Life is funny sometimes. I've been in the anime community long enough to see the popularity of series rise, fall, and sometimes even rise again. I'm somewhat of an anime paleoconservative in that I love many anime that are no longer popular or even acceptable to like in the current year. Hell, I've spent the last 8 years trying to convince folks that Elfen Lied isn't that bad! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine having to defend LotGH from getting unfairly shit on, but here we are!
This is MAL, so I assume everyone reading this has either seen or knows a lot about the original Galactic Heroes OVAs. Just in case you recently joined, LotGH is an epic scale space opera that explores the conflict between a corrupt democracy and and an authoritarian monarchy. Rather than simply saying Democracy is correct and autocracy is bad, LotGH fully explores the positives and negatives of both systems and introduces us to dozens of complex and realistic characters on both sides. It's kind of like Mobile Suit Gundam for adults as opposed to young teens. At it's best, it's a series with sophistication, nuance, entertainment, and everything you could possibly want. It also has a few issues, but we'll be getting to those.
Firstly, it must be said that this is NOT a remake of the OVA series or an attempt to replace it. It is explicitly stated to be a new series that closer follows the original novels. Think of this as FMA Brotherhood and the original as FMA 03. An issue with the original series is pacing. Fans of LotGH will seriously tell newcomers "Don't worry, it gets really good after the first 60 episodes!". Not everyone in the world is a NEET. Not everyone has that kind of time to invest in a series that begins at a snail's pace. New Thesis only covers a small portion of the story, but is in general better paced than the OVA.
I was personally a big fan of how they changed back the Iserlohn Fortress plot to NOT involve the "Space Axes" the OVA made up. Those idiotic plot devices only existed to shower some blood into the series because Japanese executives in the 80s thought the show was too boring and wouldn't capture viewers. This dead serious political drama became Fist of the North Star every few episodes because the original OVA lacked faith in its audience. I don't want to hear ANYONE defend the space axes. They were dumb in the 80s and they're dumb now!
Edit: Walter does use a tomahawk in the novels in a few places, just not the massive battle axes from the anime and they weren't used at Iserlohn. Thanks to Lindle for correcting this!
Another complaint is that it's too condensed and we don't get that nameless history professor cramming exposition down our throats. Honestly, it is the characters, themes, and the politics that drive this series and not the world building. It's actually better to NOT go into super deep detail with the history because aspects of it make ZERO sense. The Empire exists because the original author thought the concept of Space Prussia was cool. He wasn't thinking about HOW this could end up happening and it leads to some serious gaps in logic. For example, the logistics of why 90% of the human population in 2600 are ethnic Germans is never explored in the novels or the OVAs and makes little sense. Ethnic Germans are currently just 2 percent of the human population in 2018 and are projected to be under 2 percent by 2100. Even if we assume that Rudolf von Goldenbaum's "Inferior Genes Exclusion Act" targeted non-Germans, which is NEVER stated in any material, it is still logistically impossible for so few to kill so many while maintaining a stable society and economy. If the series isn't going to give a fuck about the logic of its world building than why should we?! Don't waste 4 episodes of my time giving history lectures on how many shits the 4th emperor of the Goldenbaum dynasty took when a fundamental premise of the series is unexplained and makes no sense.
It is true that Yang, Reinhardt, Oberstein, and all the boys aren't yet as fleshed out as they were in the original OVAs. Keep in mind, this is only the beginning if this series does well. New Thesis has done a very solid job with the characters thus far and still should have PLENTY of time to develop the characters if all goes to plan.
One character I LOVED in the original, but admittedly works better in New Thesis is Walter von Schenkopf. He has been returned to the loyal, loveable, but realistic soldier he was in the novels. In the OVAs, Walter is transformed into this God among Men that basically becomes a joke. He's either fighting 100 on 1 and winning, banging 20 chicks at the same time, or some other act of laughably over the top manliness. OVA Walter is basically the German version of Black Dynamite and yet he's placed in this political space opera that takes itself DEAD SERIOUSLY. I swear to god the most stuffy and elitist LotGH fans must close their eyes and ears every time Walter is on screen in the OVAs and just pretend he doesn't exist. Now in New Thesis he can still be a badass and a ladies man and yet not torpedo the seriousness of the series!
The characters do have a kind of pretty boy style it's true. I personally like a lot of the character designs in the original OVAs much better. Having said that, the overall art and animation is WAY better in New Thesis. Let's be honest here for a minute folks. The first 3 seasons of the original OVAs were animated by Studio Magic Bus, the motherfuckers who did Mad Bull 34 and other schlock that nobody wanted. It was never a pretty looking series, even in the 80s. Finally the ship battles aren't stationary ships firing the same 2 frames of blue laser animation. It no longer looks like total shit, and this isn't a bad thing.
Now HERE is where the original OVAs just tower head and shoulders above New Thesis. The OVAs had that AMAZING classic composer lineup vs 1 decent anime composer for New Thesis. However, I will still defend New Thesis in this category. The OVA soundtrack created a copyright clusterfuck by using performances from dozens of major orchestras around the world. I'm pretty sure that's the main reason why you can't waltz into any Walmart in the US and pickup the original OVAs on DVD and Blu-Ray. They are not available anywhere outside Japan despite massive demand. The only way to watch them is pirate them on Kissanime.ru All hail the beauty of the copyright ignoring Runet. That is until Roskomnadzor inevitably fucks it all up.
It is obviously difficult to compare New Thesis with the OVAs. The OVAs are a finished product and New Thesis is just covering a small portion. New Thesis at this point still has a LONG way to go in order to surpass the OVas in quality and for many people that would be impossible. Even so, I feel that New Thesis is a high quality series that gets WAY more shit than it deserves. If you've never seen Galactic Heroes I would give New Thesis a watch. If you love it, you can also check out the OVAs. There is no reason you can't love both. If you love the OVAs as 98 percent of MAL does, I would still check out New Thesis. The animation, quick pacing, and closer adaptation of the source material makes it well worth your while. For now I'm giving LotGH New Thesis a well deserved 8 out of 10.