Having a fan-service episode set at a beach or hot springs resort is not uncommon for anime looking to introduce a little fun down-time between relevant episodes. Those looking to make such episodes a bit more risque might exclude it from the original airing and put it back in as a bonus for the DVD or BluRay releases. It’s often safe to skip these “beach episodes” if they don’t interest you, but what if they held information and revelations absolutely vital to the plot of the entire series.
Outlaw Star had two episodes cut from its TV line-up, one of which was a standalone adventure based on the story of Moby Dick and the other was a visit to a planet renowned for its hot springs. These were then added back in with the DVD releases, but this left people watching the original broadcasts with a major plot hole between episodes right at the end of the series.
Episode 23, Hot Springs Planet Tenrei, happens right after the crew of The Outlaw Star has obtained pivotal information that would lead them to the final battle and sees them land on a planet where protagonist Gene Starwind hopes to stock up on his special ammunition. His “caster” shells are a type of magic in bullet format, but the secret of their creation is an enigma and the planet Tenrei is his only lead. Upon arrival, the crew quickly dons ditches their clothes and proceeds to have a fun time around the resort while Gene goes off on his own.
It’s not hard to see why the episode wasn’t aired. It’s a constant stream of bikini babes and we get to see characters completely naked. A large chunk of the episode also deals with Gene making a trade with the creators of his ammunition where he has to record their female colleague in the nude. It’s a final moment of peace for the crew before the big battles of its finale, but catgirl titties are generally a no-go for TV broadcasters.
However, the episode also reveals a lot of the lore central to Outlaw Star‘s background story. It explains the origins and decay of magic leading to the techniques and technologies we have seen in action throughout the show and, most importantly, it provides Gene a powerful but costly new tool that he has to use during the final episodes. If you only watch the aired episodes and fire up episode 24, you suddenly got Gene flaunting his new ammo and referencing his conversations with the characters who gave it to him.
Episode 24 pulls a bit of an info dump to get viewers up to date with the most important info about these new caster shells, but it leaves you with the glaring feeling that something is missing.
I wonder what the thought process was here. I get wanting to have a little distraction between serious storylines and the hot springs episode is a good fit for a show with so many cool female characters in it. Why make that episode pull double duty by stuffing it full of vital plot development if you knew it would be cut? Why risk confusing so many viewers right before the final battle?
6 thoughts on “The plot-vital hot springs episode”
I try not to skip this sort of episode just in case something important happens, but I must admit, I tend to find the hot springs episodes, at best, forgettable in most cases. That being said, it was the hot springs episode that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me give up on Gurren Lagann.
Oh God, I have only seen the Gurren Lagann movies and was still planning to go back for the full series. Is it bad?
According to most, no.
For me, I just couldn’t get into it. The first episode was great, but after that, I couldn’t understand the hype. The animation was inconsistent, the humour didn’t land for me, and I found the characters to range from dull to annoying.
I wound say though that the vast majority of anime fans feel very differently to me on the series. I’d still say it’s worth trying on that basis, as you may enjoy it more than I did. It was really just one of those ‘not for me’ shows. I mean, in some parts of the net, my not enjoying it means I don’t understand anime or fun as a whole. :p
I saw some of the show on Toonami, but I eventually saw the uncut Japanese version. It’s good how there was plot relevant material, but I thought this episode even by hot springs episodes standards had too much fanservice in it. I don’t want to sound like a prude, but I thought they went overboard. Of course, the episode wasn’t filler with the Caster shell element playing a major part of the last episodes with the final battles. In a way, it’s a bit of a trope aversion because it was plot-relevant, but they could’ve toned it down.
Cartoon Network eventually did air this uncut (sort of. Aisha’s nipples were digitally removed) on Adult Swim’s Saturday anime block. Of course, this was back in 2018 and most people haven’t watched Cartoon Network since the execs decided to make it The All “Teen Titans Go!” Channel (with some sprinkling of similar-looking CalArts cartoons [though “The Amazing World of Gumball” and “Uncle Grandpa” don’t look like “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show”) and pretty much left Adult Swim to rot and become a dumping ground for Rick and Morty episodes and all of FOX’s dysfunctional family animated shows that aren’t named “The Simpsons” (though, thanks to Disney merging with FOX, they may take back Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy. Don’t know about American Dad since that’s a TBS show now). Such a shame, but hey, at least it can be said that it aired on Cartoon Network.
Oh neat, thanks for sharing that info. It strikes me as odd to finally air “unseen episodes” of a series 20 years later, especially after the channel’s identity has changed so drastically.