Leiji Matsumoto is synonymous with classic anime, and his works are partially responsible for shaping the industry into what it is today.
He has inspired generations of anime and manga artists, and his shows are credited for creating many anime fans. And if you review the list below, perhaps you may not have watched these anime, but you have certainly heard of them:
- Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers in the US)
- Planetary Robot Danguard Ace
- Captain Harlock
- Galaxy Express 999
- Starzinger (Spaceketeers in the US)
These shows served as the foundation for an expanded universe of spin-offs, sequels, and prequels that are collectively referred to as the Leijiverse. And although his most famous shows started in the mid to late 70s, his works are still being adapted and built upon to this day.
Leiji Matsumoto Anime in the 90s
Leijiverse anime in the 90s saw the release of a throwback Yamato pilot that had previously not aired and a 3 episode war OVA. Otherwise, Leijiverse anime in this decade predominantly centered around the universe of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999.
If you have not watched the original runs of Captain Harlock or Galaxy Express 999, I’d recommend you check them out because they are very good and hold historical significance in the industry. And although viewing them is helpful, it is also unnecessary before watching the shows touched on below.
Uchuu Senkan Yamato Pilot Film
This is a bit of an odd entry to start with. Originally, this short 9-minute pilot was created in 1974 and shown to TV executives. It wasn’t until 16 years later that it was released to the public as part of a laser-disc box set.
A narrator gives a general overview of what the show is about and briefly introduces some of the characters. Otherwise, the animation is minimal, there is no story progression, and the episode should be simply viewed with an appreciation for the historical significance.
The Cockpit is a WWII-inspired anime based on Leiji’s manga, Battlefield. This short OVA series (3 episodes) is not affiliated with any of Matsumoto’s other creations and is a series of shorts telling different stories set during the war.
The first episode is most noteworthy as it was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Wicked City, Ninja Scroll) and animated by the legendary Madhouse studio.
Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy
If you’re not aware already, the original run of Galaxy Express 999 was a 114 episode series that ran in the late 70s/early 80s. In 1979, the first Galaxy Express movie was released and condensed the series into a 2-hour movie that focused on the overarching story.
And in 1981, another movie was released called Adieu Galaxy Express 999, which takes place years after the events of the first movie.
The third movie in the series is The Eternal Fantasy, and it was released 17 years after the 2nd movie. This movie is relatively short (54 minutes) and was originally intended to be a lead-in to more movies. Unfortunately, due to poor performance at the box office, these sequels never materialized.
Despite this, the movie is still a worthwhile watch for any fan of the series.
Queen Emeraldas takes place in the Captain Harlock/Galaxy Express 999 universe and tells the story of the pirate ship, Queen Emeraldas.
The captain of this ship, Emeraldas, had previously made appearances in both the original runs of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999.
This is another short OVA series that only stretches over 4 episodes and is a worthy watch for anyone who is a fan of Captain Harlock.
DNA Sights 999.9
DNA Sights 999.9 takes place in the past relative to Captain Harlock. The main character in the movie is Tetsuro Daiba, who is the grandfather of Tadashi Daiba, the main character in Captain Harlock.
In this movie, a massive meteor has struck the earth which opens the way for an oppressive regime to take control of the planet. In response, Tetsuro teams up with a psychic cat, a professor, and a mysterious girl to topple the queen and save their world.
Harlock Saga: The Ring of the Nibelung – The Rhein Gold
This 3 episode OVA is an adaptation of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung set against the backdrop of the Captain Harlock universe.
In this story, Captain Harlock once again sets out to save the universe with the aid of several familiar characters from the Leijiverse!