Anime review: The Galaxy Railways
Status: abandoned after 4 episodes (of 26)
In the future, all interstellar travel will happen by train. No tracks, mind you, but trains nonetheless. Even some steam powered ones. Step away from reality for a moment and just go with it.
Anyway, traveling on the galactic railways is far more dangerous than a train ride in the old west – they didn’t have meteors and aliens back then – thus the ‘Space Defense Force’. Our hero, Manabu, has seen both his father and brother killed in the service and despite the entreaties of his mother, enlists. The show follows his adventures and those of the passengers of the Galaxy Railways.
Watching this show is more like traveling through time than space. It takes me back to when the concept of trains in space wasn’t that freaky at all. At first, this show was an awesomely good time, especially the character designs, outfits and space mecha battles. But then, by episode 3, I realized that creator Leiji Matsumoto is not doing this for a bit of retro fun, like my favourite current show Gurren Lagann. I’m afraid the guy never actually left the 70s.
This really hit home after the very strong first episode, when the series seemed to slow right down into the old “lost father” storyline, a mainstay of 70s and 80s anime. After seeing this done so many times, it just doesn’t have that much of an emotional impact anymore. Other clichés of old anime, like the brash and overly emotional characters, also wear thin after a while.
But the main reason I was so disappointed with GR was the low production value of the show. The intro music has a cheesy, over the top singer, but I get the feeling that Leiji didn’t intend for this to be ironic. The rest of the show’s music sounds stock quality and is truly awful and usually inappropriate for the scene. In terms of the animation, there’s a lot of digital freezes and re-used sequences that while giving the show a retro feel, end up looking more cheap than ironic. There’s even a very puzzling moment of not at all erotic fanservice in episode three that is so gratuitous, it feels hamfisted. And then there’s this long flashback to the powerful events of episode one in episode three. Dude, I’m not that forgetful.
By episode four, the show seemed to have no purpose or plot and I lost interest. It’s a shame because I LOVED Interstella 5555, which, by replacing dialogue with dance music, took that same old same old Leiji Matsumoto story and breathed new life into it. The best I can say for Galaxy Railways is that it would make a great introduction for a retro anime newbie who can’t get her hands on Space Battleship Yamato. Yeah, the one about the giant boat in space.