GE 999 021: Dead Leaves, Living Dreams
So here I was merrily watching/blogging Space Pirate Captain Harlock when my new-found source for the episodes dries up on me. And then I think: well, this means I’ll have to put the series in hiatus, but it also means I can resume watching/blogging Galaxy Express 999, which I left off after 20 episodes. I watch episodes 21 and 22, and then decide to rewatch 22 ’cause it was so awesome. Alas, my disk won’t work.
So here is my post for episode 21. At some point I will continue with both series, I promise 😦
Episode 21 brings us to two quick stops on the 999 route. The planet Ballera is full of holes like Swiss cheese. Gravity is very low and people and animals fly about subsisting on agriculture within the planet. Quite frankly, that’s all there is to say about Ballera.
The Tombstone of Dead Leaves is all that remains of another planet. This one was full of vegetation but for some reason the planet was destroyed [disintegrated?] and the dead leaves make a huge ring around the old orbit of the planet. A passenger from that lost planet meets Tetsurô and Maetel. The man is mechanized, but the actual metallic part is very small and he is mostly composed of wood, which is cheap around those parts.
Later on he sacrifices himself to keep the 999 running. Just before dying he bequeaths Tetsurô with all of his belongings, and it is then that the boy finds out two things: a) the man from the forested planet was an artist and b) before mechanization he looked like this:
Hmmm. Where I have seen that dude before?????
Oh yeah, that’s right.
Now, what’s interesting is Maetel’s and Tetsurô’s discussion around the question: “What were the man’s motivations?” Tetsurô thinks that maybe the man didn’t see a need to live on because he had already lost his home planet. Then he “realizes” that the fellow should have just moved to another place, like Ballera for example. Maetel’s retort “well, what if Ballera was destroyed?” is followed up by a new solution on the boy’s part: let’s just mechanize planets and that way they’ll exist forever!
This simple dialogue is quite rich in its implications: the mechanization of planets is a logical step, and one that broods darkly over Tetsurô’s trip without him knowing it. The specific link between the wooden artist man and Leiji Matsumoto throws more light into the concept of “losing your home planet”. I’ve argued before that Matsumoto feels that way about the new Japan…