GE 999 030-032: Between Two Galaxies
Tetsuro is kidnapped by ghosts, former denizens of planet Filament, which was destroyed by its Sun in the past. One of the ghosts is a kid who had just gotten his mechanical body when the catastrophe occurred. His mother (also a ghost) wants her boy to go into Tetsuro’s body and live on, but the boy is an ethical lad and he refuses.
The planet was called Filament, and now gaseous filaments or tendrils expand from its ruins into space. This is another case of how planetary names in the Leijiverse tend to contain the world’s doom within them (classic example being LaMetal, a planet that ends up being turned into pure metal).
The interesting thing is how much this episode seems to be a prototype for the Galaxy Railways series. The most obvious factor is the presence of the SDF in the episode (though here they are easily defeated by the ghosts and decide to retreat!). But if you’ve seen Galaxy Railways you’ll also remember that ghosts-on-trains is kind of a franchise staple. I can’t help but thinking that in this instance the ghosts are nowhere near as powerful as portrayed, and that the fact that the SDF was beaten off and Maetel was powerless to protect Tetsuro is ultimately the result of a ploy by Maetel to test Tetsuro further.
There is no doubt that this episode is special and that its writers/animators were very aware of the fact.
1) As the 999 descends on Angry Hair Planet, there are already people there targeting Maetel and Tetsuro. This is very unusual. The Mud Planet doesn’t count because there everyone learned about all the 999 passengers on TV.
2) Count Mecha, killed by Tetsuro in the first episode, makes a comeback of sorts. His friend Duke Mecha (Mech in the crunchyroll subs) has hired assassins to avenge his death. [However in the manga, who sent the assassins isn’t clear, and Maetel comments it might be someone who doesn’t want them to reach Andromeda]
3) One of these assassins looks and dresses like Captain Harlock, with an eyepatch and a great scar.
4) Duke Mecha is not vanquished, in fact, he doesn’t even appear in the episode. This sets up a later confrontation on another planet, something Galaxy Express 999 episodes rarely if ever do.
The portrayal of the Angry citizens is really well done. Maetel kicks ass with whips and guns in a black bikini, and an evil mechanical “Harlock” gets destroyed. What else could you ask of a 999 episode?
The corresponding manga chapter begins with an important conversation that is totally cut from the anime. Tetsuro asks Maetel: “Are the Milky Way and Andromeda under one government and the same institutions? Or is each of them under a separate government, and they make alliances and fight each other? Or could it be that each planet has its own government and everything is a mess?”
Maetel doesn’t answer. Tetsuro continues: “How come I have to go all the way to Andromeda to get a mechanical body? Is Andromedan technology that much superior to the Milky Way’s?” Again, Maetel remains silent.
For a kid, these are great questions. From what we’ve seen in the show each planet has its own law but there’s also hints here and there of greater configurations of power. Also, Tetsuro knows that one can get a mechanical body in many planets, because back in the Library Comet he was almost mechanized by a doctor looking to make money. What he’s interested in is why is Andromeda the only place giving out FREE mechanical bodies. And of course one possible answer could be that Andromedan technology is so advanced they can afford to do this. But other answers are also possible, and Maetel isn’t telling.
I love this episode because it does two things very well: a) it shows us a situation that must occur extremely often in a future where interstellar travel is common, namely, the traveler’s return to his home planet after decades far, far away; and b) it presents to us a planet whose condition is so unusual that it’s almost impossible for us not to be surprised when we learn about it.
The episode is very creative and very sad. The one flaw that I could find in it today (in the year 2011) is Edmond’s total lack of knowledge as to what had happened to his planet. Considering how Internet works in our days, it’s hard to conceive of Edmond not sitting down and perusing through Sweetsweet Planet’s electronic newspapers. Then again, maybe he purposefully avoided all news of his home for some reason. Sometimes expatriates do that.
The climactic battle in this episode proves beyond a reasonable doubt (as if we needed it to be proved) that anytime Maetel is “in trouble”, we can safely assume she is faking it. No one can oppose Maetel, and her acrobatics here make that absolutely clear.
The manga adds that the 999 has reached the halfway point between the Milky Way and the Andromedan galaxies.