The Odds and Ends of Galaxy Express 999 (part 2)

I’ve almost made it halfway to the Andromeda Galaxy with Maetel and Tetsuro, which means I’m just about ready for another odds and ends post.

I did one of these when I reached episode 25, which feels far longer ago than it probably should. I will say that overall, my pace has slowed down a bit. I was trying to manage five episodes a week, and for a solid month or so, I kept at that pace.

But now, it feels like I’m running, on average, about two to three episodes a week. This isn’t anything about the quality of the episodes, but just where I find myself with work and life and mowing the lawn. I will say that lately, I have been finding myself writing directly about the episodes I watched that week, but it’s more because I skipped a few topics that I was going to chat about along the way.

So that is what I’m going to do here. I’m going to try and condense down my thoughts on some of the episodes I thought would have been interesting to write about, but I didn’t get a chance to.

Chief of the Spherical Housing Complex and corruption

There are a lot of exciting designs of worlds in Galaxy Express 999. As soon as they leave the solar system, we arrive at Comet Station, a world where gravity is more of a suggestion than a law, and it only gets weirder from there. But of all of the planets, I think I like the design of the Spherical Housing Complex the best. 

It’s not really a world but a collection of spherical homes. The richer the occupants are, the larger the spherical homes get. The largest house belongs to the chieftain, and I would describe it as a planetoid. Well, the chieftain takes what he wants, and when Tetsuro and Maetel get off the train, he decides he wants Maetel. 

Tetsuro goes on a rescue mission and comes across a man who looks like an older version of himself named Tetsugoro. Without spending a long time on the rescue mission, they rescue Maetel and kills the chieftain. 

Instead of deciding to form a better government, Tetsugoro decides that he wants to be the chieftain. His entire demeanor changed, and I believe he became intoxicated with the idea of power. 

It’s an unexpected and thought-provoking turn. Maetel leaves us with a line that hints that Tetsugoro will end up just like his predecessor. Also, there is a hint that Maetel visited this planet before and saw something similar happen with the last chieftain. 

There is a cycle of dictators on the planet, and it’s a bit like the one ring. Anyone who touches the position will become tainted by it in some way. 

As much as I think the theme is interesting, I don’t know if it’s compelling enough for an entire post. I mean, that hasn’t stopped me before. 

Mi-Kun’s Mansion of Life 

So I wanted to talk about this episode because it’s just so strange. As much as Galaxy Express 999 talks about the soul and hedges on spiritualism, this is one of the few times where we come across something that genuinely felt mystical. 

In this story, Maetel and Tetsuro end up going to a planet that turns out to be the home of pets that have lost their owners. That is as much as I want to get into without spoiling the story. It really benefits from the surprise at the end. 

What I think is interesting is that heaven (at least for pets) is an actual physical place people can visit. They do express an idea the people are psychologically affected by the interaction even with this afterlife for pets. 

I often wonder what it would be like to talk to my grandparents now. Both sets are at least 20 years dead, and one is just about 30 years. I’m a different person than I was at that point, and I am curious if they would be the same if they would have changed. 

It’s just a fascinating idea. 

A Steel Angel and Revolution

Another episode with a compelling idea at its premise. They land on a planet that has been slowly turning itself into a giant factory. They come across one freedom fighter named Chromeria, and she is trying to get the people to turn away from just covering the planet with metal. 

While the basic environmentalist message was acceptable, what I thought was the most compelling was that the episode ends with Chromeria and her revolutionaries boarding the 999 to escape. It’s an unusual turn for the revolutionaries to give up on the revolution and decide that they’re just going to find a better planet. 

It’s a pretty elegant solution. Well, except for Chromeria and friends holding the train hostage until Maetel solves the problem by giving them all tickets from her bag of tricks. 

What I find interesting about the idea is that at some point, people are better off giving up on changing people rather than striking out on their own. So often these kinds of stories end with the wrong-headed politicians changing their minds or the wrong-headed politicians winning. 

But seeing a third option is both unusual and pleasant. 

Formless Planet Nuruba and The Fossilized Warrior

These two episodes appear one right after another. The Formless Planet features a race of amoeba-like intelligent aliens who don’t have a strict form. Two of the teenage versions replaced Tetsuro and Maetel because they desired to have a physical form. 

They, of course, end up being found out, and the two teens are collected by their father, who is confused about why his children would want to give up the perfectly good nature of having a form. 

On a side note: The episode ends with a pair of other travelers diving out of the train, likely to try and become formless themselves. It’s a nice nod to the idea that everything looks greener on the other side of the fence. 

The two-parter that follows is almost a companion and tells a story about a man whose home planet became fossilized because of a weird space gas. He was out exploring space at the time. He’s trying to save his girlfriend, who was also turned into a fossil. 

In the end, he tries to escape with her as another cloud of fossilized gas comes toward the planet. Not willing to leave her behind, he decides to lie next to her and give in to the gas. 

The comparison between these two stories is pretty compelling, in my opinion. In Nuruba, we have a planet that is constantly in flux. And you have beings that want to change their form, so they too want to be in flux. 

While you do have an example of one being stuck in their old mindset, most of the young people want to find a new way to be. 

The Fossilized Planet is nearly the opposite of this. In that case, you have a man who is cemented to the past. He refuses to give up on it, even at the cost of his own life. 

(Again, I recently read an essay on the noble failure archetype, and that might be a good comparison here.) 

The show doesn’t necessarily cast any viewpoint as the right one, but it presents them potentially two wrongs. Or maybe just different ways of looking at things. 

Conclusion

So I’m at the halfway point, and my pace, unfortunately, has slowed down. In part, because I started watching several more shows, and in part because I’ve had other distractions in my life. But I still enjoy it. 

I can only hope that my journey of discovery while I watch this show has been compelling to read, and I’m not stumbling around in the dark too much. 

Anyway, until our next stop in the space train, thanks for reading. 

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