Future-Retro Hero Story protagonist Juji Godoh.

Future-Retro Hero Story: Outlaw Star’s Forgotten Predecessor

I have wanted to talk about Future-Retro Hero Story for a long time. I’m sure the majority of people reading this are already very familiar with Outlaw Star. To a lesser extent maybe with its spin-off Angel Links.

A Brief Introduction to Future-Hero Retro Story

Back in 1988, a full nine years before the release of the Outlaw Star manga, Takehiko Itou’s Future-Hero Retro Story was released. Also known sometimes as Space Hero Tales, or Uchuu Eiyuu Monogatari to give it its Japanese name. At this time it was just the second manga he had released in his career.

Cover of the third volume of Future-Retro Hero Story.
Cover of the third volume with the protagonist looking very much like a young Gene Starwind.

Now, Outlaw Star as far as the anime is concerned was a huge success in the west. Like myself, many of you probably cut your teeth watching anime seeing it on Toonami alongside Cowboy Bebop. Despite this Angel Links was the only semblance of a sequel it ever got. There were several projects in the works for a sequel by Itou and with the help of the animation studio Sunrise, but ultimately none of these came to fruition. We will talk about these again in a future article.

Reasons for Its Obscurity

It was somewhat to my surprise then about five years ago that I found out about Future-Retro Hero Story. As it turns out, Outlaw Star itself was a sequel. You may be asking, like I do, that with Outlaw Star’s popularity how come this isn’t common knowledge? Personally for myself it’s a hard one to understand. My best guess is that as a starter anime for many, people moved on to other series and developed their tastes over time. People somewhat just look at Outlaw Star with nostalgia.

Other reasons for Future-Retro Hero Story’s obscurity also comes down to other important factors. Even though the manga series was a hit in Japan, an anime adaptation unfortunately never got to see the light of day. As far as my knowledge goes, the animation studio fell into financial difficulties, or so I believe. There was an audio drama made, but I think we know the chances of anyone translating these are slim to none.

Here’s a taster of said audio drama, complete with catchy theme song:

Are Translations Available?

Unfortunately Future-Retro Hero Story never got an official translation. However a small number of scanlations were provided a few years ago by You’re Welcome Scans. Looking at their page though it seems like they’re looking to revive those efforts with the help of the prominent Outlaw Star fan site Outlaw Star Nexus. So there is hope there will soon be more available.

I’ve read these scanlations and if you’re thinking it’s similar to a shounen version of Outlaw Star, you would be pretty close. I think it has a bit of the Dragon Ball feel to it, that you may expect from a manga from this time. It’s much more comedic in tone than Outlaw Star was, and has a very different feel to its seinen successor.

Dragon Ball characters.
Dragon Ball’s immense success set the tone of shounen series in the 80s and beyond.

References in that Hot Springs Episode…

When talking about this topic we also need to discuss a certain episode from Outlaw Star. Episode 23 to be exact, the episode that originally Toonami did not show. Yes, that’s right, the infamous hot springs episode if you remember. This episode is actually incredibly important as it is the only episode in Outlaw
Star that ties it to its lesser known predecessor. If you remember there were three wizards in this episode, Ark, Hadul and Urt. All three of these were originally Future-Retro Hero Story characters.

Ark and Urt also utter some very important lines respectively:

Wizards Ark and Hadul watch the Outlaw Star depart Tenrei.
“A red haired man, armed with a caster gun.”
Urt watches the Outlaw Star depart Tenrei.
“Is this important? Will the universe be met with another disaster?”

Digging Deeper

OK now I’ve given you an overview about what Future-Retro Hero Story was and how it relates to Outlaw Star. Let’s start digging a bit deeper. What was the story about, who were the characters, and how did the three wizards come into all this?

The Story

The story basically concerns the grandson of a famous space adventurer named Roger Griffiths, a young teenager called Juji Godoh. Unlike in Outlaw Star, the Future-Retro Hero Story takes place on Earth and in our solar system, before humanity was able to branch out and expand among the stars. This is known as the Fixed Star era, whereas Outlaw Star’s time is known as the Towards Star era.

Roger met with an unfortunate fate during his past in his own set of Space Hero Tales. He now consists of a walking brain in a jar, that you can see on the video above. So Juji ends up inheriting his old space ship and his gun that shoots mana. Similar to Gene’s in Outlaw Star.

Roger in human form from Future-Retro Hero Story.
Roger in his heyday.

From what I’ve seen and read, things are pretty standard for a shounen manga with Juji and Roger adding more to their group along their adventures. Like Juji’s classmate Sakumi. A witch named Azel, as well as a robot trying to expand his own fast food franchise across space as bizarre as that sounds.

The Setting…

The setting for the story is a little odd. Please correct me down in the comments if I’m wrong about any of this. Information about this series is still hard to come by. It seems as though Earth essentially exists in its own kind of realm, and outside of this the rest of the solar system is populated by other beings. It also seems Roger was originally from this more magical realm. The series antagonist, Star King Brass, banished him from this realm and placed a curse on him and his family. Hence what Urt said at the end of the Outlaw Star episode…

How Did the Priests Come Into It?

I believe the three priests from Outlaw Star served under Star King Brass, and were supposed to be as strong individually as an army. After Star King Brass’ defeat at the hands of Juji and co, the priests were forced to flee across space in order to find more mana. They needed this to extend their lifespan and source their magical powers. Eventually they ended up on Planet Tenrei.

Some of the antagonists from Future-Retro Hero Story. The wizards later appeared in Outlaw Star.
Ark, Hadul and Urt along with series antagonist Star King Brass on the far left.

After this space pirates began to take control. Humanity discovered dragonite and was able to travel to other star systems, eventually leading us to Outlaw Star.

I used two main sources while writing this article that you should take a look at if you would like to know more:
The Japanese Wikipedia page
http://www.angelfire.com/anime3/m_haiena/Future.html

What do you think about this and did you already know about Future-Retro Hero Story? Have any information I missed? Please leave your comments down below.

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5 comments

  1. Hey, cool article! I’m one of the guys from Outlaw Star Nexus (the one you saw originally reach out to YWS in the comments over there). Thanks for writing about this and doing it all justice, there was even some stuff in here about FRHS I didn’t know or didn’t pick up on while reading the scans. We’re still in talks about continuing the FRHS scanlation project but our translators are busy with Outlaw Star material at the moment. As soon as we free up some bandwidth we’ll be moving on to FRHS. Sure, the material may be about 30 years old, but we’re keeping the dream alive! We have a dedicated group of superfans who will never give up. Perhaps we could collaborate or provide information for an Outlaw Star article sometime if you’re interested. We can be reached at Outlaw Star Nexus & we have a Patreon for anyone who wants to support Outlaw Star or FRHS scanlations down the line. Appreciated, but never required.

    Cheers!
    -Zemekis, Outlaw Star Nexus Staff

    1. Thanks for taking the time to reply, yours is the very first comment I have on this website. I’ve only been doing this since this year and only recently have begun to pick up views.

      I’m really glad to hear that the translation efforts are still in the pipeline, I’m hoping to cover them on this site if it’s okay with you guys. I’d love to collaborate on an article some time, so perhaps we could do so when the translations are released. If you have any other ideas please just drop me an email. I intend to cover more Outlaw Star stuff in the future for sure.

      I’ve known about you guys at Outlaw Star Nexus for some time and check it every now and then. I actually had the chance to join the website some years ago and had conversations with Mantis about it. I had just got a new job at the time though and couldn’t commit to it.

      Hope Mantis’ health is better and keep up the good work over at Outlaw Star Nexus.

      1. I stumbled upon this article completely by accident the other day and was pleasantly surprised to see the mention of FRHS’s You’re Welcome Scans scanlation and Outlaw Star Nexus. I like the idea behind this blog. Seinen is great and Monster is one of my favourite series, so I ought to check out your articles on that!

        Feel free to get in touch! I’d be happy to collaborate. If you have any questions about the projects’ status or Outlaw Star itself, let me know. You can reach me on the forums or by sending an email (mantis at mydomain). The Outlaw Star scanlation has a planned public release beginning at the start of November and concluding in July next year. I can’t give any good estimates for FRHS as that’ll mostly be You’re Welcome Scans’ project, but my hope is that something will be set in motion at the beginning of next year.

        Also, thanks for the concern, George. My health has seen a lot of improvement this year.

        1. Thanks for stopping by Mantis.

          Yes, I decided to create this website as seinen anime and manga have some great stories, but are only really talked about often on Facebook groups and the like.

          I’m really happy that you enjoyed the article and everything I wrote is accurate. Here I just try and give my opinions really as I know others probably know much more about certain topics than I do, especially with the amount of false information you can find online.

          That’s good to know that the scanlation project is going to be resumed, am looking forward to it greatly. Like I said before I shall be happy to collaborate at any point in the future.

          I’m almost finished with Monster now, and it is an amazing series. I do have plans on what I would like to cover next but I haven’t ultimately decided yet.

  2. That was a great read. I didn’t notice any mistakes in the article. Seems you have it spot-on. I think you’re right about the setting too. Earth in FRHS (and subsequently Outlaw Star) being some kind of alternate reality was also my impression. Takehiko Ito probably wouldn’t have been able to make the manga half as zany if its setting was more grounded.

    Ito is a big fan of western (particularly American) media and history and you can certainly see that in both Future-Retro Hero Story and Outlaw Star.

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