Go to contents

A lesson from the Galaxy Express 999

Posted March. 28, 2017 07:30,   

Updated March. 28, 2017 07:35


Japanese people have a special affection for trains. When a sleeping car express train between Osaka and Sapporo retired in March 2015, some 3,500 people gathered to say goodbye to the train. Japan is estimated to have around 2 million train fans including those who take train photos or collect train souvenirs and the size of the related industry is around at 4 billion yen.

The Galaxy Express 999, a Japanese animation with a background of space, shows a train that looks like a steam engine but runs faster than light, instead of a spaceship. The protagonist is a 10-year-old boy who lost his mother and gets on the train with the help of a blond woman named Maetel. It is about a journey to the final destination of Andromeda that makes a human into a robotic human that lives forever. The animation was first released in a magazine in series in 1977 and then made into an animation film for TV and theaters. It was first aired on TV in Korea in 1981 and then aired again in 1996 and 2009. “The train runs through darkness and crosses the Galaxy, the sunlight pours into the space station.” Many in the 40s and 50s used to have a dream about space singing along the theme song of “The Galaxy 999.”

Japanese manga artist Leiji Matsumoto, 79, visited Korea to celebrate a special exhibition of the animation marking the 40th year since the release. While the story covers somewhat difficult topics like life and death, eternity and limitedness, and humans and machines, the protagonist in the animation finally chooses a human life, instead of a human machine. “If you were to live forever, you would not live your life to the fullest,” Leiji said. The lesson from the Japanese animation still resonates with people as we will soon live in an era of artificial intelligence.

“The Cat that Lived a Million Times” is a Japanese picture book about a cat that lived and died one million times. The cat had never cried while living one million years as he did not know emotions such as sadness, parting and a sense of loss. It finally wailed after another cat that he loved died. As living a life without feeling the meaning of one’s life means nothing, the cat gives up on its 101st reincarnation. Living only once without regret, instead of an eternal life, would probably the precious lesson that the protagonist and the cat learned.