Anime Abandon: Galaxy Express 999

Praise be to Harlock.

About Bennett the Sage

Bennett "The Sage" White has opinions, and you have ears. Let him put those opinions in your ears.


  1. I’m super excited to see this. I’m in the process of watching the series, and it’s glorious.

    Also, to be fair, yes, a ticket to the 999 really IS that expensive. A lot of episodes of the show are about people who have worked for their entire lives to make enough money to afford a ticket. Seriously.

    Also, Tetsuro stealing the ticket and running into the mysterious woman is way, way, WAY the hell more upbeat than episode 1 of the show, where his mother gets killed by cyborg assassins who hunt humans for sport, and want to HANG HER SKIN ON THEIR FUCKING WALL.

    • Aaaand that’s what I get for posting too early. I will say, though, that Tetsuro’s mother’s death and their last goodbyes actually WERE rough to watch in the TV show.

  2. wait so is captain harlock in this

  3. Who’s tim rice beyond a lyricist

  4. Way to ruin classic anime series with medicore movie version.

  5. Damn, I distinctly recall someone else making a Sealab joke earlier this year, but I can’t remember who! Some Jerk with a Camera maybe? Anyone else able to weigh-in on this situation?

  6. Was this an unofficial sequel to “Queen Millennia”?

    • Actually, in other works, its hinted that it is a sequel to Queen Millennia, i suggest you look up Maetel Legend and Space Sympony Maetel to get a true sequel to Queen Millenia, Maetel is the daughter of Yayoi Yukino, I am huge Leijiverse fan even if his own stories don’t mesh well with each other.

  7. Hilarious as usual Sage. But while I do agree ‘One Jump’ is not Tim Rice’s best song he also wrote the lyrics to ‘Chess’ which gives him a free pass in my book, I mean have you even heard ‘Nobody’s Side’ or ‘The Embassy Song’?

  8. I vaguely remember this movie at all from when I saw it air on SciFi during their run of Saturday Anime. Although I have long forgotten it, that was probably my first viewing of Captain Harlot and never realized it. Grant it, I could never remember the story behind the anime, I do recall its title.

    Still though, that is a good review and always nice to see an anime I havent seen since the 90’s get reviewed here. It would be good when you take on Mobile Suit Gundam and the many series it spawned, that will be fun as Sunrise has done really good, fairly good, and sometimes fun series as well. Just out of curiosity, have you ever heard of the failed pilot of Sunrises Doozy Bots.

  9. Keep your attention up, Sage. The machine people aren’t offering Tetsuro immortality, as in live forever in a machine body like they do, but an “I have no mouth but I must scream”-scenario where he is made into a machine component that will forever be part of the planet’s mainframe. They’re just presenting it as if it were a reward because it’s ironic.

    • soooo… like a sentence of eternity of hard labor?

    • The bolt business in the movie version is just plain goofy. This is why I much prefer the TV series–in the TV series they do offer him immortality, legit…but they also “suggest” that he join their army, and spend eternity helping them to perpetuate and expand the brutal system that he’d wanted to get immortality to better help him fight against. (When he tells them how much that bargain appeals to him, Queen Promethium orders him thrown into a black hole.)

      I like the TV series Machine Empire because it’s such a different take on the Dalek-Cyberman-Borg trope; the machine-humans aren’t aren’t monsters because they’re too much like machines…they’re monsters because they’re too much like *humans*. After all, why postulate the existence of some sort of peculiarly machine-related nastines when people are plenty nasty to each other anyway in real life?

      They also have a knack for PR, something which I always thought seemed inexplicably lacking in their Trek and Dr. Who counterparts. (If they were seemingly superior at everything else, why couldn’t they be superior at lying too?) I suspect the reason for that is evident from the rather extreme plot contrivance GE999 uses to defeat them: basically their own (former) rulers destroy them from the inside. (All Tetsuro does, really, is bail out Maetel when she loses her nerve at the critical moment.) Without the overt horribleness there just isn’t any plausible way for outside resistance to successfully organize against such a formidable enemy.

  10. I remember seeing this and its sequel on the old sci fi anime movie night. Hosted by some hot blonde chick in a tight silver outfit.

  11. “If the story has been told in its most appropriate format, why mangle the story just to tell it again in a different format?”

    In one sentence Bennett has summed up the biggest question behind Shyamalan’s adaptation of ‘The Last Airbender’.

  12. Captain Harlock is friggin badass but the 2013 CG movie kinda sucked. It wasn’t all bad but there were some big story and character problems in my opinion.

    ‘All the grace and aplomb of an elbow deep pap smear’ That one had me laughing.

  13. I remember liking this movie quite a bit, and it’s what got me interested in Leiji Matsumoto’s work in the first place. Having said that, it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen it so perhaps it hasn’t aged well. I also haven’t seen the TV series or read the manga, so I have no basis for comparison on that score.

  14. …oh. I thought we were going to talk about the epic awesome TV series.


  15. Does the SHOW have the same cyclops dream sequence?

    Also, for the love of Tezuka, review Night on the Galactic Railroad!… some day.

  16. I actually got to meet Rintaro at AnimeNext 2006 and he autographed my copy of Metropolis Anime. This was way before GE999 movies were finally released on dvd here.
    Leji Matsumoto’s style can be a acquired taste. I like it and Lejiverse. From GE999 to Herlock to Cosmo Warrior to Gun Frontier.
    Interesting thing this was one of the first anime I saw back in early 90s with it squeal audi which were on sci-fi channel. It doesn’t hold up story wise but animation is still beautiful. Didn’t not like as much as Sage but I can see where he is coming from with it.

  17. this film had a special place in my heart, having been the first anime film i ever saw so many years ago. but i did go back and watch it again as an adult and realized how clunky it was

  18. Professor von SCIENCE!!!

    I thought about it and the way you talk about this movie reminds me of the reviews of the Last Airbender that I’ve seen.

  19. I’m glad that I’m not the only dude with a man-boner for Captain Harlock. I remember seeing him for the first time as a kid in the ’80s on someone’s bootlegs. I did not know much about him, but everything about him said “stoic badass!” Being accustomed to ’80s cartoons, I never questioned the weirdness or concept of the show and characters… No, I embraced the hell out of it!

    Oh, and great review!

  20. The best thing about this movie was that it introduced me to my favorite anime series of all time. I’ve gone through all 114 episodes 3 times now and I can’t stress enough how beautiful the whole thing is. I never wanted to depart from Tetsuro Hoshino and Maetel’s story.

  21. As far as I know, the TV series was never fansubbed, but Crunchyroll & Funimation released it in 2009. Prior to that, since the manga was translated 10-15 years after movies were dubbed, this was America’s only exposure to the story unless you could get raws of the mange or TV series on VHS & were willing to pay to have them shipped. That would have cost a lot of money, given how expensive anime is over there. I remember buying a raw of Patalliro Saiyuki with 3 episodes on it in 2003…Damn thing cost $61, & the series wasn’t even that good…. ::mumblemuble::

    If you think Tetsuro’s design is bad, you should see the manga art. & if you think that’s bad, it’s a HUGE step up from Leiji’s collection of foot scribbles known as Gun Frontier.

    Reign the conqueror…Ugh…I don’t know if I’ve ever been more insulted by an adaptation. We were studying Alexander the Great in history when the dub came out.

    “He will try to bend over backwards to stay true to the source material.” Well, the X1999 movie & the manga are nothing alike. Then again, all CLAMP movies are always parallel universe, so it was probably intentional. Kamui was an absolute prick in the series.

    I suspect this series influence both Gunm (Battle Angel Alita) & Kino no Tabi.

    I know Tetsuro has Gohan’s voice, but why do I remember Harlock having Piccolo’s?

    “Tetsuro, I…am your mother.”
    “No…That’s not true…It’s impossible!”

  22. Ah Harlock. Remorseless killer of (plant)women and bloodthirsty pirate, yet hailed as saviour of the universe. Another weirdness from Japan.

    Also, maaaan how I disliked this french anime-style. Yes, most french cartoons at the time looked like anime with their own spin on it, and Harlock tried to mimic that style – or maybe it was the other way around, who knows – it ended up with everyone being impossibly lean and tall, and women with giant elongated foreheads that I find totally UN-sexy.

    • I dunno. I’ve always really like the almost elfen, ethereal feel of a lot of Leiji Matsumoto’s female designs. Granted, it’s most likely why I prefer tall, willowy women to this day, but I digress.

      As to Harlock, I remember reading the Eternity line of comics and thinking what a bad-ass he was. Weird how all my favorite bad-asses always seem to have one eye covered like Harlock and his eyepatch or Henry Gloval with his hat always pulled down over one eye…

  23. Wait, Spriggan is crap? I thought it was pretty cool. Silly, yes, well beyond silly, but cool nonetheless.

  24. I actually just got done watching this movie before I saw this. This review is the catharsis I needed.

  25. Ooh, I read about the TV series in Animerica over a decade ago & really wanted to see it after the movie, but it never got dubbed & I totally forgot about it. Now that it’s out, I can finally see it.

  26. Was that Spriggan, I once got a illeagal copy as unasked for bonus when purchasing what I thought to be an original release box of Nadia: Secret of Blue water, well at least the Chinese tried to make it look legit.
    Well also got Excel saga Episode 1 as unasked for bonus, which made me buy the ADV release, so thanks for that mister data pirate, I guess.

  27. MidnightScreeningsman2014

    nice jack in the box reference and joke most importantly.This anime looks interesting.I might binge watch it on netflix right after last exile and clannad(don’t blame my choice,just blame the guys at animerica and cover by cover for getting me interested in the first two animes).the reason the women was a copy of tetsuro’s mother and her body was just right there is just plain messed up.

  28. What the f*ck! That joke at 21:10. I heard this exactly at 4 am. Weird…

  29. Funny
    This movie is not great
    The stile like this anime has pretty lady’s
    I don’t get your boner for the captain

    • you cannot understand having a boner for Captain Harlock? There are three sci-fi anime that are considered the unassailable pillars of sci-fi anime, Macross, Gundam, and Battleship Yammamoto, while the first two have always jockeyed in the # 1 and 2 positions Battleship Yammamoto has stagnated and technically no longer holds up as the third pillar, since the 90’s Yammamoto has pretty much lost it’s claim and a series that was overlooked when that statement was made has since cemented itself into the #3 position, that series being the 999/Esmeraldas/Captain Harlock series, yes I know each one had it’s own anime but they are all considered to be part of the same series and universe even if some of their plot points don’t mesh with each other. The single most recognizable figures from this series are Maetel, and Captain Harlock and Captain Harlock is considered the archetype for many Anime characters and is the single most recognizable anime character of all time primarily because of the influence of the 999 and Captain Harlock anime and just how much of an impact it has had on the industry. The 999/Esmeraldas/Captain Harlock franchises influence is literally so wide spread it can be considered one of the if not the single most influential anime ever made, even Gundam and Macross borrow from it Roy Fokker and even being modeled after Harlock in many MANY ways while the lead for Gundam is more based off of Tetsuo. In a way I can see why it was left out of the three unassailable pillars of anime sci-fi because it at the time that statement was made it was not widely known outside of Japan but also because it is just simply an unassailable pillar of anime in general. It is one of the 12 anime all other anime try to be like and considering at least 8 others that fit that list of 12 anime draw heavily from the franchise it is easily one of the most important and influential anime ever made. Unfortunately it’s story of 100 planets is also the origin of filler as allot of the worlds were just foamed in to make the series run longer. So if you think that by Claiming modern shonen as not being influenced by this franchise guess again.

  30. The flashback was actually a clip lifted from the original series which part of the reason for doing the movie was to update the look of the series and also to trim out most of the fat. Also they did say why the kidnapped Maetel, it’s because they mistook her for a machine person whom they are out to destroy but didn’t have the means to scan her at the station. Yeah the plot point of setting up the planet to blow was pretty lazy, but her having the body of his mother, even the count who hated all living things envied her body and as such presented it to the queen and princess as the princess needed a human body to attract and lure humans to become components of the machine worlds.

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