[From October Issue 2010]
Galaxy Express 999 (Directed by RIN Taro)
This film is based on the science fiction, manga masterpiece written and drawn by artist MATSUMOTO Leiji. It was serialized in manga magazine format for about four years starting in 1977, and was later adapted for an animated television series, a musical and has appeared in many other forms. The film was released in 1979, and was followed by two other movies.
The story is set on a future Earth, where the hero, HOSHINO Tetsuro, is a boy whose mother is murdered while they travel to Megalopolis. From there, wealthy people become cyborgs, gaining immortality along with mechanical bodies. Some cyborgs hunt humans for fun. One day, Tetsuro tries to steal from a passenger a pass for the Galaxy Express 999, a train that travels between planets, but fails. While fleeing from the police, he is rescued by Maetel, a mysteriously beautiful woman who is the spitting image of his dead mother.
“I want to get a mechanical body and live an eternal life and travel in the Sea of Stars forever,” Tetsuro tells Maetel, adding that he will also kill Count Mecha, the character responsible for his mother’s murder. But in order to accomplish all this, he needs to board the 999 to the planet where mechanical bodies are given away for free. Maetel offers Testuro a pass for the 999 if he travels with her. And this is how their journey begins.
Their first stop is Titan where they are attacked by bandits who kidnap Maetel. Given a gun by an old lady, Tetsuro sets out for the bandits’ lair. Antares, the bandit leader, returns Maetel after he finds out that Tetsuro is a human like him. Learning of Testuro’s plan to fight Count Mecha, Antares advises him to, “Shoot before being shot. If you hesitate or flinch, you are done for.”
Emeraldas, a female pirate whom Tetsuro meets during his journey, informs him that Count Mecha’s Time Castle is located on the planet Heavy Melder. While wandering around planet, Tetsuro meets up with Tochiro, the only son of the lady who gave him the gun. But Tochiro soon dies, having been severely weakened by years of fighting. The villains then suddenly appear and attack Tetsuro. But fortunately he is saved by the pirate Captain Harlock, Tochiro’s best friend.
After Testuro sneaks into Time Castle, Antares comes to his rescue. Antares then sacrifices his own life to save Testuro, who eventually kills Count Mecha. However, Tetsuro soon realizes that happiness is not just about living forever, and that one can work hard and be considerate and kind to others only when life is finite. With that in mind, he is determined to destroy planet Andromeda, where mechanical people are created.
Finally, Tetsuro and Maetel arrive on Andromeda where he learns that it is ruled by her mother. Tetsuro feels betrayed by Maetel, who cannot forgive her. With the help of Emeraldas and Harlock, they all destroy the planet and return to the Earth on the 999. Tetsuro bids farewell to Maetel, who sets out on another journey.