a.k.a. Ginga Tetsudo 999
Hoshino Tetsuro is an orphan with a mission living on Earth: he wants to avenge his mother’s death at the hands of the evil Count Mecha. In order to do that, he needs to board the Three-Nine, a space train that takes people to the mechanization home world so that they can attain robot bodies. He is given the chance to board Three-Nine when he meets the mysterious Maetel, who takes him on a journey he will never forget.
summary by Ender
Highs: Wonderful fairytale universe and characters; beautiful designs; grand music
Lows: Too many convenient points
Timeless stories are hard to come by nowadays. Tales we all grew up with, having been told to us when we are young and hold the same meaning to you when you are old. Stories that leave you thinking and dreaming, every time you watch them. Rintaro’s film version of Matsumoto Leiji’s Galaxy Express is one of those stories.
Part of the charm of this film is its age. The style of storytelling is very episodic and very Odyssey-like in its nature, not something you see a lot of in anime movies nowadays. This goes well in showing the long, dangerous and unpredictable trek Tetsuro and Maetel must undergo. This is a story that submerges itself in imagination; the type of imagination that stems from the mind of a young child whose mother stayed by their bedside telling them tales about heroes and magic. The characters become extensions of the viewer, and suddenly we are there onboard the Three-Nine, meeting with people like Glass Claire, Queen Emeraldas and Captain Harlock. In Matsumoto’s eyes, the universe is not a place of science and physics; that stuff is boring! Instead, the universe is a place of ideals and fantasy from the heart.
The music gives that dreamlike, epic feel this story demands. This is, hands down, one of the best film scores in any anime. Wonderfully orchestrated, the music threatens to sweep the viewer off his feet. And incidentally, it’s a soundtrack that you can only find in an old-school anime. Of course, the problem with this anime is that, like any fairytale, there are a lot of plot holes. This is not something that is in danger of crippling the movie, per se, but it can turn off the more cynical viewers out there. Basically, you have moments that can be summed up by, “There’s no way we can find Emeraldas, the universe is too big and no one has ever seen her… oh look, there she is!” When taken at face value, it’s no problem, but seeing as how this movie is loaded with these conveniences, it is rather hard to abandon all cynicism.
In the end, this film still retains the same wonder today as it had when it was first produced. I recommend Galaxy Express to every anime fan. If nothing else, it offers the one thing we all need in life: escapism.
Galaxy Express 999: The Movie can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.