Feb 14, 2009
Beatnik (All reviews)
Golden Wings is a slight misstep in the Legends of the Galactic Heroes franchise, not enough to stumble on its face but not enough to style it out by whistling innocently and pretending it didn’t almost trip over.

It’s best to watch this movie after episode 54 of the LotGH OVA, as this movie was released after that and before episode 55. The story is set before the OVA, but after watching 54 episodes of Reinhard ascend through the ranks of the military and getting comfortable with his acquaintance, you can get the most satisfaction out of Golden Wings in seeing him ascend through the ranks of military school and learn how he matured into an adult.

All the characters from the OVA are near unrecognisable in their new incarnations in this movie. It’s the first thing to hit you if you've been watching the OVA for a while. They lose the handsome character designs and replace them with foppish haircuts, wide anime eyes and voice actors that don’t match their characters, Yang Wen-li especially. It’s pretty jarring and serves as a barrier between the two experiences, with only the thematic narrative tying the two anime together neatly for the viewer.

The movie is a spotlight on Reinhard and Kircheis. The first twenty minutes don’t tell you anything you don’t already know if you've seen the OVA, but after they graduate from military school the plot picks up and shows us their friendship getting them through tight scrapes in the beginning of their military careers.

Yet even with that encouraging premise, the movie as a whole is a big step down from the OVA in nearly every department involved, from art, direction, but most importantly, in story. Yes we get a nice background on two beloved characters of the LotGH universe, but generally this movie is directed in a very sluggish, bland and hand-holding way with a script exactly the same. The OVA by comparison is bold, assured, confident, intelligent and doesn’t hang around for you to keep up, it’s too busy being awesome.

Golden Wings is too busy trying to hook a completely different viewership, one that will be sorely disappointed when they check out the OVA and are hit in the face with masterful direction and sublime script, and not five minute montages of Reinhard and Kircheis running around as kids without uttering a word, just laughing like lunatics on crack.

Ok, there's only one five minute montage of lunatic kids on crack. The latter half of the movie has a decent enough plot that manages to tie an Alliance attack on the Death St-, uh Iselhorn fortress; and Reinhard's life at risk by imperial grouches. It culminates in a reaffirmation of one of anime’s greatest friendships and a pretty cool death scene for an obligatory bad guy.

Getting in the way of Reinhard and Kircheis’s friendship will cost you your life, don’t forget that. They used to be crack-dealing hyena-laughing junkie kids back in the day didn’t you know?