In humanity's distant future, two interstellar states—the monarchic Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance—are embroiled in a never-ending war. The story focuses on the exploits of rivals Reinhard von Müsel and Yang Wen Li as they rise to power and fame in the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance.
This adaptation has been overlooked and frowned upon by many, but as someone who finished 110 ova (my fault is that i never finished other things in the series) I understand the disapointment other people feel when it comes to their designs, but let me tell you something. As someone who has also read the books - the actual original source, their appearances fit more into those categories. Not to mention most of them look the same age because they are, and there is not much change between 25-35.
Anyway, back to the story. For those who haven't seen first adaptation, you can watch it
without any problems. It takes it's time to introduce characters - just like the novels - unlike OVA who was made for the people who were already familiar with novels and wanted to introduce everyone as soon as possible.
In the first four episodes you can see that already first 3 chapters are adapted, and even while they don't follow word for word either, they are making a really good job at adapting it.
3D designs for the ships are spot on and you quickly get used to it. Battles are made even more interesting with stunning music by Sawano Hiroyuki, known for their many gorgeous instrumental works, and it fits as a good replacement for the classical music that was done in the OVA.
They are introducing characters slowly and steadily, by incorporating them in the flashbacks episodes (For example, Jessica, Jean and Alex (and Frederica) were introduced during the flashback of Yang Wen Li, and it doesn't come as big info dump.)
My only complaint is the design of the ships. It's hard to distinguish between destroyers, cruisers, carriers, etc etc, which was much easier in the OVA. Hopefully, they will start adding differences because they look really good, but it beats the purpose if all the ships are the same. How do they tell them appart then???
Once you get past the "kuroko no basket team is producing this" and calling the OVA original source and conveniently forgetting that novels are the material everything is based on, take a look around and try to enjoy this. It's not a remake, and see it for what it is - a completely new adaptation.
TL;DR = for the new commers to the franchise, I strongly recommend it.
To the old fans, consider this a new adaptation. It may not live up to the masterpiece that OVA is or it's popularity, but there is hope that this whole series may end up being excellent.
When I watched the original LoGH I often found myself asking the question "damn, where all the bishies at?" I look no further.
Note: Watching New Thesis without seeing the original LoGH is possible, but not the best idea. The characters' won't come with much depth and especially the lack of introduction in the beginning will make the series seem worse than it is. The pacing is fast and will feel rushed especially for new viewers. If we tolerate with these things, watching New Thesis instead or before LoGH is certainly not the worst idea either. After all, the first 24 episodes of LoGH are
considered very weak, and are exponentially worse than the beginning of New Thesis. Pros and cons are in balance, but personally I will recommend watching the original LoGH before watching New Thesis. That said, let's talk about New Thesis.
The first thing anyone who tries out New Thesis will notice is the art and the production values which have surpassed all expectations. The series looks wonderful from pretty much every aspect. Even the CGI is less awkward than typically. The spaceship designs are awe, the futuristic look that was such a big miss in the original LoGH is this time around rather impressive, and the backdrops of nature and space are quite immersive to look at. Even the space lazers look like they can do some actual damage this time.
The voice acting and the narration are pretty much the same as in the original. What has changed the most is the OST, and for some reason it is ridiculously fitting. Instead of offering flamboyant classic symphonies, we get to hear more atmospheric and generic trailer music type fo flamboyant beats. These do much better job in actually delivering the tension and thriller side of the battles which earlier shared the same atmosphere with snobbish cocktail parties. Splendid indeed, good sire. I have also watched the first episode English dubbed for comparison.... please, just don't, it makes the series seem like Pokemon The Space Opera. Or if that's your thing, then go ahead, I won't judge.
The actual war tactics are pretty hilarious. Basically characters are praised so they would seem smarter and more brilliant than they actually are. Battle outcomes are pretty much keikaku doori tier memes, but these are still entertaining to watch and do rather good job convincing the viewers into thinking something epic and grand scale world-changing is happening. This is, the very least, faithful to its own universe, and nothing of the sort that could ruin the viewing experience.
The characters won't seem very special if we view this as a standalone LoGH adaptation, but since pretty much everyone who is watching this has already seen LoGH, we can only call this a smart choice by not wasting much unneccesary air time in irrelevances. Still, good things exist; Especially Reinhardo's past story is much heavier than in the original and will make just about anyone understand his character. Some of these introductions are still quite shameful, especially Oberstein's who is one of my favorites from the original series. The team tried their best no doubt, but he just quite literally just walks there and says "yeah, my eyes are fucked, did you notice?" This made me laugh. Definitely not among the best scenes.
At this point, I have been enjoying New Thesis more than I ever thought was possible, and I am fairly sure this is a common thought among its viewers. I can recommend it for what it is.
"Why aren't you standing?"
"This is a free country. We have the freedom to not stand if we don't want to. I'm only exercising that freedom."
"Then why don't you want to stand?"
"I exercise my freedom to withhold my answer."
‒ Yang Wen-li, in the audience at a government speech
Does this sound familiar to anyone? You find yourself in a "free" country where you have the freedom to agree with the political leadership or a masked group will come break your windows in the name of patriotism. The Free Planets Alliance even has "free" in its name. See how much it helps.
Throw your beret in the air! Legend
of the Galactic Heroes is back. This is a new adaptation, but its central focus remains the same: the characters like nothing more than discussing political philosophy. By itself, a war between an empire and a republic would be nothing new, just another entry in a long pile of similar works. You know the drill: Good Republic vs Evil Empire, etc. Here we have the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, which just based on their names may alarm viewers bored with such settings.
But what is different here is the presence of actual debate about political topics: democracy, nations, individual liberties, and so on. The arguments are not overly complex or difficult to follow, but these topics are not ignored or brushed aside like they so often are in fiction, even when there are prime opportunities to examine them. Instead of blindly praising democracy, they actually portray some of its flaws. They hold elections in the Alliance, yes, but does this guarantee that it is a free country? How do you think authoritarian strongmen get into power in the first place? Often by winning elections. The Galactic Empire was not always an empire either. When people begin to think that governing is not something done by them but for them, this is the outcome. They abdicate responsibility and blindly follow a self-proclaimed figure of authority who claims to "speak for the people".
Since this is a war drama, surely it will be in favor of nationalistic flag-waving, right? No, quite the opposite, actually. Political institutions such as states are only tools, not something that should be valued for the sake of itself, no matter what the government propagandists say. And in this show they say quite a bit. But why fight for the fatherland when you can fight out of foppery and whim?
In fact, there has been quite a bit of war. The Empire and the Alliance have been at war for some 150 years, at great human and economic cost but very little progress for either side. By the way, given that the death toll in a single battle can be over a million soldiers, "great human cost" is putting it pretty mildly. But who cares, right? A million is a statistic. The war is great for the Alliance government because it provides the citizens with an external enemy and distracts them from domestic issues. Same for the Empire; it helps keep the nobles in line, to an extent at least.
Well, it is not as though the series is without flaws. For instance, some of the fleet tactics in space may easily raise an eyebrow or two. It is the age-old space opera dilemma: if you had a fleet of spaceships, would you actually command them like a seafaring navy? Yes, they are equipped with scifi tech, so not all of our familiar laws of physics apply, but still. Apparently there are even chokepoints in space because of navigation, which is why they built a fortress on said chokepoint.
Also, a few words about this adaptation and the older OVA. There are some differences, for sure, such as the visuals: they have CGI ships and different character designs, which I didn't particularly mind. I found the visual design of Iserlohn Fortress pretty impressive, actually, and it shows the advantages of CGI when used right. You can see the metal structures beneath the liquid surface, the reflections of the stars, and even the small waves when the turrets are moving around.
In terms of the actual script, the new adaptation follows the novels a bit more faithfully. Some characters are introduced later, and some of the flashbacks and infodumps are actually organized better. However, these differences are only modest and do not overturn the central themes in any substantial way. Of course, this 12-episode season is only a modest beginning. This series is a doorstopper, so there will be much more to follow, including many of the highlights.
In the very beginning of the first episode, they said, "If the events depicted here bear a resemblance to anything you know, or the people appearing here bear a likeness to anyone you know, it is but a fluke of history, and an inevitability". They were right.
Now, remember to watch out for broken windows, stray traffic, and other unfortunate patriotic accidents, in case the show was a little too accurate.
Tl;dr: Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These is a surprisingly great readaptation/remake, drawing on primarily the source novel but also the OVA. I can easily recommend it as a must watch for both OVA viewers, and for new viewers who have not watched the OVA but wish to experience this classic space opera for the first time.
Note 1: While this review will include some comparisons to the OVA and the novel, I will not explicitly discuss any events past the first few episodes, so it is okay to read this if you are completely new to the series.
Note 2: This is
a review of only the first season which covers the first novel (of 10 + 4 side novels). So the score is only for the very first part of the story, which is not as good as that comes later. DNT has the potential to get even better, maybe one of the greatest anime of all time. So keep that in mind if you are a new viewer and are evaluating whether to watch this.
- Preliminary comments-
Even if you haven’t watched the series, you’re probably aware of the godly reputation that LotGH has among some circles of anime fans. Indeed, at this time it’s the 6th highest rated show on MAL. And, for sure, the OVA is an irreplaceable masterpiece. But that doesn’t mean DNT is bad, just different. Many arguments seem to boil down to “they changed it, now it sucks”, while also forgetting the fact the OVA isn’t the source material, the novels are. Personally I’m not the type to get too hung up on comparing it to the original, and instead wish to focus on just how much DNT does right in its own way.
There seems to be the idea that existing LotGH fans do not like this new anime. Which isn’t true, most have a positive view of it, which wasn’t what most of us expected going in. Hell, many of the most negative opinions I’ve seen are people who haven’t even watched the show yet but somehow write it off as bad. At this time (airing of ep 5) the MAL score is mediocre but it’ll certainly rise. With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s start with the review proper.
Undoubtedly the most important part of GinEiDen is the story, namely the space politics and the characters. In this respect, DNT is very faithful to the (already brilliant) novel source material. Most scenes and dialogue closely follow their novel counterparts, apart from some scenes that are anime-original or taken from the OVA in order to flesh certain moments out. Overall the story is the same as the OVA, except for the rearrangement of some scenes to be closer to the novel order or for narrative effect, and also OVA-original filler is not present here.
LotGH is essentially a story about the conflict between two states - the autocratic Galactic Empire, and the democratic Free Planets Alliance. The whole story explores many different political and philosophical themes, and asks what the best form of government and philosophy to live by is. It’s truly fascinating a lot of the time, and Ofcourse, much of this is well in the future for DNT, but so far the political aspects have been well-handled. (talk about ep 5).
One aspect with which I think DNT has improved on the OVA is the storytelling of the first few episodes. The OVA particularly with its first episode introduced too many named characters, making Reinhard and Yang almost feel like a sideshow in what is meant to be their introduction. DNT wisely dispenses with the character introductions until the point where they actually enter the story, and instead has a laser-like focus on our main protagonists and the people who are important to them during these first few episodes.
If you’re a military otaku, you may notice that LotGH’s tactics are less than sophisticated. Some might see this as a flaw, and for some it may take them out of the experience. But I’d make two points. Firstly, LotGH’s battles are more of an allegory for 18th-century warfare than anything else. Secondly, the focus of this series is on politics, so the battles are mostly simple enough for ordinary people to understand.
So most of DNT’s storytelling decisions have been quite good so far. Perhaps the best relative to the OVA is to move Yang’s backstory into the main story, some of which was never told in the OVA. In terms of criticisms, though, my main one is that Reinhard’s backstory was not IMO as impactful as the OVA’s version, particularly through the difference in the level of violence. This may be a result of DNT being a TV anime, though it is still disappointing, and I hope this will be rectified when the sequel films release next year.
Reinhard is the first character to be which we are introduced, and it is fair to call him the overall protagonist of the series. He’s an ambitious upstart rising rapidly up the ranks, a genius at military strategy, but also very young (just 20) so prone to immaturity and brattiness at times. He’s also a very morally ambiguous character. While his performance hasn’t blown me away just yet, Miyano is one of the best possible modern voice actors for Reinhard, and he’s done a good job so far. The aura around Reinhard does feel different compared to the OVA, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, and he’s reasonably in character compared to either his novel or OVA versions. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new version will take his character going forward.
Yang, our protagonist on the Free Planets’ Alliance side, is probably the most sympathetic character for most viewers new and old alike. Infact, Yang’s character may be the best part of DNT thus far, both standalone and when compared to the OVA. Some of the best character animation of the series, and indeed of recent anime in general, is given to him, and it made the relatively slow episodes of 2 and 4 surprisingly engaging to watch. SuzuKen, best known as Sougo from Gintama, also pulls off a very likeable VA performance. New viewers, prepare to discover a new best boy; old viewers, say hello again to an old friend.
Kircheis is Reinhard’s best friend and also a gifted strategist in his own right. Now my reaction to Kircheis’ portrayal in DNT is a little mixed. I do actually like some of the things they’re doing to make his character more three dimensional here and maybe closer to the novel portrayal. His VA, while quite different to the OVA one, I don’t have a problem with either. Still, so far he could do with coming off friendlier than he currently is doing.
We’ve also been introduced to the fan-favourite Oberstein. We’ve only seen a little of him, but everything was present and correct as far as his character goes - including a close tribute to his OVA VA by his new VA Suwabe.
There are also a lot of other characters, with many more introduced in every episode, but so far they haven’t got their time to shine yet - though they will. Highlights include young Frederica being very cute (a nice contrast to other versions of her) and Jessica being a violinist and eventually a music teacher which is a good detail from the books.
The studio behind LotGH:DNT is Production IG, one of the best in the business. While this isn’t the best work IG have put out, for a primarily “talking heads” sort of anime, this is a strong production. The 2D work has a good level of detail and there is some very nice character animation, something IG tends to excel at. Particular noteworthy is the background art which is frequently excellent, especially during episode 3.
Some people hate any sort of CGI in anime, but the CGI here is pretty good. Atleast for the standard of TV anime. The ship models and the lighting used on them are good, and they convey a great sense of scale during the battles. There are some awkward looking shots especially the space explosions and the ships do arguably lack weight to them, but overall the space battles are visually pleasing.
Much has been said about the character designs, especially before the show came out, as has been acknowledged by most they did look worse on paper than on screen. Now, I’m someone who read through Umineko with the original sprites, so I’m not one to get annoyed by this aspect, but it does bother some people. There have even been some people who are refusing to watch the new show because of it. But honestly, while I do miss Reinhard’s curly hair and the like, the look of DNT is not bad for most characters. The exceptions to that are Kircheis who doesn’t look friendly enough, Julian who looks a little younger, and some of the less important admirals whose designs are kinda silly looking compared to the OVA. I know there are some OVA viewers who really can’t get over this issue, but if you’re a new viewer it probably won’t bother you.
I really like the OP for DNT, despite the Starship plagiarism. Actually I’ve been playing the single CD quite a bit since it arrived. On the one hand, it doesn’t seem to fit LotGH… But on the other hand, somehow, it actually does. The ED is much slower but is also pleasant, even if the ED animation is disappointingly limited.
As for the in-show music, it has an orchestral sound to it, though the famous stock Classical music of the OVA hasn’t returned. Overall the new music hasn’t bothered me and there are some nice tracks such as those that played during much of episode 3. Furthermore the show wisely lets there be silence during many of the dialogue scenes, similar to the OVA. The one thing that has annoyed me is the piano track that plays during the battle scenes of ep 1 and 2, which was quite distracting.
Overall, LotGH:DNT has pulled off a satisfying mix of familiarity and freshness for old fans of the series. For new fans, well, it’s the same old excellence of LotGH with a new lick of paint. If you’re a new viewer who hasn’t watched it yet, I wholeheartedly recommend you do and finally find out what we fans have been gushing about.
In these opening weeks of the Spring 2018 anime season, Steins;Gate 0 starts off as the by far highest rated anime, although Megalo Box is the new heavy hitter if we look past sequels. This and more in the opening edition of The Seasonal Quarterly.