Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the first blog of 2019!
After 2 1/2 years of pushing through, I finished the classic anime, Galaxy Express 999. I wanted to watch the series because I loved Leiji Matsumoto’s style, and was already familiar with one of his other works via Daft Punk’s Discovery.
While it had it’s moments, I was slightly disappointed with this classic anime. Here is my review on Galaxy Express 999.
*WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN WATCHING THE SHOW ON YOUR OWN, PLEASE STOP READING NOW!*
Galaxy Express 999 takes place in the far future, starting on Earth and then ending on the planet Promethium in the Andromeda Galaxy. Humans have found a way to gain immortality by shedding their human bodies and getting a cyborg body in its place. A young boy named Tetsuo and his mother are trekking their way to the city of Megalopolis, where rumor has it that a train, the Galaxy Express 999 (pronounced three nine), stops on Earth once a year. The Three Nine takes people to Promethium, where you can procure a mechanical body for free. Tetsuo and his mother go to the city in hopes to work and eventually buy passes for the Three Nine.
Unfortunately, they are attack by Count Mecha and his gang, cyborgs that used to be human who now take up hunting humans for sport. Tetsuo’s mother is killed and he is knocked unconscious. He is awakened later by the enigmatic Maetel, who looks exactly like his mother. Maetel offers Tetsuo a chance of a lifetime, a pass aboard the Three Nine. Tetsuo accepts, but not before he exacts revenge on Count Mecha. The pair leave Earth, and start their long journey towards Promethium.
The show’s message on a whole is like that of most shows in it’s genre: Just how much of your humanity are you willing to give up for immortality? Throughout all three seasons (over 100 episodes), Tetsuo encounters many who regret their decision of giving up their human bodies for their mechanical ones. Reasons range from feeling emotions to something as simple as eating and feeling the warmth of ramen. Tesuo also encounters those who use their predicament to try and do some good on their home planet. There are rebellions, wars, and many other situations to show the viewer the ramifications of transitioning to a mechanical body. While I think it was a good message, there is a con to this, which I’ll explain later.
One of the most interesting characters in the show is the enigmatic Maetel. Maetel is mysterious and not much is known about her. She appears somehow “at the right place at the right time” in the beginning, as if she is Tesuo’s savior. Throughout the series, there are tidbits here and there on who she is and where she is from. The series does good in holding her identity and motives for trying to change Tesuo’s mind until the very end of the series. Her design is amazing. You can see the influence in the current cartoon network series, Steven Universe with the character Blue Diamond.
While he is the main character of the series, through out all three seasons I couldn’t help but be extremely annoyed by Tesuo. While I did feel bad for him and his circumstances (loss of parents, homelessness, etc), his selfishness and unwillingness to listen time and again just rubbed me the wrong way. Even after all the stories and encounters from others about their regret in making the decision to transfer to a mechanical body, he doesn’t even second guess it until the last five episodes. THE LAST FIVE EPISODES!! You had three seasons, numerous planets, numerous encounters, and even Maetel herself telling you to make your decision wisely and it takes you up until the last five episodes out of 113 to figure out that maybe getting a mechanical body might not be a good decision. It’s like several opportunities get missed because he his hell bent on keeping his promises in getting a mechanical body.
I know I shouldn’t judge a show on how many filler episodes it has considering I’ve watched and enjoyed other shows that do (Sailor Moon, Naruto, etc.). I think why it took me so long to push through this series is many of the episodes presented similar situations/story/plot that I was able to just leave it alone for long periods of time without having going back to it. Which is a problem. I probably would’ve finished the show sooner if it was more engaging instead of the “same shit, different day” scenario.
As a whole, the series is just okay. While there are a few good episodes throughout all three seasons, it just feels the same and you can walk away from it without feeling too incredibly guilty because you didn’t miss that much. If you really want to get into the series but not commit to 113 episodes, there is a condensed movie version by the same name and it has a sequel, Adieu Galaxy Express 999.
Galaxy Express 999: 2 Stars out of 5