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Saber Rider - The Complete Series (US Box)





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Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs

1.23 Bakuhatsu! Shi no race (The All Galaxy Grand Prix)

original title: Sei jūshi Bismarck

Comparison:

  • US Version
  • Japanese Original Version
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


    Names
  • 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.





Story


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.




    Miscellaneous


  • 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.

Examples:






The DVD


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:
DeathculaOutrider
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
HyuzaNemesis
PeriosJesse Blue
ZatoraGattler
BismarkRamrod
Road LeonRed Fury Racer
DonatelloSteed
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:







Conclusion


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:



    Note:
  • 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.

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.

Title


Seijushi Bismark



Saber Rider



02:16:18
Cut
After taking Fireball's time, the US Version lacks a small pan shot to Claudia Firenza.
3 Sec



03:00:14
Cut
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.
1 Sec



03:14:00
Cut
Fireball's comment is slightly shorter.
10 Frames



03:26:20
Cut
Fireball's dialog is 5 frames shorter. Furthermore, the subsequent shot of Fireball giving Claudia the jewels back starts a bit earlier.
13 Frames



03:31:02
Cut
April's comment from the off is slightly shorter.
8 Frames



04:16:15
Cut
The Outrider's comment is slightly shorter.
1 Sec 11 Frames



04:18:13
Cut
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



05:16:04
Cut
A shot is slightly shorter.
8 Frames



05:28:06
Cut
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



05:33:03
Cut / Added Sword Transition

Seijushi Bismark
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.



Saber Rider
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

06:07:08
Cut
April's comment is slightly shorter.
10 Frames



06:24:09
Cut
The last few frames of this shot are missing here due to an added transition (subsequent alteration).
7 Frames



06:24:09
Added Transition
+1 Sec



06:45:22
Cut
When Fireball speaks with the alleged chauffeur, a few frames are missing... the screenshots apeak volumes.
10 Frames



06:47:10
Cut
The shot of the driving limo is entirely missing.
2 Sec 12 Frames



08:39:11
Added Transition
Due to an added transition, the last 5 frames of the previous shot are missing.
+20 Frames



08:40:11
Cut
The tracking shot starts slightly earlier in the Japanese Version.
12 Frames



08:45:15
Cut
The end of the tracking shot is a bit shorter as well.
8 Frames



08:50:06
Cut
Shorter shot.
21 Frames



08:56:24
Cut
Missing dialog between Fireball and April.
4 Sec 24 Frames



09:07:04
Cut
The shot of Claudia is shorter.
17 Frames



09:51:05
Cut
Mario Firenza's comment from the off is shorter.
1 Sec 8 Frames



10:48:00
Cut
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



11:20:20
Cut
Missing frames when Claudia appears.
17 Frames



11:42:22
Cut
Claudia speaks longer with her father.
16 Frames



11:52:04
Cut
Before the scene continues inside, the Japanese Version contains a pan shot of Ramrod's chassis.
4 Sec 24 Frames



11:52:04
Added Transition
As replacement for the previously mentioned pan shot, the US Version contains a sword transition.
+24 Frames



12:38:21
Cut
The last 4 frames of the shot of Saber Rider and the first 7 frames of the subsequent shot of Fireball have been removed.
11 Frames



12:43:12
Cut
The end of the shot is missing.
8 Frames



12:43:12
Added Transition
As compensation, a transition has been added here.
+1 Sec




Death Race to Dome City


12:50:04
Cut
The distance shot of the track is slightly shorter.
6 Frames



12:54:16
Cut
The pan shot of the race cars is shorter.
1 Sec 13 Frames



12:55:14
Cut
And so is the one of Red Fury Racer.
1 Sec 24 Frames



14:07:03
Cut
The distance shot of the city is longeer. Furthermore, there is an additional tracking shot to Dome City headquarters.
4 Sec



14:13:15
Cut
The order of the guy in uniform is slightly shorter.
10 Frames



14:26:23
Cut
In the Japanese Version, someone is radioing the Star Sheriffs longer.
9 Sec 4 Frames



15:02:03
Cut
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



15:02:03
Added Transition
Once again, the US Version contains alternate footage resp. another transition instead.
+1 Sec



15:23:23
Cut
The exploding race car a little shorter.
13 Frames



16:17:08
Extended Scene
Mario's monolog is longer.
+1 Sec 9 Frames



16:20:02
Cut
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



19:41:12
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

Seijūshi BismarkSaber Rider



20:00:07
Cut
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





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