Critic's Log - Earthdate: August 30, 2012. Review #18: The Galaxy Railways
I love Space Operas, I have liked Space Operas since I was a kid back when I first laid my eyes on Star Wars, it was imaginitive and full of adventure, I'll admit that the Star Wars prequels are hit and miss. I also like Star Trek for nearly the same reasons, I also saw a little BSG, you know...Battlestar Galactica. A pretty good show but is fracking mind-boggling. I also like the short-lived TV show Firefly because it is awesome. What does this have anything to do with Anime? Well, there is a man named Leiji Matsumoto that is best-known for introducing The Space Opera into Anime form and some Otakus have seen his previous works and claimed that he brought classics such as Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers in the US), Galaxy Express 999 (999 is pronounced "Three-Nine"), and Captain Harlock. Most Otakus have dubbed that these animes are part of the Leiji-verse, and some people compare his work to Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. Yeah, I think I can agree with that. I am going to start the engines into this review, Let's get all aboard...The Galaxy Railways!
In the distant future, the planets are connected with a massive railway system... Yes, that's right... Trains in Space. I have to admit that is kinda cool. I know Matsumoto-san did this with Galaxy Express 999, but Seriously, I'd like to see more modes of transportation fly into space in fictional terms, did anyone see the opening to the animated film "Heavy Metal"? If you haven't here it is...
Yeah, a Car in Space...Freaking awesome, arguments invalid... I need to get back on topic, The passengers aboard these trains are protected by the Special Defense Force (SDF), and the Space Panzer Grenaiders (SPG). This is the tale of a young man named Manabu Yuuki, a member of the Sirius Platoon within the SDF. He and his crewmates meld together as a team through their encounters with criminals, meteors, hostile aliens, a time vortex, ghosts, and terrorists before defending mankind from its greatest peril yet.
To be technical, this is a spinoff of Leiji Matsumoto's Galaxy Express 999 (so a show about Trains in space was already done before this one came out), and this is a Studio Planet production, and Planet has not done many animes before and since The Galaxy Railways except for the sequel and OVA for this anime. I will give Studio Planet some credit that they have good character designs that people are familiar with that is part of the whole Leiji-verse, the character designs are mostly good but has some weird quirks, the animation has big problems. Get used to seeing a couple of short clips over and over and over. not only are there certain scenes recycled, the quality of the animation almost looks terrible. And that is blamed on some of the effects that are used in this anime. To make a long story short, It's BAD! I wish the animation was this show's only problem but it sadly isn't...
The music is mostly forgettable but the composer should at least get a few mentions, Nozomi Aoki has composed some of Matsumoto-san's works and also composed the music for Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken). I don't see how that is relevant, but There are some songs I think aren't too bad but I could simply say that the soundtrack isn't listenable. The Opening and Closing Themes are sung by Isao Sasaki (which he was involved with Matsumoto-san's other works in the past). The opening is cheesy, and the closing theme is skippable
The Japanese cast is mostly good in this show but you might want to derail your hopes of expecting a good Dub here. The English Dub is not really that good. It's a real shame too because Voice actors like Chris Patton and Mike McFarland are in the dub but their voices do not fit the characters' personalities one bit. Everyone else is a bit off. If I were you, I'd stick with the subs on this one, it's ten times listenable than the dub. Chris Cason and Mike McFarland were in charge of ADR Direction in this show and this is very likely that this anime is Mike McFarland's low point in his ADR Directing career.
Another problem with this anime are the characters...Most of the characters are not developed too well and some of the characters are just flat out boring. Manabu is a nice young man, but he's kind of a boring protagonist to watch. I'll admit he cares about the welfare of others and he's not completely invincible which actually makes good traits for a good story, Manabu just doesn't change too much and he's almost the same until near the end of this season. Louise is alright and she at least deserves more development in her character. The same goes for Bulge, Bruce, David and Yuki. Bruce was a bit interesting until I found out he dies (DAMN IT!). the Character development really suffers in this show.
The big problem I had with The Galaxy Railways is its story. The story is slow, the story has some unoriginal storytelling. Parts of the story are far-fetched with ideas like the Ghost-Train episode and the episode "Twilight" (That episode really had a far-fetched twist near the end), and the worst of all...The direction of the story makes it feel like the show is going nowhere until the first season starts wrapping up... Let's face it... Yukio Nishimoto doesn't direct much anime and I guess this is one of the few animes he has directed.
Now I will be perfectly honest about this anime, this anime does not have to be at the same level of animes that are on the same level as Fullmetal Alchemist. This applys to most animes out there, there will be Masterpieces, there will be Excellent series, there will be classics, there will be some good ones, there will be some Decent ones, there will be some ok ones, and there will be crappy animes. Now here's a little fun fact about The Galaxy Railways... This anime aired on the same day or night as Fullmetal Alchemist did, they both aired in Japan on October 4, 2003 which is why I mentioned Fullmetal Alchemist earlier. Here's an other coincidence... Both shows had a fifth episode involving a train being hijacked that aired on the same day or night. These two anime are completely different from eachother. But If I were watching both back to back... I would be more interested in watching Fullmetal Alchemist for its storytelling, and characters rather than watch an anime about a Space Defense Force patrolling the Railways in Space that has a story with a slow pace and pointless direction with poor character development. Also, about that Star Trek comment I made in the intro of this review... If I really wanted to compare The Galaxy Railways to a specific Star Trek show... I compare The Galaxy Railways to Star Trek: Enterprise. Enterprise was the weakest Star Trek show besides the Animated Series and The Galaxy Railways is the weakest entry in the "Leiji-verse". I gave up watching this anime after 20 episodes... and I skipped to bits and pieces near the end and It just never got better for my tastes. Worst of all about all the wrap-up... The villian is only around for the last leg of this first season and the villian is one-dimensional and the villian does not save the show's problems at all... I almost find it hard to believe a second season was made and I sure as hell hope it's ten times better than this first season.
The Galaxy Railways is available from Funimation. The second season called "Crossroads to Eternity" has not been licensed as of yet although some people have expressed interest in seeing the second season, no word has been mentioned if Funimation will license Season Two or not. An OVA which is set inbetween the two seasons called "The Letter from the Abandoned Planet" also has not been licensed as of yet.
With that said, The Galaxy Railways had potential with its imaginative premise, even though it is a spinoff of Galaxy Express 999. it suffers with a slow story, poor character development, and animation that could have been ten times better if they had either the budget for it or having put a lot of effort into it. If you really like Leiji Matsumoto's stuff, By all means... Check this show out if you want. If you are just looking for an anime to watch. This one you might not want to hop aboard on...
I give The Galaxy Railways a 4.9 out of 10, it is NOT REALLY GOOD!
Feel free to leave a comment. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna watch Heavy Metal, then watch some episodes of Star Trek and then watch Cowboy Bebop and Firefly so I don't have to think of this boring schlock of a poor excuse of a Space Opera.