This series is overrated on this site. That is to say, with 110 episodes, your vote only counts after you've seen 22 episodes, almost a full season, and those who don't like this show probably won't wait for 22 episodes to decide.
Which is a shame, as it's only after about 20 episodes that this series progresses from something that is slow, somewhat overly bombastic, and hinting at more to come to show itself to be one of the most intelligent pieces of anime that's been made to date.
When I say 'intelligent', I don't mean it to be cunning, surprising the viewer with unsuspected plot
lines or new angles to view something. Nor does it delve deeply into some obscure theory of science or arts, bombarding the viewer with ideas he couldn't have come up with himself. In fact, there's absolutely nothing in this series that is wholly unexpected or very deep. What it has, though, is a sense of scale that's unsurpassed in any anime - or, for that matter, any television show - I've seen.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes centers around - you guessed it - a bunch of people who, according to populace at large that inhabits the fictional future this series plays in, are of heroic proportions. That is to say, heroic in a very classical sense, being possibly a negative thing as well as a positive.
The series is set in a future wherein the universe known to man is divided into two camps, the aristocratic and absolutist Galactic Empire, and the democratic Free Planets' Alliance, who have been embroiled in a war for some time, seemingly
being evenly matched. This balance is shattered when a military genius with a far-reaching ambition rises on the Imperial side, prompting the Alliance to, somewhat grudgingly, give ever greater backing to the most capable officer on their own side. Both men surround themselves with able staff, who become legends in their own right.
It sounds like your average hero of freedom-versus-tyrant story, but it turns out to be anything but. First of all, the heroes do have a sense of their own importance, but also the sense to question whether they are all that special, or whether the circumstances of their times have just brought them to a spotlight which people equal to them could never have aimed at. More importantly, the main question on which the whole series hinges remains an open one. This question is the age-old one of which is better, autocracy or democracy, the problem being that a good autocracy is usually better than a good democracy, but a bad autocracy being worse than a bad democracy. Within the happenings of the show, it becomes apparent that, militarily speaking, at least, a good autocracy has an edge over democracy in terms of speed and decisiveness, and this shows in how the series progresses.
A large part of the series is devoted to showing the war and its subsequent smaller-scale rumblings. The war is fully shown from the side of the commanding officers - one of only a very few shows to do so - and does show an appropriate sense of scale. With battles involving thousands of battleships and millions of men, simple depictions of large-scale tactics take the place of views of the battlefield itself, and a considerable part of the show is, laudable, devoted to discussions on logistics and military intelligence.
A larger part still, though, is devoted to discussions on politics, all within the greater autocracy versus democracy question. Again, these thoughts never go very deep, but what strikes one is that so very many possible variables are brought up. Almost any motive of rulers or the general populace that might affect a political decision is included at some point in the show, making me at least think to myself: 'They even thought of thát one.' The show does tend, here and there, to lean toward the old 'good soldier, bad politician' cliché, but, overall, it really lacks a clear villain, instead showing each possible side (apart, perhaps, from religious fanatics) from every possible angle. Moreover, all this is shown within a future universe that is highly consistent over the full 110 episodes, even if differences between the warring sides tend to be somewhat exaggerated: in many cases whole societies seem to act a bit too much according to a somewhat radical ideology, only to make their following actions be true to form.
This being true to form applies also to most of the actions that, at first glance, seem to be overly dramatical, in the first place many of the actions of the dozen or so main protagonists. However, when thinking about the how and why of their actions, it usually becomes clear that they cannot have but acted as they did, according to cultural mores and individual character. A case in point would be the reliance of many Imperial officers on the character of some military commander to predict his battlefield tactics. This would seem lunacy, until it is remembered that the Imperial commanders are a tight-knit group, mostly of noble birth, and known to each other: each commander would know the peculiarities of all others, which become all the more predictable as the importance of gaining personal glory and honour in battle are taken into the equation.
This reliance on known characteristics of all personalities is also possible because the characters don't evolve all that much. Now, I've never understood why 'character progression' in general seems to mean having characters make a full volte-face, and I am, in fact, happy with a series that shows all characters as being fully grown, and fixed in their ways. Each has a specific role to play, and a mind-set that might be predictable, but is, again, true to form. This doesn't make the character shallow. Far from it: their characteristics mean that each takes a single position to a fitting extreme, making for interesting differences between the characters, and accompanying differences in outlook.
That said, it is indeed true that the characters may be somewhat flat, and quite a few seem to be included only to show a different point of view toward a specific situation or theory, but it is exactly this relative flatness that makes it possible for them to discuss so many situations.
As for the art, it is old and outdated, but that can't be held against the show. It is a shame that, mainly in the first season, the series is at times simply bad: persons walk in an awkward way, scenes are recycled, and even relative positions of facial structures change from frame to frame. There's no excuse for that. Technically, though, the art definitely gets better during the course of the show.
In fact, the show being old might be a boon. The creators have opted to make the drawing style relatively realistic, which fits the series splendidly. One has only to look at the manga to see how different it could have been: the style of the manga doesn't fit the show at all.
Real points have to go to the design. Again, nothing is really innovative, from the spaceships to the almost 19th century looking setting to the uniforms of the soldiers. It is, however, solid, and consistent, and really brings the world to life.
The music is outstanding. It mainly consists of generally well-known classical compositions, which, granted, have been often used before, but never have they been used to such splendid effect: especially the use of pieces during battle sequences, fitting the individual scenes to the music, is a joy to watch.
As a whole, Legend of the Galactic Heroes never tries to be overly deep, and, though it tends to be somewhat bombastic, never loses itself to any glorification. It is slow and quite meticulous, focusing on a lot of details, and consists for the largest part of dialogue, not action. The story progresses slowly, and only after about a season's worth of episodes the real story starts to evolve.
And this show never, ever tries to evoke an emotional response. The whole series is based on having the viewer have an intellectual understanding of what happens, not an emotional one. There are, thus, no cheap tricks to elicit emotional response, nothing overly dramatic (barring a few strokes of bombast), and no characteristics that make a main protagonist or villain.
I can only applaud this, considering it a feat to produce such a good series without relying on drama. Legend of the Galactic Heroes is, in this sense, the absolute antithesis of my other personal favourite, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette, appealing to the rational side of the viewer, even when the protagonists act with all their vaunted 'foppery and whim'.
This is Star Wars. Lucas's franchise should be renamed to something else.
If any work of entertainment in our history deserves the title of 'Star Wars' then it is this anime, and not George Lucas's franchise. This is more star wars than Star Wars ever was, is, or will be. This is star wars. Epic wars among the stars, grand vision with something to say, something to show, all the while consistent narratively, thematically and audially, never pandering to a clamouring fan base, this is 110 episodes of pure sci-fi operatic drama of the highest quality. This is star wars.
Preferably experienced after watching the prequel movie
My Conquest Is The Sea Of Stars, the story of the LotGH OVA pits two systems of living against each other. Two charismatic men. Delving through politics, military, religion, philosophy and media, it is a detailed anime that rarely ever takes short cuts. This means that we see everything play out and are never expected to just fill in large gaps with our imagination. We don’t just see ships blowing each other up, we see the tacticians inside them planning their moves, we don’t just see armies invading planets; we see them deal with the aftermath of restructuring society. There are no short cuts in LotGH, only one long and very entertaining path.
LotGH is like the anime equivalent of Michael Mann's Heat when it comes to the two protagonists of Reinhard Lohenngram and Yang Wen-li. They are not in each other’s faces with conflict; they are at a distance yet always on each other's minds. Human civilisation as their chess board. They are not protagonist and antagonist. They are figureheads who are almost comrades in their strong resolves to end a terrible war. They are like magnets drawing fate towards them by their personalities alone; then they back it all up with action and propel humanity into a new century.
Yang Wen-li. The great irony of Yang is that he is the historian-wannabe who is destined to make history himself. The anime speaker for Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller's voices. Those two great literary giants of scathing wit and nonchalance. One of Yang's best quotes is the following: "People may need societies, but they don’t necessarily need 'nations'” He is beyond patriotism or nationalism. He is a conscientious, self-deprecating, charming and laid back man with the humility to feel intense burden and guilt at his actions, even though he tries to take the path of least violence, he is part of a war machine and is directly responsible for millions of deaths. This fact is not lost on the man, and it makes him that much more of anime's greatest characters.
Reinhard Lohenngram, the more romantic fairytale character, with flowing blonde hair, unparalleled achievement, aided by his unwavering childhood friend to rise through the military ranks of the empire with the sole purpose to rescue his sister from the clutches of the emperor, with the additional task of reforming and uniting the entire galaxy as a peripheral duty. Reinhard is not only the most powerful man in the universe, but he's also probably the loneliest. He's a pretty tragic figure that goes through more conflict than Yang, considering the autocratic environment he has to wade through, trying to hold onto his soul as the leader of such a system of living is what’s fascinating about his character.
There are dozens of memorable characters all fully fleshed out, even though they're supporting members, the fact that this is 110 episodes long means they all get a chance to shine in the spotlight and develop just as well as the two main figureheads. Many names will be etched in your mind after you've finished the tale, names such as Kircheis, Reuenthal, Oberstein, Mittermeyer, Poplan, Bucock, Schenkopp.
LotGH might get flak for having the appearance of being a talky and dry anime but that could not be further from the truth. Because of such excellent characterisation, the emotion and drama of this saga is beyond anything in other anime. When characters pass away the sense of loss is palpable, in the same vein of how character deaths in live action cinema affects the viewer, such is the ambition of LotGH in reaching for greatness beyond the anime medium.
"Humans don’t fight for principles or philosophy. They fight for the person who embodies their principles and philosophy. They don’t fight for revolutions, they fight for the revolutionary."
People fight for Reinhard and Yang. They are pyramids, and underneath them are a large cast of characters that are fascinating, fully developed and run the gamut of good to bad to walking the thin line between. One could argue that the empire has the most interesting group of characters, they get slightly more scenes, they have more skill and cunning, but then the republic is more relevant to the majority of viewers watching. They're more relatable because of the environment they're in which reflects modern day westernised society very well, warts and all.
LotGH's epicness lies in its relation to reality, in that we can actually believe various situations portrayed in the story can happen; that a group of men and women can band together to fight for equality no matter what the odds.
LotGH investigates and ponders the virtues and shortcomings of these two systems of living with so much depth, so much impartially, it’s a joy. You're not meant to root for one system because the show doesn’t paint with broad strokes. Whether you prefer one side or the other, both will be populated by characters you like, so not only are you split on an ideological level but also at a basic entertainment level. In fact you're not really meant to root for any side, you're an observer to history being made and repeated. Life is cycles.
When characters talk in LotGH, they talk to each other and not the viewer. For the most part, this isn’t a show stained by one of the main staples of the anime medium, that number one device used by lazy writers to convey information to the viewer: walking talking expositions. This is an anime that is prime material for such characters, who may as well directly stare at the 'camera' and waffle on about what they're doing for the sole purpose of cluing us in. Not so in LotGH, as characters only address each other with information that is relevant to them, not us.
We figure out what's going on through character actions, not asinine summaries from them. If they bring up something that they already know amongst themselves, then they discuss it in a relatively coherent fashion and not typically clichéd manner. In short the viewer is never treated like a child, we have to actually concentrate when watching this story because the characters aren’t going to wait up for us or spell everything out with easy words.
Characters will admittedly often sum up their situations in LotGH, so we can get our bearings, but it’s done naturally as you'd expect for people in a war situation demanding situation reports, it’s never shoe-horned in. Characters reflect upon experiences a lot, about what they've done, what they're doing and what they will do in the future, so a lot of information is conveyed but the most important fact is that they're talking to each other and not the viewer. You will rarely ever question the intelligence of characters, you will rarely exclaim "you're so stupid!" because most of the characters featured in the story are highly intelligent and are already two steps ahead of you. There is no greater viewing experience than watching intelligent people battling each other with everything they've got.
Another important aspect regarding exposition is that this show has a narrator who is the replacement for expositional characters. The narrator transitions us from one setting to another very concisely and is an integral part of the anime. If it weren’t for this grandfatherly voice we'd be bombarded by the terrible expositional conversations anime is famed for, but thankfully we're spared that fate.
Although there is a small irony in the fact that in the last season, comprised of 24 episodes, when the animation is at its best, these tropes of anime that have been disparaged in this review begin to surface. With expositional dialogue and unrestrained character body behaviour beginning to rear its unwanted head. Though it’s not enough to detract, it’s still noticeable considering all of the quality and restraint shown previously. Maybe it’s yet another example of how limitations such as low budget can make creativity flourish through determination, whereas abundancy, such as improved animation in the latter half of this OVA, encourages complacency.
So LotGH is not perfect. The animation and art are dated, the plot riddled with small holes that would make an obsessive nitpicker sweat. Some scenarios are diluted or presented in a very simple and convenient fashion that betray the ambition and scope of the series. Religion is painted with a broad stroke and not explored much. Some military tactics and operations are unrealistically achieved with very little complications when so much thought was put into them beforehand.
LotGH simply makes up for all that with pure passion, overriding aesthetics with storytelling and plot holes with historical research. The concept behind the art is solid, the ideas of what the animation attempts to show you are inspired. The plot holes do not negate the story, they can be forgiven for two reasons, the first is that the show is already so full of research and detail that when the viewer spots a periphery hole its almost glaring, and secondly because at the end of the day this is an anime for teens and needs to sacrifice some procedural details for the sake of entertainment given to you at a decent pace.
Not every little detail needs to be presented to you, because this is entertainment, not a documentary. Except when every detail actually is covered and it is a documentary, but more about that later.
If we have to choose between sacrificing plot details/art quality or character details, I would like to think most of us would choose to preserve character. Characters drive the story. An entertaining story with flat characters is not going anywhere. We need to emphasise and connect with depictions of human beings to be fully entertained. LotGH's intelligent characters populate it with so much personality and resolve, so much consistency, there are no clichéd twists and turns from out of nowhere, there are no characters dying and magically coming back to life.
There is a real emotional current running throughout the main characters’ arcs, a strong bond of friendship, love and camaraderie that is tested to the limits, and it results in very powerful episodes thanks to dozens of episodes worth of character development.
As much as the imperfections mentioned earlier in the review are apparent in the show, they are mostly in the earlier half, but at some point, after the first season comprising of 26 episodes, the wrinkles are smoothed out and the occasional moustache-twirling bad guy or belief-stretching plot-point are erased, until that last season where the wrinkles begin to appear again, leaving us mostly with a viewing experience packed with quality storytelling, tension, intrigue and sustained drama. You will rarely ever question the intelligence of characters, groan at their actions; blink in disbelief at their motives. LotGH stands out from the crowd for its pitch-perfect characterisation and consistent narrative.
Regarding the art and animation, if you have a problem with sparse architecture, rooms with a handful of chairs and windows, cityscapes with generic skyscrapers and not much else of note; crowd scenes that look like something a high school kid produced with pocket-money budget, then you might have a problem with LotGH. You'd have a problem period, because these flaws are due to budgetary constraints not ineptitude on the art department's behalf. If that irritates you then you're not a reasonable person. You will be placated to know that the art and animation increase slightly over the course of the 9 year production.
A quirk of the budgetary restraints to the animation results in a restrained 'performance' by the characters which is much welcomed. Another undesired trope of the anime medium is blatant facial reactions to various types of news, and some of them are naturally still used in this anime, but for the most part the characters in LotGH don’t overreact as much as other typical anime shows. When a character gives a damning speech for example, his face is static which serves to make him look even more menacing than if the animators went overboard with their tools and made his eyes bulge, irises smaller and veins pop out his head.
You just have to accept you're not going to see pioneering animation and that when a bunch of soldiers go to battle in a spaceship early in the series, there's a reason it looks like five people brawling in a nondescript metallic tube. This is not to say the entire OVA is like this however, as there are still many instances of bold imagery, thousands of ships in symmetry looking like stars is a regular motif, and the space fortresses in particular have a brilliant design with reflective liquid-metal surfaces.
The ship designs; save for Reinhard's and a few other empire ships; aren’t cool-looking. They're not sleek pointy colourful mecha; they're ugly blocky rectangles with many holes that fire lasers into your face. The design is pretty blatant: war isn’t the only thing ugly, the tools employed are also. Millions and millions of humans die in skirmishes, let alone giant battles. The cost is so high it’s hard to imagine, but the OVA does a good job of reminding you with visceral scenes of terror and misery.
Space battles consist of pre-20th century naval-inspired conflicts, with large fleets manoeuvring into strategic spots and moving in for the kill. Attacks are planned carefully and carried out methodically, with the occasional WW2 aerial-inspired dogfights with smaller jets taking off the cruisers. It’s totally unlike nearly every other space-set anime.
This war anime not once glorifies or makes the idea of war 'cool' at all. For all the talk of the Gundam franchise putting a more serious face on war in the medium of animation, it still had a kid piloting a mecha day in day out with funky soundtrack accompanying the action scenes. Not to discredit Gundam at all, as its always laid a huge burden on its kid protagonists, but in LotGH there is no subtle or overt undercurrent to the action, it is what it is: millions of people dying over and over again, mostly to the impartially beautiful and tragic classical score that the viewer can take one way or the other. That is to say, beautiful or tragic.
Chopin, Mozart, Dvorak, Wagner, Mahler, Bach, Bruckner, Brahms, LotGH rarely uses the same piece twice, which is why the LotGH soundtrack box set is massive. 23 CDs total, a behemoth of classical music, an amazing gateway for newbies to the genre, or a greatest hits for veterans. The OVA's soundtrack is timeless, much like its story. There are re-used themes and motifs, but every episode will feature a few compositions not used already. The classical nature of the music heightens the story to epic proportions, the premise is monumental and so should its soundtrack be also.
As for the voice acting, featuring such luminaries as Norio Wakamoto, Kaneto Shiozawa, and Toshio Furukawa, it is a classic cast, accompanied by a classic soundtrack. The OVA excels in audio, even if the visuals don’t.
There is so much depth that the OVA even has a character watch a documentary about the history of humanity. We observe with him a typical documentary format programme, complete with host, his academic credits displayed beside his name; documentary clips and interviews to supplant his monologue of humanity's actions since the latter half of the 21st century.
Rather than be a gimmick, it’s actually a validation of many of the show's quirks, stylistic choices and script decisions made. It provides more context to the story, shedding light on the backdrop of the saga, and the fact that we don’t even see this, the first of a few documentary-based episodes, until well over 30 episodes into the OVA is a testament to the fact that the writers of the OVA respect us, the viewer.
The documentary's content is so full of depth, imagination and epic scope it’s practically an anime in its own right. Indicative of LotGH, that there are so many story arcs or episodes that other anime would stretch into 25 episode series, but they're merely window-dressing in this OVA. Not only is the documentary episode one of the best of the OVA for its rich depiction of a future history, but because of how it changes the dynamic of the entire show, bombarding us with new facts and revelations of how these two systems of living came to be. As such, it is placed where it is with very good reason.
LotGH isn’t all serious politicking and battling, it’s carried by humour all throughout. A type of humour seriously lacking in most anime; that is to say a type of humour that doesn’t rely on slapstick, the breaking of physics, and lurid sex as a topic. The characters in LotGH are cynicists and realists; their humour is a defiant protest at their situation, the futility of war and all it entails. LotGH's humour is largely through dialogue, not sight gags. Vonnegut, Kafka, Heller, these novelists voices are heard in the mouths of many characters, from main protagonists to random fighter pilots, these men are all fed up of dying for no good reason and blow off steam with witty wordplay.
The entire anime is an in-depth exploration of two systems, approached from every direction imaginable, every context; every situation; the ramifications of military, politics, religion and media, of dynasty, lineage and class. It doesn’t lean heavily on one side or the other; both have their pros and cons when looked at objectively. What’s worse, the story ponders: a corrupt democracy or a reformed autocracy? There is of course an idealistic current running through the more relatable characters, those who dream of a universe with peace and equality, of ridding society of corruption and terror. How to go about it of course is up for debate, usually with fleets and bombs.
LotGH is a 6 year saga charting the 3 thousand year battle of humanity with itself, repeating history's mistakes and endeavours. When a character mentions something that happened six years ago, you actually remember the recalled event, because that’s how long the story is. You feel immersed in it, an invisible comrade; a third wheel standing to the side and reminiscing along with the characters. It’s inexplicable but the OVA gets better the more you watch. Every twenty or so episodes the quality rises and the storytelling becomes even more addictive.
There isn’t a single bad episode in the whole 110 episode run. Not only that, but you never know what to expect either, unlike the vast majority of other anime which have a clear narrative of beats: protagonist starts on A, must get to B, must end up at C. With LotGH the plot is so rich, the world so vast, the characters so many, you can never predict what people are going to do next, where they'll end up or what will happen. LotGH's depth is unparalleled.
The saga goes through year after year and you feel the weight with each season, you watch the characters grow together or drift apart, you see setups one episode then pay-offs dozens of episodes later, you see friendships, rivalries, enemies, comrades, battles, love, marriage, birth and death, you see it all. Nothing is left out, absolutely nothing. Other series are just as long, other series have better animation, but no other series is as far-reaching in depth and consistently intelligent and accomplished.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a legend of the anime medium. The greatest anime production in its history.
This is easily the most overrated anime of all time. When I first came to MAL, I didn't hear much about it. About August 2008 I started seeing it being recommended by people in the Recommendation forum. I didn't pay attention to it. Fast forward to 2009, March to be exact, and I'm seeing it being recommended left and right, and being hailed as the greatest anime of all time. Many people even went as far to say that if you didn't like LOGH, you had no taste in anime. So I started to think that I may want to watch it. I went
to it's page and found that it was ranked in the top 5.
That's when I initially started watching it. April, 2009.
Now, I watched the first 7 episodes and thought to myself "Well, it's starting off a little slow, maybe it will pick up." You see, by the first episode, I was already bored. I put it on my On Hold list.
Then, September 2009, I decided I would give it another chance, I thought that maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind back in April, and that I really had made a mistake by putting it on hold. It turns out it was a mistake to put it on hold, I should have put it where it belonged - in dropped.
You see, it never got any less boring. In fact, it got even more and more tedious, until it at episode 20, it began to be a chore to watch it. I would actually DREAD my anime watching time, because I had to watch LOGH, the 'great anime of all time'. If I could give it a 0 for enjoyment, I would. Hell, this sounds corny, but I would give it a -10, if I could. Alas, I cannot. So I give it a 1. This is about the most boring anime ever.
Shouldn't anime be enjoyable? If an anime isn't enjoyable, hasn't it failed? In my opinion, yes, Anime should be enjoyable. In my opinion, LOGH isn't. I know there are people who share this opinion, but are just to afraid to voice it, due to the people who actaully have the patience to finish the horrid show being vicious when disagreed with about the show, like rapid, foaming at the mouth Twilight fangirls.
Story - 6/10
Almost directly plagiarized from Star Wars. I'm surprised George Lucas hasn't sued them. Imagine Star Wars, only with no light sabers, no plasma guns, and no awesomeness. Oh! And it's run by aristocrats from France. Alright, now you have Legend of the Galactic Heroes. If you haven't seen Star Wars, just imagine Star Trek, only more boring. If you haven't seen either of those, I'm not sure why you're even reading my review.
Art - 7/10
Nothing to write home about. Very average. Almost everything I watched was a Laserdisc rip though, so you can kind of see how it might not look too nice. I mean the art really is truly average 90's art, which I happen to be a fan of. But that's it. Nothing special. I will add though that the command deck for the Empire is quite detailed.
Sound - 4/10
Subpar - not even worth getting into. Very little background noise, just voices, and many annoying ones at that.
Character - 4/10
You know lots of people rant and rave about how human the characters in this series are. The trouble is, they aren't. Every character - stock. It's like the author of the original book (ahaha, yes I do know that much!) just got a list of all the stock characters of all time and just decided "Whoop! I guess I'll use these!"
Yeah, so all in all, LOGH isn't worth your time, or hard drive space since the only way to watch it is to download. Most people who will read this review will probably be outraged. Hey - if this review has angered you, feel free to leave me a comment about it. But atleast be civil. Remember that everybody's opionion is different, and just because I don't agree that LOGH is the best anime ever doesn't mean I'm stupid, dumb, or have bad taste. It just means I didn't like LOGH.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an epic tale of the rise to power of two men born at the right time on opposite sides, leading to a clash of brilliant spectacle that could only be executed with care in as an animated original.
Though Legend of Galactic Heroes is 20 years old the visual quality and care is quite priceless. As a viewer who is reluctant to watch series over 40 episodes or over 10 years old, I was taken aback by the engaging art ranging from Ancient Rome, to Victorian England, to Blade Runner-esque futuristic set-pieces and costuming. Both factions, The Free
Planets' Alliance and the Galactic Empire, had its own distinctive look, engaging the eye in nearly every direction. Add to these looks, the numerous space battles waging between the two factions and you have a piece of art that is timeless.
Sound - 10/10
Legend of Galactic Heroes boasts over 100 individual voice actors with, I believe only one person, doubling up. This show is a veritable "who's who" of the time's voice talent, and many of these talents are still working today. The quality of performance from this cast is overwhelmingly great. The actors take to both comedy and drama with a meticulous sense of intelligence, and there are few, if any times I found an actor to have either over or under-played a scene. Musically, this anime uses very well-placed classical music as the aural backdrop for the series, and perhaps the only flaw musically are the opening themes, rife with pitchy, technically abominable singing, but because it is so little of the sound content, then I can personally overlook it.
Characters - 10/10
In this show you would be hard-pressed to find a character that does not serve a definite purpose. There is a large cast of characters ranging from princes and generals to whores and religious fanatics. Each character plays his part in the machine of this show, all believably true to their actions. The only flaw with the characters I suppose is names. While the show is good on giving viewers subtitles to serve as a reminder, because these are German names and those of nobility (which also includes titles) there is a double edged sword that both breeds authenticity and becomes mnemonically troublesome.
Story - 9/10
LoGH is a magnificent space opera that delves into philosophy and politics with an unmatched ease. It is clear where shows like Death Note, Code Geass and creators such as Clamp get their influence from when watching this show. While the writing suffers a bit in the final 15-20 episodes, the slack is picked up by the extraordinary momentum the writers and voice cast from the previous 90 episodes created. Even with those flaws, there are no instances of stagnation in the narrative. The show is always distinctively going somewhere, elegantly leading the viewer with excellently written narration to help with suspense. LoGH also manages to integrate fictional technology into the story with out it overwhelming the viewer, or being an excuse for trite deus ex machina.
Enjoyment - 10/10
For someone who is very picky about show length and characters, I was truly stunned by the way this show was tightly managed as a narrative. The pace is a very consistent and mild to help go back and forth between raising questions and finding resolution. LoGH was a highly satisfying experience, and its a shame it was never brought to English so that it could find a bigger audience. I think it's the type of show that Adult Swim, or G4 (when it was TechTV with Anime Unleashed) would have eagerly consumed at the beginning of their respective launches.
An overhyped, overrated, inflated-by-details anime of Mary-Sue dialogues and bland battles. When somebody says "the show doesn't get good until 20+ episodes in," you know there's something wrong. As you can already tell, nothing good can come from me writing this review. Legend of The Galactic Heroes is beloved on this site. A great deal of people call it a classic, and here I am writing about it being only "average." I have not finished the series; I can't, and this review is intended to tell you why I can't, but also why others like me, who bought into the hype, shouldn't waste their time.
story of Legend of the Galactic Heroes follow the protracted war between the The Galactic Empire and Free Planets Alliance with a stunning degree of depth. You will know why the war started, who started it, why they started it, and why it mattered. What you might wonder is: why does it matter to you? This is where the main problem with LoGH arises, and the first problem with the story. This is a series of details, not entertainment, not development, not provoking ideas, but details. This is where LoGH gets its staggering 110 non-filler episodes. It is a slow, crawling assault of information, completely useless to the viewer. If you enjoy fictional history, this will not be a problem for you. You'll even be treated to several episodes of literal fake history lessons, in a documentary-style format, with interviews from fake historians and everything. Having fun, yet?
The second problem is actually with its characters. They fall into only two categories: Mary Sues and trying too hard. The main characters, Yang Wenli and Reinhard Lohengramm, can twist probability and reason in such ways that would make the characters in Gurren Lagann blush; they can do no wrong. Yang Wenli is outgunned to some astronomical degree like 1 to 100 most of the time and he wins because of "superior strategy" or "morale" which is never actually depicted, but more on that later. Julian, Yang's boy servant, can also do no wrong. He'll commandeer warships with little or no effort, and the writers never try to disguise this; when a character dies in LoGH, it isn't because their personality or choices brought them to error, but because Reinhard and Yang want them to die, or it's allegorical enough.
This is where trying too hard comes into play. Look no further than the character Poplan, where you'll notice it first. He's horny, and he will appear in no scene without reminding you he likes women. That's his only trait. Oberstein will go through every scene looking suspicious only to have absolutely no payoff through the entire series. But, an even greater insult to this cast is Fredrica Greenhill. She blatantly admits she's useless aside from making sandwiches and tea. We get it, these are one-note characters. Besides the Mary Sues, you cannot care about the cast, making over half the characters uninteresting; most of them just serve as vehicles for the three main characters to spout more of their ideals, anyway.
Besides, how does "morale" make a difference to Yang? Does morale make lasers stronger or weaker? These are space ships; morale has no bearing on the functioning on mechanical things. Morale barely has an effect on weapons in our time, much less in the future. Yes, everything you heard about the tactics in LoGH is a joke. They use simplistic, planetary ideas like "circle around behind them" or "don't tell them about our main fleet," and apparently, that's very impressive to a lot of people. You won't need to worry about this, though, because action is sparse in LoGH. Yes, our Mary Sues prefer to drink, eat, stare out windows, and philosophize for most of their screen time away. You ever wondered how Yang feels about democracy? You're gonna know. You're gonna know over and over again.
The third issue with the story is that it's entirely implausible. There's only two ways for the enemies to cross into each other's territories, and they never really explain why other than "we'll die." Wars are lost and the remnant survivors are still seemingly able to combat the enemy for the sake of plot. Also, in the future, wars are waged with axes and armor, lasers are less lethal than bullets, and everybody lives like it's the 1900's. LoGH exists in some strange mindset of the future where we got into space (somehow), developed some very limited mass-communication, and all personal military technology stayed in the Middle Ages. The show Star Trek did it better in the 1960s, and even changed the world we live in with its ideas (like the wireless communicator AKA cell-phone). What is LoGH's excuse? It doesn't have one, it's just not creative enough. One would think, given the absurd amount of historical and political babble, that this show would've given equal care to imagine life in outer space, but it doesn't.
While the creativity and story of LoGH is sickeningly weak, the art doesn't fair much better. Classic and orchestral music scores carry the scenes well, but can't save them from looking bland. The characters are barely animated, even compared to other anime of this era. True, there's some shocking scenes of gore randomly spread about, but the action mostly come down to short bursts of lasers, explosions, and blood effects. It lumbers monotonously, but it does it to a classy sound-track.
So, apparently, the only attraction of this show is the dialogues between the Mary Sues. Indeed, they touch on a lot of philosophical and political subjects that are more relevant now than they were when the show was made, but this raises the question: why aren't you just reading about politics? The ridiculous scenario of this story's conflict, and the sheer "eminence" of its main characters makes it impossible to take seriously, yet it commands you to, and that's its ultimate downfall; All of LoGH's flaws could work if the show took itself less seriously, but it's direly serious, and so are its flaws.
Let's sum up. The main attraction for Legend of The Galactic Heroes is the ability for one to say "I watched something from the 1980's that nobody's heard about or cares about." Then, one can say "It was mature and intelligent, despite the fact I learned nothing." This show is a waste of time as entertainment, an example of what not to do with a show about the future, space, philosophy, politics, and the human condition. It lacks feasibility, it lacks imagination, and it lacks catharsis. There's a reason only MAL and hipsters care about LoGH, and everyone else knows Star Trek and Star Wars. Those had vision and creativity that inspired scientists and the generations to come. LoGH has 110 episodes nobody watched, flat characters nobody would recognize or identify with, and a literal universe of wasted potential.
It is so rare to find any type of lengthy series that span over 100 episodes without declining in quality over its duration due to various factors such as the abundance of inconsistencies in the story, or rehashing the same narrative structural wise, which is pretty common in long running series. Other limiting factors are the available funds for its execution, or its own popularity, which can induce authors to change the course of the story. However, there is one title that managed to evade said issues, being an adaptation of a series of novels by Yoshiki Tanaka, with a lengthy production of 110 OVA
episodes released over the span of nine full years, from the period 1988 to 1997.
I am talking of course of "Legend of the Galactic Heroes" or in its japanese title, "Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu", which is by far one of the best series I have watched so far, from all different mediums. It is a magnificent military space opera anime with drama and sci-fi, enriched with military warfare, intricate political strive, marvelous characters and fantastic dialogue. It is a tale that ultimately proposes a vision society often pondered about, and that is the validity of democracy and autocracy. Many people may have assumed that this anime is purely narrative driven, being its main focus dialogue, which is partially true, yet it has so much more to offer; naturally, it has its flaws as well, which I will try to depict below in addition to its strengths.
The story of Legend of the Galactic Heroes focuses on the 6 year period in which the two main political factions of the galaxy clash, the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, with Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wenli as the most important figures respectively. However, this interstellar war has been waging for over 150 years, with casualties over the millions, marked by the crumbling Goldenbaum dynasty which rules the Empire, and the dysfunctional democratic state of the Alliance. Both Yang and Reinhard, have a reason for being engrossed in military affairs: one to finance his university education, while the other to save his sister from the Emperor. Both being the geniuses they are, they clash with each other in accordance to the pursuit of their goals. As they gain fame and deal with their superiors, people, scheming, political and military warfare, those are the aspects that will dominate these men's life.
The premise may seem simple as first, which may appear as a struggle of good, democracy, against evil, autocracy; however, this is absolutely not the case. The anime portrays magnificently both sides, the first at its worst, while the other at its best respectively through the numerous advantages and flaws of both political ideologies. For example, democracy being a huge impediment for drastic changes, as opposed to autocracy. This makes it for the viewer impossible to root for a specific system, as in addition each side has its own charming/interesting characters. Furthermore, it leaves audiences pondering which is actually favourable, besides making the story unpredictable and exciting.
As mentioned earlier, the story expands greatly on both ideologies with intricate political disputes that are well presented as it is realistically displayed to the viewer, with different things such as Nationalism, exploitation of the weak, oppression, you name it. Then there is another faction in the story, and that is "Terraism", which represents religious belief. This party was of significant importance in the anime, yet its motives and background was weak and never really expanded on; besides, its enormous influence would have many viewers raise their eyebrows whether this should be believable or not. Another lacking aspect was the fact that it didn't expand on the advantages of a religion, rather only focusing on the worst of it. Being an atheist myself, I still find this a lacking aspect. It should be mentioned that there is at times an external narrator to explain the situations to the viewer, including future events, which in the eyes of some may be a hindrance.
The vast amount of episodes may deem viewers to think that the pacing is way too slow for its own good, yet this is not the case; contrary, in my humble opinion, its pacing is flawlessly done, befitting of the narrative. Detailed, rational and straight to the point dialogues are present, which are necessary for character exploration, as well as leaving viewers absorbed in it. Some audiences suggests that the first grand arc is slow, yet I tend to disagree with this; from the very first few episodes, it foreshadows on the big events that are to come, instantly leaving anyone interested, be it the story or the characters itself. In addition, LotGH does a fantastic job in world building, by exploring the characters and explaining the history of how human race developed since leaving Earth, as well as political events relatable to real historical data. However, speaking of the world, or in this case the universe, its map layout is oversimplified to a 2 dimensional plane, which is naturally not the case in space. Besides, the lone planet of Phezzan is supposedly of great economic influence, yet how or why it is, was never fully explored in the anime.
Naturally, it is not all politics: war is waged to achieve afore-mentioned stances and goals. The various battles that take place throughout its duration are no simple "asspulls": these are all well-coordinated through the cunning of the different commanders of each fleet, and their tactical strategies and knowledge. However, it must be mentioned that said strategies are simplified in order for audiences to easily grasp and understand said tactics, which can be lacking in the eyes of some, in addition to display to viewers that not everyone in high positions are smart. These battles are in addition of big scale: people die in the ten's of thousands, if not millions, easily discerning the damage and scale of each confrontation. Neither it is a one-sided war: through intrigue, political corruption, conspiracies and civil wars, the outcomes of battles are often unpredictable generating a lot of tension for the viewer, in addition to appreciate the cunning of different individuals.
There is a downside with the show though, even when it shows the ugly sides of warfare, it is slightly romanticized version, with subjects such as glory and honor, which not always blend in well realistically speaking - this doesn't mean that the fights are tensionless. Hand-to-hand battles are present as well, and these are done with battle axes most of the time, which is strange considering the advanced technology available. Another thing to point out would be the different strategies used: the majority is based on true historical recordings of medieval times, yet there is the problem that these are meant for ground battles, not three-dimensional warfare. Finally, some may indicate that the knowledge of the different commanders of each faction have too much influence in the battles, while at times acting a bit too convenient for plot progression, yet this was a small drawback.
LotGH is not all death and mayhem, it also has its share of slice of life moments, as well as humor to relieve the tension of the situation at times. These are well done, explored though the characters personalities and conceptions of each situation. For example, taken from a conversation in the anime: Soldier: "Your left leg has been crushed" Commander: "Your reports has always been effective vice-admiral" - through the personalities of the characters, such situations and dialogues are easily either humerous or inspiring for the audience.
The cast of characters in Legend of the Galactic Heroes is huge to say least: each has a role to play, and are of importance, being evenly distributed between the different factions in the anime. Most of the character development is rather small, which may be a drawback for some, yet it could be said that it is crucial, as their beliefs are not easily bended to accommodate sudden plot changes, which adds to the intrigue and credibility of the story. Another strong point of the series is the fact that these are not your typical heroes, they're aware of their actions and the consequences, constantly thinking whether their actions are right or not, pondering if it is justifiable with their beliefs, and with society. Furthermore, these need support soldiers to be able to operate and execute their ideas.
There is also the fact that the every single character is susceptible to death, and when it happens, it would hit any viewer as a train as audiences experienced and got to know the character from the beginning to the end. A positive aspect is that these are not over-glorified deaths as is frequent in other mediums: these death's are often simple and befitting of the atmosphere it was trying to portray at the time. Other thing to note is that although the presence of woman is scarce, and seem to take a back role when it comes to warfare, it never sexualizes them in any way; in fact, these are very capable and independent.
Moving on to the different characters, from the Alliance, there is Yang Wenli, who is the likable type of character, intelligent and very cunning: in fact, his genius is one of the best among the last centuries of history. In addition, he is a pacifist which is strongly engrained in his beliefs of democracy, which he firmly stands on. He could be seen as a perfect character military wise, which may be deemed by some as unrealistic, yet is clumsy in daily situations. Then there are others such as Julian Minci, who is in care of Yang, Frederica Greenhill or Attenbourgh; who will forget the likes of Walter von Schennkoppf or Bucock?
On the Galactic Empire side there are arguable more characters of interest. First you have Reinhard von Lohengramm, a strong-willed, naturally talented person. Viewers could describe him as the perfect alpha male, yet as will be apparent, Reinhard has its own weaknesses. There is certain character development presented, being affected by the various situations and character interactions. His motives may seem rather weak, yet is at the same time not overly dramatic, as is seen on his background stories. Kircheis is of sum importance as well, as he is the closest friend to Reinhard, and serves as counselor against some of his friends actions.
Then there is Oskar van Reuenthal, which at first isn't that interesting, yet as story progresses, audiences observe and learn his character, a strong-willed individual with moral, composed and wise, while at the same time stubborn. What makes him so interesting is the fact that he struggles to find his meaning in life, and on how his childhood was. In fact, he could be described as a ticking time bomb, were it not for the fact of the soothing presence of his friend Wolfgang Mittermeyer, renown for his boldness in warfare, yet kind. Other outstanding character is Paul von Oberstein, an emotionless mysterious man, who firmly believes in the better good, yet with all motives based on reason, which he is often criticised for.
The supporting cast play an important role as well, as without them, the main characters wouldn't be as well presented or fleshed out. The representation of human disputes for glory or status is likewise well relayed to the viewer, as it is a very accurate representation of human behaviour. It also introduces Maquiavellism for the justification of fights, another thing to ponder for the protagonist. Other good point of the anime is that there is racial diversity. A small drawback would be the fact that there are no alien races, only humans, which might seem odd considering a vast amount of space is already explored without encountering any other types of life forms.
The animation quality of Legend of the Galactic Heroes is rather lackluster, even considering it began airing in 1988: background characters were badly drawn, motions being very basic, not always fluid as desired and the likes. Nevertheless, it must be said that the quality certainly improved over the course of the story, which is rare in the medium. The character's design is something to behold as well: these are as realistically as possible designed, which enhanced the overall serious atmosphere it was trying to portray; furthermore, facial expressions are not exaggerated either, having the various personalities of said characters come over magnificently.
The animation of the different battles fulfilled its purpose, yet the motions were basic as well, and sometimes rehashed. Nonetheless, the design of the various battle ships and military tools made up for it: these are not fleshy mecha robots, but blunt quadratic structures, best suited for space warfare. In addition, there is also a lot of explosions and gore, accurately representing what war really is: ugly and cruel. Other element to remark is the use of simplified schemes on computer panels on the movement of the enemies, in order to make the viewer quickly understand the situation of the battlefield.
The soundtrack used in Legend of the Galactic Heroes may not have been of original material, yet the compositions used were magnificent, and never overused. Artist such as Beethoven, Wagner, Chopin, Brahms or Mahler are on the order of the day, wonderfully transmitting the atmosphere and emotions it is trying to relay to the audience. The opening and ending songs don't fall short either, yet with compositions such as "Hikari no Hashi wo koete" by Kei Ogura encapsulates truly what LotGH really is: a glorious space opera. The sound effects of the battleships themselves may have been simplified to laser beam sounds, besides of the issue with sound effects in space: though entertaining, it isn't realistic.
Where it truly shines as well are its huge cast of voice actors: with over 300 of them, each for all the different characters present in the anime: this is truly dedication to a series. The voice actor performed their role masterfully, carefully conveying the different emotions presented, as well as the different personalities each character had. People like Wakamoto Norio as Oskar von Reuenthal, Kaneto Shiozawa, Toshio Furkawa, you name it.
Having dived in expecting a slow start, I was pleasantly surprised: the story gripped me form the very first moment with its clever dialogues, to build further up into even better story and execution of it. Legend of the Galactic Heroes falls nothing short of a masterpiece, with a fantastic narrative, complex and intricate story, a huge cast of very memorable and fantastic characters, in addition to a glorious OST, befitting of the anime. Naturally it has its flaws, such as exploration on the motives of some factions, or some oversimplified characters, yet I believe these are minor, and of all the things it executes well, it easily overshadows these. LotGH may have easily inclined me to try out other space operas.
So do I recommend Legend of the Galactic Heroes? Yes, I wholeheartedly do to anyone. Surely the mere length and outdated animation of the series may put some viewers off, yet they will find themselves pleasantly rewarded. Don't expect any fancy overpowered characters or the likes, rather a well crafted story of the universe and battles amongst the stars. This is what could be considered the true Star Wars, a true epic.
History is not just the study of the past, but the events that occur throughout history hold a different meaning for different people. These past events encompass the overall thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and conceptions of all those who lived throughout it. When a war between two different states and political ideologies breaks out with both states claiming to be fighting on the side of righteousness, which side is truly the right one? This is the overarching theme of of the epic 110 episode OVA space opera, Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Adapted from the science fiction novel series by Yoshiki Tanaka and directed
by famed Ishiguro Noboru (SDF Macross), LotGH is a brilliantly orchestrated OVA that is carried out through its overall grandeur presentation of political and historical ideas, magnificently choreographed battles, and through an impressively well thought out storyline and characters that leaves you begging for more.
LotGH is a space opera that takes place in the distant future. It shows the continuous struggle between believers in the democratic republic political system of the Free Planets Alliance and those who follow the rule and will of the Galactic Empire’s autocratic government. For hundreds of years, these two states have been battling it out through continuous, stalemated conflict in the depths of space. With both political factions becoming stagnant over the years, as corruption has seeped into both, the ambitions of one up-and-coming young admiral of the Galactic Empire, Reinhard von Musel, seeks to rid the Empire of the corruption and unite the galaxy under his own rule. On the other side of the spectrum and galaxy, admiral Yang Wenli observes the corruption that is strangling his country but hopes that through the will of the people and through time, the corruption will be rooted out. As time progresses, these two will become rivals and show one another that they are not only equals on the battlefield, but in intellect and charisma as well.
LotGH has one of the greatest stories ever written in not just anime, but of any media of all time. The scope of the story is so vast and dynamic that it instantly sucks the viewer into the frenzy that is galactic politics and warfare. The fact that this is the longest OVA ever to come out may deter some due to its great size but do not be turned off. To achieve such brilliant storytelling, the series makes great use of every episode and fleshes out every possible detail leaving out the chance of ever having a plot hole.
The story relies on giving the viewer not just one view point of the events carrying on within the story but a look through all the characters in the story. From Reinhard and his friends and allies to Yang and his allies, each character shares their thoughts on the conflict going on within each respective camp and their own personal philosophies. Because of this, the story gives us no protagonist or antagonist, but only human beings interacting and coping with the social, political and military changes within their society. It is interesting to see how each character reacts to the maelstrom of changes within the Empire and the Alliance. You will see that through the growing political and military strife certain characters try to use such instances to gain power and further their reputation or turn a blind eye to it for it does not suit the interests. Because of this, the viewer will see a flow within the events that make absolute coherent sense. This creates the overall theme that future events will occur as a result of the actions and will of others. It is also interesting to see the different philosophies the characters hold. Because the show is neutral regarding almost every matter, you will never see another show give such valid, strong, and well sounded arguments on why an autocracy is a better form of government than a democracy, especially when the former is under benevolent leadership and the other rotting from corruption. It is this gray area that the viewer can decided and see where their morals and philosophies lie and see if one argument can sway them to the other viewpoint or at least get them to think more critically on their own viewpoints.
It is because of such care and detail given to the story on such issues that the viewer is able to find at least a handful of characters they can relate to and even admire. For some, the overall humbleness, laziness and intelligence of Yang greatly contrast the constantly battle hungry, charismatic, power seeking Reinhard. But even though the two characters contrast so greatly in personality, you do see that they are also greatly similar and admired by friends and soldiers alike. But the story does not just focus on these two main characters as the show an amazingly large cast of supporting characters that are given a lot of depth and personality that makes them differ from others. From the Alliane’s tough and ready Rosenritter leader General Schenkopp, the goofy personalities of pilot Oliver Poplan and admiral Dusty Attenboroguh to the protégé of Yang in Julian Minci, each character within the Alliance is distinct in some shape or form. This also applies to the men and women of the Empire as the best friends of admirals Oskar von Reunthal and Wolfgang Mittermeyer contrast greatly and serves as a great dichotomy on how opposites can attract. You also have the third parties of De Villiers of the Earth Church trying to stop both Reinhard and Yang from succeeding in their goals and Adrian Rubinsky of the autonomous Phezzan trying to play the Alliance and the Empire for his own personal gain and quest for power. What adds to this depth of the characters is the brilliant voice acting done for the show. With a show of this size, low of a budget and number of characters, you would think that voices would be recycled for some. You would be wrong. Only one person voices two characters in this entire series, one. The rest has their own individual seiyuu that adds a great deal of life and personality to the character that could not be possible if the voices were in fact recycled. Seiyuus such as Goro Naya, Kei Tomiyama, Ryo Horiwaka and Norio Wakamoto give their respective characters such great personality that adds to the already dynamic traits of the characters within the series.
If it is anything that LotGH lacks, it’s in the artwork and animation department. Because the show started out in 1988 and ended its run in 1997, you will see a marked improvement in this category but the animation and art still seems to be not as detailed and beautiful to the eye as other contemporary animes. But does this mean the show is ugly looking? Not at all. The character bodies look very realistic in portion and design instead of the over exaggerated anime style and the detail in the background and objects such as the space ships is impressive but the animation is still suffers from stiffness at times and not as fluid as it could be. But as said before, this does greatly improve from season to season as more time and effort gets spent into making the show look stunningly impressive. However, these small hiccups and blemishes in the artwork and animation can be contributed to the small budget that the OVA had during its run and thus when looking at, one may want to keep this in mind as the show was not being produced by a company like Kyoto Animation.
What is truly remarkable is the score for this show. LotGH utilizes a vast array of classical composers and their compositions such as Mahler, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahmas and Wagner. This gives the show a timeless, ageless feel that classical music often lends itself to. These compositions are always fitting to the situation and never come as underwhelming or overly pompous and melodramatic. The music isn’t just a means to an end but really does contribute to the overall atmosphere and adds another dimension of character to the show. The opening and closing songs for LotGH are amazingly well crafted and fits the mood of each season as they are almost hints to what you may see in that season. The particular stand out is the 3rd opening song of “Sea of Stars”. It may be one of the greatest opening songs for it’s sheer power and ability to move the viewer emotionally.
Overall, LotGH is a magnificent show that does not fail to impress in any shape or form. With its multidimensional characters, impressive story and themes that cover history, politics, social issues, and philosophy, the OVA is a remarkable showing of human intelligence and creativity that requires thought and judgment from the viewer. Many shows are called epic and seen as brilliant though they have glaring flaws that make them not even close to that criteria, but LotGH is truly one of those series that goes above and beyond the call of epic works and is truly a milestone in anime history. May foppery and whim be with you
I can’t believe people has dubbed this most intellectual and complex to have come to anime. This is pretty much all talk and an unoriginal generic war story. Basically it follows two homos and a guy who drinks tea on death star. These three are your typical “fight against the man because they are corrupted” characters. Of course everyone is corrupted because apparently humanity always ruins itself in the future. Humanity is split apart so our heroes must re-unite the universe, lame. If this was like 50 episodes I would probably rate this 7 and consider recommending to people.
This anime pretty much consists of dialogue
that people claim to be complex and deep but is actually boring and made up of re-used history quotes.
I am going to pull a LoGH right now,
“One cannot taste bitter until one has tasted sweet.” -Confucius
“I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars” –The Flobots
“For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool” –Isiah 8
“They ask me why I do it? Cause I’m the fkin man” -Belly
I guarantee you a bunch of LoGH fans just saluted me with tea in the air and pinkie’s up.
There are like 100 characters and 90% of them die with incredible stupidity. All the bad guys are pretty much lame and underdeveloped. They die a dog’s death and never even put up a good fight. All I saw was victory after victory with no conflict. The only interesting battles are when some blonde woman battles a dorky looking blue haired guy.
The art and animation is pretty lame, movements are stiff and pretty much everyone is ugly.
The sound is the best part of this anime. It uses a lot of classical music which really fits sophisticated intellectuals like me. I really hate everyone’s voices though because they all sound emotionless throughout the entire 110 episodes.
A lot of people like comparing this to Code Geass and I don’t know why because Code Geass is a million times better. All the fanboys think that Reinhard is better but if Lelouch was there then he would should who is boss.
Firstly, if some girly looking 18 year old guy can break onto Reinhard’s flagship with an axe then Lelouch, an 18 year old with the power of kings and a Gawain mecha with inbuilt hadron cannons could easily rip apart Reinhard’s flagship. But Reinhard would be extremely useful if under Lelouch’s command so he wouldn’t kill Reinhard.
Since Reinhard is so GAR he would just sit there in his chair waiting to be influenced by the power of geass. He wouldn’t use any headgear to block his eyes because of his gar pride. Then Lelouch would not only be Emperor of Britannia but also Kaiser of the Galactic Empire, and he would rule the entire universe.
Dammmmmmnnnnn a bunch of LoGH fanboys are crying right now and I’m just sitting here sipping on Yang’s tea.
If you want to be bored out of your mind and live in stale air for 110 episodes then go ahead and watch LoGH. By the time you finish you will probably have pale skin from the lack of sunlight. The ending is really crappy too, I was crying manly tears because I wasted so much time on this lame anime.
It finally happened. I'm finally going to review what is probably the most beloved anime on all of MAL. An anime so sacred that even trolls on 4chan don't dare to insult it and sully its glorious name! I'm sure everyone reading this review is already quite aware how amazing this anime is, so I am going to talk about WHY it's so good, why you should watch it, and even discuss some minor imperfections (gasp). I'm finally on Summer break from medical school, so I can afford to write a long review! I picked the right series for this!
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is
so grand scale and epic in terms of plot complexity and number of characters, that I feel it would overwhelm the reader if I actually tried during this review to summarize everything that happens in the plot and describe all the characters. This review would be at least 20 Microsoft Word pages long! Instead, I shall divide the review into strong points and minor imperfections.
Why is LOTGH so good?
1. The characters. It has an absolutely massive cast of characters that captures a wide range of personality types, morality, and world outlooks. I could write ALL DAY talking about the different characters, so instead I am just going to talk about the main 2 characters. The main character is the ambitious Reinhardt von Lohengramm, who wishes to overthrow the corrupt monarchy and conquer the galaxy to create a new age of prosperity with him leading it. Reinhardt seems to take personality traits and characteristics from several historical figures including Fredrick the Great, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great. For example, like Julius Caesar he sees a less than satisfactory government and believes that he is the man that can lead his nation to greatness, even if it means overturning the old order. Also like Julius Caesar, he dies immediately after establishing his empire and doesn't live to enjoy the fruit of his labor. This would also be true of Japan's Oda Nobunaga, who ended the Warring States period and unified Japan, only to get betrayed by one of his generals and forced to commit suicide. Reinhardt actually dies of natural causes unlike those 2, but the result is the same. Like Fredrick the Great, Reinhardt is absolutely brilliant, yet highly introverted and emotionally distant. Also like Fredrick, he is only truly close to one trusted male assistant, leading many to question his heterosexuality. Interestingly, Reinhardt shares this latter trait with Alexander as well. Reinhardt will sometimes resort to ruthless tactics to accomplish his goals, but he has a strong moral conscience and suffers whenever he does. This internal conflict gives depth to Reinhardt's character and makes him easily the most interesting character to watch. Note that I used the word interesting and not necessarily most likeable.
The most likeable character for most viewers is actually the series deuteragonist, named Yang Wenli. Although Yang is extremely likeable and I too love Yang, he is simply too perfect and lacks human flaws that the audience can identify with. He doesn't resemble any historical generals because no one that nice was ever a successful general. The only person Yang resembles is the tank commander from the video game Valkyria Chronicles. Like Valkyria's Welkin Gunther, Yang is a highly quirky, loveable goofball that also happens to be the world's greatest tactician. Despite his godlike gift for military tactics, he doesn't want to be in the military and wishes to be a teacher, but feels obligated to continue protecting the lives of his men once he starts serving. Perhaps Yang's closest link to several historical generals is his unabashed alcoholism and propensity to get sauced. However, Yang is known for never just throwing men at the obstacle, always having highly intricate strategies, and almost always winning the kill ratio. Ultimately, I feel Yang is simply too perfect for his own good, which effects his character depth and overall development. I still love him though!
2. The Politics and Themes. If you thought Game of Thrones had a complex tapestry of politics, then you haven't seen LOTGH. Not only is the sheer number of subplots that the show manages to perfectly tie together impressive, but the show deals with real world problems of governance. Like the epic novel "War and Peace" used war to examine philosophical problems and arguments ranging from agricultural reform to the "Great Man" theory of history, LOTGH uses war to examine the question of whether corrupt democracy is truly better than a well led monarchy. Instead of just spoon feeding the audience the answer that democracy is better and monarchy sucks, like Victor Hugo spent about 400 pages doing in his novel "Les Misrables", LOTGH actually examines the benefits and flaws of both systems and allows the viewer to make their own decision. Holy Shit! LOTGH arguably tackled a topic better than Hugo, one of the greatest novelists of all time. I'm not saying LOTGH is a better work of art obviously since Hugo wins the prose contest by...quite a bit. I'm saying that in terms of debating a key topic, LOTGH really did a better job and for that deserves some serious credit! In terms of literature, LOTGH reminds me quite a bit of Asimov's Foundation series, mixed with Star Wars so it isn't quite so boring and without the absolute obsession with math. Asimov had a jawdropping IQ of 175, which probably QUITE a bit higher than Tanaka's. However...I actually like LOTGH more than Foundation as a work of art! I'm serious! I'm not saying it is objectively better since valid arguments could be made in favor of Foundation , but I AM saying that I personally liked it a LOT more!
3. The Music. If you love classical music than THIS is your anime. Fuck Shigatsu! This has a HUGE selection of great composers and classical works including Mahler, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Schubert, and of course Wagner in keeping with the extreme length of this series. All music is performed by top rated orchestras, so it sounds fantastic! Although Bebop or Rurouni Kenshin probably have the best ORIGINAL soundtracks, LOTGH probably has the best non-original and best overall soundtrack in all of anime!
Now is the part of the review that may anger some people. If you are such a raging LOTGH fanboy that any criticism makes you angry, you may wish to stop reading here.
Why might people NOT like LOTGH?
1. The plot. Didn't I just get done explaining how awesome the plot was? Yes I did, but that doesn't mean it is perfect. It still does do some things that might annoy picky viewers, as I will explain. The entire series involves massive space battles and intricate battlefield tactics that the author Tanaka learned from reading military history. The problem is that he uses REAL battlefield tactics like semi-circle formation, phalanx, the oblique echelon formation used at the Battle of Leuctra in Ancient Greece. So what is the problem with this? Those tactics were designed for fighting on a 2 dimensional plane where your opponents can move side to side and back and forward, but NOT up and down...like if you were FIGHTING IN OUTER SPACE! The 2 BRILLIANT tacticians Yang Weng Li and Fuhrer Reinhardt play 3-D chess using exclusively 2-D strategies. Another problem is that LOTGH makes the HIGHLY unlikely assumption that space warfare will closely resemble land warfare in the 1700s where winning is determined by raw infantry numbers and field position. Each army has about 50,000 mini-star destroyers, which basically replace individual soldiers. The battles are then based off classical battles that Tanaka read about. Space warfare in my opinion would much more likely resemble naval warfare, where navies are ranked by "tonnage" NOT total numbers. A fleet of 11 Nimitz class Aircraft carriers would annihilate an armada of 50,000 speed boats. Naval wars are won and lost not by numbers, but rather by a smaller number of big, important boats. The Empire is revealed to have a giant fortress ripoff of the Death Star that was able to devastate the entire Alliance fleet on 5 occasions with its Death beam. Yet despite the existence of this technology, the empire makes 1 immobile Death Star and 50,000 Star Destroyers. If they had used the same resources to make about 20 mobile Death Stars, they would have slaughtered the Alliance with ease. I guess Tanaka never played Masters of Orion 2?
LOTGH also puts WAY too much emphasis on brilliant generals being the factor that wins and loses wars using the "Great Man" theory of history that no historian has taken seriously since Napoleon lost 200 years ago. Wars are won and lost by logistics, which speaking of logistics brings me to another problem: The logistics, world building, and timeline of this series! Firstly, I will defend Tanaka by saying that some authors, like my personal favorite Dostoevsky, care a LOT more about their themes, messages, and characters, than they do about the plot element. This would actually describe the majority of esteemed classical authors, so Tanaka is in good company by not caring as much about the plot. However, that doesn't actually excuse the author from being completely sloppy with the plot and creating plotholes and continuity errors out the ass!
Tanaka doesn't give a FUCK about the plot, and I will absolutely prove it to you! If you look at the timeline, you will notice that in 150 years a group of 400,000 refugees were able to increase their population to 400 million by the time of the first encounter between the Alliance and Empire. This was BEFORE, immigration from the Empire bolstered the Alliance population. An isolated population was able to increase by 1,000 times in 8 generations. Also keep in mind that this was without MASSIVE cloning, because the Alliance citizens are very diverse and clearly they aren't all clones produced on a conveyor belt like the Clone Troopers in Star Wars. Maybe they were mass produced test tube babies with lots of egg and semen samples to make a diverse crop with artificial insemination? It never states this, so I think it is more likely that Tanaka simply wasn't thinking about the logistics of his timeline. This becomes more likely when you consider the following fuck up. We learn that Earth had a population of 20 billion before a nuclear war reduced it to 1 billion around 2050 AD. The vast majority of the remaining 1 billion people leave Earth and colonize space, leaving just a few million people on highly irradiated and inhospitable Earth. Yet 200 years later, the colonies fight a war with Earth and slaughter 5 billion people by nuking Earth from orbit. Why the FUCK were 5 billion people living on a post nuclear war Earth when we had colonized dozens of planets by that time? Unless the 5 million or so stragglers fucked their brains out and increased 1,000 times in 200 years, which once again is impossible (Nigeria tried HARD and only managed 17X growth in 200 years), or a shitload of people migrated back to a nuclear wasteland out of sheer idiocy. It gets worse. We hear again and again how Earth was rendered completely uninhabitable after the 2nd nuking, yet at the end of the series...there are motherfuckers shown living on Earth again less than a thousand years later! The series went on so long that Tanaka just completely forgot what he wrote! These are the kind of mistakes and highly questionable logistics that plague the timeline. This is a plot that is best examined from a distance, because the closer you look, the more you notice shit like this.
2. the art. Since this is an older series, the art and animation is fairly dated. This didn't bother me, but it might bother some viewers.
3. The pacing. This series is LOOONG! I mean like Longcat long. It is also extremely slow at times and requires a large amount of patience. LOTGH fans will tell people, "don't worry, it starts getting good around episode 60!". The sad thing is that they aren't entirely joking. Not every anime watcher will want to watch a series where the first 26 episodes are basically just an introduction.
4. The sorrow. Do you have a favorite character? He's going to die. I fucking guarantee it. Almost EVERY loveable character dies in this fucking series, and they don't die happy old men.
As much as I bash MAL's ratings and question the dogma of anime forums like reddit and /a/ on 4chan , I will admit that with Legend of the Galactic Heroes...people actually got it right. This REALLY is a great anime that deserves all the praise it gets! Is it a perfect anime with zero flaws? No. I think I just demonstrated a few reasons why some people might not think so. However, I personally really like this series overall and give it a very well deserved 9/10.
Legend of the galactic heroes (LotgH short) is a space opera with a big galactic war as its main theme, where 2 nations are facing each other, The republic side, a democratic nation and the imperial side, which is more of a monarchy. It focuses around the story of 2 young strategists who grew up in opposite nations, each being apparently a prodigy and each fighting for their nation to win.
The problem I have with this anime is that; on the one hand it seemed to focus on making its war story as realistic as possible, like a documentary in a way which makes it
less exciting to watch and on the other hand, it is not an accurate representation of a war, which is the reason I couldn’t really take it any seriously.
I dropped this anime after watching 70 episodes since it takes forever to finish (ok for some people 110 episodes might not be so much) and I couldn’t endure this show any longer. I thought a break would help… Well it made me even less interested in going into it again.
-Story and characters
So what do I mean when I say they focused on making this war story as realistic as possible? Well the show spends a lot of time introducing new side characters, who are either military officials or politicians. A warstory can basically be presented through the eyes of the soldiers on the battle field, through the eyes of the civilians going through food shortages and suffering at home or through the military officials and politicians making the decisions. LotgH surely is the latter. The show doesn’t really establish any emotional connection with any of these characters. They are mostly standing around and talking about this war or something that is connected to it, kind of like a war documentary.
Let’s start by looking at the imperial side: Every character there seems like a typical military officer, an empty shell just there to make orders. Even one of the two main characters, Reinhard doesn’t really stick out of the crowd too much, except that his outfit is a bit fancier. The show later tries to make him more relatable with him having inner monologues, which was a nice effort but sadly a bit too late. They have a few characters who feel like they have some sort of plan and will get interesting at some point but that also happens too slowly.
Then we have the republic side. Here we have 2 character who somewhat stick out of the majority, Yung Wenli, the idealistic young strategist and Julian the kid who follows him around. Now my personal problem with Wenli, which also affects Julian is his never ending speeches about democracy. I heard that people like this show because they think it is “gray” in its depiction. So it isn’t “good vs evil” like many other shows but rather 2 sides which both have their reasons. But Wenli is a contradiction to that. You have an obvious attempt of the author to favor the republic side in a moral manner since the show never brings up arguments for the imperial side. It only tells you how awesome democracy is. This is basically the personality of Wenli, he loves democracy and hates to kill people, which doesn’t prevent him from becoming a commander in war ordering the death of millions. But according to him the death of all the people is always the wars fault, not his, not anyone else of the commanders, but always war. The lack of self-awareness this guy has is astonishing. There are even cases where he orders to destroy millions of ships, possibly carrying billions of people with a recently captured super canon, because their commander didn’t want to retread. Firing a warning shot or only destroying a quarter of their fleet didn’t even occur to him, he just killed them all, without really thinking about all the option he got. Yeah… it’s all wars fault.
I think Wenli as a character is pretty shallow as well, yeah he gives his speeches but there isn’t really anything more to his character. He seems to lack any relatable emotion as well. He is in his constant Wenli phase, which is a combination of mild happiness, mild concern and mild sadness.
The show covers a lot of side details and backstories of characters, but for a reason unknown to me they never mentioned how and where the 2 main characters, Wenli from the republic and Reinhard from the imperials, became such good strategist. That was another reason why I couldn’t relate to them, because I didn't know them. Reinhard had a little bit of a backstory, but that only revolved around his relationship with his sister and I don’t really see his motivation he gets from that throughout the show.
Now let’s talk about why I think the war in this anime wasn’t really well done. First of all the battle are very dry. The battle scenes focused rather on showing you the back and forth of the command of each side, giving orders and then you see some ships shooting at other ships, some ships explode and one side wins. The show constantly praises the main character for being such good strategist, but the audience can’t really experience that by its own. We don’t really have an idea how the battle is set up, what the numbers and the position of the ships are and all the other factors that play key role in the outcome of a battle. It would have been nice if they presented it more like a real documentary, or a game of chess. You get to know the set up and maybe get time to think for yourself how you would win a battle and then see how the geniuses of history made it. Of course are the writers of the show no genius strategic, I don’t expect them to be, but if you have some sort of interest in actual battles you can include some tactics here and there that reminds one of history. But little is seen in this anime. You don’t SEE any kind of great tactics in this ainime, you just see some people shouting some commands, ships explode and then you are told how great of a strategist this one guy is. That’s why the characters don’t feel like geniuses to me. They never show that they are smart in solving a problem. Well there are a few cases where you see some strategy. Such as the time when wenli used asteroids to deceive his enemies, which in my opinion is a very stupid thing to do. The thing is that Wenli puts half his fleet in an asteroid field so that the enemies think it’s the whole fleet, because they only track the numbers of objects with their radio devices. But why does the sensor only track the numbers? There is no such thing as air pollution in space so getting the information that there are 50% asteroids in his fleet can be gotten by looking through a binocular, basically. This is a common example of using a thing that maybe works on earth in the past, but which would completely fail in the future in space. You could say that they used some sort of invisibility (which was never said in the anime) but then again, how can he track down their numbers.
And what would putting your fleet inside an asteroid fleet accomplish?
1. Your ships getting randomly hit by asteroids (unless you can control them ALL, which the show didn’t manage to show how)
2. By asteroids getting blown up next to you and shattered they would also disable your vision or curtain points of your ship may be hit by asteroids parts.
I think this tactic gives more disadvantages than advantages. Anyways, they used the asteroids to quickly hide behind them when they are being fired at by LASER guns, it’s not like these shots travel with light speed or something.
I think that the writers are way more inspired by medieval war, with horse formations and these sorts of things than recent wars, which in my opinion would give a better idea of how war would be fought in space in the future. They also use battle axes and crossbows some times and carry their orders out with good old white paper. It just shows that the script is not well thought through.
And to be honest I think the battles are not really creative as well. In real war you have lots of different tools and weapons that can give you tactical advantages. Artillery, tanks, airplanes, ships, submarines, mines, spies and a whole lot of other things. In LotgH they basically ALL use the same ships, since it is never said that either side has better ships, which all use the same kind of laser to shoot at each other. There are a few rare anomalies but the show is 110 episodes long, so those don’t justify the laziness. They could have used different ship types, which would have made the battles more interesting, some kind of blockades of supply lines or so many other things. They used a black hole once In their battles which I found to be a nice idea but that’s basically it. There was even one scene where they could have used this giant defense canon I previously mentioned, but instead retreaded from it, because they thought that the enemies can’t use it in their attacks anyways (one of the many great plans of Wenli). They maybe can’t use the canon but they surely can use the planet as a defense line themselves and as a station to operate from and to get reinforcement themselves. This, for example is one of many moments when I questioned the capability of the strategists in this show.
I also find this anime to be highly unrealistic. In the already mentioned occupation of this defense canon, apparently not a single one of the republic side dies, which they made a big deal about, well I would too if something so improbable would happen. Such a thing is so far attached from reality that I highly doubt the writers ever opened a history book. I mean even when Nazi Germany marched through Belgium to get to france, a couple of soldiers died, that’s just normal in a war. Or the fact that without the main characters either side would be pretty much screwed. War is not decided by one smart guy who is just better than everyone else, it’s a combined effort where many very smart people put their minds together. This idea that one guy is such a good strategist and everyone else is just a pleb that stands no chance is such a typical anime trope. And people kinda make this anime out to be more than just a typical anime.
The show looks great. It got nice detailed drawings of futuristic ships which were surely great for their time. Ofc they could have made better, but it’s a 110 episode long ova afterall. You will get used to the characterdesign, which looks nice as well. Animation isn’t that great. The show most of the time consist of limited animated standing scenes with flappingmouths.
LotgH mainly uses calm orchestra music with many long notes. I didn’t like the soundtrack that much. I found the battle music to be out of place which made the battles less exiting. They could have used more fitting classical music for the battles. It may be overused but something like “Ride of the Valkyries” from Richard Wagner would fit into these scenes.
I gave this anime such a low score since I couldn’t finish it.(and for the record: I was watching with twice the normal speed after episode 20, so I tried my best) A show which can’t keep my interests, even though I try to watch through it fails the most and deserves the lowest score possible. There are surely some nice aspects around the show, and maybe you will find some of those so interesting that you will like this anime, but for me they weren’t enough to endure this one. Overall I can just repeat myself: This show was boring for focusing so hard on the characters and their relations in this war but failing to make this war engaging or the characters relatable and interesting. That’s the main problem and when you think about it, it shreds apart everything this show is about.
Are you tired of Good Republic vs Evil Empire? Are you tired of archaic honor and pointless martyrdom? Are you tired of war dramas with runaway nationalism and selfless sacrifice to secure the government's next election victory?
Well, look no further because Legend of the Galactic Heroes is tired of those tropes too. This is a show that takes political philosophy seriously and debates about it in a pretty analytical and argumentative way and at great length. Which is superior: a corrupt democracy or a virtuous autocracy? What good is having an election if the majority tramples on the rights of the minority? Does the legitimacy
of government hinge on the method of election or achieved results? What are nations and does mankind even need them? Is there any point in following tradition for the sake of itself? Many of these ideas reflect those of real-world philosophers. Russell, Hume, Habermas, Wolff, you name it.
The setting of the story is the war between the autocratic Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance, which has been going on for 150 years. The military encounters are colossal in size, with thousands of ships and millions of soldiers on each side. It is a space opera, alright. At first glance, the premise sounds black-and-white, but as the series advances, democracy will truly get challenged by autocracy.
And I wasn't exaggerating the "at great length" bit. Adapted from a series of full-fledged novels, this show is 110 episodes long with no real filler in between. It simply has that much story to tell. This doesn't mean every episode is great; there are some bad ones here and there. Especially some of the early season 1 episodes on the Empire side felt redundant, but I can understand that they wanted to establish the initial state of the Empire. And some of the last season feels drawn out for wrapping things up, but for the most part the narrative holds together pretty well. The philosophical and political themes have also been integrated into the ongoing narrative and the related historical examinations.
To match the length, the cast is like a phonebook, and I mean that in a good sense. There are hundreds of named characters, ranging from military commanders to low-ranking servicemen and from top politicians to common citizens. And here's the thing: a large number of them are legit characters, not one-shot nobodies. Even a rudimentary understanding of the plot requires knowing most of them.
Still, two characters can be identified as the protagonists of the story. Reinhard von Lohengramm is an Imperial military officer who is determined to take control of the Empire and reform it. He thinks that the most competent should rule. Usurpation of power is superior to inheriting it; the former takes effort and demonstrates skill, while the latter requires neither. His development presents us with the problem: you can have all the power in the world, but if you have to sacrifice everything to get it, is it worth anything in the end?
On the Alliance side we have Yang Wenli, the personification of philosophical anarchism. A man who wanted to become a historian but reluctantly became a soldier, he despises war but ironically is very efficient at it. He is a combat pragmatist and isn't afraid to use tricks that go against traditional military honor. He has a thoroughly established political philosophy, and he can talk about it for hours if he feels like it.
But this is not a two-man show. The rest of the cast are more than capable of developing as their own characters. Even a low-ranking soldier or a common civilian can throw in a good line at any moment.
"If it were a third rate TV anime, a dead protagonist can come back to life at the producers' convenience. But the world we live in is not such a convenient place."
‒ Legend of the Galactic Heroes
That is some serious self-awareness. Here deaths are plentiful and final. Plot armor has been thinned to the point where anyone is fair game: even the main characters. And given the large cast, the show likes to capitalize on this. Many of the deaths involve falling in battle, but there are also terrorist strikes, illnesses, and the fan favorite: old age. Just like in real life. Some characters have actually died long before the events of the show and are the stuff of documentaries.
And no, they don't come back through magic or anything like that. Here death is not cheap, and therefore it is also more meaningful. Even someone as jaded and cynical as myself was actually moved by some of the deaths.
There is also a genuine sense that the events are driven by the individual desires of the characters. They intertwine to produce a narrative that is unpredictable while maintaining a measure of realism. No, obviously I'm not referring to the starships and such, but their societies are pretty realistic. Things like politics and economics actually make a difference here. It's essentially life. This is not a show; this is a world. People are born, live, and die, with their own dreams and grudges. Nations are built and crumble to dust. Events turn into history, to be told in documentaries. And I mean that literally; the show has entire episodes for these in-universe documentaries.
Here, simply winning a war does not equal true victory. Simply overthrowing a government does not fix the problems of the country or ensure that your rule is secure. You have to take care of all the governance and administration that follows. How will you divide responsibility between the military and civilian leadership? How will you use the media to influence public opinion? How will you cope with terrorists reluctant to engage you in open warfare? How to fight against corruption? How much of the national budget can you sustainably reserve for the military? Despite the scifi setting, the lessons learned here could very easily be applied to our own world.
Mirroring the scale of the show itself, the soundtrack consists of 23 CDs of classical music. No objections to that, other than the fact that the overwhelming quantity makes it hard to remember when each song was played. The opening and ending songs vary in quality. Most are pretty mediocre to be honest, but the season 3 opening is more inspiring. The voice acting is very good, which is made twice as impressive by the sheer size of the voice acting cast.
The visual quality is lacking at first, as expected of an older anime, but it gradually improves. At least the visuals are used pretty decently. The characters look natural for the most part, and they did not cut corners in drawing large fleets.
I already mentioned a few problems, but if I have to give a bit more criticism, here are some points.
- For starters, episode previews can contain heavy spoilers, some of which have grown infamous. The narrator himself is guilty of spoilers sometimes. (Yes, there is a narrator in this show, by the way.)
- We also have the usual problems in the area of realism in space operas, such as the lack of automation, old-fashioned technology in general, and some strange aspects of space travel. Why is it that you can only navigate at warp speed in specific corridors? Only because the author couldn't think of a better way to create a choke point.
- And why would spaceships engage in traditional naval battles with strict and tight battle formations, often as if it was in 2D? It would make more sense to spread around and optimize positions more flexibly. It's possible that there are technobabble reasons for it, but the show was never very clear about it. Actually, never mind, these tactics wouldn't work for naval battles or even modern ground battles. Maybe some old-fashioned infantry showdowns, just maybe. You should probably watch this show more for the politics and philosophy than legit combat tactics. That being said, the battles were more enjoyable than in many anime where a handful of superpowered characters or mecha duke it out with no tactics worth mentioning.
- This is related to the previous point, but some people point out that Yang and Reinhard (and perhaps some others) are too perfect and infallible in battle. They aren't entirely wrong. Everyone else in the universe is not exactly portrayed as useless, but it would be good for realism if the protagonists lost more often. The in-universe reason is that many of their opponents in battle are... well, idiots who rely on honor over planning. Either that or the difference in material is so great there's nothing to do. But that's no excuse; it's up to the author to set up better scenarios. Still, there are far worse examples of this in anime or fiction in general, so they aren't even the most overhyped tacticians around.
There was a line in the show: "There are more than a few historic examples of geniuses being beaten by ordinary people." Too bad it doesn't turn into reality often enough.
- For the most part the protagonists prefer to use diplomacy to avoid pointless battles, but there are exceptions, mostly out of personal pride. And as much as the show dislikes military values, there are still some points where the protagonists resort to military rituals for vacuous sentimental reasons. It's still far less annoying than in most war dramas though.
- The show contains English and German with glaring misspelling or unnatural choice of words, which can be annoying. Not unheard of in anime, but it deserves a mention.
- If you look hard enough, the show contains some dubious statements. Here's an example: in the first documentary episode, one of the interviewed historians asserts that the fall of religions leads to shortsighted egoism and widespread violence. This is realistically speaking complete nonsense, but I got the impression the narrative was on this guy's side.
- Speaking of religion... Terraism, a religion that worships the Earth, gets the short straw in characterization and unfortunately ends up somewhat generic compared to its role in the story, though it isn't horrible by any means.
- The Imperials also have their Nordic-inspired religion. It is mostly portrayed in a positive light but not taken terribly seriously while not being fully metaphorical either. What's up with that? Maybe the show should analyze religion more at a general level.
- There is any number of smaller questions:
Why are most of the ships' cannons at the front? You could point them in any direction, right?
How did the exiles from the Empire populate the Alliance so fast?
How does Bittenfeld avoid getting sacked?
Does this rant of criticism warrant giving the show a lower score? Well, it isn't a ridiculous idea, but there are worse entries, so if I'm giving a high rating to something, this is a pretty decent candidate.
Just remember, "Politics always takes vengeance on those who belittle it."
A masterpiece! This is anime for adults. When watching it you are seeing a historical epic unfold before your eyes. It is not only one of the greatest anime series of all time, IMHO, but also one of the greatest science fiction series of all time. For both anime fans and science fiction fans it is a must see.
With the general praise for the show out of the way, a word of warning to potential viewers. While I laud the show it is *EPIC*, both in terms of the story, the setting, etc. but also in terms of length. At 110 episodes (*plus* the
side stories if you wish to get into those) it is something that you have to be prepared to devote the time toward, and those who are will reap considerable benefits.
This is not your typical anime, don't expect it to be action packed. But, rather instead, what you can look forward to is a space opera and political machinations that unfold over the series, with a enormous cast of characters, a surprisingly large number of which are well developed for a cast of that size.
The animation is good for its time; it is a bit dated stylistically, but it works for the series. The music is a compilation of classical scores that do an excellent job of providing the atmosphere.
I don't have anything more to add that other reviewers have not already said, other than that I hope that you enjoy this show as must as I have.
For as long as human history goes on, the past will continue to accumulate. History isn’t just records of the past. It’s also proof that civilization has continued to advance to the present. Our present civilization is the result of our past.” -Yang Wenli
You know that really good friend of yours that moved away because their dad got a better job in umpteesquat town? That’s how I feel right now. After finishing the Lord and Savior of anime itself, it’s as though a legitimate part of me was ripped out in front of my eyes. I don’t know how many times I attempted to start
this review, and stopped due to the inability to get my full thoughts on paper. Legend of the Galactic Heroes is not just an anime, it transcends every genre it’s defined by. It’s more than science fiction, more than a political drama and its intellectual weight dwarfs other shows like Serial Experiments Lain, Paranoia Agent and Neon Genesis Evangelion combined. It showcases two of the most dynamic characters in fictional history with Yang and Reinhard, and its pacing exists as a subliminal crescendo, all up to the final episode… possibly the greatest episode of all. As so many have said before me, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is the pinnacle of entertainment as we know it.
NOTE: I will attempt to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. To those who want to discuss the show in more depth, feel free to PM me!
At its beginning, LotGH appears to be a classic good versus evil epic. The revered, yet unassuming historian Yang Wenli is everything you want a main protagonist to be: likable, reserved and highly intelligent. Meanwhile Reinhard von Lohengramm, the “Blonde Brat” as he’s referred to by his adversaries, is a military minded genius who will stop at nothing to become the greatest leader in all the galaxy. However, these stereotypes are easily debunked as more of the character’s backstories and motives are explored, launching the series into a tangled web of empathy and thoughts of making “Team Yang” or “Team Reinhard” shirts to wear while debating with your fellow weeaboo friends about who’s better. Yoshiki Tanaka’s crafting of these characters was on par with some of the greatest authors of our time. And for Studio Artland to actually adapt the novels as well as they did, speaks volumes for the anime industry of the 80’s and 90’s as a whole.
The worldbuilding in LotGH is magnificent. There are some other anime that have attempted to tackle politics in a fictional setting (Planetes, Code Geass), but the way they’re handled here is as effortless as you could get. Rather than take 5 minutes to internal monologue about why things are the way they are (like in more present day anime), LotGH SHOWS you what makes the world tick through character interactions and atmospheric scenery. It’s really a shame how dumbed down anime has become over the years, when studios feel the need to pander to the lowest common denominator. You truly feel like a fly on the wall, seemingly dropped into the middle of this 150 year space war between the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Association. The dialogue is often loquacious, but purposeful, and the script contains some of the greatest quotes I’ve ever encountered in books, movies or any artistic media.
It is true that certain parts of LotGH can seem dry or slow. In a time when anime viewers are endlessly barraged with a slew of exaggerated action scenes and fanservice, our attention span has greatly diminished into that of a goldfish, myself included. This is a necessary evil given the approach to its subject matter. Countless similar series have handled massive battles and politics with a sense of urgency or raucous melodrama. LotGH takes a more realistic approach to the conduct of war, and I had some serious respect for that. With a genre that can be so mindless, the production staff and writers actually went the extra mile to make character’s actions believable and intriguing. However, it’s only natural with an anime of this size that there are some less interesting moments. Monster has some boring episodes, Hunter X Hunter has some too. That’s not to say any of it is “filler” by standard definition… just less action or weighty scenarios than other episodes. Despite this potential opinion, the pacing remains flawless for such a robust series. Over the entire course of its 110 episode run, I couldn’t think of a single “bad” segment. Even if I didn’t understand the episode or character interaction at the time, nothing in LotGH is without meaning.
With an enormous and diverse cast rivaling the acclaimed Game of Thrones, there is someone for any personality type to grow attached to. Yang, Reinhard, Kircheis, Reuenthal, Oberstein, Dusty, Julian, Schonkopf, Mittermeyer will become household names. Each have their own passions, desires, morals and motives, crafting a remarkable synergy amongst them. And similarly to the aforementioned series, no one is safe in LotGH. Many manly tears were shed over the course of the series, a tribute to the mastery of character development exhibited by the writers and Tanaka himself. It has been said that this is actually the largest cast of characters in anime history, but even with that said I never seemed to get confused of which character was which as I have in other smaller series (Joker Game etc). So many of the characters receive development that it's hard to say which of them were actually “main” characters. They all seemed to play an integral part to the over arcing story. Not since Monster have I grown so attached to side characters (bless you Wolfgang Grimmer!) that I often ached for more of their screentime.
As mentioned in the worldbuilding paragraph, the atmosphere and themes are basically tangible entities. Everything feels so authentic that it’s hard to believe the entire galaxy was conceived by mere pen and paper. Aside from the major players in the galactic space conquest (Empire/FPA), there are few rogue or radical organizations around to further stir the pot. Evangelical religion is covered through the existence of the Terraist church, and the Dominion of Fezzan exists as a relatively neutral region facilitating trade between the two main foes. Pseudo-terrorism is present through the display of the Patriotic Knight Corp’s power and there also exists a royal lineage in which Reinhard plans to disrupt. With the sheer number of players and moving parts in LotGH’s setting, it made predicting the next plot twist nearly impossible. Freedom, peace, corruption, loyalty, betrayal and justice all come to a head in the series at some point, leaving a pondering point at the end of almost any episode’s conclusion.
Something I also learned from watching this is how much more involved I become in an anime when the majority of the cast is older. Over the years we've grown accustomed to 14 or 15-year-olds doing fantastic things: solving world issues, competing at the highest level in combat and having the intellect of a worldly Sage. While all of this only seeks to pander to the target audience, I feel that having older characters adds credibility to the plot the other anime just can't bolster. Furthering this opinion is the realization that even strategic masterminds like Reinhard and Yang can make mistakes. The length of LotGH gives the writers the freedom to fully explore both the successes and failures of the two protagonists. In doing so, the viewers uncover an even larger piece of their characterization, another strength of the series.
Another piece of the anime that some may find offputting is the dated artstyle. Considering it’s almost 30 years old now, I can cut the flak and give it the benefit of the doubt. Honestly, I have a much bigger problem with modern anime that have sloppy animation because it’s what many studios pride themselves on nowadays. LotGH is not meant to be laden with captivating animation, it’s meant to engage its viewers on a more mental level. I personally see this as a strength of sorts, since it becomes a less distracting portion of the anime. I can concentrate more on the situations and motives behind the characters, and less about the accuracy of a certain explosion. At the end of the day, we all like to be entertained, and LotGH is certainly not “badly” animated. It’s just showing its age in 2017. Some of you may even grow attached to the artstyle due to the more realistic character models.
The soundtrack is exceptional. Though certainly not for everyone, the classical backdrop accompanied the space opera well. After all, there’s nothing better than watching an enormous battleship go down in flames to the tune of a little Bach. That’s some magical stuff. Due to the unoriginal score, it allowed the tracks to be evenly used and distributed throughout the episodes, creating a score that rarely ever duplicates itself. I recently downloaded the OST in order to help me study for school, since there’s rarely any vocals… and I’ve heard classical music helps you retain information better :D The OP’s and ED’s all emphasized the ebb and flow of the series, though I’ll admit I often skipped them because I was so focused on the anime itself. Over 300 seiyuu’s took part in the 110 episode epic, and the quality is readily apparent. Ryo Horikawa’s role of Reinhard is second only to his portrayal of Vegeta, and the veteran Norio Wakamoto (Cell, Nichijou’s narrator) did an excellent job voicing Reuenthal.
So if you haven’t figured it out by now, I absolutely loved LotGH. With an outstanding cast, a meticulous script and some of the best thematic exploration you’ll ever see in entertainment, there aren’t many anime that could fill its shoes. I highly recommend (as it was to me) that you watch two of the three prequels (My Conquest is the Sea of Stars and Overture to a New War) before digesting this behemoth. They expound upon Yang and Reinhard’s backstories more, and offer a better interpretation of their rise to fame in the galaxy war. The third prequel, Golden Wings wasn’t produced by Artland and Madhouse, and thus should be avoided at all costs. There’s also a few other spin-offs to enjoy after finishing the main series in which I will watch after my current memory of the series begins to lapse.
The biggest problem of the entire series? Easy, when it’s over. As well executed as the ending is in LotGH, it’s a tough act to follow. There are few anime I’ve heard no one complain about, and this is certainly one of them. Those who actually give it the chance it deserves will leave as a withered heap of their previous self. The series had such an impact on me that I considering quitting anime altogether after I finished it. I thought, there can’t be anything better than that eh? (until I remembered I haven’t seen FMA yet…) I would seriously recommend LotGH to anyone. Tell your anime friends, your parents, your mailman and even your grandparents about it. Take the time and watch it, but please don’t watch it until you have 100+ anime under your belt. I say this both to put things in the industry in perspective, and to help you appreciate its greatness more. If the first meal you ate was filet mignon, and it was the only one left on the planet, there wouldn’t be a passion for eating good food anymore. For now, I’ll attempt to march on and allow LotGH to serve as a constant reminder of how great this medium can be, and how much more that can still be done. Anime is a special thing that we tend to take for granted from time to time, which is really a shame. Maybe if more series with the quality and depth of this ever come around again, the mainstream media will begin to take anime seriously.
After all, Legend of the Galactic Heroes proves there’s got to be more to anime than cat ears, J-Pop and waifu pillows… amirite?
Thanks to everyone who voted in the poll to watch this and thanks to all for reading!
I'd like to preface this review with the fact that I'm an avid science fiction reader and have chewed through a fair amount of books in my day. Within minutes of beginning this show you can see how derivative it is from a series of books.
The story is long (obviously) and intensely philosophical. There are jokes but they're either without humor or simply not funny, so if you're looking for something light look elsewhere. As far as character development goes there's a huge ever-developing list of people to keep track of and this is where it gets a little tricky. Since
it is so obviously taken straight from a book, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is no more than a collection of conversations. Even the action sequences (which are still extremely intense) are portrayed through dialog rather than karate. Since we have such a huge sample of each character's thoughts and ideas it's very easy to become attached to them while being exposed to different ideologies and political viewpoints.
While it is an extremely stimulating piece of futuristic fiction it is also quite entertaining. However, it's less the type of entertainment you'd get from Stallone blowing stuff up and more the type you'd get from Anthony Hopkins delivering a monologue. Sure, both are great but you might not be thrilled by Hopkins as much as by the concrete shattering antics of Stallone.
In any case, if you're looking for something that is fairly slow paced but can keep your interest and give you something to think about go for Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
This isn't Star Wars. George Lucas's franchise should NOT be renamed into anything else.
If any work of entertainment in our history deserves the title of 'Star Wars,' then it is the entirety of George Lucas's franchise and NOT this anime. Star Wars is more star wars than LOGH ever was, is, or will be. Constant spiels of exposition about various topics, a constant show of myopia in regards to its setting and subject matter, all the while consistently failing to act on the countless possibilities presented to us, this is 110 episodes of pure, unadulterated wasted potential in the most inexcusable ways possible.
In case you
couldn't tell, I don't "like" Legend of the Galactic Heroes. This isn't to say that I don't think that it's an admirable programme, because there certainly is a lot to be admired about it. In terms of the sheer scope of the work, it's arguably the most ambitious anime ever made but at the same time, there are many things about LOGH that just rub me the wrong way. I cannot in good conscience call this show the best anime ever made, nor can I say that I would recommend it to anyone. My initial review of LOGH posted in September of 2014 was written from the perspective of someone who was expecting something grand and came out of the first season extremely underwhelmed. However, that review was poorly written and never levied any proper criticism toward the programme as a whole. Given how it's been a little over a year since then and how I've actually completed the show, I feel it's high time to tear into this programme and actually try explaining why I personally can't get on with it.
I suppose Legend of the Galactic Heroes manages to oust Star Wars in one way: the sheer depth and detail in regards to the protracted war going on between the Free Planets' Alliance and the Galactic Empire (no, not THAT empire). You're given information as to how the Empire was formed, why the Alliance formed, why the war happened, and all kinds of stuff like that. Of course, this is where LOGH's first biggest problem arises: it suffers from a rather nasty case of exposition overload to the point where we literally get treated to multiple episodes formatted as documentaries on fictional history with interviews from fictional historians. On the one hand, I suppose this is much better than having the first 4-5 episodes being nothing but scrolling text across a background of stars but on the other hand, I can't help but feel like they could've cut back somewhere along the way.
I would make a Star Wars comparison here because the original trilogy lacked such exposition, but I feel as if it's justified somewhat in LOGH's case because it was obviously wasn't trying to be an entertaining science fiction OVA series. In reality, LOGH presents itself as a political commentary on the human condition with a science fiction backdrop to it all. The true conflict at LOGH's core is the constant debate between whether or not democracy or autocracy is the superior form of governance and how each one affects the common man at the end of it all. When viewing this programme from THAT angle, the exposition overload makes much more sense because it gives us the proper context necessary to understand why these factions operate the way they do and prevents the entire conflict from devolving into a black-and-white battle between the forces of good and evil. Of course, this is where LOGH begins to lose me.
You see, LOGH manages to do a great job depicting the problems with representative democracy at large, especially in regards to how politicians become alienated from the people they're supposed to represent due to things like corruption, arrogance, and self-preservation among other such things. However, the programme itself has a HUGE bias toward autocracy. Don't get me wrong: the makers of this programme brought up some VERY good points about autocracy (i.e. the selfish nobility, a weak ruler/tyrant fucking up the nation, etc). However, there comes a point in the show where it basically tells you that an autocracy with a level-headed and just ruler is the best form of government. I don't know what the fuck Beatnik was on when he made his review of LOGH: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars, but this show actually DOES what Gundam does by painting out one side to be superior than the other and he should be arrested for false advertisement.
The whole conflict between the Free Planets' Alliance and the Galactic Empire basically had me rooting for the empire the entire time for a LOT of reasons. For starters, the empire had the more compelling of the two commanders. Reinhardt is no saint, but he's definitely the superior commander throughout the entire show. For starters, he actually has a compelling reason to even be in the military in the first place (cough cough Yang cough cough). I mean, wouldn't YOU try to do something if your own sister was the concubine of an elderly emperor? On top of that, the dynamic that exists between Reinhardt and his childhood friend Kircheis is also something that manages to keep me entertained. Whether it's Reinhardt and Kircheis snarking away at the stupidity that goes on around them or Kircheis bringing Reinhardt back to reality once he starts getting arrogant/reckless, there's always something there to really keep your eyes glued to the screen.
You know, now that I think about it... the first season of LOGH (in regards to Reinhardt and Kircheis's story, mind you) reminds me quite a bit of the Golden Age Arc from Berserk. In both, we have two men and their respective teams gaining notoriety from their military accomplishments whilst trying to evoke change within a failing monarchy and stick it to the nobles who feel threatened by the presence of "filthy commoners." Of course, Reinhardt and Kircheis never end up in an Eclipse of any kind so I'm quite thankful for that. Also, the show after the first season then follows Reinhardt's own struggles now that he's in a position of power along with the many interactions he has with the FPA. Now I know why I'm rooting for the empire: it's because Reinhardt himself is actually the most human character in the entire show! He's infinitely more human than Yang is, that's for sure.
I don't understand how ANYONE could possibly like Yang, but I found him to be the bane of my existence whilst watching the show. Yang Wenli is essentially the Kirito of the entire programme: he's unsympathetic, he goes about the entire programme with an irksome "I really don't want to be here but these idiots would die without me" attitude, and he wins virtually any encounter he's in, or at the very least manages to get a draw if Reinhardt or one of his trusted commanders enters the fray. On top of that, anyone who defies Yang or Julian (his ward/servant) is cursed to die or get humiliated, regardless of whatever reason they may have. The ONLY time I've ever gotten any joy whenever Yang was in the frame was during the episode where Yang got court-martialed and ended up roasting EVERYONE on the committee. At least then, Yang was expressing actual feelings that he had instead of just being a passive-aggressive douchebag like he always is. It actually got to a point where I was actually HAPPY when Episode 82 rolled around and he ended up playing less and less of a prominent role in the show because quite honestly, I fucking hated him THAT much. Now if only this show did the opposite with Kircheis because let's be honest with ourselves: LOGH is always better when Kircheis is here.
The rest of the cast in LOGH is fair enough to say the least. Some characters like Annerose, Julian, and Frederica are rather endearing and certainly help lighten up the otherwise tense atmosphere of the programme whilst other characters like Poplan and virtually ALL of the imperial nobles/alliance politicians evoked such visceral annoyance in me to the point where I kept begging for them to die a merciless and/or utterly humilating death (you know, like ____ does!). My favourite characters by far would have to be Kircheis and Oberstein. Kircheis serves as a wonderful foil to Reinhardt whilst still showing us that he's more than just the dude who wants to nail Annerose. On that note, Oberstein's ruthless efficiency immediately caught my attention and I couldn't help but cheer on any sort of plan he came up with, regardless of whether or not it went against Reinhardt's wishes. Also, his fake eye vaguely reminds me of Alastor Moody from Harry Potter so that was another point in his favour.
Of course, I'm losing the point of this review right now so let's go back to talking about why I can't get on with the show. We've already talked about why it loses me in regards to how it handles its political babble, but let's now talk about the blatant flaws in writing that the overzealous fans of this show just disregard because it apparently does everything else right. Now, I'm guilty of using this excuse a lot to justify flaws in the programmes I like and people have told me time and again that it's a shitty defense. You know what? I agree with that logic. So please explain to me why the countless people who've given this show 10/10 reviews and called it a masterpiece failed to address these blatantly glaring holes in the motherfucking writing?! Don't know what I mean? Well let's go over all the ways that the writers prove to us that they don't care about holes in their story.
For starters, let's talk about the inconsistent population figures. Now we learn that in the year 2050 AD, Earth gets torn asunder by a cataclysmic nuclear war that reduces the population from 20 billion (which is about 10.4 billion too much of the UN's projected population growth figures, mind you) to 1 billion. Now the bulk of the refugees ended up colonising planets once Earth became a nuclear wasteland leaving only about 5 million people behind. Now, 200 years later, the population of Earth literally increased 1,000-fold! How the fuck could that happen when the population of the Earth at that point in time was more or less identical to the population of Europe during the Dark Ages, ESPECIALLY when the planet was reduced to a fucking nuclear wasteland?!
On top of that, 400,000 people who left the Empire to start their own democracy managed to increase their population exponentially to 400 million by the time of the first Alliance/Empire fight! Did ANYONE from the fucking writing team even consult a population expert or something before coming up with the figures used for these shows? It might seem like a really small detail, but shit like this leaves HUGE holes in the story when you actually try applying real-world data on population growth to a work like this.
Oh, and let's not forget how fucking STUPID the melee battles are. The spaceship stuff is fair enough... until you look at the battle tactics (but we'll get onto that in a second). However, the melee stuff always has to take place in full body armour with fucking metal weapons like swords, axes, and stuff! What the fuck is this?! Is this Artland/Kitty Films' way of proving to people that they're not ripping off Star Wars because light sabres are trademarked by George Lucas? That shit doesn't look cool or badass whatsoever: it looks fucking impractical, ESPECIALLY in a distant future timeline where humanity colonised countless planets.
Going back to how the starship battles were done, it's honestly a mixed bag for me. I like how they looked but practically speaking, they made no sense whatsoever! This show uses two-dimensional war tactics that would've been feasible during the times of Genghis Khan... in space, where everything exists in three dimensions. Say what you will about Star Wars, but at least the fucking starship battles existed in three dimensions as opposed to the two! How the FUCK can I cheer on any battle that goes on when the vast majority of the strategy relies heavily on pretending like you're the ancient Spartans fending off the Persian invasion?
On that note, let's talk about how this show likes to tout about strategy. Now every commander in this show is apparently a bloody genius because they manage to exploit the enemy's weaknesses during every encounter and then leave them scattering about like roaches... or so this programme's defenders like to say. In reality, every single battle relies on one side being a complete and total dumbass when it would be grossly impractical to do so and then having the other side take full advantage of their idiocy. How the fuck is that "superior strategy" when they're just taking advantage of their enemies acting like a bunch of idiots? Also, this show likes to say that morale is the most important aspect of battle or some rubbish like that but I beg to differ. Morale doesn't help your lasers fire better, it doesn't smite the enemy quicker. Morale is important, but nowhere near as important as having GOOD battle tactics in a three-dimensional plane that DON'T rely heavily on exploiting your opponent's impractical idiocy.
The justification for this horseshit is even stupider than the battles themselves are upon retrospect. Apparently, only a small portion of the vastness that is outer space is actually usable which means that a lot of the battles have to take place in similar areas over and over again. Whoever came up with the concept of "usable space" needs to get kicked square in the knackers and then given a lobotomy performed with a rusty butcher knife. If that ain't the laziest horseshit ever devised to justify sheer impracticality, I seriously don't know what is. There is NO way you can convince me, or anyone else for that matter that in the VAST openness of space, only a small portion of it would actually be usable for shit like battles and transportation and whatnot.
On top of everything else, what REALLY gets my goat with this programme that also never ceases to make me laugh raucously is THE COMPLETE ABSENCE OF ANY FORM OF ALIENS!!!! I mean, who the FUCK dropped the ball on that one? Do you sincerely expect ANY rational person on this planet to believe that in the hundreds of years that mankind spent colonising the stars, they never even encountered so much as a single alien? No Twi'leks, no Pau'ans, no Togrutas, no Wookies, Gungans, no Hive, no Vex, no Eliksni, no cosmic space worms that act as the direct emissaries of the Darkness, no giant space sphere that acts as a harbinger of doom, NONE of that stuff even exist in this fucking universe. Aliens don't even get mentioned ONCE throughout the entire programme.
When you look at how the planets are in terms of setup. Nearly each planet we see is analagous to Earth, and they all have stuff that exist only on Earth in the real world... you know, like trees, fruit, vegetables, bread, cars, metal, guns, horses, water, all that good shit. So please, explain to me how a bunch of refugees from a war-torn planet even managed to find planets that were remotely habitable and then turn them into nigh-duplicates of pre-cataclysm Earth. Did they just take all this stuff to barren worlds and then used some kind of voodoo magic to make the planets they visited like Earth? Or did they just happen across Earth lookalikes that conveniently had all this shit? It literally makes no sense whatsoever and despite the depth and detail given to us about the conflict between the Empire and the Alliance, we BARELY get any information about shit like this and that just has to be the most infuriating thing about it all.
Now, some of you out there will probably be scoffing and then asking why any of this shit is important. Well, I'll tell you why: because if this show is trying so hard to be a commentary on the human condition, I would at least expect it to get crucial details right that would actually make the setting much more plausible and thus, easier for the analytical mind to take seriously. This is a show where there are fictional historians giving us fucking documentaries to watch. I'm pretty sure that I'm well within my rights to expect that it actually gets stuff like this right! This wasn't an incredibly entertaining show to watch, and my suspension of disbelief didn't exist for 65% of the show's run. If it actually got the details like the ones I pointed out right, MAYBE it would've been a much more immersive programme to watch and I could actually reciprocate the praise this show gets instead of being a contrary twat who has to hate everything that's highly rated because the praise surrounding it is complete and total horseshit. But I digress, because now it's time to talk about the superficial stuff.
In terms of artwork, the entire programme is quite the visual delectation. Also, this is just a minor bit of praise I have but whatever: I absolutely ADORE the fact that everyone's eyes aren't the size of their foreheads and actually look like human eyes. It just adds to the atmosphere of the show and while it doesn't get the important shit right, at least I can say that it doesn't look like fucking Code Geass with their noodle people that have huge eyes and tits that defy the laws of physics. On top of that, all the backdrops are beautifully designed and the general aesthetic for the Empire (at least in regards to the nobility) is pretty damn nice to say the least. I mean, I WOULD question why nobles in the year 3000-something-or-other would dress like they're medieval England royalty but hey, at least it's posh so it fits.
Animation starts off rather choppy and inconsistent but that's to be expected because it's an OVA from the late 80s. This was also a year or two before Akira was released and anime was still stuck in the ultra-violent OVA phase of its existence, so I suppose that also adds into why the animation isn't the greatest. However, it does gradually get better. Also, let's not forget that this is an OVA series that was released over the course of 10 years. The budget obviously gets better utilised as animation technology improves and there's a noticeable increase in quality in the animation over time. If I really had to say, I would say that LOGH at its peak resembles Evangelion at its best. With all of that in mind, let's also be grateful that Kircheis and Annerose were never in the same hospital room.
If there's one area that I really had to praise LOGH on the most though, it would have to be the audio. The OST is bloody amazing to the point where it almost manages to put John Williams and his compositions to shame. On another note, the voice acting was phenomenal. I seldom comment on Japanese voice-acting because I don't understand the languages enough to truly gauge their performances but this had to be the one anime where the performances managed to throw me for a loop. This was a project where countless A-list voice actors and actresses gathered together to lend their talent, and my GOD does it shine through. If you've watched any amount of anime in Japanese, some of the voicework should ring a bell. I didn't even expect Vegeta's voice actor to even be in this series, let alone Kappei Yamaguchi but hey, it's a lovely surprise for those of us who furiously masturbate to the creed of sub-only.
Now, all things considered... I would say that I enjoyed LOGH to a certain degree. The programme itself can get REALLY entertaining when it reminds us of GAA Berserk and shows Reinhardt and Yang sticking it to their superiors. However, this entire show is just SO fucking tedious to watch. It takes 26 episodes to just set up the groundwork and it isn't until Episode 60 when the programme really starts taking off and actually becomes an entertaining show to watch (whenever Yang isn't in the frame that is) for more than 51% of an episode. As a commentary on the human condition, LOGH would've been an amazing show to watch if it weren't so blatantly biased toward an autocracy run by a level-headed ruler (seriously Beatnik: what the FUCK were you on when you wrote your LOGH reviews?). As a work of science fiction, it's far too tedious to even be considered entertaining by casual standards. Say what you will about stuff like Star Wars and Star Trek, but at least they influenced generations of people and led to the development of innovations that we currently make use of to this day and age (i.e. HUDs, cell phones, bionic hands, etc). LOGH did nothing of the sort and by the end of it all, this show is nothing more than Portal if you were to lack ANY surface to put the portals onto. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a fat guy on the internet talking shit about animu.
Anyway, that's all for now. Feedback's always welcome and with that, I'm out. Peace :)
SIEG KAISER REINHARDT!!!
Do note that even though I gave LOGH a 5/10 on my review of it, it's not indicative of what I actually think the show deserves. Holistically, it feels just about right at a 7/10 but I don't like it enough to give it a 7. I was so tempted to just give it a 5/10 on my list again, but I need to break up the monotony.
What I have just witnessed was history unfolding before my very eyes!
Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, it’s a myth, a myth so old that many of today’s anime enthusiasts wouldn’t dare watch it. People on this site rate this anime so immensely high, that one would eventually come to wonder what that ridiculous score is based on, and give the whole thing a try. Are these people merely the retainers of old, classic shows that have been made in a style that has long since come to an end? I sincerely believe that it’s more than that.
To make one thing very clear, this anime was made before
I was born, so if I am biased in any way, it would be towards modern anime, whose style is more of my cup of tea. Still, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu was fascinating, in a way that no modern anime is. Beware though, I have rated this show high from a very objective perspective, my personal enjoyment factor was not as high as my overall rating and if you’re a fan of modern animation, you might have a hard time getting used to or enjoy the series. You may not be suited to sit through the meticulously fleshed out dialogues, as well as philosophical, ethical and political discussions presented here, that is alright. What I think though is, even if you don’t like it, you can’t deny this works greatness.
History is a thing long in the past for us but something that was very present to people of the corresponding era, something that moved their hearts and lives, changed the direction in which humanity developed in a way that we may not be able to comprehend today. Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu is like that, it’s like witnessing history happening live. The anime does nothing out of the ordinary, no supernatural occurrences or absurd plottwists to keep the viewer hooked; instead it progresses slowly into a more or less foreseeable direction, still managing to show some surprising developments, that are all still in the viewer’s theoretically calculable range of anticipation. That said, it should also be mentioned that things only just start picking up pace past episode 30 or so, so you might need to bring some patience. Everything about the plot and world of Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu is so painstakingly accurate in its construction, that I have yet to find some logical fault within any of the presented material. Think people bear those incredibly German names because they thought it was fun? There’s a reason for that. Think they use battle axes in close combat because they thought it was cool? There’s a reason for that too. I have never before seen an anime that was so well planned and executed, with a pacing that matches its progression as well as it does. Sometimes it’s slow and conversations drag on for a very long time but that is also a characteristic of the time it was made in, people didn’t mind not having things explode in each and every episode.
Now, get this. This anime, made in 1988, displays better visuals then some modern anime. Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it myself at first either. What we have here is an OVA of 110 episodes, with 24-30 episodes released at once in four periods over the course of ten years. What does that mean now? It means time, a lot of time. Enough to, with the limited possibilities of that time, polish the animations to a degree that can rival works of the current era. Expressive facials and movements, detailed surroundings as well as fluent animations are characteristic for this anime. The art style may come over as a bit westernized but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Actually, I don’t know how to rate the OST at all. It includes many classical, orchestrated pieces, some of which are well known, now is that really bad or really good for a 1988’s anime? I’ll just go ahead and rate in favor of the anime, partly because the style of music fits the widely royal and dignified atmosphere, which is especially apparent in episodes involving the Galactic Empire. The seiyuu however are definitely top notch, even more than that, I daresay they are legendary. Some of them even have active and important voice acting roles in modern animation, such as Vegeta (Dragonball Z/ GT/ Kai), Kotomine Kirei (Fate Series), Tohsaka Tokiomi (Fate/ Zero), Hatake Kakashi (Naruto), Jiraiya (Naruto) or Matsudaira Katakuriko (Gintama), and these are only the ones I recognized. Even back then their performance was admirable and deserves a lot of respect.
Those are people, characters like real people with relatable emotions and developments, and all of them are unique individuals. Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu has a main cast of such epic proportions, that even random passersby on the street are blessed with distinct facial features of their own. While, at least from a certain point of the series on, it is clear who the protagonists are, other people around them have names, stories, thoughts and commit to actions of their own. Those people, even if they are only meant to appear but once on screen, have a real impact on the direction in which history goes. Characters exist in a broader historic context, a span of time that far exceeds the timeline depicted in the anime itself, no one person is without fault, immortal or inviolable and everyone and everything leaves the impression, that it must come to an end someday. None of the progressions are rushed or forced and always stay in realistic bounds, a character only ever shows extreme behavior if the situation demands it, or if he is likely to do so because of his personality traits.
This is difficult, mostly due to the fact that I believe that watching this anime while being skilled in understanding the Japanese language would reap different results. It sometimes gets mentally exhausting, reading through the subtitles of each and every dialogue and a great battle might come as a breath of fresh air in this partially stale environment. Nevertheless, there is also a great deal of suspense, action and even romance to be found in Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, if one listens or reads as attentive as I have been doing it, one might crack a smile or even laugh at a few scenes, although it’s not meant to be a comedy anime in general. This anime has everything, every single thing out there, it just may demand a bit of endurance from its viewer to reveal this large spectrum of entertainment.
This might be… the best anime; maybe. I’m not being an elitist here; I just think that Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu is so well done as a whole, that it would deserve that title. A single man should not be so audacious as to crown a Kaiser of Anime though. I rated this show a ten, I did it because I think no other rating would be appropriate. Even by taking into account that my Enjoyment wasn’t quite that high because I am just not used to anime this old, I can reach no other conclusion.
That said, even bearing this disadvantage, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu has fascinated me on a completely different level than many other anime and it might just fascinate you in the same way.
I for one salute before one of the greatest animated works ever created.
Usually, when I have a high expectations for a show, after watching it I end up somehow disappointed. For this reason, before I watch a show I lower my expectations.
Before watching LoGH, I was forced to have high expectations
Since it's ranked no.1
Maybe this was the only anime that I had really high expectation for it and it actually even managed to surpass those expectations
It just blew me away
I really don't know how to describe my feeling towards it
What a plot….what a characters…what a scenario…what everything
LoGH had all these elements in an efficient way
They never overused any element in here
I think for that reason that
the viewers loved it to much
The more "dramatized" the show is….the "lesser" impact it has on people
It may have a huge impact on the exact moment…but it will slowly fade away
Well this is what I "personally" think
There is one thing that I absolutely loved about this anime
It never showed that a system is better than the other
It never showed that humans only have "bad" side or just "good" side
They showed both sides of the humans’ beings
They showed both their faults and their merits
They didn't try to show anybody as "perfect"
The philosophy of humanity fascinated me
When I was watching it, it was like it was really not an anime
Maybe because it was detailed and they really didn't left anything unexplained
If you love characters development I don't think you should miss this anime
It had a very strong cast….including both the main and the supporting characters
Both were developed really well
I think you will have a hard time deciding which one is your favorite among them
This anime had many memorable scenes and many great quotes
One of the best animes I've seen to date
And I'm glad that I've given it a chance
But I think you should at least give the first 26 episodes a chance before deciding if you want to continue watching it or not
Because the first season end in episode 26
And the whole first season is just an introduction to what is coming next
I'm not expecting every one to consider it as a "masterpiece" or love it as I did
But it is surely a show that deserves the viewers' attention
One last confession
At the end of LoGH I cried, not because of the story, because a legend has ended before my eyes.
I don't tend to write reviews on the animes that I've seen and actually this is my first. but LoGH had such an impact on me that I ought to write something about it..it is truly a legend.
For a while, some of the people who I usually talk to on MAL have come to claim that I am some kind of contrarian, due to my refusal to shout unconditional praise for some works considered to be “classics” in the same fashion a few circles do. I don’t feel that is true, though, when taking into account my general stance (just look at my other reviews!), it just so happens that I have a very particular way of judging any given work, hipster glasses off. For that same reason, when I began watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes, or Ginga Eyiuu Densetsu, I
tried to free myself from any external preconception, so that by the end only my own judgment would be as fair a result as possible, coming only from my own perspective and no one else’s. Currently, the anime sits at 8th place among the highest scored titles on MAL, with an average score of 9,10, so you might imagine that analyzing it is kind of a big deal. It also has a somewhat small but quite dedicated audience that takes it in very high regard, besides being a generally respected work. This is the point where the petulant me raises his voice among the crowd to say “Well, I have some disagreements to make here!”
Just for fun, I’m going to call this one GED, because fuck me if I had to write any of the acronyms the series has whenever I need to refer to it!
Story and Characters
Oh boy, this one is a beast! As you might imagine, properly tackling a show like GED is not necessarily an easy task if you plan on doing it in depth. Based on a series of novels by Yoshiki Tanaka, this OVA series has a total run time of 110 episodes, the storyline is divided into two main fronts, a fair share of it is dedicated to politics and it’s fucking packed with dialogue! For the sake of my sanity (I still have it, don’t worry!), this will be another review where I’ll tackle the different aspects of the series separately, in order to voice praises and criticisms in an easily digestible way. By the way: due to its scope and the themes the series tackles, both positives and negatives are heightened in the big picture, so if it seems that I’m being overly harsh to poor GED, keep in mind that there are equally strong positives to help mitigate the issues I’m about to discuss, and people have talked to death about such positives, so allow me to be somewhat picky this time.
The best way to begin this will be to address who are the main forces at play in the story, so let’s get to them. Two major forces are at war in the universe of GED: the Free Planets Alliance and the Galactic Empire, represented by Yang Wenli and Reinhard von Lohengram, respectively, the two characters to receive major focus from the narrative. The two develop a rivalry between themselves and the presence of one in the battlefield is bound to call for the other. Starting with the Alliance, Yang Wenli is the tosser who hates coffee. I’m sorry, there’s more to his character, but I still can’t forgive him for that posh attitude. Yang is laid-back, somewhat lazy, quite introspective and has a strong devotion to the concept of democracy. This last trait is highly emphasized by the show, although it tends to get quite overbearing at some points, making his character come off as very preachy. In these instances it seems like he is more of a mouth-piece of the concept itself, besides spouting general observations about history. Humm, I wonder if this is what people who hate Urobuchi mean when they criticize his characters.
Close to Yang is Julian Minci, a teenager who lives under Yang’s tutelage after losing his parents, who shows to be highly curious and with far more active and responsible demeanor than Yang. Julian is mostly relegated to secondary role, but around episode 82, when the rivalry between Yang and Reinhard is resolved, he becomes the focus on the Alliance’s side. Episode 83, by the way, has a particularly great character moment between Julian and Frederica Greenhill, Yang’s wife, who decides to take political responsibilities after spending most of her screen-time being just an add-on to the plot. For the most part, it seems that his arc is going to be that of becoming just a doppelganger of Yang (seriously, he begins to speak and monologue just like Yang, at some points), up until near the end of the series, when he takes action to be an agent of change in the manner Yang is not capable of. Also close to Yang is Schenkopp, captain of the Knights of the Rose, an elite group of soldiers feared in combat. Having been born in the Empire, but exiled from there still in his childhood, Schenkopp works as the practical balance to Yang’s over-analytical personality and often offers him questions in regard to the validity of his believes.
On the Empire side there is Reinhard, a young, authoritative and slightly idealistic but still down to earth rising military prodigy (on the anime’s standards, that is!) who decides to make a name during the war in order to garner power and influence so he can one day save his sister, who was taken as a concubine by the emperor, as well as overthrow the current ruling force of the Galactic Empire and reform the rules of the galaxy. It’s visible that some of the influence held by Reinhard at the beginning comes from the preference the emperor has for his sister, but that is also supported by his talent and effectiveness in combat. Reinhard hates the nobles and the current ruling dynasty, the Goldenbaum, and his desire to be the next regent puts a target on his back, as he gains the contempt from the nobles. The emperor could not care less, funny enough, the guy just wants to enjoy life and wait for death. The closest friend of Reinhard is Siegfried Kircheis (I’m starting to get a slight bias against Germanic names!), a man who has been in love with Reinhard’s sister, Annerose, and vows to help him conquer the galaxy. Kircheis is extremely loyal to his friend and serves as his moral compass at the start of the series. His influence decreases as the series goes on, though, and that brings the most visible changes in Reinhard’s character, making him more ambitious and prideful. In case you are wondering, this is a positive.
Next in the line of influence is Oberstein. He is cunning, stoic, an absolutely deceiving bastard full of dubious intent who constantly challenges the viewer into pondering what his real intentions are. In other words, Oberstein is amazing, the best character in the show, every moment he’s on screen is a better moment and if you disagree you are just flat out wrong. I’m not biased. Due to his methods of getting results, he is compared to a medicine that creates strong adverse effects and garners a great amount of distrust and hatred from other officials. Bunch of ungrateful fucks! His character offers a great contrast to that of Reinhard. While Reinhard is good natured at heart and charismatic, he is still ambitious for glory and cherishes the pride of battle, which are heroic traits on the surface, but still result in the deaths of millions. Oberstein, in the other hands, is not afraid of being hated, seen as the bad guy and of using methods that are considered cowardly or dishonorable, but still minimize damage and the loss of lives.
From Reinhard’s admirals, the most notable ones are Mittenmeyer and Reuental, two close friends who share their leader’s disdain for the nobility. While Mittenmeyer is optimistic, strongly tied to family and somewhat naïve with politics, Reuental is dreary, cynical and ambitious, which makes some of their interactions almost comedic in the way that Reuental reads into other characters in a manner Mittenmeyer is oblivious of. The remaining officials under Reinhard’s command are very straight-forward and simplistic characters, but they have just the necessary amount of depth for the position they occupy within the narrative, which is not detrimental to the series. Let’s be honest, folks, would it really be important to have Bittenfeld or Lennenkamp be fleshed out any more? On the side of the Alliance, though, I’ll not forgive Poplan, that guy needed a major overhaul in writing. He appears frequently enough to be a relevant character, yet 90% of his dialogue is of the same breed: remind the audience he’s a womanizer, crack a joke about him being a womanizer and occasionally take a cheap jab at Attenborough. This is not quirky, this is one-dimensional!
The biggest drawback for GED in the character department is the antagonists. While the bulk of the conflict revolves around Yang and Reinhard’s rivalry, a sizeable portion of conflict also comes from specific antagonistic forces acting against each one specifically, or against both at once, like Rubinsky and the Cult of Terra. The problem with such antagonists, though, is that, except for Rubinsky, they are poorly written, one-dimensional, severely deficient on the brain-department and meet their end in anticlimactic fashion. Now, you may ask why I’m being critical of the antagonists being lackluster while cutting some slack for Reinhard’s officials, so let me clarify: conflict is what moves a narrative; therefore if the agents who bring forth that conflict are subpar it damages the work as a result, as it implies that not enough thought was put into that aspect of the story.
The biggest offenders, when it comes to characterization at least, are the corrupt politicians from the Alliance who decide to go against Yang. Most of them are not even characters themselves, just plot devices that appear in the narrative in order to bring trouble upon Yang, having absolutely no logical reason to do so. They have nothing to gain from throwing the guy under the bus, ESPECIALLY once the war has ended, and no justifiable reason to go against the one who was their biggest asset during the war. For all intents and purposes, they are shooting themselves in the foot out of pure irrational spite. The ones who get some semblance of characterization are shown to be pathetically easy to manipulate buffoons with no vision of the danger they willingly throw themselves into because of unfounded fears. On this side of the galaxy there is also the Order of the Patriotic Knights, who are big offenders of logic. This order is a known terrorist group, under the control of Truniht, the Alliance’s major asshole, and yet they are somehow seen making public speeches and attack dissident voices in broad daylight, at the exact moment it would bring more attention and raise suspicions about their connections to Truniht (just see episode 03).
Against Reinhard there are the nobles from the empire, who see on him a threat to their position, this one at least being a grounded and logical fear, as Reinhard genuinely wants to reform the empire and bring an end to the nobles’ abuses. These nobles, however, are fundamentally one-dimensional characters. Think about the very stereotypical picture of an entitled douchebag noble you’ve seen plenty of times in fiction and you’ll get exactly what these characters are. They show absolute disdain for the lower classes, see themselves as having some sort of inherent superiority, similar to kings who saw themselves as chosen by God in centuries past, are easily prone to act recklessly and blatantly stupid when their pride is hurt and, when cornered, become absolute cowards. No wonder they are the first ones to go down.
Acting against both sides you have Rubinsky and the Cult of Terra. Rubinsky is the feudal lord of Phezzan, an independent planet whose economy is heavily based on trading between the Alliance and the Empire. He happens to be the antagonist with the better characterization, being treacherous, ambitious, karma-savvy, but still highly self-aware and with a hint of spite on his tongue. Sadly, Rubinsky is not immune to stupidity, as his major plan during the mid-section of the story suffers from a major flaw that the audience can see coming from 10 miles away. Seriously Rubinsky, did you really not expect Reinhard to come rudely knocking on your door so he could get to your neighbor of the other side? Ultimately, though, the major issue with Rubinsky is that he becomes simply a plot device by the end. He appears when needed during the second half to instigate some conflict, which will turn out mostly ineffectual by the end, and when that role is exhausted he is simply discarded by the narrative.
That same fate is shared by the Cult of Terra, the agents of several plot-relevant events throughout the series. In essence, the cult is a religious group who sees Earth as a sacred land and holds the restoration of its power and relevance as their ultimate goal, an objective they are willing to use terrorism to fulfill. While the main goal and core belief of the group is clear, the nature of the Cult of Terra as a religion is fundamentally left unexplored. Here is something that bugged me as I watched the series: why do people even join this cult? Earth, by this point, is a completely irrelevant planet, populated by just a few million people and with very little natural and technological resources, so making it the center of humanity again would be unfeasible. This even raises some inconsistences as to how did the Cult have enough money to finance the rise of Phezzan as an independent state. Aside from that, the ideas that could make the cult attractive to people around the galaxy are never explored, its fundaments never brought up. The entire religion serves as nothing more than a generic antagonist, complete with an unfaithful douchebag leader and servants willing to blindly sacrifice themselves with no prospect of victory, so it’s easy to conclude that the religious aspect was implemented simply because it was the easiest to insert without raising as many questions as some other brand of villain would. Religions act based on faith, so who cares if it doesn’t make sense within the story anyway?
For the sake of comparison, look at the religion of Vodarac in Eureka Seven, or the Church of Yaldabaoth from Arslan Senki, another of Tanaka’s works (I don’t even care if you think it isn’t a good series, the parallel is valid!). In Eureka Seven, it’s explained about the meaning of the concept of Vodarac, its connection to the Coralian and what it means to its believers, as well as the effect of it in the narrative and the way it ties to the faith itself. In the case of the Church of Yaldabaoth, being the world of Arslan Senki one with rudimentary science, it’s logical that people would attach themselves to a religion that seeks to explain the universe, especially one that is the official faith of its nation and holds executing “infidels” as common practice. In both series the reasoning for people to join the faith is clearly defined and doesn’t raise contradictions in regards to their role within the story. Taking Earth out of the equation, the Cult of Terra could easily be turned into a terrorist group with political motivation and their role in the series would have been essentially the same. Throughout the series, the Cult continuously loses power, until it decides to do a desperate attack and is finally ended in anti-climactic fashion.
Speaking of political motivations, let’s talk about something where the series excels at. A very commendable trait of GED’s depiction of politics is that it doesn’t depict only the game of power, but it also includes the human factor within it. Paying some attention to modern and old politics will show that personal beliefs, morally influenced ideologies and the desire to be an agent of good play a role in governments almost as big as the standard game of interests and intrigues. Not to say that the series leaves aside that aspect either, you can easily see that at play within the nobles of the Empire and even more within the Alliance, where corrupt politicians abuse power in order to manipulate media and keep their levels of influence. If you’ve read various analyses of the series, you might have heard a few times (or many, as I have!) the main question it brings up: what is better, a corrupt democracy or a just autocracy? While the characters on the Alliance side, or at least the good ones, are very devote to the principal of democracy, as it’s in their belief that a govern that still has to bow to the people’s will is fairer, the show itself seems to have a slight bias towards autocracy, perceptible in the way it treats Reinhard’s actions and the effect of his government.
Another trait that is commonly highly praised by the fans of GED is its battles, both in the epic scale present in them, as well as the strategies in display. Sadly, this is another aspect I’ll have to criticize. There are issues in the depiction of battle tactics, in the presentation and in the writing itself. Let’s start with the strategies. I suppose video-games don’t exist in this distant future, since even though these battles take place in space, where they would have freedom to position and maneuver fleets in all directions, nobody takes advantage of the z-axis. The vast majority of space battles take place in a strict two-dimensional plane, and you can count in one hand the amount of instances someone remembered they could move up or down with their massive spaceships. This leads to the most glaring problem: the vast majority of the tactics used are predictable and simplistic. What can eventually break the monotony is the introduction of futuristic elements, like Zeffir particles, but for the most part such strategies involve just fleet positioning that Hannibal would consider just part of a beginners guide: multiple times it’s visible when some fleet (usually lead by Attenborough) is retreating to lure the enemy into their plan, or when one fleet is about to be surrounded by the enemy, the biggest offenders in this case being Bittenfeld and Fahrenheit in episode 79. There’s another aspect to this issue, but this one I’d like to discuss when talking about the presentation.
Eventually, this creates a disconnect between what is shown on screen to what the show keeps telling us in regards to Yang and Reinhard’s supposed strategic brilliance. For my money, I’d bet on Bucock being the one that truly displays to be an strategic mastermind, as even though he only leads two battles, both of them are masterfully conducted. In both instances, Bucock makes excellent use of the scenario surrounding the troops, predicts enemy movement, leads them into successful traps and manages to hold off vastly bigger armies. For all accounts, he only loses because the plot demands so. GED actually makes a strong case for the value of experience against natural talent, if you look at it that way, as Merkatz also shows to be a much more cunning military leader than his young counterparts.
When it comes to issues with the writing, it’s visible on how the usual antagonistic forces that get in the way of the main heroes are defeated by their own incompetence, to a point that can sometimes become contradictory to what their characters are supposed to be. When faced by Yang or Reinhard, it’s not uncommon for admirals and generals to commit grossly amateurish mistakes that the audience itself can see through. Here is an example: one of the first battles in the series, designed to “prove” Reinhard’s genius, is one where his fleet is outnumbered AT LEAST 3 to 1 by the Alliance’s army. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Now here is a question; if you are close to engaging the enemy in combat and your troops have vast numerical superiority over theirs, how do you proceed: position your army in a manner that allows you to quickly surround and dispatch the enemy forces, minimizing damage taken and preventing them from escaping, or you separate your soldiers in troops small enough to be inferior to your enemy and position them in a way they can easily be picked apart and destroyed? Because this last one was the method chosen by the Alliance’s fleet. By all accounts, Reinhard took the advantage not because of any brilliant strategy, but because of his enemy’s crushing idiocy. I say that these are issues with the writing because, these characters being experienced commanders, such rookie mistakes should be out of the equation if the idea is to highlight the efficiency of the main cast or make the antagonist seem like even slightly competent characters.
The last issue I’d like to discuss in this section is the role of the narrator within the work. Now, the existence of a narrator in a work like this is not an issue; when you have a large universe with organization far different from what your audience is accustomed, it’s natural to include narration to ease your audience in, so that the elements of the story don’t come out as jarring. The problem with the narrator in GED, and this is possibly the most pervasive issue, is how overbearing it is. This obnoxious prick constantly chimes in the most varied and inappropriate situations to give away stuff that could be easily inserted within dialogue or individual thoughts without compromising the narrative, when he’s not giving away bafflingly pointless details. He blatantly spouts what the characters are feeling and thinking at certain moments, he narrates actions and emotions the exact moment after we saw the characters act it on screen, adding nothing to the scene (“Not being able to defeat Yang, Bittenfeld got extremely irritated” thanks, but I noticed that on my own!), he even feels the need to tell how many spoons of soup Reinhard ate! His is also one of the voices you’ll hear the most during battles, as they frequently opt to have days take place within an episode with only the narration explaining the events. This problem has a lot to do with the source material the anime was based on, the novels: that overbearing style of narration and the way certain events of the story are paced within the narrative are very characteristic of how a novel is written. The issue here is that GED was not translated from one media to the other in any smooth fashion, even as an anime, it retains a style of narration that is not fit for this media specifically. Since anime is an audiovisual media, it benefits more from having the scene and the characters themselves show what is going on, not having it spelled out for the viewer.
Let’s be honest, folks: taking into consideration the amount of whisky, wine and beer consumed by these characters, I’d say half of the main to secondary cast should recognize they have some sort of drinking problem! I can’t be the only one who sees that!
Ok, going back to the space battles, let’s talk about that last issue I mentioned. As you watch the series, you’ll most likely notice these battles are presented in two manners: the first one, obviously, are those where we get an overview of the combat, with the massive spaceships firing at the enemy and hundreds being blown up in both sides; the other one is the fleet movement being displayed in the monitors and commented. The first point of contention here is the way the action displays how these battles evolve: the sequences of lasers getting fired are not enough to convey the flow of the battle, so most of the information about the combat is relayed by the characters in command, making the action itself lackluster. These sequences lack the flare that traditional action sequences have and it took me a while to understand why, but I would, controversially, say that the scope is the source of the issue. The numbers are all so high, counting on dozens of thousands of ships and millions of soldiers, that the series has difficulty properly framing that within the combats and simply displaying random ships being blow up doesn’t cut it, it’s not enough for the viewer to understand how those particular vessels being destroyed is in anyway meaningful to the big picture, when so many of them are shown in every battle and rarely anyone important is in them. Also, just looking at enormous ships far apart from each other be destroyed doesn’t pack the same variety and creativity seen in traditional action sequences the media can provide, like gunfights, swordfights or the tried-and-true mecha-battles, so the combats in GED don’t take long to seem somewhat “samey”.
Let me get a bit light with the bashing, though, I can feel the target on my back itching. If you wanna know about the animation: it’s pretty good, son. It’s distinct, not featuring the most common visual tropes associated with anime, characters have varied designs, making it easily to distinguish them immediately and the series generally packs a unique visual identity, setting it apart within the media. Sometimes you can see a few shoddy frames, but the work generally has very stable animation quality. One aspect that might be divisive when it comes to the visual presentation is the Imperial’s infatuation with 1800s style fashion, architecture, furniture and pretty much everything else. Seriously, they even use gold coins to bribe a guy at one point! Whether you find this particular visual identity goofy, thematic relevant, stylistically clever or just plain unnecessarily is up to you, but it does raises some questions in regards to world consistency and logic. It took me 42 episodes to see the first security camera on the streets of an imperial city, for once, while none seemed to be present at the Emperor’s residence. When in focus is on the military aspect, though, there’s care put into making the pomp of each rank translate into their appearance, with uniforms distinct to common soldiers, generals, admirals and so forth.
You probably want me to talk about the soundtrack, which is composed of classical pieces, but here is the problem: I barely notice them! Perhaps that is because I was so focused on the dialogue and plot that I happen to miss them, but I generally could not remember the pieces that played throughout the series. Same can’t be said about the voice acting though, which is packed with classical voices from anime, like Shiozawa Kaneto (Rei, from Hokuto no Ken), Inoue Kazuhiko (Cyborg 009, Kakashi, etc), Horikawa Ryo (Vegeta) and Sakakibara yoshiko (the Puppet Master, from Ghost in the Shell), pulling their A-game here.
It’s clear to many that, while critically acclaimed, GED is also somewhat of a niche product, so let’s do that exercise I like to bring up and try to understand why it garners such reputation. For once, the audience who composes fans of the series seems to be composed mostly by people who are drawn to older works, so having started in the late 80s certainly gives it that old-school appeal. The series also has a distinctive aesthetic that is a clear departure from the standard anime-look, even for the time it began serialization. That aesthetic possibly helped sediment it as a work of clearly serious tone, appealing for those who looked for something of more mature look within the media. Adding to that, the characters are mostly adults, certainly appealing for anime-fans who are somewhat tired of the overreliance on teenage/kid characters that we see throughout the media. Lastly, the theme of politics is one that is not seen so often even in other media, and seeing it being tackled gives an intelligent vibe to shows that are able to handle it properly. Also helps that the entire work is design to have a very classy feel to it.
This might not be the most accurate assessment to make, but I believe most people tend to look at anime only focusing on the big picture: the most surprising twists, the main actions protagonists partake, the big events in the plot. Looking solely at the big picture, Legend of the Galactic Heroes sure is an impressive work: whole solar systems are involved in the conflicts, battles feature impressive large numbers, it has long spamming plans taking place, deals with an universal concept and its main characters are noticeably treated as larger-than-life people (none of them up to Samus level, but hey, they do their best!). However, I think that when you look at it with your mind on the details is that the nuances, real qualities and flaws become a lot more noticeable, and when it comes to Legend of the Galactic Heroes, its qualities are surely strong and worth comenting, but its flaws are also quite persistent for it to be among what I consider to be the very best in anime.
Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu is a somewhat odd series, in anime terms. It began as a series of novels in the 80s, got adapted into a manga and, over the course of the late 80s to late 90s, it was turned into a 110 episode OVA. The odd part being that it was released as an OVA. For those of you who don't know, an OVA is a direct to video/ DVD release rather than one that runs on a televised network. Usually OVAs are pretty short, running somewhere from an episode to maybe a dozen. A hundred and ten episodes is virtually unheard of from
an OVA. Why was it an OVA? I have no idea. It's possible that its content was deemed unbroadcastable at the time but I really don't know. Let's take a look at this insanely long OVA.
The basic story is that two forces, the Imperial Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, have been at war for centuries and the plot follows their conflict and struggles with a focus on the politics and stratagems. So, how competent is the execution? The short answer is it's not but allow me to extrapolate. The first issue is that the strategies used in this shouldn't work. They're really basic and rely on the other side being incompetent. The first strategy you see is “get all our ships together and hope that their fleets are far enough apart that we can take each one out individually before they can meet up.” It only works because the enemy is stupid enough to disperse their units far enough that it can work. There's another strategy that basically comes down to putting on enemy uniforms and using one of their ships. So, these guys have been at war for centuries and no one has ever tried disguising themselves before? For that matter, they don't keep track of their lost ships or have any kind of code words to identify their own soldiers? The future is dumb. That leads to another issue, since the strategies are pretty much all ones that shouldn't work you can usually tell which ones will or won't based entirely on whether it was one of the main characters who came up with it rather than based on any merit in the strategy itself. If either side had a single person who had read and understood Sun Tzu's Art of War this would be over in five episodes.
The political “intrigue” also falls pretty flat. Its big downfall is the narrator. Yes, this series has a narrator. The narrator likes to tell you what the impact of any political discussion is going to be and even spoils death scenes. Just to make sure they leave as little impact as possible. Even putting the narrator aside, a lot of the political points they make are either stupid or get contradicted by the series. To give an example of the first, they have a criticism of the Alliance's leaders that “they aren't going out and fighting” and the series acts like it's a brilliant and poignant point, but it's not. Any war effort needs people to take care of getting resources, oversee distribution and hundreds of other administrative details that you couldn't do while also fighting. Furthermore, you don't want your leaders going into the fray because of the potential for social disarray if a bunch of those leaders were to just get killed all at once. Do they really think that social chaos would be good for the war effort? The future is dumb. This series also advocates the idea that war leads to societal advancement and society stagnates under peace. That's another particularly stupid one. Society doesn't stagnate in times of peace. It advances technologically and socially. Quality of life goes up and social problems are gradually taken care of. Frankly, the societies presented in this series could use some social justice advancements given that their gender roles have regressed back to roughly the 1950s. The future is stupid. Moving onto a contradiction, towards the end when it looks like peace is coming one of the characters discusses how “if only they'd been able to just talk so many lives could have been spared” which is fair enough but not even five minutes later he says that he's going to return to being a soldier and fighting. Yes, if only your sides could just talk, you know, rather than planning for the conflict to resume. Why is the future so stupid? Even putting the major issues with the politics aside, it's just dull. The scenes drag on far longer than they need to, especially since the narrator has already told you how it's going to turn out in most cases.
The characters in this are pretty flat. Most of them are defined by a couple basic traits or an archetype. Like the guy who doesn't talk or the aggressive guy. Even with over a hundred episodes to work with, none of them ever get around to becoming fleshed out or developed in any substantial way. The female characters have it even worse since they get to be defined by their relationships to the men around them, usually their love interests. If the characters were compelling the series could have at least had some emotional investment but they aren't. They're boring.
The art in this is really badly done. The characters tend to have these flat, emotionless expressions or look dully surprised. I remember one death scene in particular where one of the characters was looking at a dying loved one and their facial expression was what you'd expect from someone who had been staring at a computer screen too long and was tired, not the expression of someone losing a loved one. The action scenes are really bad too. The space combat scenes can be summed up as “phallic ships fire at each other. Some get destroyed. Cut to one of the major characters standing in their bridge and either giving orders or reacting while looking strangely emotionless.” After a while they all start to look the same and kind of blend together. The land-based battles are even worse, somehow. You get a lot of scenes where soldiers are firing shots at people who are charging with melee weapons and somehow miss every single shot. Cobra soldiers are better marksmen than these clowns. Making one side incompetent because you want the soldiers on the other to survive doesn't make the surviving squad look bad-ass. It just makes the action sequence look lazy. Characters will also go cross-eyed for no reason and a lot of the movements just end up looking stilted and unnatural. The art is also a problem when it comes to death scenes. There are quite a few that are supposed to be dramatic but end up being done in such an over the top way that they end up being humorous instead. Like Toga Guy's. (That isn't a spoiler. He dies very shortly after showing up and it's obvious from the moment he appears that he won't survive.)
The voice acting is the best part of the series. It's not the best, but the actors do a good job of emoting and delivering their lines. If the art actually gave the characters expressions that matched the dialogue it would be far more effective, but at least the actors were putting an effort into it, even if they were the only ones involved in the OVA who were. The music is pretty mediocre. It's not bad, but it's not good either.
The ho-yay factor is a 2/10. There are some scenes where Kircheis and Reinhard look like they're more than friends. There's also a scene about the Empire's history that involves a gay Kaiser, but that's the extent of the homo-eroticism. There really isn't much.
That's Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu. It's actually pretty painful. Sure, you get the occasional scene that's over the top in a funny way, but most of the time it's just slow and boring. Any potential for dramatic tension is lost thanks to the narrator, the strategies are idiotic. The politics are asinine. The characters are flat and the art is really bad. My final rating for this is a 2/10. I would not recommend slogging through this one. Well, that's the last review of March. The request queue going into April is: Shinsekai Yori, One Outs, Doki Doki Precure, Sword Art Online and Shingeki No Kyojin. Next week I'll look at none of the above and check out Muteki Kanban Musume instead because I really need a laugh. I'll get back to the queue after that.
The cosmos. Man has head dreams of venturing the final frontier since the dawn of time. It is an endless void for which ambition can take can spread its roots. If only we could reach there. There have been many epic space operas about young men with grand ambitions of power. However, none of them could ever quite match up to the proportions and magnitude of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Legends of the Galactic Heroes is an anime so ambitious, so expansive that this review won’t be able to cover everything. However, I will try to be as concise about my views as possible.
story has a lot of sub-plot lines but at its core, centers around the exploits of two men. One is Reinhard Von Lohengram, a young, passionate soldier on the side of Empire, an autocratic nation. He attempts to mold destiny and the universe itself, in order to achieve his dream of becoming the ruler of the universe. And Yang Wenli, a nonchalant, genius strategist on the side of the Alliance, a democratic nation. By fate, these two face off against each other in battle, and their destinies become forever intertwined.
The scope of the show is quite remarkable, as it meticulously chronicles Reinhard’s rise to power. From his humble beginnings as a mere commoner, to him as an aspiring general, to him becoming the emperor. The show brings the viewer along, and we can see him at different stages of life and how he changes or more accurately, how he stays the same. The same with Wenli, who over the course of the show, we get to learn more about his personal history, his backstory, his motivations and, of course, his political beliefs. Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an ideological/plot driven show of incomparable scale. There is not an anime that I have seen that I can accurately compare to it. There are so many sub-plots interlaced throughout the show that you will need to devote a lot of attention and patience in order to grasp what is going on. It is easy to get lost if you are not dedicating 100% attention to it.
The show has spurts of heavy expository dialog which, depending or your likes or dislikes may be very boring. But they serve as a way to paint the world and give it color. The history of nations is given extensive focus to the point where they feel almost real. In the form of documentaries, or exposition by Yang, we learn about the expansive history of the Empire and the Alliance. The world-building is arguably the show's strongest point. The attention to detail in the world building is uncanny. Every aspect, every nook, and cranny is explained and expanded upon throughout the show. Never before in anime, has there been such a wonderfully crafted world, no, Universe. It is truly marvelous to behold.
The show has a lot of political-philosophical conversations. The conversations provide insight into the way ruling structures like Democracy, and autocracy work and the flaws both. Rarely does the dialog come off as proselytizing. Characters have interesting back and forths on what is the best way to run a government and what they would do if placed in a position of power. The dialogue is insightful but it borders on excessiveness.
Rather show through actions and events, Legends would much rather spoonfeed you every little idea that a character has. If not from the very characters themselves, then the narrator who also spoils plot points. The show comes off as condescending because it assumes the viewer lacks the capacity to understand the beliefs and motivations of the characters without them having to regurgitate it every few episodes. The show does very little to stimulate the viewer intellectually, not that it is a major flaw, but it does hinder my enjoyment of the show. In a show that deals with politics and philosophy, you would expect moments where you would reflect on what is done or said. But no, the show will gladly explain everything to you.
Another problem with the show is its direction. When I say direction, I mean how certain events are presented. Legends gives a highly romanticized depiction of war to the point where you can no longer suspend your disbelief. For example, there was an instance where, during a battle where a soldier took off his helmet and began to saw how the enemies were not human and, in the middle of a sentence, was stabbed in the eye and killed. You are probably thinking I am just being nitpicky, but you would be wrong. There are so many moments like this that it is not just a minor issue; it becomes an issue. Another instance where romanticization hampers the enjoyment of the show is during the space battles. There is no feeling of animosity between either the empire or the alliance. All the characters are portrayed as a “chivalrous soldier,” who rarely gets angry or expresses any contempt for the other side. During battles, generals will often compliment the other side, ignoring the fact that the other side just killed a large portion of their fleet. It is unbelievable. It just comes off as inappropriate once again, takes you out of the immersion. There are moments where characters who defect, are given positions of high standing right off the bat. You are left there, mouth agape at how unrealistic it all is. Now, I am not asking that the show maintains hyper-realism, but there should be a degree of internal consistency. As I said earlier, these moments of disbelief are so glaringly apparent, it is impossible not to notice them and brush them to the side.
Another large part of the show has to do with space battles. The show prides itself on tactics and not relying on firepower to win. However, once again there are issues with its presentation. Battles usually come down to this, one side being very smart, and the other side being unrealistically stupid. What is more noticeable is the fact that the people who are losing, are usually people of high military standing. These are generals and admirals, handpicked by the Kaiser so you would think that the battles would have some tension. However, you would be wrong. Battles are completely devoid of tension because, after a few episodes, you can predict who will win. If Yang is in the battle, Yang will win without breaking a sweat. If Reinhard is in the battle, he will win. It becomes repetitive after a while. There are also issues with battles between infantry. Often, soldiers will be seen using battle axes, and others will be using laser rifles. The soldiers with the laser rifles will coincidentally miss, causing them to be killed. You would think in such a futuristic society that soldiers would use less archaic weapons.
Now onto the characters. The plot revolves around Yang Wenli and Reinhard von Lohengram. Both characters are well-defined throughout the show, each of them have a strong identity and political belief. You will rarely see characters as well characterized as those two. However, it is fair to say that these characters are literally perfect. They have no “real,” flaws to speak of. The show tries to make seem like Yang’s lackadaisical attitude and passive demeanor would affect him negatively in the long run. Sadly for the viewer, that moment never comes. The same situation applies to Reinhard as well. The show makes it glaringly obvious that he heavily relies on other people to accomplish his goals. But he is never placed in a circumstance that solely relies upon his decision. Both characters are never placed in any kind of dilemma where they are forced to make hard decisions. These “flaws,” never impede on their decision making. The right answer is always given to them. Anything they do rarely backfires. If by some miracle, something doesn’t go the opposite way, the repercussions are minor and do not affect them, nor the rest of the universe. These characters almost never make mistakes and it gets really irksome watching them, major success after major success.
Legends also sports a very expansive supporting cast. The downside is, most of the characters rarely amount to anything. A lot of the supporting characters only exist to make Reinhard and Wenli look better than they already are. Supporting characters will do things that defy logic just so Reinhard or Wenli can defeat them. And when they are not losing to Reinhard or Wenli, they are talking about them. The show makes it seem like the majority of the characters do not have any kind of social life and would rather talk about their superiors instead of themselves. If only most people were that humble. However, a small portion of the characters become autonomous towards the end of the show. But this is too late, as this happens a good 90 episodes into the show. It takes time for the viewer to develop an attachment to the characters. The majority of the show, we are made to just care about Reinhard and Wenli and everyone else lies on the backburner.
Legends of the Galactic Heroes is a show as vast as the ocean, but as shallow as puddle. When I say “shallow,” I am referring to the cast not the ideas presented. The world the writers created is truly wonderful but its inhabitants needed the same attention to detail. Despite all my critiques, Legends of the Galactic Heroes is a very well written show but it just misses greatness. The flaws are not egregious enough to ruin the show, but noticeable enough to where it harms your enjoyment.