The science-fiction anime “Galaxy Express 999” is based on Leiji Matsumoto, which caused a science fiction boom all over Japan in the 1970s and 1980s. The movie version has been upgraded to the latest screening system, “Dolby Cinema version,” enabling clear images and stereophonic sound.
Currently, two feature films, “Galaxy Express 999” and “Goodbye Galaxy Express 999 ~ Andromeda Terminal Station ~”, are being screened at movie theaters nationwide that support “Dolby Cinema,” but they are full or sold out. Even after more than 40 years, one after another, it is still showing its unfading popularity.
“Dolby Cinema” is the latest screening system advocated by Dolby, known for its excellent sound technology such as “Dolby Surround.”
The state-of-the-art HDR video technology “Dolby Vision” realizes high-brightness and high-contrast images with a twin 4K projector. The three-dimensional sound technology “Dolby Atmos” realizes realistic sound by arranging many speakers on the ceiling and walls. The “theater design” is composed of black-based designs from the entrance to the interior and seats so that they are not affected by the light from the outside of the light from the screen as much as possible. These technologies work together to create a sense of immersion in the film.
The theater’s animated movie “Galaxy Express 999” was released in 1979, and the distribution revenue was 1.65 billion yen. It was a huge hit, recording the number one Japanese movie of the year. In addition, the theme song by Godiego caused a social phenomenon, such as winning the highest number 2 on the Oricon chart. Then, in 1981, the sequel “Goodbye Galaxy Express 999 ~ Andromeda Terminal Station ~” was released, which also recorded a big hit with a distribution revenue of 1.15 billion yen.
The stage of the story in the future where humans can obtain eternal life by changing to the body of a machine. Tetsuro Hoshino, who heard the rumor that he could get the body of a machine by riding Galaxy Express 999, got a pass of No. 999 from the mysterious beauty Maetel and headed for a space journey with Maetel.
In this Dolby Cinema version, you can enjoy the outer space depicted in apparent darkness and the production using “transmitted light” unique to Rintaro and the color of the character and the art and background that the film initially had. The details, the dark scenes that could not be seen, etc., are revived.
In 2017, Toei Animation (Toei Animation at the time of production), which worked on “Galaxy Express 999”, started a project to remaster past works in 4K (3840 x 2160 resolution). To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Nippon Animation, the National Film Archive of Japan proposed to remaster the company’s first feature-length anime, “The Tale of the White Serpent,” in 4K. The project was launched by.
During the restoration work, the negative film of “Shirojaden” was said to have deteriorated, but 4K scanning was performed to eliminate noise and adjust the color. The restored 4K remastered version of “Legend of the White Snake” was officially screened at the Cannes Classics section of the Cannes International Film Festival.
“The Tale of the White Serpent” is an NHK morning serial TV novel “Natsuzora” modeled on Toei Animation and became a model for the anime works by the main characters. Shuji Kondo, General Manager of the Video Management Office of the Video Division, who is in charge of the company’s archive business, recalls, “At that time, the demand for our past works was increasing, partly due to the influence of’Natsuzora’.” Since its founding in 1948, Toei Animation has produced more than 250 feature films. In addition, the TV series has more than 200 titles, and the number of episodes exceeds 13,000. These works bring value that can be called a cultural heritage in Japanese animation history.
The use of archives is indispensable for overseas expansion. The company has been selling overseas since 1975, and especially Leiji Matsumoto’s work is trendy overseas, including Europe. Therefore, we often receive inquiries from overseas such as video distribution services, and digitization of past works and remastering work was a business that Toei Animation had to do.
Not limited to “Galaxy Express 999”, the library of Toei Animation’s past works has been gradually converted to HD remaster (1920 x 1080 resolution) in line with the spread of Blu-ray software. However, there has been an urgent need to archive analog materials such as films and tapes in recent years. Especially in recent years, the need for 4K remastering has been increasing, and along with that trend, “Shonen Saruhi Sasuke,” “Flying Phantom Ship,” “Horus no Daibouken,” “Theatrical Version Mazinger Z,” etc. ] The titles after that are remastered in 4K one after another. And I decided to start “Galaxy Express 999” with complete satisfaction.
Producer Yosuke Kinoshita of the company’s planning department was interested in this 4K remastering project, saying, “If you do it anyway, I want to do it not only as an archive but also as a business. Suppose it is” Galaxy Express 999 “, not only 4K conversion but also HDR. If you bring it to the Dolby Cinema version, you can create new development, and this will be a tested stone. “
The Dolby Cinema version was done by Q-tec, a post-production company that has worked on 4K remastered versions of many works such as “Mobile Suit Gundam” and “AKIRA.” After scanning the master positive for 5K, a high-resolution 4K HDR master was created for this restoration. I maximized the potential of 35mm film. As a result, it has become possible to confirm the drawing of the background, which was difficult to distinguish because it was dark, with a solid depth. “When we released Blu-ray about ten years ago, the colors were transparent when we remastered them, but now we are moving toward taking advantage of the colors and textures of cels and film works. “(Shuji Kondo, Director, Video Management Office)
Initially, there was only monaural MIX as the audio material at the time of the release of “Galaxy Express 999″, but this time, based on the pseudo 5.1ch audio material created at the time of Blu-ray in 2019, the stereophonic technology ” Expanded to “Dolby Atmos.”
In addition, on May 11, both “Galaxy Express 999” and “Goodbye Galaxy Express 999 ~ Andromeda Terminal Station ~” are scheduled to be sold on 4K ULTRA HD Blu-ray, but here is the sound system for home use Dolby. It also includes Atmos Home. “This UHD Blu-ray version is adjusted to the optimum balance for viewing at home. It has a different impression than the theater, so if you like, please compare both” (Kinoshita Producer).
The result of this Dolby Cinema version made the people involved groan. At the stage greeting on the first day (January 14) of the release of the Dolby Cinema version of “Galaxy Express 999”, director Rintaro, who worked on this work, said, “It feels like it has been revived.”
Toei Animation is reminded of the importance of archiving, a property of the past. Aged deterioration of currently stored negative films and tape materials is unavoidable, and in the worst case, it may become unusable. Therefore, we are proceeding with storage and restoration work by digitizing them.
Of course, monetization from a short-term perspective is also necessary. Still, a long-term perspective of entrusting the assets of Japanese animation culture to the next generation is also required. In Toei Animation, as a measure for that purpose, from April 2021, the archive section in the production department will be incorporated into the sales planning department. As a result, the cultural business and the business will be operated on both wheels.
“Not only our company but also the content holders of video works are working on the archive business while struggling variously. In that sense, we also needed to set the direction for archiving. Especially now, distribution Demand for past works is increasing, so we would like to connect to sales by preparing high-quality materials to meet those needs. “(Shuji Kondo, Director, Video Management Office)
Toei Animation has many masterpieces that are eagerly awaited for 4K. Therefore, what kind of development will the company develop in the future? Attention.