Monday, 26 September 2011

Manga Recomendation: Galaxy Express 999

Greetings Earthlings!

I haven't done this in a while....been busy subbing video for a while (well still am but ....meh).
The manga that I'll be writing briefly about today is Galaxy Express 999 (Jap: 銀河鉄道 999. "Ginga Tetsudou 999"). It's a manga classic from the 1970~80's, by Matsumoto Leiji , a legendary artist known for creating many other classic manga such as Captain Herlock and Space Warship Yamato (aka Star Blazers). He also supervised the artwork for some Daft Punk music videos. I can't remember the name but it's the one with blue people playing (check the bottom of the post)

The Galaxy Express 999 is set in a technologically advanced future where space travel has been common place for a very long time, and many humans switch their flesh bodies for "immortal" mechanical bodies. These mechanical bodies last around 7000 years if maintained well but are expensive to create, so only the rich can attain them. The mechanical people now rule the world and there is a strong discrimination against the poor people with perishable natural bodies. Because of this, most poor people wish to also have a mechanical body, but being penniless, there's no way they can even if the save up the meager earnings they may able to get their hands on. So instead they save up for a ticket to ride the Galaxy Express 999 train, which according to legend, takes you to a planet where they give you robot bodies for free. The only problem is that no one has heard of anyone returning from the journey. Even so, many people hold dreams for strong bodies and an everlasting life and decide to gamble on this possibly perilous journey to the other side of the universe.

The main character, Tetsurou Hoshino is one such person. He is a poor boy who witnesses his mother being hunted down and killed by mechanical humans on their way to search for work to save up for tickets for the journey. Before she dies she tells him to continue pursuing their goal, and get his hands on an impenetrable metal body. Intent on getting revenge on the human hunting mechanic people, he (I can't remember how but it was sudden...) meets Maetel, a woman who is the spitting image of his mother. She offers to hand him a pass onto the Galaxy Express if he agrees to be her travel companion.........which is pretty convenient, and suspicious at the same time. He agrees, and after getting revenge they set of on the Space train and travel to many different planets, meeting many different people with many different perspectives to life. It seems that although many 'natural humans' dream of a mechanical body, those with mechanical bodies end up regretting disposing of their warm body and dreams for a cold and senseless metal body.

Soo~~ that's the end of the plot description from me....I don't want to disclose too much. As I said before, they travel to many strange planets with distinct features, for example,

-A planet where people's ears have become so good at hearing that it's against the law to make loud noises.
-A planet where it's customary to paint yourself in gold plating. (lol)
-A planet with an alcoholic tarzan type guy that forces his monkey friends to also drink alcohol.
-A planet wear poor people live inside bubbles inside mud.......
-A planet where a professor has made thousands of clones of himself

It's kind of like Gullivers Travel's or Alice in Wonderland how there are strange worlds, strange people and strange customs, where that 'strangeness' is considered normal. As you'd kind of expect from old manga, the story is very simple and often follows one pattern, but I found it wonderful how these surreal worlds are given life and little histories and characteristics. There are also quite a few funny moments. Well not laugh out loud crying but those little sniff types or short chuckles.

Well I suppose the best way for you to know what I'm talking about is for you to have a read of it, or watch the anime if you get the chance to. If you do get that chance, then I highly recommend that you do :)

These are the Daft Punk music video's Matsumoto Leiji worked on.

Oh.....there was more than I 2~3 more. You can look it up yourself lol
It's basically the ones with blue people.


  1. Galaxy Express 999 brings back memories.

    One episode that I especially remember is when Tetsurou Hoshino was tired of eating everyday the same ramen, so much that he started to despise ramen to be too much ordinary. Seeing his reaction, Maetel showed him some poor hungry people outside who couldn't even afford a bowl of ramen and these people were considering ramen as an ideal meal. Tetsurou Hoshino started to realize his chance and ate with a lot of pleasure his bowl of ramen that he was considering before as ordinary.

    To me, this episode represents for me the meaningful side of Galaxy Express 999.

    About Daft Punk, I used to like their music before until I discovered they sampled some music (but this is another story).
    Concerning the collaboration of Matsumoto Leiji and Daft Punk for Interstella 5555, Daft Punk were really lucky to have the possibility to work with Matsumoto Leiji.

  2. I saw the movie a long time ago... didn't spike my interest though, but i didn't know there was a manga about it.

    Thumbs up for sharing!! :D

  3. @Tako= Yeah I love how it has a moral or philosophical question/message for most stories. It makes you think and be more careful with what you say/do/think in real life. Well at least it did for me. I forgot to write that in the post...Oh well lol :)

    As for Daft Punk, I'm only a mild fan. Not too keen on techno in general so......

    @Queen Adanyr= Not sure about the movie either as I've never seen it, although I've noticed that they have beautified Tetsuro significantly in it lol. It's strange as his ugliness is an often noted thing in the manga.