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GALAXY EXPRESS 999 #8 - - Watch & Learn

Even Tetsuro is creeped out by this episode...

As somebody who’s been paid to mediate on weirdness (of one shape or another) for nearly every day of the past couple years, I’ve had this nagging compulsion to work out some personal lexicon of more precise terms for all the very specific shades of strangeness I’ve encountered in these shows. An anime like FLCL has a kind of surrealism that’s quantifiably different from the surrealism of DEAD LEAVES, for example - - even if they’d be bussed on the same shelf by most people.

I think GALAXY EXPRESS 999 and a lot of other fantasy anime/manga from the 60’s and 70’s (so much of Tezuka’s work springs to mind) are doubly bizarre for the simple fact that they probably weren’t intended to be strange. Look at something recent like BAKEMONOGATARI, and it’s clear that the animators were aiming to push buttons.

These, though? By my best guess, they’re intended to just be straight fantasy action-adventures. As such, the bouts of oddness feel kind of tantamount to - - I don’t know - - your usually-dull health teacher going on odd digressions about his toenail collection during a lecture on nutrition. Since it’s bundled up in a presentation that's otherwise normal, you don’t register how peculiar those “blips” are until you take a step back and actually think about them.

I’ve gone on this long preamble so I can simply say that this conclusion to the two-parter with Maetel’s old friend was freaking weird.

There’s the abruptly mature interest this woman has in bringing this boy back to her bedroom and pressuring him to live with her forever…

There’s the weird “sexbot” design of this universe’s mechanical bodies…

There’s the abruptly stoic, live-or-die ethos that Tetsuro adopts to kiss her off…

There’s the fact that all the good guys just fondly shrug off the fact this villainess has murdered however many innocent people…

…and I list all of that while taking for granted the countless, strange little flourishes like tiny stars whizzing by the windows of this choo-choo trains running through space.

Weird, right?

Watch this episode, "The Graveyard at the Bottom of Gravity, Part 2” here and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

sickVisionz moderator on Dec. 3, 2012 at 9:36 a.m.
You've summed up the feel of this show pretty well. Things take some extreme turns but most of the characters react like, "eh, that's life for you." It's like a fight at a club. Everyone us laughing and having fun then someone gets laid out and it's like, "i guess it wasn't all fun and games." Then everyone goes back to dancing like it never happened.

Dig Deeper into Galaxy Express 999

Leiji Matsumoto's meditation on mortality and social class. Beginning as a manga series, it moved on to films, Original Animated Videos (OAV), and a television series.

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