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Outlaw Star: Where did the Gene Starwinds of anime go?

Whenever we read an old book or watch an old movie, there’s always that tricky desire to strike a balance between reacting honestly to the ‘text’ — used broadly here to convey the “meat ‘n potatoes” of any given work of art — and analyzing the work by pretending to adopt the viewpoint(s) from which the work of art was created. For instance, should we criticize a novel from the American 1850s for its apparent endorsement of, say, slavery? Surely enough, the values of the time likely saw slavery as simply another means to a functioning society. Nevertheless, if we are to be honest, slavery is obviously abhorrent.

Luckily, Outlaw Star is not that far removed from our present day that it would require us to jump through a number of mental hoops in order for us to accept the series at face value. The original run for the manga began in 1996, and the first episode of the anime adaptation soon followed just a mere two years later. To some extent, it is a little astonishing to some of us that 1998 is actually more than a decade ago. We’ve always viewed the past within the context of the corporate 80s, the kitschy 70s, the social upheavals of the 60s, so on and so forth. Well, with twelve years between us and the 90s, what are we to make of that decade?

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