Something strange has attached itself to the bottom of the 999 and it’s about to change the course of the express.
What They Say:
The great bandit Antares hijacks the 999 and takes Tetsuro and the gang hostage as he forces them to make an unplanned stop at his home. He takes a liking to the humans Maetel and Tetsuro and invites them into his home. But lurking in there is…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first three episodes, Galaxy Express 999 introduced us to an interesting concept and some fun if quirky visual designs that have a basis in Matsumoto’s youth and view of the world at a time where it was really changing dramatically. With Tetsuro leaving Earth behind after his mother is killed and his dreams now ahead of him, he’s visit the strangeness that is Titan and the calm emptiness that is Mars. Add in the curious nature of the 999 itself and the even more mysterious Maetel and there’s been a fair bit of ground covered.
The fourth episode is unfortunately the weakest of an otherwise strong batch of episodes so far. With Titan now behind them and the things that they experienced there, Maetel and Tetsuro are hoping for a bit of calm before their next destination which is Pluto. Unfortunately, they don’t get that when the 999 informs the conductor that something has attached itself to the underside of the train and it’s needing to be investigated. The conductor isn’t exactly all that fired up to do it, but when it turns out that it’s actually someone on the underside who has snuck on board, he’s forced into action. And he’s forced into it too late as there’s already one shooting incident as it turns out the person who was underneath is the space bandit Antares who has quite the reputation about him for his numerous years.
Antares forces his way into the control room with the conductor while also taking Tetsuro and Maetel with him. His intent is to force the train to go to a special destination so he can finally return home after all these years. We do learn something about his life and his home once it arrives there, but it all feels very pointless. Antares does provide something of an anti-cyborg personality to the show with the way he’s so insistent on making sure nobody he’s associating with in his home is one, but the whole piece feels like very weak filler. There’s some mild encouragement from him with his interactions with Tetsuro on the ability to fight and where it may lead Tetsuro someday, but this is a detour with nothing of any real merit to it that I could find, particularly after three very solid episodes.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this episode of the series as it doesn’t really seem to have a point to it in general. Even worse, it doesn’t seem to really have much of a morality issue to it other than to show a scoundrel of sorts with a real dislike of cyborgs. Showing a bit of the prejudice side of the galaxy certainly isn’t a bad thing but Antares just comes across as too gruff but at the same time too simplistic to really be a good foil or representation of it. With his self serving nature and the callous side in regards to his wife, you can’t really feel sympathetic towards him even with the kind of home life he apparently has. This isn’t a bad episode but it’s very weak compared to the start of the series and almost feels like a misstep overall.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.