Galaxy Express 999 (film)

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Galaxy Express 999
Japanese film poster for Galaxy Express 999
Directed byRintaro
Produced byChiaki Imada[1]
Screenplay byShiro Ishimori[1]
Based onGalaxy Express 999
by Leiji Matsumoto
StarringMasako Nozawa
Masako Ikeda
Kaneta Kimotsuki
Music byNozomu Aoki[1]
  • Masatoshi Fukui
  • Toshio Katayama[2]
Distributed byToei Company
Release date
  • August 4, 1979 (1979-08-04) (Japan)
Running time
129 minutes[2]
Box office¥4.2 billion (est.)

Galaxy Express 999 (銀河鉄道999, Ginga tetsudō 999) is a 1979 Japanese anime film directed by Rintaro, based on the manga and anime television series of the same name.



In the spring of 1978, the anime version of Leiji Matsumoto's Space Pirate Captain Harlock debuted on television produced by Toei Pictures. The TV adaptation of Galaxy Express 999 had been planned to air in the fall of 1978 after Harlock's completion. On July 14, 1978,  just three days after the 16th episode of Captain Harlock aired on TV,[4] Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato arrived in theaters. This sequel had taken anime to even greater heights than its prior theatrical installment. Due to Leiji Matsumoto's success and popularity, plans for a film based on Galaxy Express 999 were moving forward. [5]

Toei hadn't produced an animated hit for theaters since their 1971 feature Animal Treasure Island, and no extensive, original stories had been made since then. Even though at the time the majority of theatrical anime features like Space Battleship Yamato or Science Ninja Team Gatchaman consisted of collected or expanded TV episodes, an older range of high school viewers that had been attracted to these films were increasingly displeased with these slapped-together affairs. New stories were being called for and 999 was there at exactly the right time.[5]

However, 999 was just starting its TV series run and the manga was nowhere close to finishing as it ran in Weekly Shōnen King until 1981. The ending of Maetel and Tetsuro's journey was a mystery, as well as the various other secrets that were hidden in the development of the story. Still, the movie version was required to be self-contained, which would result in the manga and TV anime having all the mysteries spoiled ahead of their own conclusions. Leiji Matsumoto had even considered making the feature into two films, the first ending with Tetsuro returning to Earth after getting revenge. Then, the second film having an actual conclusion for the entirety to the series.[5]


Galaxy Express 999 was released in Japan on August 4, 1979 where it was distributed by Toei Company.[2][3] It was the highest grossing film of 1979 in Japan.[6] The film was picked up for distribution in the United States by Roger Corman's New World Pictures in 1980 but was shelved until 1982 after test bookings.[7] The film was the first anime film to receive theatrical distribution in the United States after the establishment of anime fandom in the West.[2] The film premiered in America on August 8, 1981.[8] The American version of the film was edited from the original 129 minute running time to 91 minutes and changed characters names such as Tetsuro Hoshino to Joey "Hana-cana-boba-camanda" Smith.[2]

The film's second English-language adaptation was produced by Viz Media and released in 1996.[9] The DVD version of Galaxy Express 999 was released in the United States on June 28, 2011 by Discotek Media. It feature the English subbed and dubbed (Viz dub) versions of the films.[10]

Box office[edit]

Galaxy Express 999 was 1979's highest-grossing domestic film in Japan, earning a distribution rental income of ¥1.65 billion,[11] equivalent to estimated gross receipts of approximately ¥4.24 billion.[12]


At the third Japanese Academy Awards in 1980, Galaxy Express 999 won the Popularity award for film.[13]

Variety referred to the film as an "attractive Japanese animated sci-fi feature" , but noted that "working in a limited animation format, the chief drawback of which is limited movement [...], the film does boast beautifully-colored, elaborate designs. Once one gets used to the lack of fluid, full animation, the imaginative visuals are impressive" and that "pic deserves a second look".[7]


The film was followed by Adieu Galaxy Express 999, which was released in 1981.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "スタッフ&キャスト" (in Japanese). Toei Animation. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Beck 2005, p. 91.
  3. ^ a b "銀河鉄道999" (in Japanese). Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  4. ^ "Space Pirate Captain Harlock (TV) [Episode titles] - Anime News Network". Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Discotek Media >Galaxy Express 999 Blu-ray". Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  6. ^ Macias 2003, p. 6.
  7. ^ a b Willis 1985, p. 407: "Review is of a 91 minute English language-version viewed in New York on July 27, 1982"
  8. ^ Beck 2005, p. 90.
  9. ^ Galaxy Express 999 Graphic Novel Volume 1. Viz Communications Inc. October 1998. p. 7.
  10. ^ "Discotek Media Adds 3rd Galaxy Express 999 Film – News". Anime News Network. October 4, 2013. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  11. ^ キネマ旬報ベスト・テン85回全史 1924-2011. Kinema Junpo ムック. Kinema Junposha. May 2012. p. 380. ISBN 978-4873767550.
  12. ^ "Statistics Of Film Industry In Japan". Eiren. Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  13. ^ "日本アカデミー賞公式サイト" (in Japanese). Japanese Academy Awards. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  14. ^ Camp 2007, p. 125.


External links[edit]