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:
Matsumoto's works are instantly recognizable, based on his unique artistic style. His drawings lovingly and precisely describe space vessels such as the Arcadia
, 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,
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!
Space Battleship Yamato is a special case in the Leijiverse due to owenership issues. Matsumoto created Space Battleship Yamato with producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki. He came onto the project after it was conceived by Nishizaki. However, the use of the battleship Yamato was one of Matsumoto's ideas. Originally, the project was called Asteroid Ship Icarus
. Matsumoto is credited with the art design, direction, and feel of the franchise. Consensus credits Matsumoto's vision with the success that Yamato would eventually become. Neverthless, legal restrictions prevent him from using the characters and storylines from Yamato anime. Those rights are presumed to currently remain with the estate of the late Nishizaki. Courts ruled that Matsumoto is free, however to use the ship design and name of Yamato, since he contributed those to the original project. Yamato continues to make cameo Leijiverse appearances, always without showing the crew
. Matsumoto also had to rename a 90s manga called Great Yamato to Great Galaxy.
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, and in many corners of Europe as well (France, Spain and Italy, to name some of them).