About a month ago, I opened up a contest here at Ogiue Maniax to give away my favorite anime ever, Galaxy Express 999 (and also to give away Adieu Galaxy Express 999). In order to enter, you simply had to leave a comment talking about your favorite example of an anime or manga character growing up. I received many good entries, and it was actually difficult deciding who would ultimately win, but in the end I managed to narrow it down to one.

Congratulations, arianime.

I’ll let the winner speak for herself.

From a recent anime I watched, I’d have to say that Jomy from “Terra E…” is a perfect candidate for this question. When we first meet him in the series, he is, like many sci-fi protagonists, a sheltered child in a dystopian world (only he doesn’t know it). Over the course of a 26 episode story (and an amazingly short 3 volume manga!), he develops from this child to a leader responsible for the fate of an entire race of people. Most intriguingly, this growth comes with all the troubling moral ambiguity of adulthood.

As an adolescent, Jomy struggles with his unasked-for-power and its implied responsibilities to lead a lost tribe, whether he–or they–likes it or not. After all, Uncle Ben says it best: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Typical (but wonderful) sci-fi/hero movie fodder.

Once he overcomes his frustration at his apparent loss of freedom and decides to accept his duty to lead, Jomy has to learn how to actually do so. Along the way, he finds that his decisions–or rather, indecisions–have life-and-death consequences that he cannot foresee. While he naturally places great weight on emotion and sentiment, he soon realizes that sometimes, these life-affirming things also have immense costs.

His growth as a skillful leader, however, is not without repercussions. In fact, it takes him to deeply questionable places. At one point, he makes the grim decision to kill an entire squadron of surrendered POWs. Although it is clearly a difficult decision for him to make, we never see him waver from this decision or express regret. He internalizes the responsibility for this decision and forges on forward. To him, his charge to take his people to a promised land–a charge that has, in essence, been made for him by the sacrifice of others–has grown to something heftier than his own moral salvation.

The story presents this aspect of his development without necessarily validating it. If anything, it raises the question of whether he has gone too far–whether the responsibility he feels towards those who have gone before him has taken him to a place from whence he cannot return. Without spoiling too much, at one point the audience is made to ask, “were all these struggles and decisions made on a false premise and for an false promise?” The terrifying retort, of course, is “What if they are? Can you still justify them?”

Isn’t that a question that every adult needs to answer for his or her most difficult decisions?

 This response had a lot to it, but I was mainly struck by the description of Jomy as a figure who had to make sacrifices in the name of his own people, but that he never regrets his decisions or actions, because he cannot afford to do so. That said, I don’t think this is the only way for a child to “grow up,” but in this instance I thought it rung well.

arianime, I’ll be e-mailing you soon with the specifics of delivery and such. I hope you find the Galaxy Express 999 to be a journey, a never-ending journey.

A journey to the stars!

What a cocky saucy monkey this one is. All the gods were-

Scratch that last part.

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