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Ginga tetsudô Three-Nine (1979)

The adventures of a brave young boy who travels from planet to planet in a determined quest to avenge his mother's death.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tetsurô Hoshino (voice)
Masako Ikeda ...
Maetel (voice)
Yôko Asagami ...
Claire (voice)
Miyoko Asô ...
Tochirô's Mother (voice)
Toshiko Fujita ...
Shadow (voice)
Banjô Ginga ...
Captain of the Guard (voice) (as Takashi Tanaka)
Yasuo Hisamatsu ...
Antares (voice)
Captain Harlock (voice)
Tatsuya Jô ...
Narrator (voice)
Ryôko Kinomiya ...
Queen Promethium (voice)
Kaneta Kimotsuki ...
Conductor (voice)
Doctor Ban (voice)
Noriko Ohara ...
Ryûzu / Mîmé (voice)
Ryûji Saikachi ...
Bartender (voice)
Hidekatsu Shibata ...
Kikai Hakushaku (Count Mecha) (voice)


Tetsuro Hoshino, orphaned by the Cyborgs, lives in a slum in the shadow of their megapolis. He steals a pass for Galaxy Express 999, and is saved by a mysterious woman called Maitre, a living image of his mother who had been killed by the Cyborgs. Wearing a special pendant, he sets out for Andromeda where he can obtain eternal life and avenge his parents' death. On his odyssey, he meets a gallery of fantastic characters that help him exterminate the evil Star of Andromeda which had been giving mechanical bodies to rich human beings. Written by L.H. Wong <lhw@sfs.org.sg>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Your imagination is the final destination.


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 August 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Galaxy Express 999: The Signature Edition  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The length of the Galaxy Express 999 is inconsistent. A car count reveals that the number of cars varies from shot to shot. See more »


Referenced in Citizen Hong Kong (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Childhood's End
28 September 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

For people like me, growing up was a gradual process which made me take my time, having all the joys as any kid would have but being aware and learn what it meant to be an adult. Sure I'm an adult now but I still feel young inside, and that's the same with a lot of us. This is one of my favorite anime movies and films in general.

Based on the long running Manga series/TV series, Leiji Matsumoto always knew how to create Space Operas, the unique thing about them other than the vast fascinating universes he's created he always had human emotion attached to them.

The music is just superb, my favorite song no doubt is the ending theme song which is just wonderful. The animation I think is solid, though it may look a little dated but you have to consider this was in the 1970s so you get use to it. But I feel it successful captures a epic pulp sci-fi romanticism that's reminiscent of "Flash Gordon" comics and TV shows like "Space 1999" and "Doctor Who" as we see the endless depth and wonders it has from the different worlds and their features and customs as well as a mix in genre; heroic space pirates and those wonderful ships they roam the galaxy in, a world that looks like something out of a western, locomotives that fly, and others you have to see to believe. It's true there a lot of logic is thrown out the window but the charm of all pulp sci-fi it's not concerned about logic just on creative freedom and that's not a bad thing and something I don't see often anymore.

And the film is pretty dark, the fact that humans can buy themselves immortality but the price is their own bodies in exchange for mechanical ones. The mechanical bodied characters look disturbingly creepy almost reminds me those creepy silver faced robot cops from George Lucas's "THX-1138". The creepiest and saddest moment for me and to be Tesuros' journey to Pluto where he sees an ice cemetery filled mostly with human beings that traded their bodies all preserved in ice. Thsi part reminded me of one of Dante's Circles of Hell as well as demonstrates the fundamental problem with immortality.

I like the characters, it has two great supporting characters that both had anime franchises of their own. Captain Harlock sort of a John Wayne/Clint Eastwood like character and Queen Emeraldas whom was one of the first femme fatales in the anime world. However two unforgettable characters are Tesuro and Matel. Both of them you feel a deep sense of pathos for, you love them but you also feel sad for what troubles them. Tesuro isn't a stereotypical all smiles kid but actually feels like any other kid his age, however he has a troubled past from the fact his mother was killed out of sick amusement by the machine antagonist Count Mecha which is a scene that's heart wrenching and put tears in my eyes, this is the subplot of the film. But Tesuro also has desires to make his dreams of journeying out among the stars come true but to do this he feels immortality is the only way. Matel is a living enigma throughout the whole film she's almost has that dream like quality of a girl we had in our dreams that feels so close but so far. She is a warm yet detached presence, sweet but you see in her eyes and from what she says and doesn't that there is a deep sadness residing in her like she knows more than Tesuo and we can imagine.

I really like the chemistry between both of them, I don't really feel a mother and son dynamic from them but is sort of a Freudian coming of age love story for both of them. There are Freaudian overtones the fact Matel looks a little like his mom it pertains to the psychology that our significant others we love would remind us or even physically resemble a family member. Some pieces of conversation we see at time Tesuo desires to kiss her and even throughout the journey Tesuo become more mature and doesn't even feel like a kid anymore but a man, even Matal cares for him more than just a friend (trust me it's not so strange once you find out her secret which makes it okay).

This story has sort of a Philip K Dick like philosophical meditation on life and death and the importance of being human. We see why there is a reason why people have a limited amount of time in their lives, no one can ever truly live as an immortal because then life loses all meaning as well as make the human soul lose value; it's always what we do with our limited amount of time that truly makes us live forever.

Galaxy Express isn't just an anime it's an experience. A journey from Childhood's End, destiny and beyond.

Rating: 4 stars

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