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"Can you feel the thunder inside?
—from the lyrics of the American Expository Theme Tune
"Together we've made a commitment to the spirit of the frontier freedom fighters. Wherever danger leads us, wherever the people need us, that's where you'll find . . . the Star Sheriffs!"
—Saber Rider, "Star Sheriff Round-Up"
In the future, humanity has spread out across the galaxy, settling various planets which are known as "frontier outposts." Spaceship travel and high technology are common, but many people live simple lives akin to those of settlers in the Wild West. The human dimension is invaded by Outriders, the soldiers of a race of aliens known as Vapor Beings who are bent on conquering our dimension. They are driven back but fifteen years later they return, led by their Galactic Conqueror, Nemesis. They attack using Humongous Mecha called Renegade Units and the only ones who can stop them are Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits consisting of:
- Saber Rider - a charismatic and intelligent fencer with a cybernetic horse
- Colt - a womanizing, sharp-shooting, pilot Bounty Hunter and The Gunslinger
- Fireball - a Hot-Blooded race-car driver
- April Eagle - the intelligent daughter of one of the top Cavalry Command Commanders who incidentally designed the sheriff-shaped transforming mecha they pilot.
- Ramrod - the transforming spaceship/mecha shaped like a giant sheriff
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs is an example of an early Macekre'd anime (though Carl Macek was not actually involved). While the general storylines were kept intact, several episodes were removed due to content and American-produced episodes were substituted in (they are notable for their differing character designs and minimal usage of the Transforming Mecha) as well as introducing expanded backstory for one of the main villains, Jesse Blue. The transformation sequences, which differed from episode to episode in the original series, Sei Juushi Bismarck (Space Musketeer Bismarck), were replaced with Stock Footage. The Japanese main character was turned into a secondary character and the British fencer became the titular character in the American version. A love triangle was also introduced with Jesse Blue falling in love with April (and trying to pull both an Attempted Rape and a Murder the Hypotenuse), who was in love with Saber Rider (who was oblivious and embarrassed when she tried to kiss him once) and later with Fireball (who reciprocated her feelings).
Interestingly, the original series was a commercial failure in Japan, but the Macekred version proved VERY popular around the world, especially in Germany, Latin America and Russia where it developed cult status.
This show is also highly notable as one of the first shows a newborn Studio Pierrot did in the early to mid 80s, and Saber Rider was their first major overseas success and the money from that (along with Urusei Yatsura) fueled their later projects. You may have heard of just a few of these.
- The Ace
- Ace Pilot: Fireball, an ex-top professional racer. Colt is also shown to be very good at piloting his personal craft, the Bronco Buster.
- Amnesia Danger
- Arch Enemy
- Asskicking Pose
- Attempted Rape: Jesse tries to force himself on April in the second episode.
- Awesomeness By Analysis
- Beginner's Luck: Fireball and Colt do pretty well the first time they pilot Ramrod.
- Beach Episode:More like a Beach Scene. Interestingly enough, this is rather subverted when the male character goes in for a kiss and is rewarded with a face full of sand.
- Black Cloak
- Boisterous Bruiser: Colt and Fireball.
- Brain In a Jar: The Big Bad.
- Broken Bird: Trista, Jesse's girlfriend. The episode where she and April meet, become friends and then have their buddying bond trashed by Jesse is quite the Tear Jerker.
- Bounty Hunter: Colt's job before joining the Star Sheriffs.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Each Sheriff has his or her quirk - Colt is a bit of a pervert and flirt, April was a pro tennis player before becoming a Hot Scientist, Fireball's temper, etc.
- Calling Your Attacks: Somewhat justified. They're calling their attacks as instructions and to keep the others aware of what Ramrod is doing, since it's a four-person piloting job.
- Call to Adventure
- Captain Obvious
- Car Fu
- Catch Phrase: Take a shot any time Saber Rider talks about the Star Sheriff spirit.
- Cattle Punk
- Chaste Hero: Played with a bit, in regards to Saber. He did have three Girls Of The Week, but OTOH he was absolutely oblivious to April's crush on him.
- Chest Blaster: Ramrod's most powerful weapon. (Also includes kneeblasters. And hip blasters.)
- The Chick: April is a quite odd case. Though more independent than a Distressed Damsel, she is too young to be Team Mom or Cool Big Sis, and aside of building Ramrod (and Nova), she is also less active than the standard The Smart Guy.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Colt. Though he *does* become more loyal when he's paired up with the strongwilled school teacher Robin.
- Clean Cut: Saber, Fireball, and Colt are all whisker-free.
- Closer to Earth: April was often portrayed as being more mature than Colt and Fireball, though she's frequently backed up by Saber.
- Cool Car: Red Fury Racer.
- Cool Horse: Saber's mech horse, Steed. In the American version, April also has a pink one called Nova.
- Cool Old Guy: April's father, Commander Eagle.
- Cultural Translation
- Cut and Paste Translation: Notable in that despite the sweeping changes made to the show by World Events Productions (the people behind Voltron), the show was hugely successful in its new markets and the changes are not necessarily considered wholly negative. This causes some people to want to call it a Gag Dub or Woolseyism as opposed to giving it the loaded Macekre label.
- Daddy's Girl: April and her dad.
- Days of Future Past: As with the other Space Western cartoons, clothing and architecture reminiscent of The Wild West co-exists with futuristic technology.
- Deceptive Disciple: Jesse Blue.
- Determinator: Everyone, but specially Colt.
- Diagonal Cut
- Disappeared Dad: April's dad, again. ( Fireball's dad fits in as well.)
- Dodge the Bullet
- Dueling Shows: In America, Saber Rider aired the same year as Bravestarr and a year after Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, although it predates both its American Space Western competitors.
- Earthshattering Kaboom
- Edited for Syndication
- Eenie Meenie Miny Moai
- Every Car Is a Pinto
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs (In the episode "Oh Boy! Dinosaurs!", appropriately enough)
- Evil Counterpart (Jesse, to the Sheriffs)
- Evil-Detecting Dog (Saber Rider's parents have a pet Scottish terrier that can distinguish them from two Vapor Beings that kidnap and replace them. The puppy's odd behavior tipped Saber and April into revealing the trap.)
- Face Heel Turn (Jesse)
- Faceless Goons (Most Outrider minions are akin to Storm Troopers.)
- Fake Brit: American voice actor Rob Paulsen gives Saber Rider a surprisingly convincing English accent. The character's excessive use of Stock British Phrases kind of ruins the authenticity, though.
- Falling Into the Cockpit: Fireball and Colt.
- Framing Device: Saber Rider begins and ends some episodes in the context of reciting a story about the Star Sheriffs' adventures. When Fireball develops amnesia at one point in the storyline, this is used to frame a Recap Episode.
- Gadgeteer Genius: April.
- Gag Dub
- Galactic Conqueror: Nemesis, leader of the Outriders, is obsessed with taking over the human dimension.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: If you look closely in one episode, you can see the Monster of the Week's internal organs being blasted apart (also makes for good Nightmare Fuel too).
- Gosh Dang It to Heck
- Graceful Loser: Subverted when Vanquo is shot by Saber Rider in his own dimension turning him from an Outrider into a Human Being and magically making him good.
- The Gunslinger: Colt.
- Hand Cannon: Ramrod has a size-appropriate pair of pistols.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Ramrod is Peter Cullen--we mean, Optimus Prime doing a decent John Wayne impression.
- Hollywood Cyborg ( The Big Bad)
- Hot-Blooded: Fireball.
- Hot Scientist: April.
- Humongous Mecha: Ramrod and the Monster of the Week.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Saber.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Colt.
- Impressive Pyrotechnics
- It's Going Down
- James Bondage (Poor Commander Eagle...)
- Jumped At the Call (Colt and Fireball)
- Just a Kid (Fireball's younger age is constantly mentioned by the others)
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Fireball, as the result of head injuries from a crash.
- Last-Minute Hookup ( Fireball and April.)
- Like Father, Like Son ( Fireball and his dad)
- Lock and Load Montage
- Love Makes You Evil ( Jesse's Face Heel Turn is motivated by April's reluctance to get in a relationship with him. His Attempted Rape of her didn't help his case)
- Love Triangle (More than a Love Triangle, less than a Love Dodecahedron. Interestingly enough, it came about because of the Macekred plot.)
- Monster of the Week/Robeast: Renegade Units.
- Mr. Exposition: Saber Rider.
- Multinational Team (Saber Rider is English, April is French, Colt is American, Fireball is Japanese)
- That is, in the Japanese original. In the English dub, April and Fireball's national origins are ignored (although in the opening at least, you can still spot the Japanese flag on Fireball's vehicle, and the Japanese sun and French tricolor on Fireball and April's uniform sleeves). However, Colt gets to stay American--considering that he's essentially a futuristic cowboy, he could hardly be from anywhere else. As for Saber Rider, not only did the dub team keep him British, but one of the US-only episodes ("The Highlanders") is built around his status as a descendant of Scottish royalty.
- April's cousin also has a French accent.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya
- Mysterious Parent ( Fireball's father)
- Never Say "Die" (In the show the Outriders never die; as Vapor Beings, they vaporize and are "sent back to their own dimension". If they are vaporized in their own dimension they turn human instead)
- It's taken to ridiculous extremes with human characters as well. In one episode, a blatantly dead man is given dialogue. Except his mouth isn't moving. Because he's supposed to be dead.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed (Jack Nicholson for Jesse Blue; and, of course,
Optimus PrimeJohn Wayne for Ramrod.)
- No Fourth Wall (Happens once when Saber Rider addresses the audience during two eyecatch sequences.)
- Notable Original Music: There were two soundtrack albums released (one of which includes an interview with American version composer Dale Schacker). All together now - "Can you hear the thunder inside..."
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo
- Odd Friendship (Fireball and Colt)
- Off-Model: A more subtle variant, but the six American produced episodes have slightly different designs than the others, such as a squarer chin for Saber Rider and more makeup for April.
- Out of the Inferno
- Outrun the Fireball
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Star Sheriffs.
- Recap Episode: "The Challenge" part II is a bunch of flashbacks as the team tries to kickstart Fireball's memory.
- Rule of Cool
- Secret Legacy
- The Smurfette Principle: Poor April is the only girl in the group.
- Space Western: Not only Colt was a literal Space Cowboy before he joined the Sheriffs, some episodes are set on Wild West-like planets.
- Stalker with a Crush (Jesse Blue)
- Steven Ulysses Perhero - Saber Rider is about as blatant a hero name as Speed Racer.
- Stock Footage
- Stuff Blowing Up
- Tall, Dark and Snarky (Jesse Blue)
- Teen Genius: April Eagle built Ramrod when she was around 16.
- Theme Naming: The planets are all named after Western towns and the characters tend to be named after a distinguishing feature. April's cousin is named June.
- Totally Radical
- Transforming Mecha: Ramrod.
- Tsundere (Robin)
- Unfortunate Implications: The blond, blue-eyed man being rewritten as the lead over the original Japanese team leader.
- You Can Barely Stand
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair (Jesse Blue and Snowcone)
- You Guys Killed My Parents ( The Vapor Beings murder both of Colt's parents in front of him, by blowing up the shuttle they had just boarded after visiting their son. Soon, he jumps at the call to avenge them)
- Young Gun (Colt with regard to Dooley, who was his mentor.)
- Wave Motion Gun
- We Will Meet Again