Release: Aug 05, 2018 - 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.
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:
Episode 23 - Double Win
Being qualified for the "All Galaxy Grand Prix", a woman called Claudia starts chatting up Fireball. She hands him some pieces of jewelry and explains she would like to work with him. Of course, Fireball rejects the rediculously dubious offer. Subsequently afterwards, some letter appears in front of him. The letter is from Claudia and she wants to meet. Even though April is against it - and her being jealous is not the only reason - Fireball gets picked up by some limo shortly afterwards. But it turns out to be a trap because several men are trying to kill Fireball. April, who secretly tailed them, comes to help unexpectedly and the two of them manage to take care of the goon squad.
How is Claudia involved? April is convinced she is guilty and she and Fireball drive over to her house. While April keeps accusing her, Claudia's dad shows up all of a sudden. Her dad is nobody else but legendary race car driver Mario Firenza. He is sick though and the grand prix will be his last race. Fireball does not believe that either of them are involved in the ambush.
On board of Ramrod, finding a different solution is on top of the agenda. The grand prix ends in "Dome City", exactly where the KOK computer network is being located and it is being protected by some force field. The first few race that get there are allowed to get in though and that would be the perfect opportunity for the Outriders to destroy the KOK network.
The race starts the next day. The drivers of the "Black Hornets Racing Teams" turn out to be some Outriders who brutally take out the other drivers in order to get to Dome City first. Fireball and Mario Firenza finally team up to beat the Outriders at their own game. But there is one last duel between the two of them. After a tough head-to-head race, they both cross the finish line at the same time.
After taking Fireball's time, the US Version lacks a small pan shot to Claudia Firenza.
The distance shot of Claudia and Fireball is a little shorter. In addition to that, she holds the bag with the jewels in it right under Fireball's noise. In the US Version, the scene does not start until after that.
Fireball's comment is slightly shorter.
Fireball's dialog is 5 frames shorter. Furthermore, the subsequent shot of Fireball giving Claudia the jewels back starts a bit earlier.
April's comment from the off is slightly shorter.
The Outrider's comment is slightly shorter.
1 Sec 11 Frames
Subsequent to the previous dialog (please see previous cut), the two other Outriders are looking at each other - both seems rather insecure. A longer monolog of a third Outrider follows. He then turns around to his two buddies and says something else. A shot of his eyes follows. Accompanied by some very well fitting music, the Outrider looks to the side.
14 Sec 11 Frames
A shot is slightly shorter.
When April runs off sulkily, she turns around to Fireball with an outstretchedd tongue in the Japanese Version. For continuity reasons, the beginning of the subsequent shot is missing as well because April is still looking in Fireball's direction. The versions are back in sync when April turns back around and starts running in the building.
2 Sec 7 Frames
Cut / Added Sword Transition
With April being gone, the Japanese Version contains a voice-over of Fireball's thoughts. Also, there is a transition between the shot of his face to the subsquent one.
Fireball's voice-over is missing in the US Version which also explains why the shot of his face is almost 2 sec shorter here. Subsequently afterwards, the US Version contains a sword transition, followed by the next scene. Instead of that, the Ultimate Collection simply fades out and then back in.
All in all, the US Version is a little shorter.
1 Sec 14 Frames
April's comment is slightly shorter.
The last few frames of this shot are missing here due to an added transition (subsequent alteration).
When Fireball speaks with the alleged chauffeur, a few frames are missing... the screenshots apeak volumes.
The shot of the driving limo is entirely missing.
2 Sec 12 Frames
Due to an added transition, the last 5 frames of the previous shot are missing.
The tracking shot starts slightly earlier in the Japanese Version.
The end of the tracking shot is a bit shorter as well.
Missing dialog between Fireball and April.
4 Sec 24 Frames
The shot of Claudia is shorter.
Mario Firenza's comment from the off is shorter.
1 Sec 8 Frames
The camera zooms in on April's face longer (8 frames), followed by the eyecatcher. The first 8 frames of the subsequent shot are missing as well. The Ultimate Collection contains an additional transition between the two shots.
11 Sec 16 Frames
Missing frames when Claudia appears.
Claudia speaks longer with her father.
Before the scene continues inside, the Japanese Version contains a pan shot of Ramrod's chassis.
4 Sec 24 Frames
As replacement for the previously mentioned pan shot, the US Version contains a sword transition.
The last 4 frames of the shot of Saber Rider and the first 7 frames of the subsequent shot of Fireball have been removed.
The end of the shot is missing.
As compensation, a transition has been added here.
Death Race to Dome City
The distance shot of the track is slightly shorter.
The pan shot of the race cars is shorter.
1 Sec 13 Frames
And so is the one of Red Fury Racer.
1 Sec 24 Frames
The distance shot of the city is longeer. Furthermore, there is an additional tracking shot to Dome City headquarters.
The order of the guy in uniform is slightly shorter.
In the Japanese Version, someone is radioing the Star Sheriffs longer.
9 Sec 4 Frames
Missing dialog between Colt and Saber Rider. While the latter speaks, the camera zooms in on April's face. She looks worried.
11 Sec 10 Frames
Once again, the US Version contains alternate footage resp. another transition instead.
The exploding race car a little shorter.
Mario's monolog is longer.
+1 Sec 9 Frames
Mario's monolog continues while the camera zooms out on him. Fireball then says something to him. The first few frames right before Mario turns around to Fireball are missing as well.
17 Ses 4 Frames
Cut / Added Transition
The Japanese Version contains a transition from Fireball to th subsequent shot while the US Version fades out and back in instead.
1 Sec 23 Frames
April walks up to Claudia to apologize. Because after all, April accused Claudia of being behind the ambush of Fireball.
In the Japanese Version, Fireball is being mentioned several times in their conversation (which is not the case in the US Version). It looks like April is still insecure when it comes to Fireball and Claudia would like to explain. In the US Version, Fireball is not being mentioned at all. That probably explains why April does not get upset by one of Claudia's comment in the US Version, raising up her arms in the process. But since Claudia remains calm, April calms down quickly as well.
3 Sec 6 Frames