Galaxy Railways OVA (First Half): Connecting the Dots
The existence of this 4 part OVA allegedly serves two purposes:
1) To provide a transition between the first and second seasons of Galaxy Railways.
2) To link the Galaxy Railways franchise with the Galaxy Express 999 franchise.
I haven’t watched the second season of GR so I won’t be able to comment specifically on the first aspect, except to point out that at the very beginning of the OVA we are introduced to Killian Black, Bruce’s replacement in Sirius Platoon. I figure he is a regular throughout the second season…
GE 999 is of course one of my favorite topics, and so I have lots to say on the second purpose. But first a mini-summary of the first two parts of this OVA [which is for all intents and purposes a feature-length film divided into 4 parts]:
The 999, empty except for its Conductor, Maetel and Tetsuro, approaches the planet Herise [pronounced as the English words “he” and “rise” consecutively]. There used to be a Galaxy Railways station at Herise, but something dreadful happened (a catastrophe related somehow to the phenomenon of Time) and the GR station was moved to the planet’s moon. But on this trip the 999 is sucked into Herise’s atmosphere and crash lands there. Sirius Platoon is dispatched to the rescue. Once Layla Destiny Shula realizes that whatever is going on has to do with Herise’s Time mystery, she orders Sirius Platoon to pull back. Manabu and Killian both manage to stay behind. Tetsuro and Maetel are both on the planet surface as well…
As you can probably tell from the summary, it’s actually very easy to integrate GR and GE 999 together because they are already in the same universe to begin with. The 999 is a Galaxy Railways train, and it stands to reason that an SDF platoon would be sent to help it whenever it is in distress. In fact, what doesn’t make sense in retrospect is how come the SDF didn’t show up throughout all the trouble the 999 had in the Andromeda Arc!! Granted, you would have needed to double the SDF personnel ( and raise their salaries) in order to take care of the 999…it’s a very accident-prone vehicle 😀
I’ll just list my comments as the interesting incidents appear, and let me make it clear that as I write this I’ve only watched the first two parts:
1:00 – Maetel is wearing a blue dress, not her standard black.
The best discussion I have seen on Maetel’s dresses is from the Japanese site Planet Maetel [here]. The writer there describes Maetel’s dress color as changing according to the following chronological pattern:
white (Maetel Legend) → wine-red (Space Symphony Maetel) → blue (Cosmo Warrior Zero) → black (Galaxy Express 999)
The writer’s interpretation is as follows:
1) white means she is pure when she begins her journey
2) wine-red means she has peaked in youthful vitality
3) blue means she has acted on that vitality
4) black means she regrets her actions and repents
My own interpretation is similar, but I tend to think in terms of her relationship with her mother:
1) white means she is innocent and supports her mother 100%.
2) wine-red means she has rebelled against her mother Promethium (notice Emeraldas already wears wine-red in Maetel Legend; she was rebellious from a young age)
3) blue means she is sad at having betrayed her mother (at the end of Space Symphony Maetel)
4) black means she is finally resolved/resigned to betray and destroy as much as is necessary in order to beat Promethium.
Now, the fact that Maetel is wearing a blue dress in this OVA pretty much demolishes either of these two schemes. As we will see below, the events here are taking place in the same time frame as the Eternal Fantasy Arc of GE 999, in which according to our schemes Maetel should be wearing black….unless! Since Promethium has already been defeated maybe Maetel has a fifth fashion stage where she reverts back to a blue dress as in # 3. Incidentally, my favorite Maetel dress is the Space Symphony one. Let me mention that Planet Maetel doesn’t mention GR here so I don’t know what the writer’s ideas are on this score.
2:00 – The ontological status of Layla Destiny comes into question again.
This came up briefly in the first season of GR. There is a Layla Destiny, there is a Shula, and there is a Layla Destiny Shula. Layla Destiny Shula is one and two (Layla, Shula) at the same time. Here we have a great scene where three Executioners show up and Layla Destiny complains she didn’t summon them. They reply that Shula summoned them. Now, in Japanese people can use the name of a person instead of the 2nd person singular, so there is an ambiguity here that is very difficult to capture in English and other languages. At one level, the Executioners could simply mean “You called us” (and this is how the subs I’m reading translate it) but they could also mean “Shula (and not you) called us.” There is no right way to translate this because either way you go you’re losing some of this deliberate ambiguity [it’s almost like quantum mechanics and how interpretation collapses possibilities]. I hope we get more insight into Layla Destiny Shula’s quiddity in the second season!
By the way, I see the three Executioners as the three Fates (Moirae/Parcae/Norns).
8:00 – Tetsuro gives Manabu a run for his money.
I love this because it shows respect for GE 999 and the image of Tetsuro Hoshino. After all, Tetsuro is by rights an intergalactic hero at this point. He played a big role in smashing the Mechanization Empire!! Now he’s crash landed on Herise, then fallen from a flying platform when trying to rescue the Conductor, then wandered through the forest without nourishment for god knows who long, and he’s still capable enough to almost kill two SDF members. It would have been so easy for the show’s writers to have Manabu, the star of the GR franchise, kick his butt, but they didn’t. They showed Tetsuro the respect that he’s deserved. Nice.
10:00 – Louis’ dialogue with Manabu is painfully realistic.
Louis loves Manabu, and the dialogue here shows that. The psychological subtlety in the sequence is superb. Louis tries to show a particular attitude toward Killian in order to make clear her feelings for Manabu. Manabu is clueless. So Louis makes it more explicit. And Manabu is still clueless. Haven’t we all been there?
Also, Louis comments on how Manabu’s brother boarded the 999 when he left Tabito to join the GR. Planet Maetel mentions this great little fact: if you look at the ending credit scene in the very first episode of GR, you can actually see Tetsuro and Maetel in silhouette as Manabu says goodbye to his brother. It goes by very quickly, but isn’t it just cool? I didn’t notice that when I first watched it. Here:
13:00 – The 999 Conductor is Killian’s father.
WHAT?? It’s a lovely revelation. And Killian’s surname makes more sense to me now. I imagine he’s adopted. As silly as the connection looks, I liked the scene and the buildup to it. Killian’s attitude toward the 999 was as incomprehensible to me as the Herise/Time issue is. At least one of the mysteries has been resolved!
14:00 – A dazed Tetsuro mistakes Yuki Sexaroid for Maetel.
OK, whenever this happens in the Leijiverse it’s funny. But it’s also serious business. There are three layers to cases of mistaken identity (usually of women) in the Leijiverse:
1) The similarity in appearance between characters as drawn by L. Matsumoto (non-diegetic)
2) The similarity in appearance between characters as acknowledged by other characters in the show (diegetic)
3) A causal link behind the similarity in appearance between characters (diegetic)
All three layers may factor in. The classic example is the resemblance between Tetsuro’s mother and Maetel. Here:
1) Matsumoto draws Tetsuro’ mother and Maetel with similar traits.
2) Tetsuro thinks Maetel looks a lot like his mother.
3) Maetel states that she’s been made to resemble Tetsuro’s mother.
So the question now is whether Yuki Sexaroid’s resemblance to Maetel (which already partakes of layers (1) and (2)) has a causal link. I’m very, very curious, especially since Yuki seemed to react strangely when she heard Tetsuro mutter Maetel’s name in his troubled sleep…
15:00 – Tetsuro has an Earth ←→ Eternal 999 pass.
This is significant because it confirms the fact that Tetsuro and Maetel are currently in the Eternal Fantasy Arc, and not in the classic Andromeda Arc.
19:00 – Tetsuro agrees with me and convinces Manabu to take a stand.
I wrote in my last post on the first season of GR about the scary corporate side to the Galaxy Railways story. Here it comes to a head very nicely. Killian staying on Herise makes sense because of family reasons. Sirius Platoon’s lack of obedience at the end of the first season made sense because of the pressing Alfort invasion. The insubordination could thus be ultimately justified as being pro-Galaxy Railways. But here Manabu, prompted by Tetsuro, makes an ethical decision against the orders of the Galaxy Railways that is not as easily justifiable. But it’s what heroes do. And that’s awesome. Tetsuro’s criticism of the GR and the SDF as machine-like is very cutting!!!