Reinhard von Müsel, a poor nobleman's son, one day discovers that his sister, Annerose, has been sold to the royal family. To get her back he sets out to rise quickly through the military along with his friend Siegfried Kircheis.
Golden Wings is a slight misstep in the Legends of the Galactic Heroes franchise, not enough to stumble on its face but not enough to style it out by whistling innocently and pretending it didn’t almost trip over.
It’s best to watch this movie after episode 54 of the LotGH OVA, as this movie was released after that and before episode 55. The story is set before the OVA, but after watching 54 episodes of Reinhard ascend through the ranks of the military and getting comfortable with his acquaintance, you can get the most satisfaction out of Golden Wings in seeing him ascend through the
ranks of military school and learn how he matured into an adult.
All the characters from the OVA are near unrecognisable in their new incarnations in this movie. It’s the first thing to hit you if you've been watching the OVA for a while. They lose the handsome character designs and replace them with foppish haircuts, wide anime eyes and voice actors that don’t match their characters, Yang Wen-li especially. It’s pretty jarring and serves as a barrier between the two experiences, with only the thematic narrative tying the two anime together neatly for the viewer.
The movie is a spotlight on Reinhard and Kircheis. The first twenty minutes don’t tell you anything you don’t already know if you've seen the OVA, but after they graduate from military school the plot picks up and shows us their friendship getting them through tight scrapes in the beginning of their military careers.
Yet even with that encouraging premise, the movie as a whole is a big step down from the OVA in nearly every department involved, from art, direction, but most importantly, in story. Yes we get a nice background on two beloved characters of the LotGH universe, but generally this movie is directed in a very sluggish, bland and hand-holding way with a script exactly the same. The OVA by comparison is bold, assured, confident, intelligent and doesn’t hang around for you to keep up, it’s too busy being awesome.
Golden Wings is too busy trying to hook a completely different viewership, one that will be sorely disappointed when they check out the OVA and are hit in the face with masterful direction and sublime script, and not five minute montages of Reinhard and Kircheis running around as kids without uttering a word, just laughing like lunatics on crack.
Ok, there's only one five minute montage of lunatic kids on crack. The latter half of the movie has a decent enough plot that manages to tie an Alliance attack on the Death St-, uh Iselhorn fortress; and Reinhard's life at risk by imperial grouches. It culminates in a reaffirmation of one of anime’s greatest friendships and a pretty cool death scene for an obligatory bad guy.
Getting in the way of Reinhard and Kircheis’s friendship will cost you your life, don’t forget that. They used to be crack-dealing hyena-laughing junkie kids back in the day didn’t you know?
Okay, this definitely won't be an objective review, but at the very least I'll try to make it descriptive and hopefully understandable, even for people who disagree with me. There's not really any need for another review of this, I just really feel like putting my negative thoughts about this movie into words.
As I said, this won't be objective, and it's coming from the perspective of a fan of the main series, and my criticisms are intended to be read by other fans of the series (after all, I don't see why anyone else would watch this). On its own, this movie might have been
"okay", nothing great, but really nothing worth getting worked up over. But since it's so heavily associated with the established characters and plot line of what is my favorite anime, I can't help but find it frustrating to watch.
First of all there's the art style. Most of the characters get a jarring facelift that leaves them unrecognizable from their original iteration. For a new viewer who isn't familiar with the original art style, it might not be quite as irritating, but nevertheless it is a step down in terms of sheer quality, and definitely looks rather ugly. I was in pain when I saw Yang's appearance, but enough of that. I could complain about the visual design all day.
The art is a superficial issue that can be overlooked as long as the story and writing is up to par, right? Well it's not! A battle between the Empire and the Alliance that takes place at Iserlohn Fortress serves as a backdrop for most of the story. Well this is a good start. Are you looking forward to those interesting moments of juxtaposition, where the perspective shifts back and forth between the Empire and the Alliance as the battle develops? Well too bad. Any perspective from the Alliance side is rare and shallow. What about the complex military strategies and plans, laid out by the most intelligent commanders of the fleet? "Wait, what's strategy again?", the studio who made this asks.
In fact, the battle barely gets any special emphasis at all. It never makes any effort to explain why the battle is important, or why you should care about it within the confines of this story. Instead, the real focus of conflict comes from the most generic, uninteresting, and cartoony villain that's ever been in the series. "Such impudence!" and "How rude of you!" were his most memorable quotes. Also he looks stupid.
Really, the most annoying thing about this movie was how pretentious it felt. It was trying to imitate what made the OVA so good, and hoped that if it just echoed a few things without putting much thought into it no one would notice.
The most grating example which made me realize this was when Yang, who could hardly be called Yang due to the fact that his face and voice is entirely different, at one point says "Even though I think wars are pointless, I end up thinking of ways of winning them." Wow! That sure was precise of you, Yang! It's almost like the creators didn't know how to write dialogue for you and just made you state the most fundamental aspect of your character out of nowhere...
In summary, this feels like fan fiction. It completely misses the point of LoGH in almost every respect. Even though it has just about everything you'd expect: Reinhard and Kircheis bromance, large-scale space battles, and even some intrigue, it's all executed with no spirit or finesse, with a complete disregard for what makes those things worthwhile in this series. Reinhard's unrecognizable face serves as a good metaphor for this movie: You're -told- that he's Reinhard, and you see a slight resemblance at first, but in the end he's just an unidentifiable mutant masquerading as someone you once knew.
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: June 21, 2013. Review #51: Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Golden Wings.
My big 50th review of course was the epic Space Opera anime Legend of the Galactic Heroes. If you went through my review of this show, I hope you don’t mind the rating I gave for that show. I know that this anime has its fanbase and I already understand why this show needs to be seen. Not many people watch it and it really was not a bad show. It was very good. I believe Legend of the Galactic Heroes is definitely an anime for those with acquired taste.
Maybe it should be required viewing for anime fans, but I’ll simply leave it as a show for acquired taste. It really is a show that has a lot to chew on and it’s hard to swallow all of the details in it. However, there is one entry in this franchise that does put a sour taste in the mouth for many fans of this show. That would be the movie Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Golden Wings.
Reinhard von Müsel, a poor nobleman's son, discovers one day that his sister, Annerose, has been sold to the royal family to consort to the Kaiser. To get her back he sets out to rise quickly through the military along with his friend Siegfried Kircheis, That’s all the sypnosis I will give you, assuming you’ve seen the main series and all because this subplot was flashbacked in the main series before except this movie shows what happened months after Annerose was sold to the royal family.
To be technical, this is a production by three studios. Kitty Films, Artland, and Magic Bus just like My Conquest is the Sea of Stars and The Main Series. However, the art style is drastically much different than what we are seeing from the main series. This was made right after the Second Season of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. All I can say is that the animation looks great in movement, what is a huge misstep is the character designs. Characters like Reinhard and Kircheis are barely recognisable in this movie. Annerose looks...okay. And Yang Wenli has a cameo in this movie and he looks nothing like his appearance in the main series. The character designs for the most part look pretty pathetic and many would wonder... Why the hell was this movie made this way. Well... That’s because the art style is based off the manga of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Still, there is no damn excuse to change the character designs. Golden Wings has the worst character designs to this series. Maybe this movie was an advertisement for the manga. If you think the character designs were bad, it gets much worse.
Before I get there, let me just point out that the soundtrack is done by Tomoki Hasegawa. This is a first considering that the main series’ music uses classical music as the soundtrack. Is the soundtrack good in this movie? Well, It’s not terrible, it’s just not worth writing home about. It’s not a really memorable soundtrack to begin with, but I’ll commend Hasegawa-san for putting some effort into this movie.
Now let’s get over one of the problems, shall we? When it comes to voice acting, like the Main Series and so forth, there is no English Dub. The cast in this movie contains one huge problem. Reinhard, Kircheis, and Annerose are voiced by completely different people rather than the people that voiced them originally. This caused a huge problem with fans of the show, making this inconsistent with the main series when it comes to the acting. Ryo Horikawa was terrific as Reinhard, instead we got Hikaru Midorikawa and he’s okay I guess. Masashi Hironaka originally played Kircheis. In Golden Wings, he’s played by Takehito Koyasu, and he sounds nothing like Kircheis in the Main Series. Keiko Han originally played Annerose, in Golden Wings, she’s voiced by Hiromi Murata. As time passed on, I think it can be agreed on that these performances are not that great when compared with other entries in the franchise. Golden Wings is the only movie where the central characters are not voiced by the same people.
When it comes to character development, keep in mind that Reinhard and Kircheis are fine, Annerose is only in for a little while. There’s really no need to bring up development... except for the movie-exclusive characters. The movie exclusive characters are not well-developed and most of them are forgettable. There are two characters that did not show much development. First off, there’s some guy with some futuristic shades, is he blind or something? Never really explained and this may not be too important to go on about. There is one fellow who I think is pretty Femme in my opinion is Gregor von Krumbach. He does play a big role in the movie’s third act and this guy and he wears lipstick. Um… Okay then, That detail is never explained. Is this guy memorable? Not really except for the fact that he wears F***ING LIPSTICK! He’s just a cliched underdeveloped character. If you want the short version, all I can say is...don’t expect major character development in this movie.
When it comes to story. The First 15 minutes is pretty good. The friendship between Reinhard and Kircheis is nice to watch. When you get into the middle of the movie, it gets pretty slow. At the same time, it’s just one hour long...So pacing isn’t as much of a problem here. The first 15 minutes are great, the middle is not as great, and The last 15 minutes are fine too, but in the end...The movie turned out to be a waste of time for me. Do I recommend this movie? Yes and no. Yes because the story is not completely terrible, Watch this movie for some of the story. I say no because the production choices went wrong for the most part. The character designs look pretty ugly and I don’t know why the creative staff decided to have the character designs based off the manga’s character designs. The voice cast being different does not make any sense, and this is the only entry in Legend of the Galactic Heroes that is different from all the rest of the franchise. This was the first prequel entry made, but it isn’t the earliest in the chronology. This movie reminds me of a certain Star Wars movie which was Episode I: The Phantom Menace. That Star Wars movie may have not been the best starter in the prequel trilogy, and most of that prequel movie may have been pointless, but it wasn’t completely terrible. Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Golden Wings is kind of like that, but regardless of what I just said, Golden Wings is undoubtedly the worst entry in the Legend of the Galactic Heroes franchise. This movie has Fool's Gold all over it.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Golden Wings is unlicensed. The only way to see this is online. Look it up at your own leisure.
With all that said, Golden Wings is a very different creation from other entries of this franchise before or since this movie. It does have a nice prequel story at times, but it also disappoints with a story that isn’t too interesting, drastically different character designs, weak character development besides Reinhard and Kircheis, and a different voice cast. This entry is for the fans of the show that want to watch it for completionists’ sake. If you decide to skip it, don’t worry, you are not missing much. I can say that this movie could have been so much better.
I give Legend of the Galactic Heroes a 5.5 out of 10, it is SO and SO!
Feel free to leave a comment, and sprout your wings and fly away.
Whoever was involved in making this movie within the Legend of the Galactic Heroes franchise made something that is quite the far cry from the quality writing and presentation one would expect from the franchise. Golden Wings' presentation is significantly different from other chapters of the LoGH franchise sporting a far different drawing style, new voice actors in the roles of the show's prominent characters, taking away the title's famous orchestral music scores for generic dramatic pieces and dumbing down the writing of the series to the point where this movie gets in the annoying habit of rubbing in your face the ordeals faced by
Reinhard and Kircheis. The last mentioned issue was one that really irked me as other titles within LoGH are well known for their intelligent writing that explores the complex motivations of the show's various characters and factions, while Golden Wings doesn't seem to trust the audience to come to their own conclusions with how the characters go about with their activities throughout the movie.
As for this movie's plot, it is mostly focused on establishing the bond with Kircheis and Reinhard with the first third of the movie showing how they met and joined the military to rise in power while later parts feature the two involved in a battle at Iserlohn Fortress with Alliance forces and getting by against Imperial assassins from a grouchy concubine of the king who is simply jealous of Reinhard's sister getting the king's attention. Details from the first third of the movie are likely those you would have already seen from the OVA series and while the Iserlohn Fortress battle is a decent enough plot, it still reeks of the annoying hand-holding that Golden Wings' writing has with exploring the difficulties faced by Reinhard and Kircheis through their rise in the ranks of the Empire's military.
While Golden Wings isn't a bad movie per say, it lacks the sophistication and intelligence that is given to other titles within the LoGH franchise as the movie is too radically different in presentation and writing to be admired by the franchise's fans. If you really want to see the challenges faced by Reinhard and Kircheis in their early military years, you would be better off checking out the two LOGH Gaiden OVA titles.