I'm no stranger to space opera, so when I heard that Legend of the Galactic Heroes featured an epic war between a 'Galactic Empire' and a 'Free Planets Alliance', I went in expecting the kind of moral dualism found in Star Wars and Star Trek. Sure, the Alliance is revealed to be corrupt and the Empire is undergoing reforms, but even then I'd assumed it wouldn't go any farther than Babylon 5 - which attacked corrupt democracy by way of glorifying benevolent military dictatorship - or the smug condescension of Firefly.
Yet further Galactic Heroes went. Every other time I was about to make a sly remark about the moral hypocrisy of one position or the ramifications of another, it was done for me - often through the omnipresent narrator. Think that the gallant politeness of enemy commanders is nothing more than the complicity of mass murderers? It's an idea mentioned in passing. If the war is usually depicted simply as spaceships exploding to a classical soundtrack, the horrors are also shown: once, a soldier holds his intestines as his ship burns.
The respective benefits and problems of a corrupt democracy or a benevolent dictatorship are treated in a surprisingly even handed manner - to the extent undue bias exists, it is with people rather than politics.
In terms of scope the narrative is breathtaking as it takes the fate of these two nation states right through their struggle to the finish. This development is never fast paced but I can't recall a single filler episode - it feels like the inexorable march of historical events, or, as the narrator frequently intones, ‘another page of galactic history is turned'.
Pains are taken to flesh out this universe. Whole episodes are devoted to history lessons, which are more entertaining than that might sound. Admittedly this is not a realistic universe even by the generous standards of space opera - letters are still hand-written, everything about the Empire whiffs of nineteenth century anachronism, even the Alliance can seem old-fashioned. Though not plausible, this is certainly a fascinating world to get lost in.
Space battles are frequent, tending to fall into the common space opera tropes of ignoring three dimensions (unless they feel like it) and being treated as a naval engagements, though within those conventions I found them to be pretty interesting viewing.
There are numerous action scenes involving men wielding axes (explained away as long-range weapons don't work for technobabble reasons), which can be enjoyable for character interactions - especially Walter von Schenkopp being a badass - but can also be undermined by the very studied, theatrical manner of the writing. These engagements could also be seen as somewhat silly. Furthermore the use of German will leave something to be desired for anyone familiar with the language.
All that considered, the high rating reflects my feeling that the strengths of the plot - which feels like an epic novel in the vein of Romance of the Three Kingdoms - surpasses its own weaknesses to become something superlatively memorable.
The animation is pretty weak - in space battles there can be a dependence on stock footage, movements of characters are invariably stiff, and the action sequences - such as they are - are never special.
However, visual presentation and designs are consistently good, with a surprising number of the huge cast of characters being identifiable at a glance. The quasi-period setting and costumes of the Empire are well realised, as are the more contemporary looking apparel of the Alliance. So too are the spaceships inside and out, especially the Brünhild. There's an overall elegance to this aspect of production that is admirably suited to Galactic Heroes.
Most of the music is European classical, but a good ear is shown in applying given pieces. The songs for the openings and endings mostly fit this theme - the opening is invariably a classical piece sung by a woman (or women) in English, while the ending - which uses a male singer - is mostly classical but occasionally veers into light pop, always in Japanese. The English is very good for all but the last of the openings. With that opening excluded, these songs are quite listenable - even if their similarity may make them blur together.
The voice cast is notably sizeable, many of whom would later go on to fame in other anime series - and there are certainly several excellent performances here. If I were to single one out I'd choose Kei Tomiyama, whose rueful Yang Wenli is sympathetic and approachable. When the role was recast for Golden Wings, it just wasn't Yang to me anymore.
Since a consistently positive review is boring to read, allow me to begin with the negative: Several characters are two-dimensional. There are more than a few pigheadedly stubborn generals on both sides, and the members of the Terraist cult are your stock manipulative shady religious order. Again, though the political systems are handled in shades of grey, a black and white contrast is sometimes used between individuals.
For every handful of simply drawn figures, however, there are a plethora of excellent ones, and it is the characters along with the plot that form this anime's greatest strengths.
Most notable are the two rivals Yang Wenli and Reinhard von Lohengramm, whose struggle is a driving force throughout. Both are sympathetic yet neither escape criticism - Reinhard for his dictatorial aims, Yang for depending so strongly on such a thoroughly untrustworthy government. To an extent they're guilty of the common anime flaw of informed genius - we're told rather than really convinced that they are exceptional commanders. Nonetheless, the strategies are sufficiently competent - and the characters so well written as people - that I didn't really mind.
Yang offers much of the most potent commentary about war and politics, often in a wryly humorous and self-deprecating manner. Though one may criticise his strategies, Yang's personality and conversational range feels more authentically like a genius tactician than similar characters in anime.
If Reinhard is less interesting, it's only because Yang shines so brightly. Still, it's easy to sympathise with his hatred of the aristocracy for making his sister the Emperor's sexual plaything. His dependence on his best friend and constant shadow, the ever moral Siegfried Kircheis, is nicely contrasted with the necessity of his Machiavellian ally Paul von Oberstein. Ultimately his character arc is arguably the most compelling.
Aside from those two there are many, many other interesting and well handled characters, far too many to go into any sort of depth here. Of these several posess expertly handled character arcs. Even a minor character may be given extra facets - Heydrich Lang might be despicable politically, but he privately donates to charities and he's a good father and husband. Or, to return to the Terraist cult once more, we do see a kindly old woman undertaking a pilgrimage to Earth.
If I had to imagine what the ideal anime for me would be, it'd probably be something just like this - an epic, literary space opera steeped in early modern European culture with a heavy dependence on classical music. If that very idea doesn't make your heart skip a beat, feel free to deduct a point or two from the score. Regardless I found Galactic Heroes a refreshingly intelligent, engaging series that should not just be considered a classic of anime, but of the space opera genre.
A popular African proverb states: 'When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.' Shows like Now and Then, Here and There and Grave of the Fireflies point to the grass, the suffering of the masses at the bottom. Legend of the Galactic Heroes tackles the questions of war from above - from a historical and political perspective - thus shining a brilliant light upon the giants who move and shake our world.
Despite its aged appearance, LOGH is an epic in the truest sense. It paints a picture of heroism that dwarfs younger, glitzier productions in sheer scope and detail. Reinhard von Lohengramm, a charismatic idealist, rises to the top of an empire with the aim of forcing the known galaxy into an efficient meritocracy. Yang Wenli, on the other hand, is a world-weary military genius fighting to protect a corrupt democracy from invasion by said empire. While they confront each other in the military sense, their conflict is also an ideological one that pits a slow, unreliable system of justice against a vivacious, unchecked egalitarian one. It challenges the 'good democracy vs bad autocracy' propaganda found in most other media, offering in stead an innovative dilemma of timeless relevance.
Unsurprisingly, the narrative juggles a multitude of subplots, counterplots, and intervening twists - so many, in fact, that recalling them all at once is impossible. Moreover, around this core of political rivalry, it also wraps layers of momentous space battles. With troops counted in the millions and fortresses the size of planets, the battles encompass the kind of mind-boggling scale only an epic of this calibre could sustain. Nevertheless, while complex in design, LOGH feels neither rushed nor bombastic, and organises components of its plot with the easy-to-follow logic of a jigzaw. This is perhaps the unique quality that marks it out as a masterpiece: the confidence it shows in its own deliberate elegance to inspire with dialogue even as it entertains with action.
Of course, since the original novels that spawned this show were written by a history nut (Dr Yoshiki Tanaka), having some interest in global history and politics adds extra dimensions to the enjoyment. History lovers will appreciate the narrative drawing parallels with real historical figures and events (for example, the script borrows aspects of Russia's 1812 strategy against Napoleon and transplants them into the Amlitzer invasion of the Galactic Empire). Students of political science, on the other hand, will admire its astute discussions on governance. By no means is that level of knowledge actually required - those with no academic interest in these themes will find more than enough excitement in the show's powerful controversies.
I won't compare LOGH's animation to that of any recent sci-fi; that would be like rating the original Star Trek against The Matrix. Compare this title, however, to Future Police Urashiman or They Were Eleven and clearly it sits somewhere between the two. The world is comprehensive and detailed enough to avoid the childish looks of the former without achieving a distinctive style like the latter. Since this was a straight-to-video release spanning a decade, however, the animation quality does improve over time.
Forget the opening themes - they're dated ballads only interesting as antiques. The timeless orchestral pieces by the likes of Beethoven and Brahms, on the other hand, endow the in-episode drama with much magnificence. This is particularly true during the space battles, where they accompany the movements of the ships so well that they could have been composed specifically for this purpose.
The cast of LOGH is probably one of the largest in anime history. I count roughly a dozen characters that represent the absolute core, tens more that perform indispensable supporting roles, and hundreds that duck in and out of the plot as the script demands. Fortunately, LOGH wields its cast with remarkable deftness; apart from the convenience of their names appearing on screen, the plot ensures each character matters in some memorable way. Granted, the minor villains are simply callous and incompetent (like insidious Commodore Andrew Fork or that tool in the toga, Maximilian von Kastrop), but the painstaking development of the main cast compensates for this.
In any case, when pressed, I can narrow that core list to two: Yang Wenli and Reinhard von Lohengramm. These extraordinary protagonists exist in exclusive political worlds that meet only through war, and even their personal journeys take on starkly different dimensions; while Reinhard's career flows with the fateful grandeur of an epic poem, Yang's is more like a definitive collection of political parables. (My favourite of these occurs in episode three, when Commodore Attleborough asks why Yang's neighbours won't help as the fanatical Patriotic Knights Corps attack his home. Without missing a beat, Yang replies, 'The freedom to "not get involved" is perhaps the most valued freedom we have in this country.') Although Yang and Reinhard exchange hardly ten lines of dialogue, one could never achieve his full genius without the other to counteract him. Moreover, as integral as they are to each other, much of LOGH's thrill simply lies in watching them outmanoeuvre each other on the battlefield even as they dance politically on a knife's edge.
Powerful. Challenging. Relevant. LOGH is the exhilerating tale of that rare breed of human beings - heroes - who steer the course of history and shape the lives of millions through their indomitable personalities. At the same time, it neatly amalgamates a rich array of historical and political perspectives without sacrificing depth, subtelty, or coherence. Indeed, LOGH is a narrative feat that must be seen to be believed.
ANIME EVOLUTION SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
I used to love space adventures in my teens. Any movie or series with spaceships and aliens was the best thing after… Actually it was the best. But my early experiences with the so-called Space Operas in anime were less than average. I never liked Captain Harlock and Banner of the Stars lost its track after the second season. What could possibly be better than Star Trek or Babylon 5?
So, here I am scrolling through the database and bump on this series. It was quite strange looking at the name, since I’ve wasted a hill of pocket money reading magazines about anime and this LoGH was never mentioned not even once. So, like the immature guy I was back then, being bombarded by the latest Pokemon movie and the brand new Naruto series, I paid no attention. If it ain’t famous, how can it be good, right?
So, several years later someone gives me to watch this series and I begin with no expectations about an unfamiliar title, loathing the previous Space Operas I’ve watched. Five episodes later, I was hooked. Fifty episodes later, I began giving away series I previously thought were awesome. After I finished the entire series, I yelled “Publicity, go f*ck yourself”! Where the hell was this diamond hiding all these years? Why doesn’t anyone mention it and waste pages after pages about the latest Bleach filler? F*ck you advertisement. F*ck you!
And after this cheery intro, I have this last thing to say. Series are 90% of the time overrated or underrated. This series happens to be in the top 10 of most sites. It is one of the few occasions where the ratings do it just.
ART SECTION: 9/10
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 2/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
Ok, honestly, it is not the most beautiful thing in existence. Still, considering the time it was made and the amount of work and detail it was given, all things considered we can say with certainty that it kicks ass. Actually, you hardly believe it was made in the 80’s. In fact, it has such a small amount of static images and almost no repeating frames, making even recent series to run in shame. Did I mention how everything is hand-drawn and instead of the usual quality drop of today, you actually witness a quality increase as the series progresses? Holy sh*t!
It does a fine job making everything look realistic. The characters look, act and move quite real. And it doesn’t censor blood or gore as they usually do. There are several violent scenes that really make your stomach twist, without turning anything to some ridiculous Elfen Lied splatter parade.
The backgrounds have variety in locations although they are generally quite generic and repetitive after awhile. You get the feeling that there are only half a dozen different ships and types of buildings in the entire galaxy. Which is kind of weird, as the animators didn’t even bother having a simple color swap to set apart the various platoons and armies of the same armada. I have no complaints of all the military uniforms looking the same. You don’t choose how to dress in a real army, like some Bleach captain. Neither that the ships all look the same. In real life every pilot does not have a unique, custom-made Gundam just for him. I just wanted some way to know at which division (sic) everyone belong to without having to be told. This aesthetic problem, along with some glitches here and there concerning smooth animation is the only reason I do not give the series a perfect mark.
SOUND SECTION: 10/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 3/3, Music Themes 4/4, Sound Effects 3/3
Sound has little to complain or praise. Voice acting is very well done, without ridiculous pinches making you think that someone is an irritating loli or a satanic villain just by the way he or she sounds. Everyone sounds pretty realistic and uses an interesting set of words in his dialogues. Plus, you may recognize some pretty famous voice actors in this one. My only complain is they talk too much and tell too many things instead of being more active. That kind of turns the series into some preachy educational documentary and makes it sound boring at times.
The music themes are ballads for the most part and sound pretty good for their kind. The first op and ending in particular are superb.
There are several famous classic pieces playing is key points in the story, mostly during the space battles. That gives something familiar to listen to with some established music.
STORY SECTION: 9/10
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 2/2, Complexity 2/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 2/2
As sad as it may sound, the majority of stories in anime are lame. Really, they are. They sure look awesome if you compare them with an average Saturday morning cartoon but they still are lame. Too simple, too naïve, too incomplete, full of plot holes and un-existing endings. Well, although not perfect, LoGH has boldly gone where no anime has ever gone before in terms of multi-layered, complete storytelling. It has a serious story, a huge cast, a very complicating relation chart, a gigantic storyboard, an epic-scale scenario and it has a nice, solid ending. It still has its share of glitches and specs of naivety but if you compare it with almost any other story out there… F*ck you advertisement. F*ck you!
Anyway, the story is way to complicating to describe but it does cover all tastes from time to time. So, there is no way you will hate all of it. The story is about human ambition that leads to endless wars for power and wealth. It is mostly a democracy versus autocracy but makes sure not to take obvious sides. It is also heavy on politics and depicts nicely how authority is evil only when it is misused and not because democracy is better than having a king.
The battles are also a very interesting thing to notice. A war is won through tactics and politics and not with the latest Gundam power-up. So, it is not about the specs of the spaceships. Technology plays a minor part in the story, anyway. Instead, it is about the mannerisms of the fleet leaders and not some weird special power that bends the laws of physics (and reason). Oh, and it is one of those rare anime, where war and violence are not presented as cool and awesome. They are shown to be quite catastrophic and negative for the humankind. Yes, the series is full of battles and death but it is supposed to make you hate war and not get a boner by watching some trendy anti-hero wasting hordes of aliens with a cool-looking weapon.
Still, many may find issues that make the otherwise epic story to appear silly, despite its efforts to be realistic. Some I can point out are:
- No aliens! What the hell, not even a single alien race in the entire galaxy? Give me a break!
* Ok, not really a problem but it does make Earth to appear as the only planet with sentient life in the cosmos. And yes, it is true that most series with alien races simply feature nothing more than human societies but with a different skin color. So, no, it is not really a problem although I never say no to some Borg variant. MMM! Or Zergs. Yummy!
- Sounds in space! Yes, they shouldn’t exist but make the battles cool. Realism is sacrificed before entertainment.
* Not really a problem but does hurt to know the truth.
- Religion is evil! Seriously, the series has an anathema towards it. The main religions are only mentioned as dressing for speeches and play no part in politics. Oh, and the one religious sect that affects the story, is an army of suicidal maniacs, who are brainwashed to kill anyone they tell them to without questioning and then committing suicide because their role is over. This is a major minus for me. Yes, religion is full of crap most of the time but the series does nothing to show the positive side of believing to a God and doing good deeds in His name. Bad! Bad scriptwriters! They probably are atheists.
* This again does not damage the overall plot in any significant way; it just replaces faith with blind madness, which is still something you can find in any era and in any type of idealism.
- Medieval battles! WTF! We are several centuries in the future and wars look less advanced than today. Seriously! The space battles are in fact naval, as spaceships move two-dimensionally and use weaponry that is already obsolete today. And most hand-to-hand battles are done with armors and axes! WTF!
* Not really a problem but makes the battles to look unrealistic. And if you think about it, there is no up or down in space so calling something 3D is kinda off. If two ships shoot at each other, they appear to be doing so in a linear fashion no matter how up or down they are positioned. As for the axes, it was mentioned how most important facilities are filled with an explosive gas that ignites if you fire with a laser inside them. If the invaders want to take over a place instead of destroying it, they need to turn to the old fashion way of fighting.
- The world map is sooo fake. The Galactic Empire on the right, the Free Planets Alliance on the left and some isolated planet, Phezzan, on the bottom. You would think there would be a million different paths to move around in a three-dimensional space, but no. All transportation to the other side and all the battles are performed in narrow corridors of “usable space” making them two-dimensional and Phezzan became a cosmic superpower without much effort. Nope, not convincing enough.
* Supposed there is an energy field that separates the galaxy in half and supposed there are only two corridors made so far to connect the two hemispheres. And supposed Phezzan was neglected for too long by the world leaders to the point it became an important economic base for both sides and now is not profitable to destroy it. There is a weak reasoning behind it.
- Everyone who is a genius has a terminal illness. Give me a break! This is so not true.
* Although it is true most bright people die young.
- Identical technology. It is impossible to accept that two civilizations, isolated for centuries, still use the exact same forms of weaponry and battle tactics.
* Phezzan doing trading to both sides probably had something to do with it.
- Preachy. It does feel like it is trying to teach you things in an educational way, thus making it look like a propagandistic documentary at times. Yes, it teaches you about the uses of propaganda through power and authority (which is a good thing) but does it in such a direct way through bashing monologues that you may feel it is trying to give you a reverse opinion of propaganda.
* Not really a problem; just too blunt at times. It still helps to flesh out the setting and give a poetic feel to every character.
- Retarded tactics. Most of the so-called mind games and bluffs in this show are not smart at all. The main characters are not smarter than an average person, while their opponents are complete idiots that fall for the most obvious of traps.
* That is true but it happens for two basic reasons. First, in order to prove how there are lots of idiots in positions of authority, which stands true in all ages of human history. And second, it simplifies the whole thing so an average viewer can understand it and even identify with it. If it was too complicating, it would make the characters hard to sympathise. After all the author is not really a tactical advisor, so he didn’t attempt to make everything seem that realistic to the point they feel ridiculous.
As I said, all of the above are glitches, mostly of an aesthetic level. The messages off the story are the real meat of the anime and they are really awesome to pay notice to. Still, the same glitches are what made me drop the story section a bit. It is otherwise way too good to believe they pulled it through so well.
It still has enough openings for a prequel movie trilogy and two more prequel series showing the teen years of Reinhart and his gradual ascend to power up until the beginning of the main series. We get to watch all those major events that made him the person he is in the series (his family tragedies, his friend Kirchieis, his hating for the deprived nobles). We also see how he joined the army and had to simultaneously fend against invading armies and corrupted nobles. We have some cameo of Yang as well, although he doesn’t play any major part in the story. The story there is quite mediocre as there are no major events or even a decent ending. Almost all action scenes were skirmishes and not the epic space battles I was so fond of. Plus, there are a lot of boring events that made Reinhart and Kirchieis to look like teenage detectives, out to protect the world from the deprived nobles’ schemes. It reminded me of several cheesy detective series that were quite lame. It kinda felt like it was undermining the seriousness of this title and the characters are too less interesting. Although Reinhart retains his dramatic personality and cool attitude, everyone generally has weak presence and really slow, if not any, character development.
CHARACTER SECTION: 9/10
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 2/2, Development 2/2, Catharsis 2/2
Well, there are hundreds of characters and none of them is memorable for his special power or just for his personal quirk. No teen superhumans, defeating armies alone and then being beaten by tsundere girls out of sexual frustration. And no miraculous healings and resurrections and sudden power-ups by yelling or being beaten to a pulp. Forget all that shonen bull shit. In this series, if you die, you stay dead. And no matter how good you are in battle or politics, you still need a few thousand soldiers as support. The characters are gray and not separated into the good guys and the villains. Although there are several treacherous ones that are just short-term antagonists, there are still hundred others that are simply ambitious and selfish. And very few act identically or have only stunt roles. And most of them mature or see how they matured through their flashbacks. Or die (and stay dead). That makes it a worthwhile cast by default.
Reinhard von Lohengramm is an ambitious bishounen, out to conquer the galaxy with wits, military force and the screams of a million fangirs, so all of you who dig leads like Yagami Light and Lelouch will definitely like this one. He is not just brains and looks, as he has some yaoi innuendos all around him and does strive to change the world for the sake of his sister (so Lelouch-like, I know).
Yang Wenli is also an interesting fellow. Aiming to be a historian but ending up using his knowledge to protect his side from the empire and becoming Reinhard’s nemesis. He does sound preachy at times, as he spouts moral monologues about proper leadership and historical events and saving lives all the time. Still, it is nice to see how he is a genius in his work and quite sloppy in his personal life (so L-like, I know).
As for the secondary cast, a great number of generals and other military staff help to enrich these two characters with several side stories and different points of view. The female cast is rather back-seated, as the cosmos appears to be a man’s world even in the distant future. Most women are presented as simply emotional support, doing chores, bearing children and being the romantic interest of the leads. Still, they get a lot more respect than women in anime do in general. I still won’t give a perfect here, as some characters; especially the secondary aristocrats and the religious leaders; are quite fake and boring and damage the seriousness of the story when they are present. If the plot calls for it they behave like complete jerks and idiots, just so we will cheer whoever stands against them.
VALUE SECTION: 10/10
Analysis: Historical Value 3/3, Rewatchability 3/3, Memorability 4/4
Oh, that’s easy. This anime is so above everything else that it deserves nothing but a perfect score. It is such a complicating story that you will definitely not be bored if you ever watch it again. And it is memorable for its characters and engrossing story. So what if the majority of people have never heard of it? Screw the majority and their commercial, superficial anime. This anime happens to be the best space opera ever, both in anime and live action form. And it does change you as a person with its magnitude of feelings and emotions.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 9/10
Analysis: Art 1/1, Sound 2/2, Story 2/3, Characters 4/4
One glitch here, one boring scene there, I can’t say I fully enjoyed it or didn’t think things could be done better. Still, it is peanuts to the whole and deserved it time and money.
I must say, I was never a fan of slice-of-life or school romances or series that generally aim to make you feel emotional and fuzzy inside. But this series, with its war theme next to political intrigue and share of social life under the pretext of historical events is an exception. So, onwards with it. It deserves it.
Similar in space types: Planetes, Tytania, Crest of the Stars
Similar lead characters: Code Geass, Death Note
Live action series: Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica (the remake)
Cartoon series: Exosquad
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is one of the most highly rated shows by people who have seen it. As a result I had high expectations when I started the show, but ultimately dropped it about 70 episodes in. There are just too many problems with the narrative.
Take, for example, the lame action. I'm sorry, but the space battles are just not interesting. There are countless logical inconsistencies (we've been cornered... IN SPACE), it's poorly animated, and the scenes tend to drag on for eons. I appreciate the effort to take WW1 tactics and implement them into space-combat, but it just doesn't do much for me when there are so many other glaring faults. Don't even get me started on the axe combat, which is some of the most aggravating bullshit I've ever voluntarily sat through.
There are similar problems with the rest of the overarching plot. This narrative needs to be extremely intelligent to work, and while it has its moments (I particularly enjoy the fact that much of the series can be viewed as allegorical to famous political events in world history), there are also parts that are either ridiculous or flat-out illogical. A particular problem is that the opponents that Yang and Lohengram "outwit" tend to have the mental capacity of a 5-year-old. I found it immensely frustrating to watch nearly every opponent repeatedly commit absolutely asinine acts that no experienced commander would ever even consider. Moreover, the "brilliant tactics" that Yang and Lohengram use tend to be basic stuff like "pretend to run away" or "hire competent advisers."
I may finish this series someday (although I hear that it gets even weaker near the end, which is hardly encouraging), but the fact remains that this is very much a niche title for those that can enjoy a pompous, intellectual story that isn't actually that intelligent. Like Rose of Versailles, another ancient but highly liked series with some serious narrative issues, LOGH feels like epic for epic's sake.
There's a lot of content in this series. To reduce this review down to the bare essentials, I found it interesting to think and analysis all the political, subterfuge, military strategy/logistics, and philosophical concepts interwoven within the story and plot line.
All I had to do was to analyze the data the episodes gave me and extrapolate the logical conclusion and that would be the truth, because the world was made very consistent according to principles of history and human nature. This series is based upon a light novel so certain transitions and word flares were cut out to make room for the battles, the plots, the betrayals, the deaths, and the heroic empire building. This forced me to actually think about the world they were building and whether it made sense or not. Considering that the intellectual fortitude of the series required a lot of military (ground) strategy, logistical comprehension, political calculation, data/intel analysis, and a bunch of other stuff, there was more than enough material to stress the gray matter.
This series almost has everything. Love, battles, stories about empires lost and won, political fights won and lost, rebellions and revolutions, on top of betrayals and tragic deaths of heroic individuals. So much stuff is interesting and fun, that it was not hard to decide to give this series 5/5. It was one of the first series I rated the full rank here at Anime Planet. After watching another 50 anime series, my judgment hasn't changed even though I did some great amounts of reconsideration.
I surmise that the reason why there is a love and hate relationship for those that have seen or dropped Legend of Galactic Heroies is because LOGH requires the viewer to be educated in certain critical fields. It doesn't require you to be experienced in everything, such as battles, political analysis, or philosophical ethics, but unless you have a background in one subject at least, you'll be lost and unwilling to devote the time necessary to finish the series. The series requires a lot of viewer comprehension of certain key elements in military history, political corruption, and human nature for the viewer to be interested. Otherwise it's like reading scientific technical novels. You might as well read a plot summary.