Reviews of Galaxy Express 999 (1977) and related work

Galaxy Express 999 (1977Text and sequential art)

Matsumoto Reiji (writer-artist).

This review refers to the first five volumes.

Soft space opera.

fiction Japanese production sequential art series text

Galaxy Express 999 (1979Moving picture)

Seen in 2014.

Review refers to the feature film edition.

Unusually sexist and Freudian, even for Matsumoto.

animation fiction Japanese production moving picture

‣‣ Arcadia of My Youth (1982Moving picture)

Seen in 2013.

Nazi optics win an angsting space captain’s war against the idiot human imperium. Yeah, those Nazis really knew what they were doing.

Millennium-spanning space opera for children. One of the more cross-pollinated works in Matsumoto Reiji’s hideously ingrown SF setting (Yamato etc.), serving most directly as a prequel to Captain Harlock (1978).

The plot is nonsense on every level, from the physics (as always, Emeraldas pirates a wooden brig-sloop suspended by wires from a Zeppelin in space) to the politics (Earth is run by caricatures of petty fools), all the way through to the drama, which is made up almost entirely of bold posturing in absurd situations. It’s cool only in an anti-intellectual way, ridden with childhood angst. The pacing and artistry are considerably better than what I’ve come to expect from Matsumoto.

animation fiction Japanese production moving picture

‣‣ Harlock Saga: The Rhein Gold (1999Moving picture)

Wagner’s opera adapted very loosely. Space pirates battle Norse gods.

Stylized space opera. Static, frequently ugly, and not really about Harlock. Shallow characters, failing plot, slapstick action, planets exploding left and right, and Wagner’s music on top. Much too flat to engage.

animation fiction Japanese production moving picture series