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