Galaxy Express 999 - Mania.com



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Maniac Grade: A+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
  • Released By: DVD Ani
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 127
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Galaxy Express 999

Galaxy Express 999

By Chris Beveridge     February 20, 2002
Release Date: December 27, 2001


Galaxy Express 999
© DVD Ani


What They Say
Tetsuro (Chul Ii in Korean) is a poor, penniless boy, living with his mother on Earth in the distant future. His mother, when mortally wounded by a band of mechanized people, tells him to get on the Galaxy Express 999 and go to a planet where he can receive a free mechanical body and thus become immortal.

A mysterious, beautiful woman named Maetre rescues Tetsuro and offers him a strange deal: if he will accompany her, she will give him-for free- a pass to ride the Galaxy Express 999. Thus, Tetsuro and Maetre travels across space and time to the distant Andromeda Galaxy, wherein lies the planet that gives away immortality. And so begins the journey�

The Review!
Over the years I've seen bits and pieces of the Matsumoto universe, but I've never had a chance to actually see any of the Galaxy Express shows. This movie was quite an eye-opener.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Being such an old movie, the track holds up fairly well with only a minimum of hissing and scratchiness to it. The music occasionally reaches a bit too high and gets a little tinny, but the dialogue and the majority of the music comes through the center channel and sounds good. A Korean dub is also available on this disc, but we didn't get a chance to check it out.

Video:
Originally released back in 1979, this movie is starting to show some of its age. The main problem people are going to come into it with is that it was originally done in 4:3 mode, but for the DVD release it's cropped at 1.78:1. We've heard that the Japanese version is exactly the same and that this is Matsumoto's preferred vision of it. With this anamorphic transfer, we get a really great looking disc overall. The show runs just over two hours and has a small amount of minor nicks and scratches throughout. The only real problem we had with it was during the opening sequence where you see the spiral galaxy that's brightening, you can see it macroblocking as it gets brighter. Once past the opening, it's smooth sailing with great looking colors and mostly solid backgrounds. There's some grain throughout, but it's pretty minimal and doesn't effect the viewing. This is a solid presentation when you take in all the factors.

Packaging:
Presented in a clear keepcase, the front cover is a very dark one with the front of the Galaxy Express with its deep blues set against the starry background. To the lower left we get some brightness in having Maetal making an appearance. The back cover provides a larger cast shot from the movie as well as the production credits, disc features and the technical information. A good foldout booklet is included with lots of glossy artwork, but it's all in Korean.

Menus:
The menus are done pretty well here with being in English, making it very easy to maneuver. I particularly liked the scene selection menu which has you choosing the planet that the Galaxy Express is heading towards for each section. Access times times are nice and fast and overall these are good solid menus.

Extras:
There's a few extras here, such as the trailer for the show, production notes that are all in Korean and the cast list that is also all in Korean. A brief photo gallery rounds things out.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Going into this movie, I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen some Matsumoto shows before, notably Arcadia of My Youth and seen parts of Galaxy Express in Animerica, but I wasn't terribly familiar with the whole shared universe that has lots of discontinuities. But there's something strangely alluring with his willowy characters and faceless robots that I can't help but give it a look.

The show introduces us to the young Tetsuro, an orphan along with many others on Earth. The Galaxy Express 999 has arrived in the terminal and something is pulling him to score a ticket to get off Earth, so he and his friends pull off some fun little moves and ends up with a card. Things don't go too well for him though as he's chased by the robotic police in the area, and he ends up losing. But as he loses it, he ends up being rescued by the enigmatic Maetel, a tall wispy blonde woman who says little.

Maetel takes Tetsuro under her wing knowing that there's something to this boy and the two head off in the Express. The Galaxy Express 999 is an odd sort of space-faring vehicle, much as everything is in this universe. Though designed to look like an old style train, it's made that way to set people at ease for their journey. There's something odd but right about seeing a long train running through space.

As their journey begins, we start to learn via flashbacks some of Tetsuro's origins, with his mother and him wandering through the snow and ending up on the property of a very powerful robot who hunts humans for sport. As expected, she gets killed quickly and he hides. The count takes her body and mounts it in his Time Castle. Tetsuro swears revenge for his mother as expected and we shift back to the present.

The journey follows them to various planets along the way to the final destination in Andromeda where Tetsuro wants to gain immortality by getting a robot body for himself so he can be on equal footing with his mothers killer. Each ofthe planets introduces different characters that make differences in the end, but also works well in fleshing out the story. Things move at a leisurely pace here and we get to meet up with people such as Emeraldas and Captain Harlock, which makes this a nice full cast.

The movie is very surprising in terms of the visual quality, which makes you wonder just when it was actually made. it looks very polished for 1979 with its colors and style. There were times I thought this must be a late 80's production at the least, but there's a lot of love to be seen on the screen here. Galaxy Express isn't fast paced by any stretch, but it's an engrossing movie that really captures your attention as it weaves its tale. I'm finding myself more and more interested in late 70's and early 80's anime, so this show fit the bill nicely.

We've learned that the script used for the English subtitles is the same that Viz used for their VHS release as supplied by Bandai to this company. It's a solid translation all around and I'm glad that they included the subtitle track. For fans of the GE999 universe, this is a good alternative to the Japanese release and the complete lack of a US release. Recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,Korean Language,English Subtitles,Korean Subtitles,Trailer,Production Notes,Cast,Photo Gallery,Booklet

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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