In the distant future, humanity has found a way to live forever by purchasing mechanical bodies, but this way to immortality is extraordinarily expensive. An impoverished boy, Tetsurou Hoshino, desires to purchase a pass on the Galaxy Express 999—a train that travels throughout the universe—because it is said that at the end of the line, those aboard can obtain a mechanical body for free. When Tetsurou's mother is gunned down by the villainous machine-man hybrid Count Mecha, however, all seems lost.
Tetsurou is then saved from certain death by the mysterious Maetel, a tall woman with blonde hair and a striking resemblance to his mother. She gives him a pass to the Galaxy Express under one condition: that they travel together. Thus, Tetsurou begins his journey across the universe to many unique planets and thrilling adventures, in hopes of being able to attain that which he most desires.
At first glance, any series of 100+ episodes requires a real commitment on the viewers behalf, in many ways its a big gamble (with their time). If the series sucks then you feel like you just wasted an enormous amount of time on nothing, when its a success you walk away with a great sense of enjoyment and that it was time well spent. Galaxy Express 999 (pronounced the 3-9 in the series) delivers in every category.
Galaxy Express 999 is one of the chief anime that created the foundation for the space opera genre in anime, the vast majority of new series since
have their foundation stem from this (among the others such as Harlock, Yamamoto, etc.) series. What most newer viewers might think about new and recent anime as being riveting and ground breaking, is usually a remake of an older series; back when everything was still done by hand, and without all the eye candy available today. Creators had to rely on their stories and the characters to make a successful anime. Matsumoto does that in GE 999 without having the recycle plotlines in any of the 113 episodes and tie all of them together into a deep insight into the human condition and reminds us of many things we take for granted.
GE 999 is set far into the future (around the year 3000) where people can achieve immortality through the use of mechanical bodies. A person's mind is put into a purely mechanical cyborg body giving them an infinite lifespan. The story starts out with one of the main character's Tetsuro being chased by cyborg hunters. One of them shoot and kills his mom, where its her dying wish for Tetsuro to become strong and live a long immortal life in a mechanical body.
Tetsuro meets up with Maeel who helps him board the legendary galaaxy express 999; where one can travel to a planet where mechanical bodies are given away free. Through the use of space trains (mass transit with a touch of romantic old style) Tetsuro and Maetel travel to dozens of different worlds; each unique in its own way.
For a show that's over 30 years old, the animation and artwork quality are very good. Matsumoto has his own unique style for character designs (much like Miyazaki). Throughout the series he often borrow other characters from his other anime's either as the character themself (like captain Harlock) or uses character design very similar to his other characters from other series.
Creating realistic sounds to match all the different environments and planets that they (Tetsuro and Maetel) visit throughout the series is done very well. While its nothing spectacular on its own, the soundtrack never sounds out of through the course of all the stops the 999 makes.
The meat of the series is built up largely in the characters, each character has their own agenda/purpose in the grand scheme of things. There's really 3 main characters, though the series is focused around Tetsuro and his journey. You have Tetsuro, a homeless, poor and very confused character at the start. Maetel is his traveling partner that acts as a guide/escort/protector during his journey through space. Then you have the conductor, at times he can play a key role in the story; though somewhat comedy relief as he's more like a ghost with clothes on.
The development of the characters is a large part of the series. Tetsuro being new to space travel and cruel world that lies ahead relies on Maetel for guidance. When he first boards the 999 he is a really weak person with no skills or experience. Much of the series is about him learning how things really work out there, and becoming a real man. It could be said that its a coming of age story, but there is much more to it than just watching Tetsuuro mature. Along the way he see many different types of people, and what it means to have a mechanical body.
At the beginning Tetsuro is a naive, annoying pest that never does what he's told despite what dangers he might face. In the beginning of the series it can be tough to watch him make stupid mistakes to the point you want to reach into the screen and strangle him for making such stupid judgment errors. As he travels to more and more planets he really learns what it takes to survive out in the harsh reality of space; many of these lessons are done the hard way with him doing exactly what he's told not to do, usually requiring Maetel to come save him.
Some characters/character designs might show up several times throughout the series, but each episode is truly a new adventure - Matsumoto never recycles a storyline. You never feel that you're watching recycled scripts/plots like other long series like Inu Yasha, Ranma or Urusei Yatsura are guilty of doing.
There is also a big element of mystery throughout the whole series in the character of Maetel. From her detailed knowledge we know she's traveled the same route on the 999 several times before. While she is always looking afterTetsuro, at times you get the feeling that she's got a hidden agenda and is stinging Tetsuro along for an anterior purpose. And no one really knows what exactly she is, throughout the series she is somewhat an enigma of mystery as she frequently knows what's going to happen beforehand.
GE 999 is a great series once you finally settle in with it. The character development and depth is enormous and spectacular. There's a number of episodes that are 2-parters; aside from those each episode brings something new. While frustrating at times, many of the mysteries and odd things that go on during the series don't get tied up till the very end (last few episodes) leaving you guessing the whole time as to what or who Maetel is, and what unique value there is in being human.
One of Leiji Matsumoto's Masterpieces, this is one of those unique exprerience anime that come once in ten years, a classic of Space Operas, Galaxy Express 999 is a life Journey.
Our Journey takes place in a rather futuristic setting where humans are able to transfer their minds to a mechanical body in order to achieve enternal life. While this seems to be a somewhat perfect world, it is in reallity a dystopian Universe full of opression, suffering and tragedy for the poor and the weak ones. Our Protagonist, Hoshino Tetsuro,a proud and rightous young boy boards the Galaxy Express 999 with help of mysterious Maetel
in order to reach the planet where you can get a mechanical body for free. If you are familiar with Leiji's works you will know what kind of Journey you will expect, for those who aren't, this will be a Journey full of Painfull situations, tragic heroes and shatered dreams, in other words, the definition of Drama.
While the Story seems rather episodic, from time to time, you will get a tiny revelation about the storyline, which in my oppinion, is a boost in the morale of the viewer since it can be sometimes tyring to watch such a long anime.
The art is that from Leiji's previous and future works, beautiful long-haired and fragile looking women, aerodynamic haired and proud males, small and sometimes comic looking elders. One small flaw I think is that, at some point females look like revamps from one another wich is a consequence of the large number of characters throughout the series.
The Soundtrack is very good in my opinion, whether it is a comic or serious situation it addapts to the moment you are experiencing, you will sometimes listen Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and songs sang by characters that add an even more dramatic tone to the scene.
What I really want to say about this series is that this is a life learning experience, in each of the 999 stops you will get your persona lifel lesson out of the diferent situations that our protagonists will enconter, I felt that I learned something valuable from characters experiences, that is, in my oppinions, the greatest thing about this Anime.
This has been a long time coming and the series is finally completed. Truly, Galaxy Express is an epic at heart and the first watched on this quest.
Another original creation of Leiji Matsumoto, if the art style didn’t give it away already, this is a series coming in at 113 episodes. How did it live up to the legacy?
It is long and episodic at its core. Now, this may sound like a total turn off right away, but the series sets a universe of mystery and true imagination that captivates the viewer. Each world our two main characters travel to has its’ own unique reason
to exist, evolution into why, and the life-form’s interaction with the planet.
Our young protagonist, Tetsuro Hoshino wants nothing more than to have a mechanical body to live an immortal life, but how can he get it when: a) it’s expensive and he is poor b) the only way to get a free one is to get the expensive pass for the train 999 to take him to the robot planet Andromeda... Well, it just so happens he meets Maetel. This beautiful mystery woman gives him a pass as long as he joins her on the journey to Andromeda and she will be his tour guide. Therefore, the two set off on a journey unlike any other. Tetsuro discovers and learns countless life lessons, such as what it means to be truly human and the meaning of life and reasons to live, and many more.
The story and development of Testsuro over his quest and encountering each planet is why to watch this epic. However, this is episodic even if each planet has its own story itself. Tetsuro and Maetel are always having their pass stolen, lives threatened, and/or seeing a young couple die they just met. It does get stale after a while. One would wonder why wouldn’t you become paranoid, stay in the train, and never leave the comedic relief Conductors side before reaching their destination. Anyways, never mind all of the faults and holes in GE 999, like a train in space it could go on forever. This is the only gripe the show has throughout.
Overall, you can watch the epic series as follows: first 8-12 episodes, the two-part episodes in between, and the last 10. You won’t miss a thing and the journey will be just as epic as the show.
A whimsical space adventure full of wonder, excitement, and existential horror! What could be better? Galaxy Express 999 is an expert at opening up your inner child’s feeling of wonder into the unknown realms of Leiji Matsumoto’s colorful universe.
• The series begins with young Tetsurou learning about the foibles of humanity and swearing vengeance in the heat of passionate rage―causing the beautiful and mysterious Meatel to invite him on a space train to find what he’s looking for; Tetsurou agrees while idealizing the possibility of gaining an immortal mechanical body, so that he doesn’t have to suffer through the ailments of poverty any longer, like
starvation and weather’s wears. The narrative explores human nature and the intrinsic value of life, as well as the consequences of relinquishing ones’ nature as a human being.
• Nearly every episode is episodic and typically takes place on a different planet, comet, or unforeseen ripple in the chasm of reality, so, filler characters and situations don’t feel like contrived nonsense and each episode shows burgeoning character development―warping Tetsurou’s naïve, small-minded view of the universe into a mature place of understanding and compassion; sometimes, even the reserved Maetel has her moments of revelatory characterization.
• This series is more of a fantastical dream landscape rather than a portrayal of a realistic trip into space. On the galactic train, not one character has to wear a spacesuit and can stick their heads out of a compartment window without suffocating to death. While some may see this as a detracting feature, I thought that the surrealistic atmosphere welcomed such oddities… I mean, there is a FLYING TRAIN in space! The innocence of the surroundings, even with some episodes been adult-themed macabre, had the same kind of passionate divulgence (one without a care of an audience reception) as Doraemon (1979)―which I’m a huge fan of!
• The weakest point of the series was the climax with Maetel’s mother, which was incredibly rushed and ruined the development that the series had build for hundreds of episodes! The series itself kept Maetel’s composed veneer up for so long, so when it gets shattered immediately―it’s a huge letdown!
For the majority of the series, Galaxy Express 999 is a genuine, pure-hearted space adventure with moral catharsis and heart-breaking realizations about mortality. I would recommend this series to anyone who’s willing to give a show from the 70’s a gander, and I would suggest experiencing the entire series rather than just the (recap) movie version, but I always prefer a full-length telling of a story rather than a condensed, film-version―I also thought the Mobile Suit Gundam film trilogy was lackluster compared to the experience of watching Tomino’s full vision of the war. I give Galaxy Express 999 a 8/10; a must-see series for an otaku who wants to experience an influential series!
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