Galaxy Express 999
Around the 90's the SciFi Channel started up, they started showing some older anime. And it was either them or another channel, early in the mornings, that would show an early anime called Gigantor, which I enjoyed. I'd tape them on my VCR, along with some Jerry Anderson films, like Captain Scarlet, and rewatch them later. It was very cool to discover all this SF related stuff that was unknown to me. It wasn't until later a friend loaned me a copy of Robotech: The Macross Saga that I became more inquisitive about manga and anime. The anime was harder to find, mind you this was before PCs and the internet, so about the only way to find some of it was mail order, attending a con, or shopping out of town mostly.
But also around the same time, the SciFi Channel started showing other anime, like Akira, Robot Carnival, Urusei Yatsura (Lum), Vampire Hunter D, Twilight of the Cockroaches, Dominion: Tank Police that I started to see that this Japanese animation had a lot of depth to it. It has only expanded and grown throughout the years, and grown into its own. I'd pick up and buy some anime along the way too like My Friend Totoro, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds, Phoenix 2772, The Dagger of Kamui, The Castle of Cagliostro, Lensmen, Roujin Z, Odin, Venus Wars, and some other stuff. I just recently picked up Evangelion: 1.11 You Are Not Alone the two-disc special edition, and love it. I'm still finding stuff all these years later that delight me. Some I like more than others, and I tend to enjoy the SF stuff more, but I'm open minded as you never know what you'll discover.
After high school, Matsumoto joined the flow of young artist into the burgeoning Tokyo comics industry, and like many of them he began drawing romances with with starry-eyed heroines for girls' comic magazines. During this period he married the pioneering woman artist Miyako Maki. The first work that brought Matsumoto real attention was in 1970, Otoko Oidon (I Am A Man), published in the boys' weekly Shonen Magazine. It was a comedy story of a student without a school, and young adults loved it. It's about a semipathetic, humorously drawn hero, it's loving attention to the details of daily life, and its sexy female supporting characters became a trademark of Matsumoto comics.
Matsumoto's real fame has subsequently come from science fiction comics and anime. In 1974, he worked on directing and designing the animated television series Uchu Senkan Yamato (Space Cruiser Yamato or Star Blazers in the US) and created a comic story of the same name. When it was later released as a theatrical feature, it triggered an unparalleled animation boom among children and adults, with billion-dollar implicatins for merchandising firms and comic publishers. In the wake of Yamato, Matsumoto has created a string of science fiction comics with animation tie-ins, notably Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, and Sennen Joo (or Queen Millennia). The Japanese market much like the American market have a tendency to milk the mark of demands, so these stories are first manga, then animate for TV, and then selected for theaters, along with endless sequels if the market still has the demand.
So what is so special about Matsumoto's work? Through plotting, pacing, and his artwork, he is able to create a lyrical mood that's appealing universally--a muted feeling of melancholy and pathos that pervades even his comedy stories. A lot of his male fans are ecstatic in their praise of his lavish detailing of what Japanese call meka, or mechanisms, and machinery--his depictions of spaceships, railroad engines, airplanes, guns, and gadgetry have a romantic aura about them that few other artist can achieve.
One of the things that holds true about the soundtrack to Galaxy Express 999 is that it too has this sense of romanticism or a tone-painted quality to it, much like the dream-like imagery of classical composers like Debussy and perhaps Ravel. Also I couldn't help but also think of the electronic composer, Isao Tomita,, who has created such beautiful works like Snowflakes Are Dancing, Holst: The Planets, The Bermuda Triangle, etc.
Galaxy Express 999 is a retelling of the manga and TV series, about a young boy (Tetsuro) in the future who witnesses the murder of his mother by some robots. He is determined to avenge her death, and to do this he must be changed into a robot himself on a far distant planet, Andromeda, where he will be given his eternal robot body . He must ride the Galaxy Express to get there, which stops at many different ports in space along the way, and he encounters many new characters along his adventure. Before he leaves earth he meets a young woman who says she can aid him in his quest, whose name is Maetel. Also along his way young Tetsuro grows up some, and learns many things about life. I really enjoyed it, and although the Youtube video looks like it came from a VHS copy as it's just not very clean, I would love to own a copy on DVD. I imagine the picture quality is much enhanced. It's a great anime from the 70's.