Galaxy Express 999Galaxy Express 999 is a manga written and drawn by Leiji Matsumoto, as well as various anime films and TV series based on it.
The story is set in a space-faring, high-tech future, where mechanized people with "machine bodies" are pushing humanity towards irrelevance and extinction. A street urchin named Tetsuro Hoshino desperately wants an indestructable machine body so that he can avenge the death of his mother, who was hunted down for sport by the robotic Count Mecha. While machine bodies are impossibly expensive, they are supposedly given away for free on the planet Andromeda, the end of the line for the space train Galaxy Express 999. Tetsuro meets up with a beautiful woman, Maetel (sometimes translated "Maeter", both from the Latin mater for mother), who is the spitting image of his dead mother. Maetel offers him passage on 999 if he will be her traveling companion. Tetsuro agrees.
Along the way, he meets many machine people, including Count Mecha himself, whom Tetsuro kills with a gun given to him by Maetel. Increasingly, Tetsuro realizes that a machine body won't fix all of his problems. In fact, most of the machine people he meets regret the decision to give up their humanity. Most pathetic of all is Crystal Clare, who works abord 999. Her body, always nude, is a beautiful clear crystal, yet she longs for the warmth of a human touch, like Tetsuro's.
It is also strongly implied that Maetel has a machine body, as she visits her human body on Pluto, where discarded human bodies are encased in ice in a giant planetary tomb. Yet Maetel also says she has been endlessly travelling with young men like Tetsuro; the nature of her character is perhaps the deepest mystery of the series.
Characters from other Matsumoto works appear in GE999, notably Captain Harlock, Emeraldas, and the cast of Space Battleship Yamato (aka Star Blazers), and vice versa, creating a shared continuity often called the "Leijiverse".
Unapologetically melodramatic, with highly episodic morality-tale stories, Galaxy Express 999 has a philosophy perhaps closer to that of Friedrich Nietzsche or Ayn Rand than the eastern mysticism often found in anime.
In 1985, Roger Corman produced an English-language dub of the first GE999 movie, which changed the character names, saddled some with ridiculous accents, and subverted much of the story. A later dub, titled Galaxy Express 999: The Signature Edtion, is more true to the source material.
In 1996, Matsumoto began a new GE999 series, set a year after the original, in which the Earth is destroyed and Tetsuro sets out to discover the source of the "darkness" that threatens all life in the universe.
Footage from the movies and TV series was used to create two North American video games, the laserdisc-based arcade game "Freedom Fighter", and the CD-i home game "Escape from Cyber-City".