Lately, I’ve been expounding over my love of 1980’s anime. But for a minute, I’d like to dip my toe into even older waters. That’s right! We’re grabbing the last train out of the 70s with Galaxy Express 999 (GE999).
First, GE999 is two hours and eight minutes long. While 128 minutes is incredibly impressive, especially for 1979, it’s not exactly what it seems to be. GE999 is a condensed version of its anime series. Which explains some desperately needed character design changes that happen halfway through the film.
GE999 follows the story of Tetsuro Hoshino. When Tetsuro was a younger boy, a human-murdering robot named Count Mecha murdered his mother in front of him. Now ten-years-old, Tetsuro is hell-bent on revenge. His saga begins as he tries to steal a Galaxy Express 999 pass from a woman named Maetel. As Tetsuro is eluding the police, he randomly finds Maetel and faints into her arms. She hides him from the police and after a lengthy discussion, she agrees to let him travel across the galaxy with her on the 999 and help him kill Count Mecha.
I know this movie is a condensed anime, but it makes every scene thereafter feel sloppy. Seemingly every major event that happens in the film is a one-in-a-million chance. Tetsuro lucks into so many things, he should buy a lotto ticket. There’s not a bunch in this movie that doesn’t feel forced.
I’m admittedly a sucker for old anime, but a huge draw for GE999 is how gorgeous it is. It’s awe-inspiring what animators could accomplish back then. Hand drawn frames have an undeniable appeal to me. I can’t count the times I thought, “Wow.”
But really, apart from gazing upon the beauty of old anime, I’m not sure I can recommend this. It’s just far too long. And the condensed story feels way too lazy.
…And Now for the Spoilers
Obviously, Tetsuro kills Count Mecha. At that point, you may think, “That two hours went by fast!” Wrong. After Count Mecha dies, there’s still 40 minutes to go. For some reason, GE999 crams a second storyline into this movie, and you know what? It’s far superior to the first plot.
Maetel and her mother, Queen Promethium, bring people on the 999 to her planet to turn them into building parts—they plan to turn Tetsuro into a bolt. After her guards take Tetsuro away, Maetel realizes her mistake and rushes after him. After a long verbal fight with Promethium, Tetsuro and Maetel manage to blow up the planet and escape on the 999. Promethium somehow makes it onto the 999 and starts to kill Tetsuro. Then one of Tetsuro’s friends grabs onto her and blows herself up. The ending of this plot is emotional and very well deserved. If Galaxy Express 999 was just this part, it would merit a much higher score. Alas, it is not, and sadly feels shoehorned in.
Overall ranking: Still 5.5/10
But what do I know? Check it out for yourself right here on Viewster.
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