And so, yet another loose thread of my life-long anime experience gets tied up through the magic of Hulu’s nigh-infinite library of titles. Seriously, if you live in the US, you have no grounds to gripe about it somehow being harder to be an otaku. That site gives more access to this stuff than any tape store or TV channel could’ve ever dreamed of, back in the day.
Indeed, the latter distribution channel’s more relevant in this discussion, because my only prior - - yet still unforgettable - - exposure to GALAXY EXPRESS 999 came when the Sci-Fi channel was running some heavily-edited cut over some inconvenient block one weekend when I was 13. Keep in mind, this was before DVR and digital cable guides that make so easy to watch a show, even when its airtime isn't easy to deal with. I caught one episode in the middle, enjoyed it a lot, but knew that the chances of me watching what came before or after it were pretty slim.
Well, here we are, 13 years later, and I’m thinking about how, sometimes, there’s some delicate value to the incomplete viewing experience. This snippet I saw hit me on a very visceral, surreal level on the order of some grown-up storybook fantasy like MOONSHADOW. All I knew was that we had a plucky orphan who was being chaperoned by a surrogate mother on this preposterous intergalactic railway. I didn’t know anything about the caste system of cyborgs that’s laid out in this pilot episode, nor the Nirvana cyber surgery planet that the express is running to, nor the harsh vengeance the vengeance that the aforementioned plucky orphan seizes rather earlier on.
None of that’s bad, necessarily. This is just as baroque and compelling as everything else I’ve seen by Matsumoto. But GALAXY EXPRESS 999 definitely still isn’t as pure as it’s existed in my head for the past decade or so. Now, it isn’t some fleeting dream imagery, but an actual plot.
Hey - - it’s only nine episodes. If I’ve come all this way, maybe I should bring that dream all the way down to Earth and finally tie that aforementioned thread into bow?
Watch this episode, "Departure Ballad” here and decide for yourself.