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Galaxy Railways Complete Viridian Collection Anime DVD Review

9 min read

A highly recommended series for first time Matsumoto viewers.

What They Say
In the future, mankind will venture to the far reaches of the cosmos using technologically advanced trains, perhaps the least likely method of intergalactic travel. The fleet of Galaxy Railways transports countless galactic citizens from one exotic planet to the next, protected by the SDF, the elite force protecting the Railways Fleet against terrorists, meteor storms and malicious alien life.

These are the stories of those that travel the Galaxy Railways system and the people that are sworn to protect it. No one knows these stories better than Layla Destiny Shura, the leader of the system with the uncanny ability to see the fates of all those who travel on the Galaxy Railways.

As part of the Viridian (“green”) line, this set comes packaged in a non-Amaray cardboard case (consisting of at least 30% recycled material) to reduce its environmental impact.

Contains all 26 episodes on 6 discs!

The Review:
For this review, we primarily listened to the English soundtrack. We also sampled the Japanese track.  The English voice cast does a fairly good job of keeping up with the standard set by the Japanese cast.  However, I do prefer the Japanese cast as they did a better job of portraying the tense character situations throughout the series.  In listening to both language tracks we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full 1.78:1 frame aspect ratio. Galaxy Railways is a very vibrant and active show that can still visually compete with some of the newest anime releases to date.  Overall, the colors look great throughout and avoid blocking.  Aliasing and cross coloration are almost non-existent.  This is a great, solid looking, transfer overall.

The Galaxy Railways collection is another FUNimation series that is featured in their new eco-friendly Viridian Collection edition. The packaging for this is also part of FUNimation’s green initiative, which means “No Plastic for You!”   Again, no plastic is used outside of the discs and the shrink-wrap.

You have to appreciate FUNimation’s environmental approach.  However, it does not make for a consumer-friendly keepsake in that cardboard or anything made in paper eventually wears out over time if it is not painstakingly taken care of.

The packaging is a slipcover over a cardstock holder that has pages for each of the discs. The slipcover is done in a dark blue that features the Galaxy Railways logo along the bottom. The Viridian logo is at the very top and does feel a bit out of place against the rest of the colors. It would look better if it were blended in with the rest of the background instead of on a black backdrop.  The artwork features Manabu and Louise on the front with the all-seeing Destiny as part of the background.

The back of the slipcover displays Destiny again with her arms outstretched with the Earth in the background.  The summary runs through the basics of the premise and there are several tiny shots from the show. The back cover does a decent job of summarizing the show and includes a few hooks to entice a prospective consumer.  The bottom rounds out things with the standard tiny production grid and a look at some of the requisite production credits.

The binder piece inside the slipcover uses the same blue as the slipcover.  The cover artwork for this piece features Destiny, yet again on the front while Captain Bulge and Yuki are on the back.  I wish they would have put a shot of Bruce and David here as they are not shown any love at all in the collection art except for one DVD.

Inside the binder is a series of pages in which the discs are slotted. I really worry about these designs as they do rub against the discs.  There is no character artwork here except for the colorful backdrops of earth and deep space.  Each of the pages has a listing of the episode numbers and titles. The disc art for each of the DVD’s corresponds to the art that was used on the covers of the single DVD releases, which is a nice touch.

The menus are simple and easy to navigate.  Each menu has a picture of at least one character along with the selections. As with many DVD menus, a looping soundtrack is played while accessing each of the menus. The music is done well and loops appropriately without any sudden dropouts or endings.  The buttons stand out well from the background images, as like everything else in the presentation.  The background images fit well as they contain images that appropriately match the theme of the series and episodes.

The Viridian collection for Galaxy Railways includes all of the extras that came with the original releases.  Each disc includes the standard textless opening and closing credits along with the standard FUNimation trailers. Discs Two through Six also come with a bonus episode of the somewhat amusing FUNimation series Mr. Stain on Junk Alley (which appears to now be out of print). Also included are:

Disc One:
Disc one features an interview with Leiji Matsumoto where he discusses the creation of this story, its place in his universe, and the relation of Manabu to Kei from the Captain Harlock anime. We also get video footage of the Japanese voice recording session for the second half of episode two, the press conference where Matsumoto announced the creation of The Galaxy Railways, and profiles of some of the principle characters.

Disc Two:
Disc two provides additional character profiles along with English commentary from Mike McFarland (ADR Director and voice of Bruce J. Speed), Chris Patton (Manabu Yuuki), and Luci Christian (Louis Fort Drake) for Episode Six.

Disc Three:
In this disc we are treated to another Japanese voice recording session for Galaxy Railways.  The recording session is for the first half of Episode Twelve.

Disc Four:
In disc four, Chris Kason (Director) and John Gremillion (Captain Bulge) provide commentary on Episode Eighteen.

Disc Five:
There are no additional extras on this disc.

Disc Six:
For the final installment of extras, we get another English commentary.  This commentary features Mike McFarland (ADR Director, voice of Bruce J. Speed), Markus Lloyd (David), and Laura Bailey (Supreme Commander Layla and Shula) on the final episode.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Leiji Matsumoto is an anime legend.  If you don’t know who he is then you owe it to yourself to check out who he is on the web.  Matsumoto is most famous for Space Battleship Yamato, Captain Harlock, and Galaxy Express 999.  However, for the new anime fan, he may not be the most exciting or cutting-edge storyteller.  He represents a science fiction art form that is unique and unmatched by many.  His space opera’s are second to none.

If you are one of those who passed up Matsumoto, like I did, then you definitely owe it to yourself to check out Galaxy Railways.  Galaxy Railways is a loosely connected continuation of the Galaxy Express 999 series.  This means that you do not have to watch Galaxy Express 999 in order to watch Galaxy Railways.  From this reviewer’s perspective, this is the Matsumoto anime to watch if you are a first time Matsumoto viewer.

The premise for Galaxy Railways takes place in the far distant future where mankind has ventured out into the far reaches of the cosmos using a technologically advanced rail system and trains. Now, you’re probably thinking trains??  Believe me it works!  Yeah, they look like trains which go along with Matusmoto’s love for trains, but sometimes the best sci-fi makes you think outside of the box.  Just like the classic Spielberg TV series “Amazing Stories” or even the “The Outer Limits” TV series.  Oh, and don’t try to figure out the “Potato Heads” as they are a trademark character design that Matsumoto often uses when drawing older or less attractive characters.

The Galaxy Railways transports countless galactic citizens from one planet to the next.  The safety and security of the Galaxy Railways is under the protection of the Space Defense Force (SDF).  The SDF is an elite force that is charged with protecting the railways from terrorists, pirates, galactic storms, and malicious alien life.

The story thrusts you right into the thick of things, starting with the Yuuki family.  Wataru Yuuki is the captain of Big One, the most famous train in the SDF.  Wataru and his crew, Sirius Platoon, is the most revered platoon and the pride and joy of the SDF.  Wataru’s two sons Manabu and Mamoru aspire to be just like their father. This, of course, is not the most popular idea for their mother.

Manabu and Mamoru sneak aboard Big One when their father comes home to visit.  An innocent idea of wanting to be with their father results in calamity as Big One is put into a dire situation during a rescue mission.  This results in Wataru having to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the crew of Big One and the other passenger train.  Manabu and Mamoru’s drive to be like their father has never been stronger as they bore witness to their father’s sacrifice.

Mamoru is the first to go to the academy.  He excels at everything and is a spitting image of his father.  He even gets promoted and accepted into the elite group of Space Panzer Grenadiers where he meets his demise while protecting the Galaxy Railways.  The Yuuki family is devastated, leaving Manabu and his mother to run the family restaurant.

Manabu’s dream of following his father and brother lead him to leave his mother and pursue a commission in the SDF.  Much to his mother’s bequest, Manabu boards the train to Destiny Station where the main focus of the story takes place.  As fate would have it, Manabu ends up as a Sirius Platoon cadet on board Big One under the command of Captain Bulge.  Captain Bulge was the first officer that served under Manabu’s father.

Bulge serves as a father figure to Manabu and treats him with just as much respect as the rest of the crew.  The Yuuki family name bears respect, but the deaths of Wataru and Mamoru make everyone edgy when around Manabu.  Manabu tries to shake this stigma by excelling at everything he does, but his recklessness and quick-wittedness often get him into trouble.

Galaxy Railways is a show that you can kick back and relax with.  As the show progresses, you will become acquainted with a cast of characters that are well developed and given plenty of screen time.  Matsumoto really excels in this area while weaving an interesting and engaging story.

To mention a few of the primary characters that encompass this series, Louise Fort Drake is a young female cadet that serves on Big One.  Like many other anime series’ she is the on-again/off-again love interest that Manabu just can’t figure out.

David Young is Big One’s system analyst and pilot.  A habitual gambler, David’s laid back, fun loving attitude makes for a great balance to Bruce J. Speed, the train’s weapons systems expert.  Bruce is a rather serious, yet cocky, marksman who is assigned to mentor Manabu.  The relationship that is built between Bruce and Manabu will have a profound impact on Manabu as he matures from a green cadet into a valuable asset to Sirius Platoon.

Yuki, Big One’s medical officer, is a sexaroid.  This sounds worse than is implied.  She is a fully functional female android that experiences thoughts and emotions.  There are several instances where her humanity is highlighted and even questioned.

A myriad of other supporting cast members from other SDF platoons complements the Big One family.  They will play important roles as the plot of Galaxy Railways culminates in the final episodes.

Galaxy Railways ends without any allusion to a second season.  However, there just so happens to be a complete second series that was recently completed in Japan and an OVA that links the Galaxy Express 999 series with Galaxy Railways.  Here’s to hoping that FUNimation will bring us more of Matsumoto’s works.

Hop on board for a cruise on the Galaxy Railways.  This epic tale does not leave you railroaded at the crossing arms counting cars as they go by.  Matsumoto’s story craftsmanship will remind you why you love anime, especially for the sci-fi fan/adventure fan.  Very highly recommended!

Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Interview with Leiji Matsumoto, Japanese Dub Recording Session Footage, Title Announcement Press Conference

Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 26th, 2008
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Hitachi 62VS69 62″ UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

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