49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Five years ago you could have asked me what Anime series or movie we would never see released in the US. One that came to mind was first the Galaxy Express 999 / Ginga Tetsudo 999 the series, then the movies. In the intervening years I've been happily proven dead wrong. First Galaxy Express 999 the TV series was released via streaming services (I'm still holding hope that Eastern Star will release it just as they have Fist of the North Star TV) and now Eastern Star offers up the movie classics. All we're missing in the US is the Eternal Fantasy film (which I hope someone rectifies, despite it not being at the same caliber as Galaxy Express 999 or Adieu).
There is however, a potentially large caveat to this release. As someone who owns the original Japanese TV series box sets, on official Japanese DVDs and also the original movies on their original DVD release, I have the unique potential for comparing video from pretty much every release. What some are unaware of is that when Galaxy Express 999 and Adieu were released on Blu Ray in Japan (which I also own), they went and ran the video through a remastering process, along with a denoise/grain removal process that has, in effect, made animation from 1979 look like digital animation. Unfortunately for me, this is the video Toei provided Eastern Star for this DVD release. The original Japanese DVDs contain the noise/grain and none of the detail is removed. In this set you actually lose some outlines and so on due to this process.
So given what some will declare to be a glaring problem, why five stars? Because personally I can look past this, as it is what Eastern Star was provided. I guess for me, something is better than nothing and nothing would be the only other option. If you don't agree with my viewpoint here, continue to read the review and see how many stars potentially you drop.
Galaxy Express 999 the movie is a retelling of the TV series (which was a retelling of the Manga) that follows some things from the Manga more closely than the series, however it is boiling down a story that ran for quite a long time down to a 2 hour movie.
Tetsuro is a young boy who loses his mother tragically and is offered the opportunity to receive an eternal body by taking a journey with Maetel to a far off planet Andromeda where he will be given his eternal body.
Along the way he meets some amazing people, along with some villainous people, as he learns about himself, those that already have mechanical bodies and life itself.
The DVD comes in a simple DVD case with the same artwork on the movie that was used on the Japanese Blu Ray release. I prefer the painted artwork from the original DVD release, but I like this one as well. The back cover has a nice synopsis of the film with run time and etc clearly detailed, which is nice.
It's not the greatest packaging ever, but it's nice.
As stated above, this is the remastered and denoised video used on the Japanese Blu Ray releases. As such, assuming you don't notice the missing character outlines and so on, this has a very, very clean video stream. Because they've oversimplified the video, on a good upscaling DVD player this actually doesn't appear to be vastly different than the Blu Ray from Japan. And yes, I am a video/audiophile and recognize the inherent differences in the format.
You will notice, however, instances of dust or marks in the video. These are all present in the Japanese release as well.
So here is where this release either shines or not.
This is the first time, EVER, the original 1997 English language dub done for the original VHS release by Viz, has been available on an official release. There is an R3 Korean release (believe it's Korean) release that contains it, however this is of a dubious origin and is widely considered a very nice bootleg.
What you get out of the English track depends on what you're looking for. For me, Maetel is Ikeda Masako (the original Japanese voice actress) and no one, NO ONE, will EVER come close to her in any language. That being said, the English voice acting is passable. It's not as high a quality, from an acting perspective, as the dubs ADV and similar have put together in the past. It's passable. In my mind it's just amazing that the original English language dub is included, regardless of your opinion of it's quality.
Also included is the original Japanese language and it sounds pretty much on par with the Japanese DVD releases in terms of quality.
You have two options for subtitles. If you watch with the English dub, you will have subtitles for onscreen text such as the opening sequence and opening credits.
If you watch in Japanese, you will have the option of English subtitles to accompany the movie.
In terms of quality, given my OK ability at understanding spoken Japanese, I judge that the subtitles are pretty good at matching the original dialog.
Subtitles are easy to read, which is always a bonus.
You have an image gallery and trailers. The trailers are the original Japanese movie trailer for Galaxy Express and Adieu. A bonus is that they are subtitled. They are NOT remastered, so you can compared unremastered video to remastered if you have the desire.
The image gallery is a running video of screen grabs from the movie. If you watch the movie it is kind of unnecessary I would say. It's nice to get the full length ending credits song though it is NOT subtitled during the video.
Galaxy Express 999/Ginga Tetsudo 999 is easily one of my favorite Anime properties ever. I love the Manga, the TV series and also the movies. I wish they would have more closely followed the Manga in both the TV series and the movies, but taking all parts as the whole, I love it all.
If you're looking for a thought provoking, well animated film from the 70s, this would definitely be a good choice.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
True imagination in film is rare, and especially so in science fiction film. Sometimes this is due to the limitations of the movie makers - it can be difficult to show strange creatures or alien planets on a shoestring budget. Animated sci-fi fares a little better, because animation has no such excuse - oh sure a lower budget can mean a lower framerate, but anything an artist can visualize in their head should be able to make its way onto a film cel. The Japanese are the masters of animated science fiction, but all too often animated SF in Japan means nothing but fanservice and/or giant robots (not that there is anything wrong in principle with either of these - see "Gunbuster.") Rarely is there something truly different that can amaze you with its sheer creativity. "Galaxy Express 999" is one of those things. Not only is it one of the greatest animated science fiction movies from Japan, it is one of the greatest sci-fi movies of the 1970s period.
It's about Tetsuro Hoshino, a boy who desperately wants a ticket for the eponymous train (well, a space ship that's shaped like a train, anyway) so that he can go to the planet at the end of the line in a distant galaxy and obtain a machine body. He wants this so he can exact revenge on the evil Count Mecha (a machine-man himself) who killed his mother in cold blood some years prior. A ticket onboard and a traveling companion both come in the form of Maetel, a mysterious blonde traveler who secures Tetsuro a place on the 999 in exchange for his company. Together the two will journey the galaxy, see many wonders and learn the significance of being human.
This movie is something very special, and can be viewed on many levels. I won't go into too much academic-level analysis here (not really the place for it) but I will say that this gem has just about everything: love, hate, vengeance, friendship, sublime beauty and the limitless wonder of the universe. You really do feel that you are traveling through the cosmos with Tetsuro and Maetel, and can also feel the progression of Tetsuro from a single-minded child to a more rounded adult. "Galaxy Express 999" does get sentimental (hey, it's a Leiji Matsumoto story) but never gooey and the emotions are genuine. In addition this is a film has something for both youngsters and adults and can be enjoyed by both as a genuine family film (i.e. not just a kiddie movie with adult references thrown in) - although young children may not want to watch it based on the level of violence and some disturbing scenes (the scene where Tetsuro finds out just exactly *what* Count Mecha has done to his mother's body, for example). The film is well-directed (by Rintaro of "Metropolis" fame) and well animated, and even though it was made in the 1970s it manages to not date itself that badly... this film is truly timeless. And of course GE999 is filled to the brim with truly imaginative imagery, not the least of which is the main image of a railroad train making its way through space. Other wondrous and awesome sights and moments await you should you decide to see this fantastic film, but I won't spoil them... although I will say that Captain Harlock makes an appearance (along with Queen Emereldas to boot). Yes, the biggest badass in all of anime turns up, and he commands every scene he is in. Naturally.
This animated marvel is finally available on DVD in North America after years of fans watching fansubs, bad bootlegs and unsubtitled Japanese Region 2 discs. Thank you, thank you Discotek for releasing this - it has been too long.
The video on this disc is very, very good, especially for an anime film from 1979. Colors are bright but not lurid and really serve the fantastic imagery very well. The image is bright but not too much so, and black levels are good. The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1:66:1. This was the standard aspect ratio for a Toei anime movie in the seventies. Toei was - and is - sort of the Disney studio of Japan and could afford to make movies in widescreen. Studios with smaller budgets usually did their movies at the standard 4:3 ratio, an exception being Hayao Miyazaki, (who made his first movie "Castle of Cagliostro" in widescreen the same year as GE999) who used to work for Toei.
Audio is good and clear. Discotek provides both the original Japanese dub and the 1990s Viz English dub. The English dub is okay... the casting is alright although the dialogue can be a little stilted, and some of the lines are very different from the subbed Japanese version. Still, a decent alternative for those who don't want to read subtitles. And you get to hear the two GODIEGO songs in full English (seeing as how some of the band members are American)! So that's pretty cool.
There aren't too many extras, but then again there don't have to be - the movie is enough for me. There are two original theatrical trailers, one each for both Galaxy Express films released by Discotek (this one and "Adieu Galaxy Express 999"). There is also an image gallery, which consists of stills from the movie as well as a nice cast shot (which also shows up on the back cover). The packaging is decent and is NOT a cheap, flimsy "eco-friendly" DVD case - this one is actually somewhat sturdy. Thanks, Discotek!
+ Just about everything: the story, the characters, the music, the imagery....
- Some very minor plot holes, the animation though very nice *is* from the 1970s which may deter some (but not me).
Conclusion: This is a science fiction classic. If you like sci-fi, get this. If you like Japanese animation, get this. If you like animation in general, get this. Even if you just like a good story or seeing fantastic things put on your screen, get this. This is a classic film, and if you like classic films, get this.