't die but rather jump back to their own dimension every time they're wounded/shot. The American version underlines this fact by several dialogues that talk about this ability.
    This change suggests that the Outriders can't die. This also means that it doesn't matter how many Outriders are killed in each episode. This makes the American version a little less menacing than the Japanese version.
  • The reasons to why the Outriders attach the humans is rather ridiculous:
  • In the Japanese version, the Outriders want to conquer a new habitat since their home planet was completely destroyed and exploited. Additionally they want revenge for their critical defeat.
  • In The American version the Outriders attack the humans just for fun.
    Since the Outriders neither have feelings nor fun they want to win a war against the humans in order to find out what fun is.

The Dubbing

The dubbing is the key element of the changes as well as the censorship of the series. Due to the change of names and the plot as well as the censorship, most of the dialogues had to be re-written. Some dialogues were just rephrased, while several were mitigated / changed in order to make them funnier than in the Japanese version. Other dialogues were completely changed. The American version also offers dialogues where the Japanese version is just silent. Most of these additional dialogues are just for the sake of fun.

Censorship via Dubbing
With the help of the dubbing the characters sometimes say things that are included to censor the series. These dialogues are mostly very conspicuous and one of the series' trademarks.

  • One of the best examples are the stupid dialogues of the Outriders (for a more detailed description, read the paragraph "Outriders").
  • Humans are never killed but shot with capture guns (they often switch their guns to a torpidity-mode).
  • If any secondary characters die in the Japanese version, the American version usually contains dialogues that "save" them from death (such as "He's just unconscious but not heavily injured.").
  • Every time the Outriders attack, they only destroy remote-controlled cars or emptiy / evacuated buildings.


  • Deleted Episodes
    5 Japanese episodes were completely deleted since they didn't fit in the concept / idea of the American producers. Two of these episodes include a character named "Captain Holiday" who's constantly drunk.

  • Added Episodes
    6 episodes were exclusively produced for the American version. The drawings are a little worse than those of the original episodes and are include a very stereotypical Wetern community by e.g. also including native Americans.

  • Inserted Scenes
    A regular method was to include scenes from other episodes. Most of the time they added some dialogue-scenes to feature characters that were originally not included at this point in the Japanese version of the episode. Many of these scenes are rather irrelevant for the story and often just inlcude funny dialogues.

  • Altered Order
    For the American version they altered the order of the episodes. One can only spaculate to why they did this. Maybe the storyline was the main reason for this akteration. In the first two thirds of the episodes, Commander Gattler is the opponent of the Star Sheriffs. In the last third you only have Jesse Blue as the main villain. By changing the order of the scenes, the series seems to have a little more variety, however, this also carries problems. During the episodes with Jesse Blue, Commander Eagle originally was taken hostage - not so in the episodes with Commander Gattler.
    Additionally, there are episodes including Gattler that take place after his last appearance in the episode "Gattler's Last Stand". Even though they could explain this inconsistency by saying that the Outriders don't die but just warp back to their own dimension - then again, if that's the case, why did they call the episode "Gattler's Last Stand"? This just causes confusion.

    For the German version (which is the main source of this report) they used the original Japanese order of the episodes. Only the 6 episodes that were exclusively produced for the American version were not included in a sensible way but rather just included after the last epsiode. For the DVD they remedied this mistake.

  • Inserted Transitions
    The American version regularly fades from one scene to the next one. In the Japanese version this happens way less frequently / not at all.

Animated Transitions
In the American version there are 2 types of transitions:

  • Sword-Transition

A transition-effect that pays tribute to the titular character.

  • Transition

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.

  • Non-Animated Transitions

Most of the transitions are just regular transition effects that you know from movies.



Saber Rider
  • In the years 2003/04 the complete season was released as a DVD box-set with 10 DVDs. In april 2007 they also released a limited collector's edition that included pewter figures of the main characters.
    After this limited box-set was (almost) out of print, they released yet another edition of the series in september 2009. It was released in 2 different boxes (each including 5 DVDs).
  • In the USA they at first released a "Best Of" DVD, including 10 episodes of the series. Then in november 18th, 2008, they startet releasing the complete series in 3 different box-sets. Finally, in October 2009, they also released a complete box-set (including 6 DVDs) with all the episodes in 1 box.
  • In the UK they momentarily just sell a DVD that includes 4 episodes.

Seijūshi Bismark
The Japanese original was released in 2 seperate DVD-boxes as a limited edition in Japan.
Unfortunately they don't include any subtitles and have so far only been released in Japan. By now, these DVD-boxes are very rare and unbelievably expensive. So far, there are no future plans to release the series in any other country.

Comparison of the Names

You now will see a list of the most important characters along with their names in both versions.

Japanese Version:American Version:
Team BismarkStar Sheriffs
Solar System ConfederationNew Frontier
Planet EarthPlanet Yuma
Planet GanymedPlanet Alamo
Shinji HikariFireball
Richard LancelotSaber Rider
Bill WilcoxColt
Marianne LouvreApril
Chales LouvreCommander Eagle
General DomesKing Jarred
PeriosJesse Blue
Road LeonRed Fury Racer
Arrow StrikerBroncobuster

Comparison of the Images

The Japanese version has a better image quality than the American version.
For this comparison, the images come from the German and the Japanese DVD. Generally, the image of the German DVD is more blurred and paler. Additionally, the German DVD includes interlace flickers (resulting from a bad transition from NTSC to PAL) which are very apparent when you watch the DVDs.

Japanese DVD: German DVD:


It's not easy to say which of the versions is the better one. The Japanese version is more complex, more serious and more realistic than the American version. The American version tones down the violence and pretty much erased death from the series. There are a few plotholes which most of the time result from all the alterations from the American version. However, the great dubbing of Saber Rider as well as the music are a great advantage of the American version. Still, the Japanese version has quite a good soundtrack as well.

So, it pretty much is a matter of your own taste, so check out both versions and make up your own mind.

If you want to have more information on Saber Rider and Seijūshi Bismark, there are plenty of webpages to choose from.

We would like to thank the following webpages for supplying us with background information about both of the series, covers, and translations for this report:

  • The time designations refer to the Japanese version.
  • To ensure a comparison that is frame-exact, the version was converted from NTSC to PAL.
  • The Japanese titles of the episodes will be translated - therefore, they might not be 100% accurate.
  • Framecuts up to 5 frames will be ignored for the reports - after all, they're already very extensive; including every single difference would just simply break the mold. However, if any of these cuts include important footage, they (of course) will be mentioned.
  • Both versions always include a little preview of the following episode. These previews won't be mentioned in the reports.

Snake Eyes

The Star Sheriffs are supposed to escort the renegade and Outrider spy named "Snake Eyes" to a secure prison. He's supposed to have information about a secret new Outrider weapon. That's the reason for the permanent attacks of the Outriders, they just want to liquidate Snake Eyes. Colt and Fireball get Snake Eyes away from the base. Suddenly a tornade appears and immobilizes their jeep. Colt, Fireball and Snake Eyes have to do it by foot now. An Outrider unit is pretty close until they finally face the Saber Riders in the desert. Meanwhile Saber Rider and April are looking for Colt and Fireball. During the fight with the Outriders, Snake Eyes grabs Colt's gun to free himself. A duel with Fireball follows. Thanks to devious step, Snake Eyes falls off a rock and gets stuck. At the same time a tornade shows up. Snake Eyes finally spills the beans: the tornade is the Outrider weapon. Just in time, Ramrod shows up and destroys the Outrider weapon and Snake Eyes gets busted with a slight delay. thankful for being saved, he promises to change.

Plot differences in Episode 14

Please note: Due to the SJB HP being down, I can't say anything about the story differences but I'm gonna add that information asap.


Running time Japanese Intro approx. 1.43 min
Running time US Intro approx. 1.29 min
A detailed comparison of the intro can be found in the comparison of the very first episode.
14 sec

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.

    Seijushi Bismark

    Saber Rider

    Added Transition
    A transition has been added to the beginning of the US Version.
    no difference

    The Commander's dialog is shorter.
    8 frames

    Same here.
    6 frames

    2 sec

    The shot of Colt is shorter.
    17 frames

    Another shortened dialog.
    1 sec 4 frames

    Extended scene
    The shot is longer for some reason.
    +10 frames

    Added transition
    Added transition. The US Version is longer.
    + 23 frames

    Defending the Base

    Changed scene
    The excessive explosion has been removed here. Subsequently the dropping guard tower is also missing. Instead 1 sec 7 frames of another explosion has been used here in the US Version.
    The Japanese Version is longer.
    1 sec 24 frames

    Seijushi Bismark

    Saber Rider

    1 sec 14 frames of the explosion are missing here. Though 1 sec 7 frames have been insert previously (see the difference before), I'm gonna count is as regular cut to keep it simple.
    1 Sek 7 frames

    A soldier gets killed.
    2 sec 2 frames

    Further soldiers get killed.
    4 sec 21 frames

    Another missing explosion.
    1 sec 4 frames

    Same here.
    1 sec 3 frames

    Meeting Snake Eyes

    Added Transition
    A transition (screen 3) has been added between the two scenes (screen 1+2).
    1 sec 3 frames

    The beginnnig of the shot has been shortened.
    10 frames

    Shortened shot.
    1 sec 17 frames

    The last frames of Fireball's dialog have been removed.
    6 frames

    Prisoner Transport

    Added Transition
    A transition has been added here. The US Version is longer.
    +1 sec 2 frames

    The tracking shot of the city is shorter.
    8 frames

    Destinctly longer shot in the Japanese Version.
    16 frames

    Colt's dialog including the zoom to his face is shorter.
    12 frames

    Extended scene
    The shot of the firing tank is longer for some reason.
    +11 frames

    The shot is shorter.
    13 frames

    The end of Snake Eyes' dialog is shorter.
    1 sec 2 frames

    The scene with the car getting chased by the tornade is slightly shorter.
    7 frames

    The beginning of Colt's dialog is missing.
    12 frames

    Fireball's dialog is shorter.
    17 frames

    Snake Eyes' dialog is shorter.
    18 frames

    Chase across the Desert

    Added Transition
    A transition has been added here. The US Version is longer.
    + 23 frames

    Cut/Added Transition
    The shot of the tank is shorter. The rest of the shot has been combined with a transition. The US Version only contains 20 remaining frames of the shot.
    1 sec 2 frames

    Seijushi Bismark

    Saber Rider

    Extended shot of the Outrider vehicle in the Japanese Version.
    6 frames

    Colt, Fireball and Snake Eyes are climbing up a wall of rock. Fireball has to help colt because his shoulder is wounded.
    3 sec 11 frames

    Extended scene
    Extended shot because of the dialog in the US Version.
    +17 frames

    In the Japanese Version, the shot of the Outrider ends with a black screen. In the following, the eyecatch scenes are missing.
    12 sec 13 frames

    Slightly shortened shot.
    11 Frames

    Fireball's dialog is shorter.
    13 frames

    While Fireball is loading is gun, the following shot has been shortened.
    20 frames

    Snake Eyes' dialog is shorter.
    1 sec 6 frames

    Added Transition
    An explosion has been replaced by a transition in the US Version.
    no difference

    Seijushi Bismark

    Saber Rider

    Shortened shot.
    22 frames

    Added transition
    A transition has been added here. The US Version is longer.
    +1 sec 3 frames

    The funny crash of the Outrider has been removed. First the last 5 frames of the shot of the Outrider ship getting hit (screen 1) are missing. Then a missing shot from his POV going down. He hits the ground and slides. At the end his ship barely exists but the Outrider is still in it. The remains split on a rock.
    8 sec 21 frames

    This shot is shorter.
    22 frames

    Colt holds Snake Eyes' gun right in his face and keeps talking. Then a recut to Snake Eyes, who is pretty anxious. Colt's dialog doesn't seem agressive or vicious. It looks more like Colt just wants to screw with him a bit.
    6 sec 24 frames

    Zoom of Snake Eyes' face.
    2 sec 24 frames

    After the missile launch, the shot of the missiles hitting the target is missing. The Star Sheriffs and Snake Eyes jump down the cliff. The tank fires off some missiles for a second time. The second explosion is also in the US Version so that it looks like that's the explosion of the first missiles.
    1 sec 22 frames

    Shortened explosion of the tank.
    1 sec 3 frames

    Snake Eyes' dialog is shorter.
    7 frames

    Extended pan shot.
    4 sec

    Colt and Snake Eyes are having a conversation. Fireball, who unsuccessfully tries to move the rock, talks to Colt (presumably because he needs Colt's help). The camera pans to Colt who is pretty POed because of the rock.
    10 sec 23 frames

    Extended shot of the Star Sheriffs dragging the rock.
    1 sec 5 frames

    Removal of an excessive explosion.
    5 sec 2 frames

    A typical stylistic device has been removed here. In the Japanese Version, the camera pans over Ramrod three times in a row. In the US Version only once. (The screen illustrates the panning camera.)
    1 sec 14 frames

    Another excessive explosion has been removed here.
    6 sec 18 frames

    Cut/Added Transition
    Transition between the shot of Ramrod and the shot of the base in the Japanese Version. In the US Version, a black screen follows the shot of Ramrod. Then the base. The Japanese Version is longer.
    1 sec 14 frames

    Seijushi Bismark

    Saber Rider

    The Commander's dialog is shorter.
    15 frames

    Snake Eyes says sth. further to the Star Sheriffs before he's led away. The Commander looks irritated for a sec, then he gives the order to his troups. The soldiers in the background vanish, Colt and Fireball look at each other in the foreground before they look forward while grinning. Fireball says sth. (one single word).
    11 sec 20 frames

    Changed scene
    The last scene of the episode has been removed and replaced by another one. Just before that scene, Saber Rider's monolog starts in the US Version. The US Version is longer.
    4 sec 11 frames

    Seijushi Bismark
    shot of the courtyard of the base (where the Star Sheriffs are standing) from the top. The tanks leave (just like the Commander has ordered). Subsequently a pan shot over the Star Sheriffs, then the credits.

    Saber Rider
    Freeze frame from the last shot of Snake Eyes here, followed by a transition to the next scene with a distance shot of flying Ramrod. Then the credits.

    Saber Rider's final monolog

    The episode concludes with a monolog by Saber Rider again.
    He says a snake was capable of molting and Snake Eyes was a perfect example for that. When he'd been dismissed, the cavalry had given him a shot and he'd become an honest warrior for the freedom of the new borderland.

    The Credits

    A detailed comparison of the different credits can be found in the comparison of episode 1.

    Running time of the credits in the Japanese Version 00:01:20
    Running time of the credits in the US Version 00:01:03
    17 sec