Galaxy Express 999 Introduction
"Galaxy Express 999" is one of the most renowned work by Leiji Matsumoto ("Yamato" ("Star Blazer") was not his original creation despite the popular belief) in Japan. The comic started in 1977, and TV animation was broadcasted in 1978 - 1981, consisting of 113 episodes. Two movies were released in 1979 (Galaxy Express 999) and 1981 (Adieu Galaxy Express 999). It is probably the best to hear how Matsumoto describes it.
"The main goal I had in my mind in starting "Galaxy Express 999" comic series is to make the story which represents the word "Farewell, The Days of Boyhood." (appear as the final narration in the "Galaxy Express 999" movie). As a contents, I wanted to tell the a boy's growing-up story. The number "999" in the title signifies that "one more to 1000" meaning just one more step away from turning into a grown-up adult. This is the story of traveling the final stage of boyhood."
"At first, the idea was created as an animation product. So I had a vision in my mind that in the beginning, "999" lands the planet (station), and when the story ends, "999" takes off again from the planet. I wanted to make the each story using that same repetitive pattern. Therefore, the work was relatively very easy for me to createbecause of that visualization. Some episodes were taken from my own experience or from what I heard from other people; some are happy, sad, and upsetting"
"Right before the starting of "999" comic, I took a trip, stopping by in Africa and India. The experiences I had there were also incorporated into creation of "999". If I didn't go to that trip, "999" would be quite a different story. That trip really changed my perspectives."
"Implementing SL (Steam Locomotive) is
influenced by the Kenji Miyazawa's story "Ginga Tetsudou
No Yoru" (The Night of Galaxy Express), and also by the environment
I was raised. My parents' home was very nearby the railroad, and
a locomotive kept passing by every day. Back then there were not
as many street lights, so when the locomotive was passing by in
the pitch black surrounding with fire, it almost looked like the
locomotive was running in the space. Eventually I started fantasizing
of the locomotive taking off to the sky as a kid. That's
the very beginning of the "999" idea."
"The taking off scene of "999" in the movie was also influenced by my own experience. When I moved from Kyushu (Matsumoto's hometown) to Tokyo to become a comic cartoonist, I came up with the visualization of "999" in the locomotive to the Tokyo myself. Therefore, the first "999" movie is something I can create only once in my lifetime."
"Incidentally, during "999" TV series planning, it was proposed to make the story with new style train "Bullet Line" Most of the opinions were that 'Steam Locomotive is no longer trendy, and the series should be made with something newer' However, I refused to make "999" with nothing but Steam Locomotive. I insisted that without it, I am no longer willing to either create or draw "999"."
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