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The Leijiverse describes the universe which forms the background of the majority of the stories that Leiji Matsumoto has written or contributed to, including but not limited to:
- Space Cruiser Yamato/Star Blazers
- Galaxy Express 999
- The Galaxy Railways
- Gun Frontier
- Cosmo Warrior Zero
- Queen Emeraldas
- Various Captain Harlock shows:
Matsumoto's works are instantly recognizable, based on his unique artistic style. His drawings lovingly and precisely describe space vessels such as the Arcadia and Yamato, transforming them from mere back drops into a vessel so imbued with personality that it might as well (and literally does, in some of Arcadia's incarnations) function as one of the characters. While the Leijiverse falls short of "hard" science fiction, the machinery is definitely inextricable from the plot.
Matsumoto is also remembered for his depictions of tall, willowy women, with gentle curves to contrast the ubiquitous technology and hair flowing down to their ankles.
Stories set in the Leijiverse generally take place in the latter half of the fourth millenia, though some series may contain flashbacks to 19th century Earth.
Willowy women aside, the hallmark of the Leijiverse is nostalgic spaceships. The Arcadia incorporates part of a tall ship, the Yamato is a historically significant battleship converted into a spaceship, and, for pure Rule of Cool, the 999 and other Galaxy Railways are steam trains that run between stars, as though on rails.
Earth itself, in most Leijiverse stories, ranges between Vichy Earth and One World Order. The inhabitants, with the exception of those who take to space, are generally portrayed as having grown lazy and unmotivated, the government is often ineffective to the point of simply not noticing the alien invasion right on their proverbial doorstep. Many of the characters, particularly Captain Harlock, have in one way or another fallen out of favor with the population and government of Earth; however, Earth, as the seat of humanity, still inspires a great deal of sentimentalisim, and the plots of Matsumoto's works often revolve around these same exiled characters protecting Earth in some capacity or another.
In some series, such as Galaxy Express 999 and Cosmo Warrior Zero, humanity shares a tempestuous relationship with robots, ranging from the useful, if annoying, Iq-9 in Space Cruiser Yamato to the downright murdurous humanid robots that form the backdrop of Galaxy Express 999 and Cosmo Warrior Zero. Other shows, such as Endless Odyssey and Der Ring des Nibelunge, happily substitute an Eldritch Abomination in place of the machines.
The core characters--Harlock, Tochiro, Emeraldas, Maetel, and others--are apparently free to walk in and out of each other's stories.Some story even lines take an uncommon pause to consider the ambiguity of the protagonists "heroic" actions--Cosmo Warrior Zero, for instance, has Captain Harlock as the villain.
The details of these characters and their lives often change from story to story. In fact, Matsumoto apparently disdains continuity. Sometimes this is due to marketing constraints, such as the Arcadia having two different designs--Endless Odyssey even has a Freeze-Frame Bonus where both designs of the ship appear at the same time, and doesn't even attempt to reconcile this in-universe! Other instances, though, such as Tochiro dying three different times in three different ways, and Endless Odyssey continuing the story of every character from Space Pirate Captain Harlock, except for Tadiashi Daiba, who goes through the exact same events that he did in SPCH!
The strong characters, themes, plots, and intricate level of technical detail in Matsumoto's works made them very influential in early anime, particularly in the Space Opera genre. Despite many series suffering through horrible English dubs or never being released in North America at all, the Leijiverse is very well respected on both sides of the Pacific.