In this month's POP Retro, we go back to the 80s to take a look at some good old mecha done western cowboy style. Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.
Birth of the Star Sheriffs
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs is a 1987 animated space western following a similar theme as Galaxy Rangers and Bravestarr. Originally a 1984 anime series known as Star Musketeer Bismarck created by Studio Pierrot, it achieved moderate success in Japan.
The English language rights to the series was purchased by World Events Productions (WEP) in 1986. WEP reorganized and rewrote the series, incorporating both the original episodes and creating 6 new ones before releasing it under the name Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.
In the distant future humans have spread beyond Earth and colonized planets across the universe, creating a New Frontier of man. In order to protect these new settlers and maintain laws and regulations in the New Frontier, Earth's Cavalry Command was created.
Cavalry Command is a military organization, maintaining an army and fleet of ships to protect the New Frontier. Within Cavalry Command is a unit of special operatives known as Star Sheriffs that functioned as field agents, investigating crimes and plots against the security of the New Frontier.
The main foe of Cavalry Command and the Star Sheriffs is a race of non-human creatures known as Vapor Beings (or Outriders) that jumped into our dimension in order to conquer it.
Outriders are superior to humans in battle technology so in order to have a chance against them, Cavalry Command develops a prototype ship known as the "Ramrod Equalizer Unit" (or Ramrod) that has the ability to turn from a spaceship into a powerful robot that can fight the Outriders on equal terms.
The Star Sheriffs
The title character in the American version of the series, Saber Rider is the captain of the Ramrod Equalizer Unit. He is described as "legendary" for his skills and marksmanship. Saber Rider hails from the Scottish Highlands, and is an expert with both swords and horses. He is generally depicted as being a gentleman with a cool head for tactics and decisions.
In the Japanese version (Sei Jūshi Bismarck), the character is named Richard Lancelot and is of British nationality. In Sei Jūshi Bismarck, Richard Lancelot is not the captain of Ramrod (Bismarck).
Fireball once was a race car driver and the youngest champion of all time. Fireball serves as the pilot of the Ramrod Unit and also controls the chest cannons and heavy weaponry located in Ramrod's chest region. He drives a race car he calls Red Fury Racer/Turbo.
In the original Sei Jūshi Bismarck, Fireball is named Shinji Hikari, the Japanese leader of the crew. The Japanese flag is on his sleeve and his helmet.
Colt is introduced in the series as a bounty hunter on the trail of Vanquo, an Outrider spy. He holds an almost infallible accuracy with firearms and serves as the gunner on board Ramrod, controlling the six-iron while Fireball controls the chest cannons. For personal transportation and solo battles he uses a blue and white one-man spaceship named Bronco Buster.
In the Japanese version, the character is called Bill Wilcox and comes from the United States, therefore a US flag is seen as a patch on his uniform.
April Eagle is the daughter of Commander Eagle, and the engineer who designed and was in charge of Project Ramrod. She was trained at Cavalry Command under General Whitehawk. Before joining the Star Sheriffs she was a professional tennis player. April has a robotic horse named Nova with the abilities of Saber's Steed.
In the Japanese version, April is known as Marian Louvre and she is of French nationality, which is why her uniform bears the French tricolor.
They ride again in 2011
On September 7, 2010, Firehazard Studio announced they would be developing a videogame based on the series for the Nintendo 3DS to be released in the third quarter of 2011.
You can check out the video games website here.
POPCulture Online Feb 2011 All Rights Reserved