Galaxy Railways Vol. #6 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Galaxy Railways

Galaxy Railways Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     April 21, 2006
Release Date: April 25, 2006

Galaxy Railways Vol. #6
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
Each vibrating strand woven into the universe represents the desire of every galactic citizen. But when the natural order of things is lost, nothing is certain - even the future.

The SDF has subpoenaed Captain Bulge to assess punishment for disobeying Ivanov's orders. When the jury relieves bulge from his command, Sirius Platoon is subsequently disbanded. Against orders, Big One's degenerates flee Destiny Station to investigate the emerging evidence of Ivanov's hidden agenda. What they find confirms their suspicion. The Alfort Fleet has destroyed several junction stations, leaving railways all across the galaxy in shambles.

Surrounded by enemy battleships, the former Captain makes a desperate call to the SDF, hoping to get reinforcements, but static interrupts the signal. An alien voice announces Alfort's primary objective: annihilate Destiny Station.

More than ever, Manabu's determined to prove that people control their fate. Will Manabu's eternal hope be enough to save Destiny Station?

Contains episodes 23-26:
The Cruel Verdict
Blazing Galaxy
Echoes of Life
Eternal Hope

The Review!
It's all out war as the invaders from another dimension seek to destroy everything related to the Galaxy Railways.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix does a nice job with the forward soundstage by providing some good directionality there, mostly noticeable with the train going across the screen but also with some good dialogue moments here and there. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Like a number of other recent Matsumoto series, his works seem to look even better in the digital age and this series is no exception. The bold color palette comes across well here with the character designs and is free of a digital gradient problem. Some of the colors, such as some of the grays and light browns, tend to show a bit more blocking going on, but when the show is in full motion it's pretty hard to detect. Aliasing and cross coloration are non-existent and the majority of the blacks from the space scenes look solid and very easy on the eyes.

The final cover is probably my favorite of the series as it features a great shadowed shot of Destiny that takes up most of the background while Louis and Manabu reach across to each other. It's got a great sense of light and darkness about it and other than Destiny being just a bit too covered up in her face, it's a great way to end the run. The back cover continues the dark nature of artwork with a background shot of two of the trains along the top half while the bottom half mixes the summary with a few shots from the show. The discs features, episode and technical information is all generally well placed and easy to find though I do continue to hope that the technical grid will be expanded a bit like other companies. While no insert is included in this release, the cover has artwork on the reverse side of a full length image of one of the trains and a shot of Manabu wielding his gun.

Keeping to a lot of stars in the background and other nebula, the foreground is given over to a couple of secondary characters for these episodes so that it ties it all together. It's set to a brief music loop of instrumental work and is overall a decent looking menu but not one that really jumps out at you. The menu layout for languages is nicely done since it avoids the old way of doing things that used to confuse people. Access times are nice and fast but unfortunately the disc did not read our players' language presets properly.

The textless songs make their final appearance on this volume but we also manage to score another interesting look at the production from the English language ADR director of the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Galaxy Railways comes to a close with a strong set of episodes that brings to resolution, at least for now, the main storyline that's shown up in a few places early on in the series and then far heavier in the last volume. The alien race from another dimension has been instructed to destroy anything related to the Galaxy Railways once they cross the barrier and to not return until it's been accomplished.

Having barely managed to escape from their own problems in the last volume and not without a tragic loss, the survivors of the Big One find that the information that they've managed to return has fallen prey to those who don't believe it. The concept of dimension crossing aliens is apparently too much for someone who works in a company that pushes trains through space. At the same time, he's also got an agenda and intends to take down the Captain, which causes the entire platoon to be disbanded and dispersed out among the other platoons. The more experienced members are able to adapt easily enough and place their faith in the captain but for Manabu, well, it's not surprising that it's a different story. He's so confused by what's gone on, from the loss to the disbanding, that when he's reassigned to another platoon he can barely handle his basic functions as a group member without screwing up.

The dispersal of the cast helps in that we have a legitimate reason to spend time with all the other trains that run as the alien force finally pushes through with their main fleet and start hitting all the access stations and destroying the rails wherever they can. We've had good runs with the various trains before as their unique crews got time to be explored and now that you have people like Louis, Manabu and David mixed in among them you get to see how they handle a coordinated attack on the entire galaxy. The amount of life lost during these attacks must be staggering but it's not something that's talked about much as the SDF attempts to survive themselves in order to find a weak point with which to deal with the enemy.

The final arc of the series tends to be more action based than the character and exploration pieces that we had in previous episodes. With this also being one fairly continuous storyline arc, it also has a different feel than the mostly self contained episodes that came before, which would touch upon certain story concepts that spread across the series in total. This isn't exactly a bad thing since the action is nicely done in the grand tradition of space opera, but it feels like the show loses a bit of something that made it click so great. There are still a lot of solid character moments as everyone deals with so many different things going on that affects personally and in a survival aspect. It simply feels slightly off in some ways, nowhere near enough to make it bad, but enough so that you might notice.

One area I was glad to see explored in regards to the entire war was that when we do find out why the aliens are waging the war, it's not the kind of reason that a lot of other shows do where you can dismiss them easily. In fact, Manabu's reactions to it almost feel wrong depending on how you view the best way to handle life threatening conflicts. While the concept of what's going on isn't explored deeply, I was really glad that there's a motivation among the invading race that has some merit to it even if their approach is horribly flawed.

In Summary:
Galaxy Railways has filled a nine months or so as it's been the latest and greatest from the Matsumoto universe, which while hugely enjoyable and has its fanbase it simply doesn't sell well. Matsumoto's works seem to be able to beautifully adapt to modern animation techniques and provide storytelling styles and ideas that don't seem to be done anywhere else. It's the kind of series where you can't be really sure who will live and who will die, what the big picture consequences will be and so much more. At its core, it's all about the characters though and their ability to become more than they are. This is a fantastic series that simply should not be overlooked and is what I think of as one of the gems in FUNimation's catalog.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless opening Textless ending,Commentary Track

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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