by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 23 of
Outlaw Star ?
How would you rate episode 24 of
Outlaw Star ?
We're closing in on the endgame of Outlaw Star, and the crew is making their final preparations before journeying to the mysterious Galactic Leyline. The last errand they need to run is to acquire Caster bullets for Gene's magic laser gun, and there's only one place in the universe to go for those: a hot springs planet! Sure why not.
Outlaw Star's had a fairly wide variety of tone in its episodic escapades, but “Hot Springs Planet Tenrei” almost feels like a different show, as if an episode from a lost Gainax property somehow got shuffled into the edit while nobody was looking. The show's been no stranger to comedy before, but it's never before had the full on Looney Tunes slapstick energy of Gene being repeatedly thrown down a mountain by giant snowballs, or a pirate assassin getting plonked in the head with a barrel, complete with cartoon “BONK” sound effects. That's not to say it's a bad shift – as somebody who loves when anime embraces its cartoon nature just to get absurd and silly, there's a lot of gags here that work great, and much of the editing and timing is pitch-perfect for the delivery.
It's also easily the horniest the show's gotten, to mixed results. While fanservice is never going to be what gets me to watch a show, I'm not opposed to it so long as the characters involved seem to be having fun. So when there's a scene of Aisha proudly displaying her uncensored clan-clans and telling Gene to get an eyeful as he boils alive in lava, it's pretty funny rather than offputting. Less amusing is the running storyline of Gene trying to get a dirty video for a couple of sorcerers in exchange for the bullets he's after. It's not just that it trips the line from horny to invasive and creepy, but that the whole event forces Gene to mildly break character. We've known our hero fucks since episode 1, and he's been no stranger to hitting on ladies before, but that's a far cry from the slobbering dingus he becomes for much of this episode as he follows his dick like a divining rod and ogles every centimeter of cleavage he encounters. Gene's an adult who's, well, been here before, so it's weird that for this episode alone he becomes an overstimulated teenager who blushes at the first sign of a bra strap.
With that last bit of comedic relief behind us, it's time to finally dive into the Galactic Leyline, and wouldn't you know it? Everyone had the same idea! The pirate faction's busy hacking their way into the mysterious cloud that surrounds it, and meanwhile the MacDougal brothers have picked up Dr. Khan and gotten him to give Harry a big fancy upgrade so he can also float in a vat and pilot a ship with his brain. Oh, by the way, Aisha let the Ctarl-Ctarl know where they're going too, so now there's a battleship of catpeople here for flavor! It's a real party, and the ensuing fustercluck of a fight/race to the Leyline is pretty fun, with the added tension of not knowing what might await them on the other side. For all the cast's been searching for it, there's still no real idea of what the Leyline is or why it's important, though the cryptic connection between Melfina and the ancient space ruins makes me think it's Protoculture. Whatever it is, it traps all the various parties in some kind of trippy space station and abducts Melfina for good measure, so I suppose that's our setup for the upcoming finale.
As has been the case frequently, these two episodes are about as different as could be without being totally different IPs. The first is uneven, offering some of the best and worst examples of the series' humor, and perhaps the most interesting fact about it is that it didn't air on either of the show's initial TV broadcast. The other is more perfunctory and less memorable, but actually moves us into the long awaited final destination of our crew. With how much Outlaw Star has vacillated in quality, I'm not sure what to expect for these final episodes, but my hope is they can coalesce into something memorable.
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