Saber Marionette J (セイバーマリオネットJ Seibā Marionetto Jei?), is an anime series from the Saber Marionette franchise about Otaru Mamiya and his three marionettes, which are humanoid female robots. It is created by Satoru Akahori while the original character designs are from Tsukasa Kotobuki. The anime series aired on TV Tokyo from October 1, 1996 to March 25, 1997. The anime is licensed in North America by Bandai Entertainment and released in VHS and DVD formats. The DVD release contains the English, Japanese and Spanish (Latin American) tracks. The anime series was directed by veteran Masami Shimoda while the character designs were done by Shuichi Shimamura, the main script writing was done by Mayori Sekijima and the music was composed by Parome.
The series is set in Terra II, a planet far from Earth. 300 years before the beginning of the story, the human colony ship Mesopotamia suffered a major disaster which killed almost everyone on board. Six men escaped using an emergency pod and managed to land on the surface of the planet. With no means to return or contact Earth, they decided to colonize the planet using clones of themselves. Six nations are created, each ruled by six direct clones of the original colonists, while the nations themselves are populated by genetically modified clones.
However their equipment was not able to produce female clones from male genetic material, which resulted in an all-male population (note that this is actually opposite of what is actually true — it would be much harder to come up with Y chromosome from females but closely possible to make females by just duplicating the X chromosome which men already have). To substitute for women, Terra II's inhabitants created marionettes, robots which physically resemble females and fill their role in society, mostly as companions for men. Yet, they are completely devoid of personality and sentient behavior, thus they are mostly regarded as objects and status symbols. Marionettes are also used as general-purpose robots, given tasks such as heavy-labor and combat duty.
The main character of the story is Otaru Mamiya, a regular boy from the country of Japoness whose life is changed by finding Lime (and eventually Cherry and Bloodberry). The three of them are radically different from regular marionettes in that they act on their own free will and seem to have their own full personalities. The three of them also become quite infatuated with Otaru and constantly compete for his affection, giving some trouble to the boy who doesn't really know what to do with three highly unusual marionettes.
Meanwhile, the leader of Gartland, Faust, puts in motion a plan for world domination by successfully invading the neighboring St. Petersburg. He also attempts to assassinate Japoness' shogun Ieyasu, though this is thwarted by Otaru's marionettes. Ieyasu reveals to Otaru that his marionettes are so special because they are equipped with the otome kairo (or maiden circuit), which gives them a life-like personality. However, the marionettes still need to "grow" in order to gain the full personality of a woman, and Otaru was chosen as their guardian since he could give them the needed experience via his interactions with them. Otaru and his marionettes are drafted to infiltrate Gartland and put a damper on Faust's plans to invade Japoness.
On the other hand, Faust has his own set of otome kairo marionettes, the Saber Dolls Tiger, Luchs and Panther, which he usually pits against Otaru's. But, unlike Otaru, who loves & cares for his Sabers with all his heart, Faust treats his marionettes as disposable soldiers and abuses them physically, despite their devotion and most importantly, their love to him. Frustrated by the lack of growth on his marionettes, he orders them to steal the otome kairo of the three Japoness' marionettes, yet this only results in Lime's circuit being lost and Tiger's being destroyed.
Without her otome kairo, Lime remains in an emotionless robot-like state, sending Otaru in a desperate search for the circuit. He eventually recovers it from his sensei Soemon Obichii, who intended to use it to make his marionette lover, Koiyuki, a life-like marionette like Otaru's.
Otaru's joy at recovering Lime's circuit is short-lived, as Mesopotamia launches an attack against Terra II and its population. It is then revealed that the true purpose of Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry is to act as replacements for Lorelei, the sole female survivor of the original expedition, who was taken hostage by Mesopotamia's main computer. In an act of self-sacrifice, the three marionettes abandon Otaru and offer their fully matured otome kairo, the combination of which duplicates Lorelei's personality, to Mesopotamia, convincing it of releasing Lorelei and stopping the attacks.
Lorelei's descent to Terra II provides the needed genetic material for females to be produced, marking the apparent end of the age of the marionettes. However, Lorelei reminds the world to honor them for the roles they played in society, particularly those three who willingly sacrificed themselves.
All this falls into deaf ears for Otaru, who has lost everything he held dear. And yet when he has given up hope, something seems to leave Mesopotamia and come back to Terra II... Otaru's Sabers return to him and start a brand new chapter in their life once again. Faust also starts a new life with his Saber Dolls after seeing what his evil ambitions got him into as well as seeing Terra II nearly being annihilated by the Mesopotamia. He also abandoned his position as leader of Gartland.
Terra II is the planet on which most of the events in the Saber Marionette J saga takes place.
It is politically divided into six city-states, each resembling period nations from Earth. Each nation is led by the clones of the six original survivors from the Mesopotamia disaster.
- Gartland (Nazi Germany), led by Faust.
- Japoness (Feudal Japan), led by Ieyasu.
- New Texas (modern-day United States), led by Joy.
- Xi'an (ancient China), led by Wong.
- Romana (medieval Italy), led by Vilay.
- Otaru Mamiya
- Voiced by: Yuka Imai (Japanese), Brad Swaile (English)
- The protagonist. A citizen of Japoness, a country of Terra II which resembles feudal Japan and guardian of the Japoness Sabers: Lime, Cherry, & Bloodberry. He eventually discovers the three marionettes and forms a sort of family with them. Initially, Otaru seems to be very asexual and becomes constantly overwhelmed by the marionettes and their affection, which he returns only platonically, and equally to the three. His weapon is a jitte in which the blade can extend to become a sword and the tail of it can be used to reel his friends to safety. He has a distinctive two-color hair-style of light brown on the front and dark brown in the back.
- Lime (JSM-01R)
- Voiced by: Megumi Hayashibara (Japanese), Maggie Blue O'Hara (English)
- A marionette possessing the otome kairo, a circuit that enables her to act almost indistinguishable from a human girl. She is the most child-like of the main marionettes, with a naive, lively, sunny, peppy and playful personality. ("Yoo-hoo" becomes something of Lime's catchphrase), and thus frequently asks all manner of questions about life to Otaru. Because her otome kairo makes her act like a pre-adolescent girl as opposed to a mature woman, Lime does not share the other otome kairo marionettes' (Cherry, Bloodberry, & the Saber Dolls) fear of mice. The quickest of the three; she has amazing speeds that can even out rival the Hanagata Mitsurugi 3000GT seen in Episode 1. She has long blue hair that is pulled back with a long yellow scarf with a red ornament bubble. Her clothing consists of a white, yellow-trimmed "jacket" over a black bodysuit. When walking, Lime and the other marionettes make a squeaking sound much like the squeak of a toy hammer, reminiscent of a popular style of shoe for young children in Japan.
- Cherry (JSM-02C)
- Voiced by: Yuri Shiratori (Japanese), Erin Fitzgerald, Nicole Oliver (English)
- She is the second of Japoness' otome kairo marionettes. She is the most maternal of the three and acts like the perfect stereotype of the Japanese wife, excelling at cooking and doing everything to please "Master" Otaru, who is the subject of her frequent romantic daydreams, in which she goes into over-romantic frenzies and loses sight of her current objectives. She is, however, quite intelligent and equipped with the best sensors of the three. She is often mocked by Bloodberry for being too sweet and mild and is often ridiculed for being flat-chested. Instead, her fantasies and amorous interactions with Otaru tend to focus on her behind. She has two long tails of purple hair and usually dresses in a pink kimono. Despite her sweet nature, she can be frightening when she loses her patience.
- Bloodberry (JSM-03B)
- Voiced by: Akiko Hiramatsu (Japanese), Saffron Henderson (English)
- She is the third of Japoness' otome kairo marionettes. She represents the aggressive side of femininity, being quite loud, boisterous, headstrong, impulsive and very amorous. She is by far the bustiest, and is openly proud of this fact, often teasing Cherry in particular. She is also the most sexual of the three, often vowing to "make a man" out of Otaru, smothering him with her large breasts and endless amounts of physical affection and pressuring him to marry her. For his part, Otaru is much more receptive to Bloodberry's overt advances than the average harem protagonist, often going as far as to compliment her massive bust, to her delight. Although a pussycat in Otaru's presence, she is a lioness in battle. She fights fiercely and bravely and has the most raw physical power. She dresses in a black and orange bodysuit, with her red hair in a high ponytail.
- Mitsurugi Hanagata
- Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu (Japanese), Samuel Vincent (English)
- Initially a wealthy, spoiled, pretty-boy enemy of Otaru's, later revealed to have gay feelings for him (which is not an uncommon result due to the absence of real females on Terra II). He despises Otaru's marionettes, seeing them as rivals, and is frequently physically abused by them (especially Bloodberry) for comic relief. Hanagata often tries to seduce Otaru with his underdeveloped, rib-exposing chest. Eventually the five of them settle in a somewhat peaceful coexistence and friendship. He has a younger brother named Yumeji.
- Yumeji Hanagata
- Voiced by: Urara Takano
- Mitsurugi's younger and in many cases, smarter brother. He becomes friends with Lime after she saves him from their burning mansion.
- Ieyasu Tokugawa
- Voiced by: Kenichi Ogata (Japanese), Don Brown (English)
- He is the shogun of Japoness, the 15th cloned incarnation of the original. All of Japoness' citizens are genetically engineered descendants of him or one of his ancestors. He has a laid back personality even in times of danger, but he still takes threats to his nation seriously. In love with Lorelei, he created Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry in an attempt to rescue her, but it is unclear whether she returned his feelings. He is assassinated by the Saber Dolls in his own fortress, the Japoness Castle. He is obviously named after the real-life shogun of Japan Tokugawa Ieyasu. Interestingly, the original Ieyasu (and likely all the clones at one point) resembled an older Otaru. He's called "Grampa Ieyasu" by Lime.
- Hikosagoemon (also known as Hikozaemon)
- Voiced by: Shigeru Chiba (Japanese), Paul Dobson, Richard Newman (English)
- He is the trusted personal assistant of Shogun Ieyasu. Appears to be the second in command of the country of Japoness, after the Shogun himself. He is more serious and strict than the Shogun. He was killed by the Saber Dolls along with the Shogun.
- Gelhardt von Faust
- Voiced by: Hikaru Midorikawa (Japanese), Paul Dobson (English)
- The leader of Gartland, Generalissimo of the country's military forces, and the 10th clone incarnation of the original Faust is the main antagonist of the series. He is the master of the Saber Dolls: Tiger, Luchs, and Panther. He is bent on conquering all of Terra II and rules his country with an iron fist. It is also notable that Faust's regime resembles Adolf Hitler's and Gartland resembles Nazi Germany. Faust created the Saber Dolls also in an attempt to save Lorelei. He's often called the "Führer", by his soldiers. He has a huge personality cult around him as with most dictators. Faust was once a kind, warm-hearted boy until his mind was altered by his "father", Faust the 9th, in order to succeed him as leader of Gartland. As a result, Faust became a ruthless, powermad tyrant. Towards the end of the series, Faust sees the error of his evil ways once he sees Gartland fall into anarchy and seeing Tiger collapse in his arms. After the Mesopotamia's destruction, he reforms and starts a new life with his Dolls as well as being a close friend and ally of Otaru and his Sabers.
- Tiger (GSM-01T)
- Voiced by: Urara Takano (Japanese), Venus Terzo (English)
- One of as well as the first of Faust's Saber Dolls, and thus equipped with the otome kairo. She is the de facto leader of the Dolls. She has short red hair and uses a sword/whip weapon. Is roughly the equivalent of Lime mainly in speed and agility but not nearly as naive and like the other two Dolls far more busty. Of the 3, she shows a fiercer devotion and love for Faust and would die for him. When Faust was a child, he saw Tiger as almost a mother to him and she loved him both maternally and romantically. As a result, Tiger's otome kairo was maturing at the rate that it should because of the love that she showed Faust as well as the love that he returned. Sadly, Faust was taken away from her to satisfy his "father's" desire to rule Gartland. Tiger witnessed first hand at seeing Faust become a black hearted, cold-blooded devil and was even slapped by the "new" Faust and thus, her circuit's growth was stunted by Faust's new cruel and abusive demeanor. Nevertheless, she remained loyal and still loved him; hoping that he would return to the Faust she knew when he was a boy. It is worth noting that Tiger resembles Chocolate Misu in her dominatrix form from the Sorcerer Hunters series. Her name comes from the Tiger I World War II Armoured fighting vehicle.
- Luchs (GSM-02L)
- Voiced by: Yūko Mizutani (Japanese), Erin Fitzgerald, Nicole Oliver (English)
- She is another of Faust's Saber Dolls, equivalent to Cherry. Uses projectile weapons and is not above manipulating and deceiving her comrades for her own benefit. She has a very mysterious and aloof personality but has been known to act silly on certain occasions. Has long blue hair which is kept in a ponytail with her fringe covering one, if not both, of her eyes and her uniform contains a short, cut miniskirt so in that respect, she looks more like a sexy secretary than a soldier. She also has the same kind of advanced sensors as Cherry. Her name means Lynx in German. She also was the first of the Sabers that Otaru "kissed". He did this in order to shut down Gartland's main computer. In the OVA, Luchs showed a flash of her now-friendly rival Cherry when she fantasized about winning Faust's affections by cooking for him in which she went into the same over-amorous frenzies as Cherry does for Otaru. Also, in the hopes of winning the affections of Faust, Luchs also tries to seduce Otaru (whom she may even have a genuine crush for as well stemming perhaps from the kiss Otaru planted on her in the first series). Her name comes from the Panzer II World War II Armoured fighting vehicle, Type Tank "Luchs" which translates into Lynx in English, and fits with the feline name theme.
- Panther (GSM-03P)
- Voiced by: Kikuko Inoue (Japanese), Samantha Ferris (English)
- The third of Faust's Saber Dolls, counterpart of Bloodberry. Of the Dolls, she is seen as Faust's pit bull and is the most ambitious; always ready to defend his honor and pride at all costs. She has blond hair and a star-shaped eye patch which can emit a laser beam, though she mostly fights bare-handed. Like all the Saber Dolls, has a tall, voluptuous build and shows it off in a military-inspired black and white uniform; she also wears pants that are tight in the leg but extremely baggy in the hips, somewhat reminiscent of military riding pants. In the OVA, Panther has her hair cut short. Also, Panther and Bloodberry become good friends in the OVA. Like Luchs, Panther also tries to seduce Otaru in the hopes of winning Faust's love. In the same series, it's also revealed that she's quite a poet. Her name comes from the Panzer V Panther World War II Armoured fighting vehicle.
- Voiced by: Maria Kawamura (Japanese), Ellen Kennedy (English)
- A marionette part of the elite imperial guard of Japoness, uses a naginata as a weapon. She is not stated to have the otome kairo, but behaves remarkably life-like compared to other regular marionettes. After the death of the Shogun, she is revealed to contain his memories and personality, but it is not clear if this was the case previously.
- Voiced by: Ai Orikasa (Japanese), Nicole Oliver (English)
- The other half of the imperial guard, using two sword beams as a weapon. Like Tamasaburo, she is later revealed to contain the personality of the Shogun's second-in-command, Hikozaemon.
- It refers to both the ship which carried Terra II's original colonizers and the main computer of said ship. Designed by Lorelei, it fell in love with her and boycotted the mission, taking her captive and killing all but six of the colonizers. The plan was for Faust and Ieyasu to have three maiden circuits mature and then use them together as a replacement for Lorelie. The Mesopotamia however began to figue this out and attacked Terra II. Faust explained that if they were to use the three mature maiden circuits, the Mesopotamia would stop its attack because despite being in suspended animation, Lorelei was still ageing. But with the three maiden circuits together, it would now have a lover that would never age. Lime, Cherry, and Bloodberry (against Otaru's wishes) went abboard the Mesopotamia and willingly gave their circuits to it. Lorelie was released, however something unexpected happened, the Mesopotamia began to cry (possibly due to realizing all the pain it was causing to the girls and Otaru). In the end, the Mesopotamia sent Lime, Cherry, and Bloodberry back to Otaru. It is named after the Mesopotamia area in the Ancient World that coincides closely with the modern day nation of Iraq.
- Gennai Shiraga
- Voiced by: Yuichi Nagashima (Japanese), French Tickner (English)
- A Japoness' resident elder and mad scientist/inventor. He helps Otaru and his marionettes in some of the most ingenious and absurd ways. He is usually called "Grampa", by Lime and "Gennie-Poo", by Bloodberry.
- Soemon Obiichi/Ruebens
- Voiced by: Nobuo Tobita (Japanese), Richard Newman (English)
- A martial artist and swordsman extraordinaire; also Otaru's sensei. Obiichi took Otaru in when he was a little boy after seeing him being bullied by other boys. He almost never opens his eyes, but he harbors a dark secret. He was the first man to love a marionette as if it were a real woman; the marionette's name was Koiyuki. Ostracized by the citizens of Japoness, Obiichi took Koiyuki and fled to Gartland, where he was rescued by Faust as he collapsed on the street. It was there he noticed Tiger smiled at him. He realized that this was the first time a marionette showed human emotions and he needed the maiden circuit for Koyuki to do the same. He swore his allegiance to Faust and changed his name to Ruebens. He is responsible for stealing Lime's maiden circuit and attempting to erase it in order to use it on Koyuki. Otaru confronts his sensei and hears his sad story in the process. A Gartland marionette soldier was sent to kill Obiichi for his disobedience to Faust, but ended up damaging Koyuki before being overwhelmed. Heartbroken, he returned Lime's maiden circuit to Otaru before leaving with Koiyuki. He made a small appearance in the end showing that he was living somewhere in the country-side and had repaired Koiyuki.
- Doctor Hess
- Voiced by: Tomohiro Nishimura (Japanese), Paul Dobson, Alec Willows (English)
- The chief scientist of Gartland. Served Faust with great pride and was responsible for most of the nation's weapons and vehicles. When Faust was overthrown, he turned on him. In Saber Marionette J to X, he would become the main antagonist and was also revealed in this series to be the first man on Terra II.
- Voiced by: Kenyū Horiuchi (Japanese), Richard Newman (English)
- One of Faust's generals. Faust places him in charge of the Saber Dolls when they failed him. However, he despises the Dolls and they, in turn, despise him.
- The leader of Petersburg, a country on Terra II resembling Russia. In a style similar to Hitler's tactics during WWII, his country is successfully invaded by Gartland, thus his fate is uncertain.
1 - Enter Lime! The Planet of Men (Raimu Toujou! Otoko Dake no Wakusei ライム登場!オトコだけの惑星)
2 - Marionette Girl: The Troublemaker (Osawagase Marionetto Gāru お騒がせマリオネットガール)
3 - Big Trouble in Castle Japoness (Japonesu-jō de Daisōdō!? ジャポネス城で大騒動!?)
4 - Cherry Panic! The Great Romantic Scheme!! (Cherī Panikku Romansu Daisakusen!! チェリーパニック ロマンス大作戦!!)
5 - Challenge from Faust (Fausuto no Chōsen!! ファウストの挑戦!!)
6 - Passionate Unwelcoming! Flying Love Attack! (Netsuretsu Fukangei! Soratobu Rabu Attaku! 熱烈不歓迎!空飛ぶラブアタック!)
7 - Getting Rich Quick is a Sour Joy (Ikkaku Senkin wa Nuka Yorokobidekushi! 一獲千金はヌカ喜びでぃ!)
8 - Love Prophecy Battle Royale (Koi Uranai Batoru Roiyaru!! 恋占いバトルロイヤル!!)
9 - If We All Go to Gartlant Together, It Won't Be So Scary (Garutoranto, Minna de Ikeba Kowakunai! ガルトラント、みんなでいけばこわくない!)
10 - Infiltration of the Dark Empire (Sennyū!! Kuroki Teikoku 潜入!!黒き帝)
11 - Maiden Circuits Win the Day!? (Otome Kairo de Daishōri!? 乙女回路で大勝利!?)
12 - My First Kiss Tasted Like Plasma (Fāsuto Kisu wa Purasuma no Aji!? ファーストキスはプラズマの味!?)
13 - Otaru's Big Debut! Time for You to Shine (Otaru Debyū!! Ima, Kimi ga Kagayaku Toki! 小樽デビュー!!今、君が輝く時!)
14 - Welcome the New Year! The Otaru Cup Marionette Contest (Geishun! Otaru-hai Marionetto Kontesuto!! 迎春!小樽杯マリオネットコンテスト!!)
15 - Revival of the Females!? The Mystery of Lorelei (Jōsei Fukkatsu!? Rōrerai no Nazo 女性復活!?ローレライの謎)
16 - What's a "Living Thing"? (Ikimono tte Naani? いきものってなぁに?)
17 - Gentleness, Heartbreak and Femininity (Yasashisa to Setsunsa to Onna Rashisa to やさしさと切なさと女らしさと)
18 - Castle, Transform! Rise, Japonessguar! (Jōsai Henkei! Tate Japonesugā 城塞変形!立てジャポネスガー)
19 - Tiger: To the End of Love, And Beyond!! (Tīgeru, Ai no Hate ni...!? ティーゲル、愛の果てに...!?)
20 - Love Unending, Hearts Distant (Omoi Hatenaku Kokoro Haruka ni おもいはてなく こころはるかに)
21 - The Big Barbecue Party of Darkness and Light (Yami to Hikari no Bābekyū Taikai 闇と光のバーベキュー大会)
22 - Soaring Emotion (Tenkū Kakeru Omoi 天空翔る想い)
23 - Faust: Warped Sincerity (Fausuto Yuganda Junshin ファウスト 歪んだ純心)
24 - The Maiden's Voyage (Otometachi no Tabidachi 乙女達の旅立ち)
25 - You'll Always Be There (Itsumo Kimi ga Soba ni Iru いつもキミがそばにいる)
- Opening Theme
- "Successful Mission"
Performed by: Megumi Hayashibara
- "Successful Mission"
- Ending Theme
- "I'll Be There"
Performed by: Megumi Hayashibara
- "I'll Be There"