銀河鉄道999 / Galaxy Express 999 🚄 🌌 (Japanese Film Club)

Sept 1st - Sept 14th

Japanese Film Club Home Thread

TMDB Entry

Known Content Warnings

Death, Implied nudity

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags/hide details to discuss plot events.
  • Feel totally at ease to ask questions or give your thoughts, any time! Someone will probably look at this thread even well after the official period ends.
  • Have fun, and do your best to interpret anything said with as much good faith as possible :slightly_smiling_face:


We keep getting lucky with Youtube movies! This one has English hard burned in, but it seems most people are watching with English subs anyway.

Youtube Link

  • I watched with no subs
  • I watched with Japanese subs
  • I watched with English subs
  • I clicked a poll
0 voters
How would you rate this film?
  • ☆☆
  • ☆☆☆
  • ☆☆☆☆
  • ☆☆☆☆☆
0 voters

Ooh, this is on youtube too! Lucky me.
To anyone who’s seen it though, are there any scenes that might be cut on youtube because of content? (there were several of those in tanpopo apparently, and I like my movies complete if possible)


It’s implied nudity in the same way a naked barbie implies nudity :joy:


Non-spoiler review:

I watched with English subtitles, and would have definitely struggled without them. I had no familiarity with the series before watching this, and didn’t even read the synopsis, haha, so I went into it totally blind.

Overall, I thought it was decent! It’s interesting retroactively noticing its influence in other works that I have seen.

Spoiler review:

I love trains and just the concept of train movies in general, haha, so I loved the basic premise here, with a train that travels through space. I love that they kept the design of it very much like a real actual train, complete with windows that you can just open while the train is traveling through space.

The train and the pirate ship were both totally romanticized designs, but I loved that they went for feel over believable sci-fi physics. It feels like despite all of the sci-fi elements, the core story itself was very grounded in familiar tropes and settings.

There’s a lot of weird sexism and objectification of women in this movie, plus a real freudian twist at the end… That’s probably the only thing that really turned me off of it. The women are either mothers or love interests (or both…) for the men, and none of them are really proper characters in their own right. Unsurprising, considering the time, but still disappointing.

I thought the story of this film felt sort of bigger than it, and it turns out it’s a manga adaptation with an anime and a sequel film as well! I wonder if the story has a bit more room to breathe in the manga/anime. We floated the idea of watching the sequel in the film club discord, and I’d probably tune in if we did, though I don’t think I’d seek it out on my own.


This is really doing Tetsurou a disservice, huh?


Cool to watch a relatively old, classic anime like this. There’s a lot about the visual style that I adore that you just don’t get anymore. This sort of committed adventure story doesn’t totally do it for me, like the themes about humanity are interesting but a little simple, and the plot itself is pretty straightforward, so my attention wavered here and there, but there were lots of creative new ideas that kept pulling me back in. The ice planet is a highlight for sure. Was a fun time overall!

Reasonably doable listening too – I missed a lot of bits but more or less always followed it. I’m already hating that I didn’t give myself more granularity in rating because this fits directly as a 3.5 in my opinion; both 3 and 4 are a little inaccurate for me.


Matsumoto Leiji has been super influential. Battleship Yamato is probably his most influential work inside Japan, but I haven’t seen any of its movies. The original anime is just ok imo. You might enjoy Captain Harlock more. The original anime is much better about female characters although there are several sexist men. The Harlock movies are a mixed bag. There’s a lot of them. I wouldn’t recommend the one that references WWII since it feels like the director has a personal grudge against the American occupation while ignoring the imperialism and war crimes of most countries involved but it was released in the 80s and I wouldn’t recommend the most recent (motion capture) film as an intro to Harlock. It suffers from this century’s gritty darkness trend but the general themes are inline with other Harlock materials (although if you check the reviews you’ll find a lot of people who missed the point as a kid and claim that it’s different from previous Harlock anime). I’ve only previewed the original(?) Harlock manga but I was surprised by it opening with a weird sexscene, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for something that treats women better. Harlock was pretty influential too for probably most things with space pirates so all in all, I’d recommend the original Harlock tv anime if you have the time.

edit: I flipped through my Harlock volume and it does not have the weird scene that I remember. I think I must have seen that odd scene in a different manga by Matsumoto sensei in a BOOKOFF or something :thinking: The original Harlock manga (stylized as Herlock on the cover) might be worth reading


Glad I watched it, but I was disappointed overall. Never really had a chance though. Right away I found myself distracted by cheap animation tricks. Panning static backgrounds and a general lack of keyframes. One of my first notes was to check if this movie was produced for television. It wasn’t, but it felt like it should have been. Apparently these characters come from manga and a TV anime series but according to their wikipedia page this movie was required to be self-contained. Failed pretty hard there, at least, I found myself often asking “who? what? when? huh?” your only friend? I remember Claire meeting Tetsuro, when did they develop a friendship? Somewhere in the clumsy edit? No I figure more probably that was assumed knowledge from prior material. Watching on youtube with baked in English subs was a major distraction and that this sci-fi is one of the “future guns look like blow dryers” type, irked me as well. Then there is a small matter of takes cover not being an avid anime fan. Sure, I have my few and I’ll keep trying but as it turns out Galaxy Express 999 is not my cup of tea.


Especially the old lady that gives them the weapon. She was so hot.

It’s a fun, very distilled movie.

It actually worked pretty well with the time it had.

Though I would like to see the anime version to just see more adventures, since the more adult tone of storytelling is nice.

Pretty chill cinematic experience.


I’m assuming you’re trying to use her as an example to argue against my criticism of the film. It might help to read the rest of the paragraph that I wrote:

I’ll start off by saying sorry for the snark :joy: I chose violence this morning.

To more seriously engage with your criticism I don’t know if the women being either attractive or mothers is an indication of sexism.

It’s not a perfect indicator (just like the Bechdel test is not a perfect indicator of how sexist or feminist a film is), but if a female character’s primary quality is that she is a love interest or a mother to a man, that centers the male character. If every female character in the film is defined primarily by her relationship to a man, then yeah, that does tend to make it sexist (there are certain settings where that is justified, like a film about an all-male prison might not feature many women, but this series doesn’t really have an excuse).

(There actually is one female character in this film that is an exception, which is Maetel’s mother, though she features so briefly in the film and doesn’t really have much of a personality. But her character actually is defined primarily by a relationship to another woman. However, Tetsuro is still centered in the scenes featuring Maetel and her mom.)

The wikipedia page I linked above has a great quote from Virginia Woolf on the matter:

All these relationships between women, I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery of fictitious women, are too simple. … And I tried to remember any case in the course of my reading where two women are represented as friends. … They are now and then mothers and daughters. But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that …

As far as the “women being attractive” part goes, if almost all of the women in the film have basically the same exact body type, and that type is super slim and conventionally attractive (compared to the male characters, who are given much more diverse designs and aren’t all made to look attractive), and if those female characters are the only ones who are ever shown getting naked or having sexually charged interactions, then yes, that does tend to make it sexist.

This is called objectification because these women are treated as objects for the (assumed male) viewer’s sexual desire to act upon, and this is the primary reason for the inclusion of these characters and scenes in the film. If both male and female characters are objectified, I don’t have a problem with it, but when it’s as lopsided as it is in this film, it’s sexist.

It might not stand out to you when you watch films like this, but for me, as someone who isn’t a man, and as an asexual lesbian, it’s really frustrating and alienating to see film after film depict women like this. There’s no space for anyone like me in the world of this film. It’s yet another reminder that the real world doesn’t see a place for people like me in it, either.

The issue is not that this one movie is doing these things. It’s that many movies are doing these things. The Bechdel test is so trivial, it should be an easy bar to clear for the vast majority of movies, and yet, less than half of the films from 1980-2019 pass it.

I like plenty of movies that are sexist in some way, but it always leaves a bitter taste, and it does cause me to dock points from my rating for films. I would have been more forgiving of some of this film’s other faults and more interested in engaging more in its story world if the film had been less sexist. As it stands, I think I agree with Daisoujou that it’s about a 3.5 for me.


But couldn’t that easily just be attributed to Leiji’s art style? They aren’t particularly voluptuous or disproportionate. They’re just slender body types which is kind of the norm unless you’re in a Walmart at 9:30PM on a Tuesday. Then the norm is a scooter and a red cap.

I guess when your only tool is a hammer, everything becomes a nail. It seems like a lot of the criticism is attributing malice (whether consciously or unconsciously) to things that aren’t inherently so. You can probably misconstrue anything into a problematic nightmare.

It might be the case that all the women are mothers or “attractive” which personally I didn’t think that about any of the character designs and Maetel is wearing all black and completely covered in her normal attire, I just really think it’s misguided to attribute a strong label like this on a movie that doesn’t seem to be promoting any ideas that women are lesser. Maetel largely takes charge of the situations they are in and has a leadership role in the film. Even the Mom is kind of a boss is she not? (it’s been a month or 2 since I seen it, so I don’t recall).

The mom that I was joking about earlier is like the one “mom” other than Tetsuro’s who’s Maetel I guess, but I don’t really see that role as being negative as humans the functions of our biology is procreate so it’s not weird that a lot of women are probably moms in this universe too.

While there might be some merit to Virginia Woolf’s observations, they are just observations and not rules. You can see things that way but doesn’t mean they are that way.

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Leiji’s art style is a deliberate choice. He has chosen to depict women a certain way, and to depict men another way. Those choices can be criticized, just as any other creative choice in the film can be criticized. Just compare the female characters to the men.

Tetsuro, the conductor, Antares, Count Mecha, none of these characters are designed to be sexy (and they all have very different body types). Captain Harlock is, maybe, but he never takes off his clothes in the movie, and isn’t presented as a sexual object. He’s instead a character that Tetsuro (and the audience) identify with.

Meanwhile, Maetel, Emeraldas, Claire, Shadow, Tetsuro’s mom, the woman with Count Mecha, all of these characters have basically the exact same body type, which just so happens to be what is considered conventionally attractive. They’re all tall and slim. Many of them also wear revealing clothing, or are shown naked onscreen. The only two female characters that don’t fit this model are the old lady you mentioned, and Maetel’s mother, who are both presented primarily as mothers and aren’t sexualized.

Oh, I have a partial degree in this, so I’ve barely cracked open my toolkit. The criticisms I’ve shared so far are very basic surface-level observations. The Bechdel test is child’s play when it comes to feminist analysis of films. I don’t have the time to really get into it with this film (and also don’t care enough about this film to really criticize it), but there’s so much more that can be said about its depiction of women.

The problem with sexist films is not that one film makes these decisions. It’s that many films do. If this one film were viewed in a vacuum, these problems would simply be one person’s creative choices, but the thing is, we don’t live in a world where these things exist in vacuums. People project their own cultural baggage onto their creative work, which is how you get filmmakers making the same fumbles, repeatedly.

We all have our blind spots. Men often aren’t good judges of what is sexist, just as white people often aren’t good judges of what is racist. It’s a lot easier to ignore a stereotypical depiction when it doesn’t affect you personally.

The reason why stereotypes hurt so much is because we repeatedly see them. It’s not one massively hurtful movie, but hundreds or thousands of movies hurting you over and over again in small ways.

Truthfully, most examples of media are problematic in some way. That doesn’t mean they’re all totally unsalvageable garbage! Criticizing something doesn’t mean that it’s horrible and evil and no one should watch it. Pro wrestling is like my favorite thing on earth right now, and I criticize it literally all the time.

When countless numbers of women are repeatedly observing the same things, over and over again, throughout history, isn’t there a chance that what they’re seeing might in fact be real?


This has got a lot of irony wrapped up in it.

I think stereotypes hurt because we repeatedly say them to the point people start believing they’re true. And that’s where ignorance does its damage.

Humans are pattern recognizing machines, but if I notice a high rate of crime in my area committed by a certain race/gender of people, I would still be wrong to assume that that is an inherent characteristic of being that race/gender, no?

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I had a kind of similar feeling to @fallynleaf in the first place, though didn’t feel like bringing it up at the time. And while this comparison is so… extreme I sorta immediately wanted to back off from it, when I think about it more, maybe it works in one sense. Because the observation of certain groups being arrested and prosecuted more often for crimes is genuinely real. Of course, one has to go look at the real causes – everything from the structure of society setting them up to be impoverished at higher rates to them simply getting more harassed by cops, for example. It’s a real phenomenon, that one has to take a nuanced view of the causes and how to interpret it.

Similarly, I think everything fallynleaf described is real, but it’s good to take care in what we make of that. I mean art is subjective so maybe you think she is emphasizing some aspects of characters over others more than she should, that’s fair, but it’s not like these things she’s talking about don’t have a real basis. The thing is, which I think she’s already done a pretty good job trying to explain – even if we land on “this movie has sexist depictions” it’s just an observation on how the characters are made. It can be the most damning thing or it can not matter at all entirely subjectively, and no one has really called for it to be censored or for the artists to be damned as bad people so can’t we at least entertain the possibility? People read characters differently all the time, and some terminology probably feels emotionally loaded, but it’s really only that.

I don’t think the creators sat down cackling thinking about how they’re gonna knock those damn women down a peg, but surely you would agree with the idea that Japan is a society with some sexist features? Especially multiple decades ago when this was made? It’s surprising any time those attitudes don’t, in some tiny way, leak through into art, as simply a product of the environment in which the artist has developed everything about their style and way of framing the world.


She’s right.

If anyone wants to see more like this movie (maybe without the sexist stuff? It’s been a while), but doesn’t want to commit to 113 episodes, I recommend Kino no Tabi.

As with everything, the original is better liked, but (as I haven’t watched it,) I didn’t see an issue with the new one.

They go through towns instead of planets, but the difference between each of them is big enough to basically be the same.

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Maybe I got off track but I did want to hear her prospective and engage with it. Yes art is subjective. I thought the charge was attributing a lot of malice where there wasn’t but I wasn’t aiming in to change their mind. It’s a movie club, the point is we come at it with different perspective and share them. If we all agreed on everything these threads would be super boring :joy:.

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