The trip to Pluto brings about one of the more disturbing visuals of the series that will last for quite some time.
What They Say:
Pluto, the resting place for the bodies of those who have replaced their human bodies with mechanical ones. Tetsuro is greeted by the ice graveyard’s caretaker, Shadow. She transforms herself to look like Tetsuro’s mother and lures him in. She attempts to kill him, but…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a lackluster fourth episode that didn’t seem to add anything to the series, Galaxy Express 999 gets back on track with this one as the train heads to Pluto. Pluto is an intriguing place as it’s on the fringes of the solar system and has been given the name of the Planet of Indecision. Tetsuro’s being given quite the tour of the solar system, and beyond after this it appears, but it’s Pluto where things should have the biggest impact for him overall. Well, except for the fact that he is a kid and is both stubborn and easily manipulated at times.
The trip to Pluto is an extended one since they get to spend nearly seven days here due to the rotation of the planet. While Maetel does talk about the differences in gravity, it has little effect on the story itself and it doesn’t seem like much of the seven days is actually covered here. The main city that the 999 lands in is one with some intriguing minimal Russian architecture to it which really gives it a neat feeling with all the snow falling and the very cool nature of the entire place. What’s really fascinating about Pluto is that because of its location, it’s treated as a graveyard of sorts for many as people leave their bodies under the ice when they become cyborgs. Sometimes they come back for various reasons and visit their bodies which are spread out and easily visible to anyone who comes by the massive area where they’re all located.
Maetel tells of a friend who she has who is laid down to rest in this place, but the story focuses more on a woman that they come across in a cyborg body who calls herself Shadow. She had her body placed here some time ago in its pristine beautiful form because she wanted to preserve that for all time. When she took on the cyborg body, she never gave herself a face because it would never equal the one she started with. Unfortunately, time has changed her view of things and she wants a body again and is determined to use Tetsuro to get it. Maetel is there to save him, but Shadow is intent on this happening and she plays on Tetsuro’s fears and desires to get to it. With her faceless body, she’s a very creepy and disturbing character, almost ghost-like in the way she moves and interacts with people, and it’s unsettling to see her use illusions in order to go after what she wants, especially from such a young child really. Combining her visual design with the way Matsumoto creates his characters and then in this setting and you have something that to me stands the test of time when it comes to how it’s shown because it’s imagery that sticks with you.
Galaxy Express 999 gets back on track in a positive way with this episode as the stop at Pluto is quite engaging. It adds a new dimension to those who are gaining cyborg bodies and what they do to their bodies afterwards. The challenges they face, emotionally over time, is something that I’d love to see explored more and I suspect we will as the idea is to showcase that side of it to Tetsuro over time to get him to change his mind. Maetel isn’t fleshed out much more here but there are hints of bigger things going on as she looks towards what she calls her friend and she seems a bit more emphatic in trying to change Tetsuro’s mind about getting a cyborg body for himself. Her mission is plainly clear but the reasons for it still aren’t and the journey is far from over for either of them. An episode like this is quite solid and enjoyable though as it brings in some neat ideas and visual design for the characters to interact with, building the overall mythos even more.
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.