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Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy Anime DVD Review

4 min read
Galaxy Express 999 Eternal Fantasy
Galaxy Express 999 Eternal Fantasy

“Wherever there is light, there is shadow. Wherever there is shadow, there is also light. Amidst this people are born and they live to chase their dreams. But if this galaxy has no light, If it falls under the control of the hand of darkness – No life will be born. In the darkness, No hopes nor dreams are ever born. That has been an unchanging ironclad rule since the dawn of time. And those who fail to recognize this have no future.”

What They Say:
Based on the original story by Leiji Matsumoto, this new film picks up a year after the events of Adieu, Galaxy Express 999. A young boy named Tetsuro, and his motherly companion Maetel worked to rid the universe of the Mechanized Empire who had overtaken Earth. Now Tetsuro is back home on Earth, and constantly beaten by new tyrants who tok over after the machines were destroyed. Right before he is executed, Maetel and the 999 zoom in and whisk him away for an all new adventure.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release comes with the Japanese Dolby 2.0 track present, which was decent and sounded fine on my system.

Video:
The movie was originally released in 1998, and looks good here. The CG and cel animation mixes hold up fine and colors are vibrant. The subtitles are colored and detailed appropriately, which makes them easy to read as needed.

Packaging:
The front contains the movie poster used for Japanese releases of this movie at the time. The back has a short amount of text about the contents of the film with a few screenshots in the lower thirds. The general theme is conveyed well.

Menu:
The menu is rather simple with Maetel and an armored woman (more below) standing next to the 999 and the Earth. Basic options for chapter stops, subtitles and extras are easy to navigate.

Extras:
Not much present here other than the trailer for this movie as well as the previous Galaxy Express 999 films.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the opening monologue concludes, we see the computer animated 999 traveling through space, with The Conductor announcing welcomes and the next destination to the sole passenger aboard: Maetel. She speaks about Tetsuro the coming destiny he’ll have to face. Meanwhile on Earth, the hero of the humans’ war against the mechanized empire is not being treated so well, and he has been attached to an immensely long unbreakable chain. Outside his meager apartment, he finds a woman who has frozen to death trying to bring him flowers, and cries. Just then, he’s fired upon and brutally beaten by a group of officers who take him before the local overseer.

There, Tetsuro is accused of attempting to escape his (magnetically sealed and miles long) chain and is just about to be executed, when a very long train crashes through the building where Maetel shoots up Tetsuro’s mini-chamber (as well as all surrounding guards) before the Conductor lassos him and whisks him into the safety of space. The overseer yells at the few survivors including an armored mysterious female. The ensuing exchange does not go well…

Director Kônosuke Uda does a decent job here with this story based on Leiji Matsumoto’s manga which was also running at the time (and found its way into the magazine Animerica on U.S. shores). However, between the short running time and the small amount of exposition we’re given about the enemy that’s apparently coming, the movie feels like a mere taste of what could’ve been epic. We see Tetsuro visit another planet, which given this is an anime based around a spacefaring train, was a reason folks used to tune in to the 70s TV series pretty often. Here, it’s just a leisurely visit before the action kicks in. We get to see a fearsome bounty hunter named Helmazaria come for Tetsuro for some reason, as well as an odd and rather vicious race. Also, a visit from his guardian pirate makes things a little entertaining.

Still, for those wanting a resolution, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The story was never finished in the anime medium and I’m honestly not certain Matsumoto finished this particular manga story, even as it was collected into 4 volumes by Viz in the early 2000s. So the reason for the speculation about Tetsuro’s future goes largely unanswered for the time being. In addition, even though Uda’s direction is competent here, it’s not quite as fluid as the epic and active prior films done by Rin Taro. His directorial work on One Piece is better definitely.

In Summary:
Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy feels like the beginnings of something grand but that’s all. As far as the animated adventures of the 999 characters, it’s sad to see to see them end in an uncertain state. I’d say get this piece of the Matsumoto universe if you’re looking to be a completist or just want one last ride with old friends as it were, but not really for much more than that.

Features:
Japanese Language 2.0 Dolby, English subtitles

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Discotek Media / Eastern Star Inc.
Release Date: October 21th, 2012
MSRP: $14.95
Running Time: 54 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Panasonic 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Marantz stereo receiver

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