In the Dining Car

Nov 14, 2016, 7:08:56 PM


"Hungry" and "Sad" were the two Inktober prompts for these images. For "hungry" Jade and Kamiko are enjoying tea, a nice snack, and a view of ringed planet outside their window. For "Sad" Jade is eating Kamiko's cake.

You might think it's really weird that they're on a space train, but I'd like to point you to a Japanese story called Night on the Galactic Railroad by Kenji Miyazawa. I never read the original story, but I did see the anime version of it years ago.

Night on the Galactic Railroad

It's about a boy named Giovanni and his friend Campanella. One night Giovanni is sleeping on a hill and a train approaches him. He and his friend Campanella get onboard and they're whisked away to the stars. I don't really recall all of the story specifics, but at one point they stop and pick up passengers from the Titanic suggesting that the train is bound for the afterlife. At the end of the story Campanella disappears (according to the retelling in that Wikipedia entry) and Giovanni later learns that his friend has drowned.

Also, Giovanni and Campanella were cat people. I don't know if that figures in the original story or if it just adds another flavor of trippiness to the story.

Galaxy Express 999

Years later I came across another space train story called Galaxy Express 999. In this manga and anime series by Leiji Matsumoto, a boy named Tetsuro loses his mother and seeks immortality for himself. He knows he can get this on a robot planet in the faraway Andromeda galaxy. If only he could get a ticket on the Galaxy Express 999, a train that travels between the two galaxies.

Enter Maetel. A beautiful and tall blond dressed in black and wearing a black cossack hat. She's the quintessential Matsumoto woman, and I say that because almost all of his women in his manga looks like some flavor of her. Tetsuro seems to be his other favorite visual archetype: a lumpy little guy with a big head.

Maetel gives Tetsuro a pass on the Galaxy Express 999, but under one condition: she goes as his traveling companion. The train stops from planet to planet where they encounter various societies. Spoiler alert: in the far flung future everything is kinda depressing. Being immortal is also really depressing as the show liked to hit you with every time it was brought up.


These were the two inspirations I drew from when I started the Inktober illustrations. You can see it as far back as the first panel of this comic with the train. Although I thought initially it was just a steam locomotive because the prompt was "fast" and trains are fast, although not the fastest things ever.

So does a space train fit into the canon of This Mortal Coil? This Mortal Coil is set on Earth mainly. The concept of death does exist in the Ferrywoman and it's more akin to the River Styx. It could be redundant in a sense of a space train existed which would clearly usher people to a terminal point in the afterlife, but maybe there are many different paths that lead from the Mortal Realm to the Eternal.

More next week...