Here’s another "new classic" you lunatics have recommended rather insistently. As this is what I’ll watch and learn from while I take a (permanent?) break from YU YU HAKUSHO, it's kind-of confirmed to me that I’m removed from a rather significant portion of American anime fans because my interest in this stuff wasn’t shaped significantly by Toonami. Indeed, I’d never actually heard of this series until I interviewed Richie Branson about the rap he spun about it on his last EP.
Watching this without any attachments of nostalgia, I’ve got to say that hand-drawn animation objectively looks better to me than the sort of toonin’ with all the digital intermediaries you see everywhere today. Yeah, maybe this is one good example that persisted whilst dozens of poorer examples were forgotten, but I still think this harder path forces the animators to make much more purposeful choices about lighting, framing, detail and assorted on-screen storytelling techniques. There’s something more… weighty about the flat color palette, as well.
As for the story, though? Well, the argument for “Older is better” isn’t as strong.
This tale of space pirates and space bounty hunters (not sure which one these good guys are, actually) definitely smells of the “This ain’t your daddy’s cartoon” red-sticker-on-the-VHS-cover days of anime in America. It’s the sort of thinly-drawn, heavy-on-the-archetypes yarn that makes for a perfectly passable adventure - - if not necessarily an original one. Indeed, watching this makes me want to read up on exactly who the first space pirate in pop fiction was, because I’d be really curious to find where everybody’s taking these tropes from. I doubt it was Captain Harlock, I doubt it was Cobra, and I doubt it was Han Solo... but Gene's got a a little from all of them.
Yeah, I don’t know - - we had a shakedown with some cyborgs in a space bar, and that led to this motely pair of roustabouts taking on another space bounty before getting interrupted by a bunch of space pirates. The action’s suitably kickass, but there’s not a lot to differentiate it from other material of its era, so far.
I suppose I’ll just have to stick around for a few episodes to find out what’s so beguiled people about this?
Look up this episode, "Outlaw World” and decide for yourself.