Galaxy Express 999 is an anime series based upon the original manga written and drawn by Leiji Matsumoto, who is popular for the Captain Harlock franchise and its related series in what is known as the Leijiverse. The first series was published in Shounen King magazine for its entire run, starting in 1977 and ending in 1981. The anime series is directed by Nobutaka Nishizawa, has music composed by Nozomi Aoki, and was produced by Toei Animation. Consisting of 113 episodes, the series made its Japanese debut on September 14, 1978 and ran until March 26, 1981.
Series creator Leiji Matsumoto has said that the inspiration for the the series came from Kenji Miyazawa's 1934 novel Night on the Galactic Railroad. The novel tells the story of a young boy with a troubled life who travels across the skies in a steam locomotive and gets into numerous adventures during his journey.
After his mother is killed by the evil Count Mecha, Tetsuro Hoshino (Joey in the original English dub), resolves to get an immortal metal body. Impossibly expensive on Earth, they are reputedly given away free to anyone who reaches Andromeda (Megalopolis in the original English dub), the last stop on the Galaxy Express 999. A ticket on the GE999 is also impossibly expensive, but the ethereal beauty Maetel, who looks uncannily like his mother, offers him one for free. She helps him to board the Galaxy Express 999 on the understanding that he never give up in his quest.