Thousands of years later, humanity has advanced into space. Here it has divided into two countries with two different forms of government: the autocracy of the Galactic Empire, and the democracy of the Free Planets Alliance. These two countries have been at war for 150 years. Near the end of the 8th age of the space calendar, the appearance of two geniuses will change history forever. The unstoppable genius, Reinhard von Lohengramm, and the unbeatable magician, Yang Wen-li. As heads of the Imperial and Alliance armies respectively, the two will face each other in battle over and over again.
In the Eternal Night
The Battle of Astarte
An Indomitable Prodigy
The Unbeatable Magician
Birth of the 13th Fleet
The Capture of Iserlohn (Part 1)
The Capture of Iserlohn (Part 2)
The Castrop Rebellion
Each Person's Star
The Verge of Death (Part 1)
The Verge of Death (Part 2)
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a retelling of Yoshiki Tanaka’s beloved science fiction novels of the same name. While many may remember the anime from the late 80’s-90’s, Die Neue These attempts to set itself apart with modern animation and a new format; the bulk of the story will be released in theatres as a film series. This season serves as a prologue, and focuses on the ascension and development of two brilliantly opposed protagonists. By telling both sides of the story, LotGH provides an in-depth study of the different types of characters and scenarios that have influenced the history of war itself. It has the feel of a classic war film and the look of a space opera, but at its heart it is a historical epic. Yoshiki Tanaka (also the author of The Legend of Arslan) is an avid history wonk. He has a wide-ranging knowledge of conflict across the ages, and he focuses on how poor management influences the course of battle and compounds the tragedies of war. The two protagonists, both genius strategists, take out lesser characters with an ease that can stretch believability; but every battle in the series is inspired by true events, and many of the characters are reimagined generals and conquerors. Like any war film, a good amount of time is devoted to battle and strategy, which can be a bit of a slog for anyone not interested in great military endeavors. However, an equal portion of the series is focused on political maneuvers and character development. This combination leads to a somber look at human affairs with little to no humor or unnecessary feels. Absolutely no expense was spared in the making of this series, and that includes hiring an all-star cast of well-known seiyuu. Reinhard, the protagonist most closely resembling Alexander the Great, is voiced by Mamoru Miyano (Light from Death Note and Tamaki from Ouran), while his counterpart Wen-Li is Kenichi Suzumura (Naruto’s Kakashi and Sougo from Gintama). The rest of the cast is no less impressive, as most of them have extensive credits to their name. It is not unlike an American mega-project filled with famous cameos and special appearances. The soundtrack, featuring the composer from Attack on Titan, is generally beautiful and gives the show a solid and well-rounded sound. Perhaps the most spectacular feature of Die Neue These is the art, which uses a blend of classic and computerized animation. While the mixture may seem jarring at first, the end result is a stunning visual display. Landscapes that are only viewed for a few seconds contain millions of minor details, and the space battles are dazzling but not overwhelming. However, what really makes the scenery so enchanting is the lighting, which is almost always used to the maximum effect. The brilliance in animation carries over to the incredibly large cast of characters, each one with unique facial features and expressions. Reinhard and Wen-Li are both likeable and easy to route for, and the audience is not forced to agree with all of their decisions or choose one over the other. Some of the smaller parts can come off as caricatures, if only because so little time is devoted to them, but the main players and extensive ensemble of secondary characters are multi-dimensional and deeply relatable. On top of that, a number of different ethnicities and body types are represented without prejudice. The world looks and feels diverse, especially because every face has its own distinctive features. Unfortunately, as a stand-alone piece, the season’s plot is somewhat lacking. Though designed as a prologue for the films to come, it concludes on a cliffhanger that is rather unjustifiable for the end of a series. The ensemble and scenarios that have been put in place promise for some excellent movies, but make this season feel like the first few chapters of an otherwise lengthy book (which it likely is). You might want to wait for the movie’s release before you dive into Die Neue These, but it is a rewarding experience overall.
Before launching into the review I'm going to preface that this remake is a remake of the Novel not of the OVA's themselves. It is a similar situation to Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood where one deviates from the source material while the other sticks to it. Because of this I will not spend much energy comparing the show to the OVA's. Story~ The story is basically built around seeing the war through the eyes of Yang Wenli and Reinhard. Both while being tactical geniuses are polar opposites, with one wanting to rule the Universe and the other merely wanting to waste away his days reading about History. One of the appeals of this show is that in the autocratic vs democracy narrative neither side is portrayed as 'good' or 'evil'. Instead the strengths and weaknesses of each system are laid out and the watcher is never tasked with choosing a side, though they may do so naturally. This adaptation does the story justice imo and it's as solid and tackles rather heavy subject matter in an easy to digest manner. One of the issue's I have with this though is that while the point of view does switch from episode to episode or sometimes even within the same episode, it is largely focused on the Alliance side. Not much time is spent delving into the characters on the Empire other than Reinhard and Kircheis. It is a shame, because there are some very interesting characters with good backstory there. This makes it difficult to care about some of the characters or see them more than a plot device. Animation~ The animation overall is solid including the CGI space battles. The character design itself is a matter of taste. For myself, in a military drama I don't enjoy what you would call 'young pretty boys' filling the majority of roles. Sound~ This is one area that I will compare to the original OVA as it's not related to the actual story itself. The original OVA is head and shoulders above this series. That's not to say the soundtrack for this version is bad, but just that the bar was already set so high that there were greater expectations. It does fit the Sci-Fi/Space Opera theme for the most part. There is less narration overall, but it's as well done as the original. The voice acting overall was well done imo, even if it varied from the OVA's. Characters~ As pointed out earlier this is hit and miss. So many characters with interesting backstories were completely glossed over. Perhaps they will get to them in the future, but for the moment especially on the Empire side, very few characters are more than a face in the crowd. That being said the main characters are well done. Yang is fleshed out very well and has a laid back demeanor. A walking contridiction in that he hates war, but is great at waging it. Reinhard is the ambitious upstart rising up the military ranks who is also prone to bouts of immaturity and can be a bit morally ambiguous at times. Overall~ It's hard for me to judge this anime in a vacuum when the OVA is to this day, my highest rated show. Be that as it may overall I thought it was handled fairly well for being only 12 episodes. That being said it has some shortcomings with characters and some of the episodes also felt a bit underdeveloped (Kastop rebellion). Regardless, it's interesting thematically, with a few great characters and a lot of elements that aren't covered in anime very often.
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