Galaxy Express 999
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|Galaxy Express 999|
Cover of the 1994 reprint of the first manga volume
(Ginga Tetsudō Surī Nain)
|Genre||Adventure, drama, space western|
|Written by||Leiji Matsumoto|
Shōnen Big Comic (1979–1987),
Weekly Young Sunday (1987)
|Original run||January 24, 1977 – November 11, 1981|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Nobutaka Nishizawa|
|Written by||Hiroyasu Yamaura
|Music by||Nozomi Aoki|
|Network||Fuji TV, Animax|
|Original run||September 14, 1978 – March 26, 1981|
|Galaxy Express 999|
|Written by||Shiro Ishimori|
|Music by||Yukihide Takekawa|
|Adieu Galaxy Express 999|
|Written by||Shiro Ishimori|
|Music by||Osamu Shooji|
|Original video animation|
|Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy|
|Directed by||Konosuke Uda|
|Written by||Junki Takegami|
|Music by||Kohei Tanaka|
|Released||March 7, 1998|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Kazuyoshi Yokota|
|Produced by||Takaji Matsudo|
|Written by||Leiji Matsumoto|
|Music by||Masamichi Amano|
|Licensed by||U.S. Manga Corps (USA)|
|Runtime||40 minutes (each)|
|Anime television series|
|Space Symphony Maetel|
|Directed by||Shin'ichi Masaki|
|Produced by||Leiji Matsumoto|
|Written by||Mugi Kamio|
|Music by||Taro Hakase|
|Network||Animax (PPV Premier)|
|Original run||August 6, 2004 – June 20, 2005|
Galaxy Express 999 (銀河鉄道999（スリーナイン） Ginga Tetsudō Surī Nain?) is a manga written and drawn by Leiji Matsumoto, as well as various anime films and TV series based on it. It is set in a space-faring, high-tech future in which humans have learned how to transfer their minds and emotions with perfect fidelity into mechanical bodies, thus achieving practical immortality.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Characters
- 3 English-language versions
- 4 Publication history
- 5 Cast
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Anime and manga
An impoverished ten-year-old named Tetsuro Hoshino desperately wants an indestructible machine body, giving him the ability to live forever and have the freedom that the unmechanized don't have. While machine bodies are impossibly expensive, they are supposedly given away for free in the Andromeda galaxy, the end of the line for the Galaxy Express 999, a space train that only comes to Earth once a year.
The series begins with Tetsuro and his mother making their way to Megalopolis where they hope to get jobs to pay for passes for the 999. Along the way however, Count Mecha and a gang of "human hunters" kill Tetsuro's mother. Before she dies, she tells him to continue the journey they started, and to get a machine body to live the eternal life she couldn't. Tetsuro tries to forge on toward the city alone, but is quickly overcome by the brutal cold and wind. As he succumbs, he cries out an apology to his mother for failing to fulfill her wish, and hopes that in his next life he'll be born as a robot to begin with.
Tetsuro is surprised to awaken by the fireplace in the home of a beautiful woman, Maetel, who is the spitting image of his dead mother. Maetel tells him she had heard the entire incident with a long-range directional microphone she had been idly scanning around the area with. Maetel offers him an unlimited use pass for the 999 if he will be her traveling companion, to which Tetsuro agrees. She provides him with a gun and directs him to the Count's residence, telling him that the Count and his henchmen will be too distracted with their revelries to defend themselves against a surprise attack. Tetsuro bursts in on them in their meeting hall and cuts them down with a spray of gunfire. With the Earth police in hot pursuit, Tetsuro and Maetel flee the planet aboard the 999.
Along the way, Tetsuro has many adventures on many different and exotic planets and meets many kinds of people, both human and alien, living and machine. Increasingly, Tetsuro realizes that a machine body won't fix all of his problems. In fact, most of the machine people[a] he meets regret the decision to give up their humanity.
Eventually, Tetsuro and Maetel reach the Planet Prometheum, the final stop for the 999. He is shocked by the cruelty and indolence of the machine people there, and witnesses a mechanized human committing suicide, an event to which the others react with scoffs and derision. He asks the dying man why he wished to end his life, and is told that eternal life on Prometheum is utterly empty of joy or purpose. When Tetsuro mentions the name of his traveling companion the man is horrified and tells him that Maetel is in fact the daughter of Queen Prometheum, the supreme ruler of the Machine Empire, and that she is thoroughly untrustworthy. Testuro is outraged at having been kept in the dark and rushes off to confront Maetel. Maetel is at a loss for words, but a government spokeswoman inserts herself into their conversation and begins giving answers on Maetel's behalf. Tetsuro is not impressed and he storms off in a blind fury.
Tetsuro doesn't understand why he has been betrayed by Maetel, but Maetel has plans of her own, and seeks to destroy the mechanized civilization. With the help of her father, Dr. Ban (only named in the film), whose consciousness resides in a pendant she wears around her neck, Maetel destroys her mother and the planet. Afterwards, Maetel and Tetsuro return to the penultimate station on the Planet of Bats where Tetsuro tells Maetel his intention to return to Earth and lead it toward a new future.
Maetel, proud of Tetsuro for his decision to reject mechanization, tells him she has something to take care of and that he should board first. However, Tetsuro finds a letter from Maetel telling him that it was time for them to part ways. Maetel had secretly boarded the 777 (three-seven), a nearby train, with the intention of "leading another boy to his future". However, it is unclear as to whether or not this means that the Mechanization Empire still exists elsewhere, or if Maetel will lead the boy to some other "future". The series ends as the trains both depart the Planet of Bats.
Galaxy Express 999
The film version of Galaxy Express 999, released in 1979. Maetel and Tetsuro again set out for the home planet of the Mechanized Empire, visiting four planets. Planet Maetel is a mechanized world where machine bodies are made.
Adieu Galaxy Express 999
Adieu Galaxy Express 999 is the sequel to the movie version, and was released in 1981. Adieu presents an entirely new storyline which takes place three years after the destruction of Planet Maetel. The Machine Empire now has even more of a stranglehold over the Galaxy. Rumors are afoot of Maetel becoming its new Queen. Tetsuro, now a fifteen-year-old freedom fighter, is shocked when a messenger brings him news that the 999 is returning, and that Maetel wants him to board it. Tetsuro narrowly makes his way to the 999 and departs Earth, now a battlefield.
Although Tetsuro finds that Maetel isn't present on the 999, he does meet Metalmena, a machine woman who has replaced the waitress Claire. Also, a mysterious Ghost Train has been traveling the universe and nearly crashes into the 999. The 999 then pouts about the humiliation of being overtaken by the Ghost Train. The 999 heads to the planet La Metal, portrayed here as the birthplace of Prometheum and Maetel. Here Tetsuro helps in the resistance, befriending a cat-like man named Meowdar. While exploring the ruins of an old castle, Tetsuro discovers a portrait of a beautiful, blonde queen who looks very much like Maetel. He learns that it is, in fact, La Metal's Queen Prometheum, even though she looks nothing like she did at their last confrontation. As the 999 departs, Maetel finally makes her appearance.
Shortly after leaving La Metal, the 999 is forced to dock at a station where Tetsuro meets a mysterious machine-man named Faust. When Tetsuro attacks him, Faust causes Tetsuro to drop into a flashback where he must relive his mother's death. The 999 continues on to the planet Mosaic, the last stop before Great Andromeda, capital of the mechanized empire. Here Tetsuro finds the Ghost Train and is nearly killed.
The 999 finally makes its way to Great Andromeda where Faust greets Tetsuro once more. Meanwhile, Maetel travels down to the center of the planet where Prometheum's consciousness still exists. Maetel is put in charge of the mechanized empire, just as the rumors said. But, again, she intends to put an end to the operations, and attempts to shut Prometheum's machinery down. She reveals the horrible truth to Tetsuro that the energy the machine people use is actually drained from living human beings, and that they were transported there by the Ghost Train. Tetsuro is shocked to find his old friend Meowdar among a pile of dead, drained bodies.
Prometheum proves that she cannot be killed with just the flip of a switch, and all seems hopeless. At about the same time, a space anomaly called Siren the Witch approaches Great Andromeda, attracted to its abundant energy and absorbing all machine energy. With Great Andromeda collapsing, the 999 is set to depart, but Tetsuro must face Faust one last time. After dealing Faust a fatal blow, it is revealed to Tetsuro that Faust is actually Tetsuro's father (In the manga and television series, it is never made clear what became of Tetsuro's father). The 999 heads back to La Metal where Maetel and Tetsuro separate for the last time, and "the boy [Tetsuro] becomes a man".
New manga series and Eternal Fantasy
In 1996, Matsumoto began a new GE999 series, set a year after the original, in which the Earth is destroyed and Tetsuro sets out to discover the source of the "darkness" that threatens all life in the universe.
The movie Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy was released in 1998. This movie takes place one year after the events of "Adieu Galaxy Express 999" and is the third movie in the series, where Maetal and Tetsuro reunite to save the universe again from another evil. It also serves as a link between the first two movies and The Galaxy Railways.
The Alfee performed the theme song "Brave Love: Galaxy Express 999 / Beyond the Win".
Also, Space Battleship Yamato, from the Japanese show of the same name and the English version Star Blazers, which are both Matsumoto creations, makes a cameo appearance
The manga has been partially published in English by Viz.
This two-part OVA from 2000 serves as a prelude for Galaxy Express 999, explaining a lot of the series' backstory. Maetel (the protagonist) is actually the daughter of Queen Prometheum of the Planet La Metal (both from Queen Millennia), a wandering planet, and one of the first groups of civilization that mechanized their bodies. As Queen Promethium became fearful of the natural decline of her people's lifespan on their freezing, orbit-less world, she decided to mechanize everything, believing the process to be beneficial and enabling the planet's citizens to survive the harsh climate. The complete series was released on DVD by Central Park Media.
Space Symphony Maetel
Following on from Maetel Legend, this 13-part OVA from 2004 reveals that the newly created machine people of La Metal began to mechanise galaxy after galaxy against the will of many humans, and ended up creating rebellions and revolutions. Maetel is asked to return to La Metal to succeed her mother, only to discover the many hardships her mother has inflicted on the humans.
In this series, Captain Harlock and Emeraldas (Maetel's sister) also appear, and work together to assassinate Prometheum, along with Maetel. Parallels with Galaxy Express 999 are prevalent. Instead of a boy who wants a mechanized body meeting her, she met a boy who has a grudge against Prometheum and detests being mechanized. This series remains unlicensed in English.
Galaxy Railways: Letter From An Abandoned Planet
This OVA series is also not licensed for USA but, was released from December 30, 2006 to January 5, 2007 (on SKY PerfectTV!) in Japan. The story takes place between Seasons 1 and 2 of Galaxy Railways: Crossroad to Eternity, and presumably after the events of Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy, where the Earth has since been destroyed. The OVAs featured Maetel, Tetsuro and the Conductor, with their original voice actors from the Galaxy Express 999 TV series.
For unknown reasons, this series started production earlier than Galaxy Railways: Crossroad to Eternity, but was aired much later.
- Tetsuro Hoshino (星野 鉄郎 Hoshino Tetsurō?): The main character of Galaxy Express 999, Tetsuro is a poor Earth boy who witnessed his mother die at the hands of Count Mecha. With his mother's dying wish being for him to obtain a machine body, Tetsuro embarks on the Galaxy Express with Maetel.
- Maetel (メーテル Mēteru?): The mysterious blonde woman who accompanies Tetsuro on the Galaxy Express 999. Maetel is in actuality the daughter of Queen Prometheum, ruler of the mechanized empire. In the movie version, Maetel is responsible for bringing youths from around the universe to the mechanized homeworld where they are turned into mechanized human components to serve the mechanized empire, whereas in the television series, she is grooming them to grow up to become generals in her mother's imperial military. Maetel is secretly plotting with her father, Dr. Ban (who is contained within the pendant around her neck) to destroy the machine empire, and finally does so (in the movie) when it is Tetsuro's turn to be turned into a bolt. Maetel's soul exists in the body of a human copy, which she occupies until it grows old and she exchanges it for a new one. It is explained in the movie version that she occupies a clone of the body of Tetsuro's mother, which explains the resemblance between the two.
- Conductor (車掌 Shashō?): The Conductor is the main crew member of the Galaxy Express 999. He is an alien being with an invisible body; only his eyes can be seen while he is wearing his conductor uniform. The Conductor prefers to go 'strictly by the book' and frequently cites the Galaxy Express rule book, but occasionally ends up bending the rules and getting into adventures with Tetsuro and Maetel.
- Claire (クレア Kurea?): The dining car waitress on the 999, Claire has a machine body made of clear crystal glass. Unlike others who gave up their humanity by choice, Claire was forced into this existence by her vain mother. She works on the 999 in order to save up enough money to buy back her human body, which is stored on Pluto. Claire quickly befriends Tetsuro and sacrifices herself for him when a hallucination taking the guise of his mother tries to pull him out of the train. Her body is shattered, all that remains is a single glass tear which Tetsuro holds with him as a memento. In the movie version, Claire has a somewhat larger role, but suffers the same fate, sacrificing herself for Tetsuro when Prometheum tries to kill him (a machine girl named "Mirai" ("Future") has this role in the television series). Claire returns to life in both Eternal Fantasy and the new Galaxy Express manga published by Matsumoto in the 1990s.
- Captain Harlock (キャプテンハーロック Kyaputen Hārokku?) and Emeraldes (エメラルダス Emerarudasu?): Famous space pirates who are idolized by Tetsuro. Both have only minor cameos in the original manga and television series, but have significantly larger roles in the movies and assist in defeating the machine empire.
- Antares (アンタレス Antaresu?): A well known bandit who sneaks aboard the 999 after their stop on the planet Titan. Antares despises machine people for the death of his wife and has many unexploded bullets lodged within his abdomen. He warns Tetsuro to "shoot first, ask questions later". In the manga and television series he lives in a large home with his many children; in the movie he lives on Titan with other bandits and many children orphaned by Count Mecha. In the movie version he assists Tetsuro in his quest to kill Count Mecha at the Time Castle, and is killed when the bullets in his body explode after taking multiple shots from the Count.
- Count Mecha (機械伯爵 Kikai-hakushaku?): The wealthy machine man who murdered Tetsuro's mother. In the manga and television series, he is a minor aristocrat, and is killed by Tetsuro before he leaves Earth. In the movie version he appears to have considerably more power, and rules the Time Castle. Acquiring a machine body to get revenge on Count Mecha is Tetsuro's primary motivation in the movie version, and he accomplishes his goal with the assistance of Antares while on the planet Heavy Melder.
- Queen Prometheum (プロメシューム Puromeshūmu?): Maetel's mother, and ruler of the mechanized empire. Once a gentle woman, Prometheum created the machine empire believing it would be good for humanity. Prometheum has considerably difference physical characteristics in each of her appearances, appearing as a humanoid in the television series and movie, and a two-faced head in the manga. Prometheum is destroyed with the destruction of Andromeda in the manga and television series, and killed by Claire in the movie version. Her spirit occupies the planet Great Andromeda in Adieu Galaxy Express 999 but perishes when that planet is destroyed by Siren the Witch.
In 1980, Roger Corman produced an English-language dub of the first Galaxy Express 999 movie. The movie changed the character names (for example changing Tetsuro to Joey and Harlock to Warlock), and removed approximately 30 minutes of content. Antonia Levi, the author of "Samurai From Outer Space" said that the edited film, released by New World Pictures, was "heavily edited" and that "many otaku consider it too damaged to watch."
In 1986, Harmony Gold produced rarely seen English dubs of two of the GE999 TV specials, Galaxy Express 999: Can You Live Like A Warrior? and Galaxy Express 999: Can You Love Like A Mother?
The first movie was dubbed into English again in 1996 by Viz, titled Galaxy Express 999: The Signature Edition. Released on VHS, this dub was more true to the source material. Viz also released Adieu, Galaxy Express 999 subbed and dubbed on VHS, although having lost the licenses for the two films, they were never released on R1 DVD by the company. For years, the only official English-language release of Galaxy Express 999 material on DVD were a Korean release of the two movies which utilize Viz's subtitle scripts. The English dubs of both films were run regularly on the Canadian channel Space in 1997 and 1998. They were also run in a very heavily edited form on the American Sci-Fi Channel.
Viz later released five volumes of the second Galaxy Express manga, which was the basis for the third film, Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy. The original manga has yet to be translated into English.
Recently, a subtitled version of the TV series has been released on IGN's Direct2Drive service. Currently, all 113 episodes are available. The streaming website Crunchyroll began streaming a subtitled version on January 9, 2009.
DVD versions of both Galaxy Express 999 and Adieu, Galaxy Express 999 were released in the US June 28, 2011 by Discotek Media. Both DVD's feature the English subbed and dubbed (Viz dub) versions of the movies. Discotek also released "Eternal Fantasy" on DVD on October 16, 2012. It's in Japanese only, but with English subtitles.
The TV series was later licensed for a subtitled North American home video release by S'more Entertainment in 2012 as one their first anime releases.
- First manga series, serialized in Shōnen King (Shōnen Gahosha), 1977–1981
- New manga series, serialized in Big Gold (Shogakukan), 1996–??
- TV series, 113 episodes + 4 TV specials (1978)
- Television specials, Can You Live Like A Warrior (1979), Emeraldes the Eternal Wanderer (1980) and Can You Love Like a Mother (1981)
- Film, Galaxy Express (1979)
- Featurette, Galaxy Express 999 Glass no Clair – Glass-made Claire (1980)
- Film, Adieu Galaxy Express 999 Terminus Andromeda – Sayonara Galaxy Express 999 (1981)
- Film, Galaxy Express 999 ~Eternal Fantasy~ (1998)
- TV series, Space Symphony Maetel, 13 episodes (2004–2005)
|Character||Japanese actor (TV series)||Japanese actor (film)||English actor (film)|
|Tetsuro Hoshino||Masako Nozawa||Saffron Henderson|
|Maetel||Masako Ikeda||Kathleen Barr|
|Conductor||Kaneta Kimotsuki||Terry Klassen|
|Engine Computer||Kōji Totani (ep. 8, 50~113)
Keaton Yamada (ep. 14~45)
|Hidekatsu Shibata||Don Brown|
|Captain Harlock||Makio Inoue||Scott McNeil|
|Emeraldas||Ikuko Tani||Reiko Tajima||Nicole Oliver|
|Claire||Chiyoko Kawashima||Yōko Asagami||Janyse Jaud|
|Antares||Masao Imanishi||Yasuo Hisamatsu||Don Brown|
|Count Mecha||Hidekatsu Shibata||Paul Dobson|
|(Le)Ryuzu||Haruko Kitahama (Ryuzu)
Kumiko Kaori (Leryuzu)
|Noriko Ohara||Willow Johnson|
|Queen Prometheum||Ryōko Kinomiya||Kathleen Barr|
|Dr. Ban||Banjō Ginga||Gorō Naya||Gerard Plunkett|
|Kanae Hoshino||Akiko Tsuboi||Kathleen Barr|
|Shadow||Mieko Nobusawa||Toshiko Fujita||Jane Perry|
|Tochiro Ōyama||N/A||Kei Tomiyama||John Payne|
|Narrator||Hitoshi Takagi||Tatsuya Jo||Don Brown|
- 機械人間 kikai ningen, often translated, somewhat confusingly, as "cyborg".
- "2011 is 1981: Adieu Galaxy Express 999 | Otaku USA Anime Coverage". Otakuusamagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- "2011 is 1981: Adieu Part Two | Otaku USA Anime Coverage". Otakuusamagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- 小学館漫画賞：歴代受賞者 (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
- "One Hundred Japanese Books for Children (1946–1979)". International Institute for Children's Literature, Osaka. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
- McCarthy, Helen. 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. — Harper Design, 2009. — P. 35. — 528 p. — ISBN 978-0061474507
- Galaxy Express 999 Graphic Novel Volume 1. Viz Communications Inc. October 1998. p. 8.
- Galaxy Express 999 Graphic Novel Volume 1. Viz Communications Inc. October 1998. pp. 134–146.
- Galaxy Express 999 Graphic Novel Volume 1. Viz Communications Inc. October 1998. p. 9.
- "Roger Corman's Galaxy Express". Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- Levi, Antonia. "Chapter Five: Androids, Cyborgs, and other Mecha."Samurai from Outer Space. 1996, Carus Publishing Company. Fifth printing, 2000. 94. ISBN
- Galaxy Express 999 Graphic Novel Volume 1. Viz Communications Inc. October 1998. p. 7.
- "Crunchyroll Site Simulcasts Shugo Chara!! Doki— Anime". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "Discotek Media Adds 3rd Galaxy Express 999 Film – News". Anime News Network. October 4, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- "S'more Entertainment Adds Galaxy Express 999 TV Anime – News". Anime News Network. October 4, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- The character Ryuzu in the film version of Galaxy Express 999 is called Leryuzu in the manga and television series. This is because the film came out before the 3 part episode where this character appeared aired, and the name Ryuzu had already been used for that of the character's sister.
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