Japanese 51 episode anime series, produced in 1984 for NTV by Studio Pierrot under the title Seijushi Bismarck (Star Musketeer Bismarck). When the series was translated into an english version, a lot of changes and cuts were made to adjust the series to western tastes. In this wu, I'll try to present both views.
The original plot is set in the sparsely colonized solar system, where the evil Deathcula (probably Deathclaw), evil invaders from another universe who were thought to be beaten after their defeat near Jupiter 15 years ago, have returned to conquer the solar planets. Their own planets do not have much resources left, so they have to attack ours. The solar system is just being settled, with loads of border towns and settlers, giving the series a definite western (as in cowboys, not as in not eastern) flair.
In the american version, the story is set on the distant planet of Huma. The Deathcula are called Outriders. They come from another dimension, and when "killed" over here, they do not die, but return to the phantom zone (this was true in the original version as well). Their leader, a mysterious entity known as Nemesis (in the original he is named Hyuza, is a cyborg who lost his body in the failed attempt 15 years earlier) will try everything to gain control over Huma, mainly because of boredom, as his dimension is incredibly boring. Also, in this version, Jesse Blue is not an outrider himself, but "just" a traitor to the human race. Other changes include changing all bars to cafe's, where the characters order their lemonades instead of harder stuff, and cutting some scenes where the characters actually got drunk.
- Saber Rider, the leader of the team in the american version, originally called Richard Lancelot and officer of the Royal Forces. He rides his electric flying horse (aptly named Steed), and fights best with his saber, hence the name. He leads with a calm hand, thinking things through and standing by his decisions. He is of scottish origin.
- Fireball (aka Shinji Hikari), the original leader of the team. He is a japanese race driver (as visible from the japanese flag on both his helmet and his car. In the american versions, many scenes with Fireball were cut or shortened, dialogue lines transferred to other characters, changing the entire focus of the series. An active, risk-taking hero is thus made over into a calm and shy character.
- Colt (aka Bill Wilcox), the teams american. He is a bounty hunter/cowboy, an excellent shot, as well as pilot of his jet. He was the main beneficiary of the american version (who would have thunk?), as his role was expanded by repeating scenes from other episodes, adding dialogue, etc. This leads to some funny scenes where Colt is spaeking, but everyone is looking at Fireball.
- April Eagle (aka Marian Louvre), tech expert and token female character. Daughter of Commander Eagle of the Star Sheriff High Command. Being part of the design team of Ramrod, she knows his capabilities best, helping the others in crucial moments.
- Finally, Ramrod (Bismarck), the giant robot shaped like a cowboy and controlled by the other four. No episode would be complete without the Ramrod transformation scene, where he transforms from his spaceship form to his cowboy-robot form, to do battle with the Outriders main machines, the Renegade-units, usually the conclusion of an episode.
Japanese version has been released in two limited edition DVD boxed sets in 2002. The american version is only partially available on two VHS cassettes.
The series was also broadcast in Germany, based on the american edition, and was extremely popular at the time. However, it suffered from the trend in german dubbing at that time to try and make every line of dialogue funny by rhyming, use of rude language and namecalling. Needless to say, this kind of dialogue gets unbearable very soon...