Leijiversalia: New Pie Chart and a Tetsuroesque Voice
I did a pie chart in March 2009, trying to break down the Leijiverse into cycles (Harlockverse, Maetelverse and others). Back then I excluded the Yamato franchise, and subsequently I’ve admitted that that was a mistake. So I went ahead and did a new one. This is a breakdown of all of the Leiji Matsumoto anime I could find (almost exactly 300 hours worth of stuff!). My definition of what constitutes a Leijiversal work has expanded: although I still would make some distinctions when it comes to the manga (e.g. excluding Matsumoto’s shoujo works from the Leijiverse) , when it comes to the animation I am including EVERYTHING.
This new pie chart looks radically different. My taxonomical principle was to group together animated works revolving around the same hero or the same crew.
I first began by grouping together anime which revolved around Captain Harlock and Maetel. This means, for example, that I didn’t include Gun Frontier in the Harlock category because the Harlock there is not Captain Harlock but his ancestor. I also didn’t include Cosmo Warrior Zero in the Harlock category because as much as Harlock features there, the series revolves around Warrius Zero and his crew. Then I introduced a category for works revolving around the crew of the Yamato, which ended up being very large.
Finally I had to create more and more categories. I decided that a series of related works (meaning, works revolving around a particular hero or crew) would have its own category if it exceeded 20 hours of animation in total. As it turns out, no potential group falling under 20 hours exceeded 10 hours, so the category system is almost natural. Each of the categories includes over 20 hours of animation, and the Other category includes standalone series and smaller groupings that never reach 10 hours each.
Here it is:
The Maetelverse remains the biggest chunk. The entire Galaxy Railways group is actually derived from the classic GE 999 concept, so if you were to put those together it’d be a whole third of Matsumoto animation! Add Millennial Queen, which revolves around Maetel’s mother and you get 40%! Danguard Ace and Starzinger, which I know absolutely nothing about, take up a fifth of the entire pie. Looking at something like this I think we can all agree that the Leijiverse is a vast and complicated space…
Watching Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dog, I was struck by Noriko Sengoku’s voice and how it sounded so much like the classic Tetsuro. Kurosawa filmed four consecutive films with the same three actors in important roles, the film titles being Drunken Angel (1948), Quiet Duel (1949), Stray Dog (1949) and Scandal (1950), and the actors being Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Noriko Sengoku. This was not a planned series in any way; Kurosawa had his stable of actors and he used and reused them. For example his next film Rashomon would have the first two actors but would lack Sengoku. The interesting thing is that if you follow the four films you find almost an organic development in the relationships that the three characters (played by these actors) have with each other across stories.
So I know you’re all very busy people but whenever you have a chance I recommend watching these movies. At least the first three, as Scandal is rather skippable. Below you can listen to Sengoku and tell me if you don’t think she could have done a great Tetsuro. Sengoku, by the way, has had a prolific and successful career and is currently retired.