Galaxy Express 999
, Episodes 27-35
It's as a thought-provoking travelogue that GE999 is at its best (it's a bit like Kino's Journey
to destroy the hopes and dreams of children) and on that front, this batch of episodes is actually pretty good. We've got fracking world, which sees an old mercenary return to his beloved home planet to find it's been ecologically devastated, who ultimately comes to the conclusion that Tetsuro was better off hating his home planet, because at least he can never be heartbroken over what happens to it. Cheery.
We have cannibal world, where the morality of cannibalism is examined much more reasonably than the subject probably warrants. It's interesting but no longer surprising that Maetel seems more well disposed towards cannibals (whom she even discovers in the act of cooking Tetsuro in an oven) than she has been towards other far less morally repellent people. We travel to ghost world, where the spirits of the dead hang around the remains of their destroyed planet trying to possess people so they can live out the dreams that were cut short in life:
You gotta pay the troll toll.
And then we've got episodes like Tarzan world (which I honestly zoned out during) gold-plated world (where everything is gold plated and non-gold plated people are discriminated against in a rather unnecessarily convoluted metaphor for racism) and the Planet of Screws, where they make screws and everything's made of screws. What adventures does Tetsuro get up to on the Planet of Screws, you ask? Well:
For ****'s sake. However, the same plot device being used for what feels like about the 20th time doesn't actually detract so much from this one, which is quite clever on several levels, with the machine-like world making allusions to Tetsuro's feelings regarding obtaining a machine body and even hints at things to come:
But this is GE999, and it can't resist the urge to leave things on a bleak note. For making the unique screw that allows the 999 to continue on its journey, what does poor Spiral, the indebted machine-woman stuck making the same screws all day every day for ever (because she's now immortal) receive? A pass to ride the train? A couple of those bags of gold the passengers inexplicably receive for travel expenses (which seem to have been forgotten about recently) to pay off her debts? Nope, she gets a sense of satisfaction in her work so she can carry on making screws for eternity.
The ride, truly, never ends.