Galaxy Express 999

Galaxy Express 999

Infobox animanga/Header
name = Galaxy Express 999

caption =
ja_name = 銀河鉄道999
ja_name_trans = Ginga Tetsudō Surī Nain
genre = Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction
Infobox animanga/Manga
title =
author = Leiji Matsumoto
publisher = flagicon|Japan Shogakukan
publisher_other = flagicon|USA Viz Media
flagicon|France Kana
demographic =
magazine = flagicon|Japan Big Comic
flagicon|USA Animerica
first = January 24 1977
last =
volumes = 21
Infobox animanga/Anime
title =
director = Nobutaka Nishizawa
studio = Toei Animation
network = Fuji TV, Animax
first = 14 September 1978
last = 9 April 1981
episodes = 113 [Ann anime|id=1361. Accessed 2006-12-14.]
episode_list = List of Galaxy Express 999 episodes
Infobox animanga/Movie
title =
director = Rintaro
studio = Toei Animation
released = 1979
runtime = 130 minutes [Ann anime|id=3630|title=Glass no Clair - Ginga Tetsudo 999. Accessed 2006-12-14.]
Infobox animanga/Movie
title = Adieu Galaxy Express 999
director = Rintaro
studio = Toei Animation
released = 1981
runtime = 135 minutes [Ann anime|id=508|title=Adieu Galaxy Express 999. Accessed 2006-12-14.]
Infobox animanga/Movie
title = Galaxy Express 999 ~Eternal Fantasy~
director = Konosuke Uda
studio = Toei Animation
released = 1998
runtime = 54 minutes [Ann anime|id=147|title=Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy. Accessed 2006-12-14.]
Infobox animanga/OVA
title = Maetel Legend
director = Kazuyoshi Yokota
studio = Vega Entertainment
episodes = 4
released = 2000 [Ann anime|id=315|title=Maetel Legend. Accessed 2006-12-14.]
Infobox animanga/Anime
title = Space Symphony Maetel
director = Masaki Sinichi
studio =
network = SKY PerfecTV!
first = 6 August 2004
last = 20 June 2005
episodes = 13 [Ann anime|id=4096|title=Uchuu Koukyoushi Maetel ~Ginga Tetsudo 999 Gaiden~. Accessed 2006-12-14.]

nihongo|"Galaxy Express 999"|銀河鉄道999|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. The manga is published in English by Viz. The number, "999", in the title is pronounced "Three-Nine", as opposed to "Nine-Nine-Nine" or "Nine hundred ninety nine".

The manga won the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 1978.cite web | url= | title=小学館漫画賞:歴代受賞者 | publisher=Shogakukan | language=Japanese | accessdate=2007-08-19] The anime series won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1981.


Original storyline

The story of "Galaxy Express 999" is set in a space-faring, high-tech future, where mechanized people with "machine bodies" are pushing humanity towards irrelevance and extinction. A street urchin named Tetsuro Hoshino desperately wants an indestructible machine body, giving him the ability to live forever and have the freedom that the poor humans on Earth don't have. While machine bodies are impossibly expensive, they are supposedly given away for free on the planet Andromeda, the end of the line for the space train Galaxy Express 999 (Technology has advanced to the point where space-faring vehicles can assume any shape, such as the classical locomotive in the story.).

Tetsuro meets up with a beautiful woman, Maetel (sometimes translated "Maeter", from the Greek "mētēr" and/or Latin "mater", meaning "mother"), who is the spitting image of his dead mother. Maetel offers him passage on 999 if he will be her travelling companion. Tetsuro agrees. Another notable character in both the manga and the anime series is the seemingly strict, mysterious alien conductor, that sometimes gets involved in Tetsuro's and Maetel's adventures.

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, including Count Mecha, the machine man who killed Tetsuro's mother. Tetsuro is able to get his revenge on the cruel count, who had the body of Tetsuro's mother stuffed and hung on his wall. Increasingly, Tetsuro realizes that a machine body won't fix all of his problems. In fact, most of the machine people he meets regret the decision to give up their humanity. Most sympathetic of all is Crystal Claire, who works aboard 999. Her body, always nude, is a beautiful clear crystal, yet she longs for the warmth of a human touch, like Tetsuro's. Unlike others who gave up their humanity by choice, however, Claire's dialogue strongly indicates that she was forced into that existence against her will by her own vain mother.

It is also strongly implied that Maetel has a machine body, as she visits her human body on Pluto, where discarded human bodies are encased in ice in a giant planetary tomb. Maetel also says she has been endlessly travelling with young men like Tetsuro. In the manga, she is referred to by one of the characters as "the other universe that I fear!", making the question of who, or what, she truly is even more nebulous.

Eventually Tetsuro and Maetel finally reach Andromeda where Tetsuro learns the horrifying truth... that he's going to be turned into a bolt. Queen Prometheum, ruler of the mechanized empire and Maetel's mother, controls the planet of Andromeda by entirely mechanized human components. With the prospect of Tetsuro being turned into a bolt, Maetel finally turns on her mother. With the help of her father, Dr. Ban, who exists in the pendant she carries over her neck, Maetel destroys her mother and Andromeda. The true nature of Maetel is revealed; she exists in a human body and is able to replace with a new one each time it grows old, enabling her to live forever.

Maetel and the 999 bring Tetsuro back to Earth. After a farewell kiss, she and the train head back into space, presumably never to return.

Characters from other Matsumoto works appear in GE999, notably Captain Harlock, Emeraldas, and the ship (sans crew) from Space Battleship Yamato (aka Star Blazers), and vice versa, creating a shared continuity often called the "Leijiverse."

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.

Movie version

The movie version of Galaxy Express 999 is virtually identical to the original story in terms of plot. The main difference is that the storyline is much more compressed. Rather than visiting over a hundred planets as he does in the original manga/TV series, Tetsuro only visits four. Some of the most popular characters like Antares, Claire, Emeraldes and Captain Harlock make cameo appearances. And rather than kill Count Mecha immediately on Earth, Tetsuro confronts him in the Time Castle on the Planet Heavy Melder.

Adieu Galaxy Express 999

Adieu Galaxy Express 999 was a sequel to the movie version, which was released in 1981. Adieu presents an entirely new storyline, one taking place two years after the destruction of Andromeda. The machine empire now has even more of a stranglehold over the Galaxy. Rumors are afoot of Maetel being the new Prometheum. Tetsuro, a freedom fighter is shocked when a messenger brings him news - that the 999 is returning. 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 Claire. Also, a mysterious Ghost Train has been travelling the universe and nearly crashes into the 999. The 999 (which now has its own mind) then pouts that it never got overtaken by the Ghost Train. The 999 heads to the planet La Metal, which was actually the birthplace of Prometheum and Maetel. Here Tetsuro helps in the resistance, befriending a man named Meowdar. As the 999 departs, Maetel finally makes her appearance.

Shortly after leaving La Metal the 999 is encountered forced to dock at a station where Tetsuro meets the mysterious 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. Maetel meanwhile travels down to the center of the planet where Prometheum's spirit still exists. Maetel is put in charge of the mechanized empire, just like the rumors said, and she reveals the horrible truth to Tetsuro and the others, that the energy the machine people use is actually drained from living human beings. Tetsuro is shocked to find his old friend Meowdar among the dead.

About this time a great comet, Siren the Witch approaches Great Andromeda, sucking up 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. The 999 heads back to La Metal where Maetel and Tetsuro separate once more.

Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy

Released in 1998, the third movie takes place one year after the events of "Adieu", where Maetal and Tetsuro reunite to save the universe again from another evil. It is the shortest of the three, based on a portion of the recent series of Galaxy Express manga.

Maetel Legend

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 Promethium of the Planet La Metal (both from "Queen Millennia"), a wandering planet, and one of the first groups of civilization that mechanized their body. 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 survive the harsh climate. The complete series was released on DVD by Central Park Media.

pace 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 Promethium, 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 Promethium 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 in 2006-12-30 to 2007-01-05 (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 Hope, where the Earth has since been destroyed. The OVAs will feature Maetel, Tetsuro and the Conductor, with all the original voice actors from the Galaxy Express 999 series for all 3 characters. No further synopsis at this time.

For unknown reasons, this series started production earlier than Galaxy Railways: Crossroad to Eternity but was aired much later.

Japanese cast

Asami Sanada as Louise Fort Drake

Naoki Yanagi as Manabu Yuuki

Akio Ohtsuka as Schwanhelt Bulge

Akira Ishida as Kilian Black

Hikaru Midorikawa as David Young

Naoko Suzuki as Sexaroid Yuki

Youko Asagami as Leila Destiny Shura

Kaneta Kimotsuki as Conductor

Masako Ikeda as Maetel

Masako Nozawa as Tetsuro Hoshino

Tooru Oohira as Matthew

Yoshito Yasuhara as Modesto

English versions

In 1981, Roger Corman produced an English-language dub of the first GE999 movie, which changed the character names, saddled some with accents, and subverted much of the story.

In 1986, Harmony Gold produced rarely-seen 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 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. The only current official English-language release of Galaxy Express 999 material on DVD are a Korean release of the two movies which utilize Viz's subtitle scripts. The Dubs of both films were run quite regularly on the Canadian channel, Space the Imagination Station, when the station first launched. They were also run in a very heavily edited form on the 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.


*Matsumoto was inspired to create "Galaxy Express 999" by the idea of a steam train running through the stars in the novel "Night on the Galactic Railroad" by Kenji Miyazawa. [cite web |url= |title=One Hundred Japanese Books for Children (1946-1979) |accessdate=2007-02-07 |publisher= [ International Institute for Children's Literature, Osaka] ]
*Footage from the movies and TV series was used to create two North American video games, the laserdisc-based arcade game "Freedom Fighter", and the CD-i home game "Escape from Cyber-City".
*The number 999 was inspired by the Empire State Express No. 999 steam locomotive, the first wheeled object to exceed 100 mph.
*Several bronze statues of characters and scenes from "Galaxy Express 999" were erected in the small Japanese city Tsuruga in 1999. Similar statues from Matsumoto's "Space Battleship Yamato" were also erected at the same time.
*In an episode of the cartoon series Samurai Jack entitled Robo Samurai Versus Mondo Bot, the title character stumbles upon a city named Andromeda, populated entirely by robots, a clear homage to Galaxy Express 999.
*Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami was partly inspired by the Galaxy Express 999 series during the development of his Superflat art movement, especially due to Yoshinori Kanada's use of dynamics and eccentricity in some of the scenes in Galaxy Express 999. [Murakami, T: "Superflat", page 13. MADRA Publishing Co Ltd, 2000.]
*For a while after the success of Galaxy Express 999, all the explosion scenes in other anime were done in the same style.
*In an episode of the manga and anime series Yakitate Japan they make a short homage with Tetsuro, Maetel and the conductor.
*There is a Korean indie rock band called Galaxy Express, who appropriately said of themselves: "We were passing by Earth, and decided to drop by."
*The Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo, Japan has an indoor roller coaster entitled "Galaxy Express 999" which was co-designed by Matsumoto and runs in every direction in a mysterious space with lots of stars.
*The Japanese J-drama Akihabara@Deep features a reclusive character, named Daruma, who cosplays as several different characters throughout the run of the 13 episode series. He first appears to the Deep team dressed as Tatsuro. In the following episode, he is seen dressed as Maetel for the funeral for the woman who brought the group together, Yui.

Manga series

* First series, serialized in Hit Comics, 1977-1981
* New series, serialized in Big Gold, 1996-??

Anime series

* TV Series, 1978, 113 episodes + 4 TV special
* Movie, "Galaxy Express", 1979
* Featurette, "Galaxy Express 999 Glass no Clair" (Glass-made Claire), 1980
* Movie, "Adieu Galaxy Express 999 Terminus Andromeda" (aka "Sayonara Galaxy Express 999"), 1981
* Movie, "Galaxy Express 999 ~Eternal Fantasy~", 1998


*Tetsuro Hoshino - Masako Nozawa
*Maetel - Masako Ikeda
*Conductor - Kaneta Kimotsuki
*Engine Computer - Kōji Totani, Keaton Yamada (eps. 14~45)
*Doctor Ban - Banjō Ginga
*Tetsuro's Mother - Akiko Tsuboi
*Count Mecha - Hidekatsu Shibata
*Prometheum - Ryōko Kinomiya
*Narrator - Hitoshi Takagi

See also

*List of Galaxy Express 999 episodes


External links

* [ "Galaxy Express 999" and "Space Battleship Yamato" statues in Tsuruga] ja icon
* [ asianbeat Leiji Matsumoto interview]

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