Updated: Aug 19, 2019
*This is a review for the English dub of Galaxy Express 999*
Space operas are notoriously difficult to execute. “Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope” (1977) was a major stepping stone for space operas, bringing about a new wave of interest . Around the same time, artist Leiji Matsumodo was working on a manga and anime titled “Galaxy Express 999,” another space opera about a young man named Tetsuro and his adventures travelling the cosmos with his companion the mysterious Maetel.
Two years later the series was adapted into an animated film of the same name. Tetsuro’s origins are explored alongside his his meeting of Maetel and his reason for travelling space: to get a robot body in order to be powerful enough to seek revenge against a robot who killed his mother when he was a small child.
“Galaxy Express 999” has a beautiful and exciting story and executes it masterfully, exploring themes of love and humanity as Tetsuro and Maetel travel to different planets. The film boasts an impressive color scheme and art style for its time, both of which hold up quite well today. The line work and hues used bring subtle hints of mystique and beauty to the story and fit well with the overall tone of being a dramatic and emotional film.
There are several characters introduced in the film, none of whom get too much screen time to the point where they become a nuisance to the plot. Claire especially plays a crucial role and the connection between her and Tetsuro leaves an emotionally resonant impact by the end.
The film’s epic score is another benefactor. Every dramatic beat and action scene is accompanied with an excellent song. One song in particular was performed during a scene where Tetsuro was in a bar trying to get information of where his enemy may be located, and looking out for this scene is vital to one’s viewing experience and analyzing it helps make the plot more impactful.
The dub work for “Galaxy Express 999” is another strength the film has. Any anime dubbed in the 70s-80s falls into a danger zone of being extremely cheesy or poorly done (see the original Devilman). Luckily strong performances from actors such as Saffron Henderson, Kathleen Barr and Janyse Jaud, to name a few, keep the film from being a bore or a cringeworthy sitting.
"Galaxy Express 999" is a film deserving of the title "masterpiece." Everything about the film is compelling and beautifully done.
Galaxy Express 999 is available on Prime Video, Blu-Ray and DVD.