Galaxy Express 999 (film)
|Galaxy Express 999|
Japanese film poster for Galaxy Express 999
|Produced by||Chiaki Imada|
|Screenplay by||Shiro Ishimori|
|Based on||Galaxy Express 999|
by Leiji Matsumoto
|Music by||Nozomu Aoki|
|Distributed by||Toei Company|
|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.
- Masako Nozawa as Tetsuro Hoshino
- Masako Ikeda as Maetel
- Yōko Asagami as Claire
- Kaneta Kimotsuki as the Conductor
- Makio Inoue as Captain Harlock
- Reiko Tajima as Queen Emeraldas
- Kei Tomiyama as Tochirō Ōyama
- Noriko Ohara as Crown
- Hidekatsu Shibata as a Machinery Earl
- Fujita Huatulco as Shadow
- Ryūji Saikachi as Taver's master
- Akiko Tsuboi as Tetsuro's mother
- Ryōko Kinomiya as Queen Promethium
- Goro Naya as Dr. Pan
- Tatsuya Jo as the Narrator
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, 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. 
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.
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.
Galaxy Express 999 was released in Japan on August 4, 1979 where it was distributed by Toei Company. It was the highest grossing film of 1979 in Japan. 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. The film was the first anime film to receive theatrical distribution in the United States after the establishment of anime fandom in the West. The film premiered in America on August 8, 1981. 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.
The film's second English-language adaptation was produced by Viz Media and released in 1996. 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.
Galaxy Express 999 was 1979's highest-grossing domestic film in Japan, earning a distribution rental income of ¥1.65 billion, equivalent to estimated gross receipts of approximately ¥4.24 billion.
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".
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