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.
So, now that the Spring season is all done and over with (and the Summer season is in full force), I reckon it’ll be a nice idea to review a few of its notable titles.First things first: I don’t really consider myself a seasonal watcher. Sure, I’d watch one or two shows per season, but I’m fairly adverse to binge watching multiple anime at a time. Funny enough, I used to be an avid seasonal watcher about 3 years ago. Probably was a mistake, because I got completely burnt out with disappointments after disappointments to the point where I even took a short break from anime entirely. It also really didn’t help that my tastes were starting to see changes during that time. I got to the point where I was sick and tired of all the clichés, exposition dumps, overly dramatic characters, numerous ecchi scenes, and just flat out badly written elements that plagued the anime industry.But alas, I did watch an anime during the Spring season. I watched three in fact. This title I’m going to talk about, was recommended to me by a couple of irl friends. Judging by the way they were gushing about its qualities, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. A reboot of a well renowned anime classic, considered by many top critics in the community to be the best Japanimation has to offer? Why would I even bother passing on that opportunity???Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neuse These (or A New Thesis in English) is a 2018 space opera from Production IG and is a reboot of the series of novels written by Yoshiki Tanaka, not the ovas from 1988 which spanned over 100 episodes. Now I do have the first two novels back at home, but because of how densely packed my library is, and the fact that I have other books I’ve prioritized over them, I’ve only really read through the first chapter alone. So, this will not be a comparison between the source material and the series because of that. Heck, I haven’t even ploughed through the 110-episode ova yet.Surprisingly enough, this reboot got panned from the very moment the teaser trailer got released. Much of it had to do with the character designs. Many fans of the original got super uptight because of how the cast now technically consists of pretty boys. I still remember the backlash Reinhard’s design received, with people likening both him and Kircheis to Kuroko no Basket characters due to their resemblance. Personally, I think this is a rather silly reason to critically pan a series. Reboots can stand well on their own even if their character designs were a far cry from the original source material. Remember when Parasyte was remade in 2014? Its characters looked vastly different from the ones in the manga, plus the main character was given glasses even though his manga counterpart never wore them. Hell, they even changed the time period to fit a more modern era. People used smart phones and the internet, technologies that just wouldn’t be present in the 80s. And the show was bloody amazing! Reviewers gave it high scores from across the board, and it was considered one of the better adaptations churned out by the anime industry. The reason? It followed the source material as accurately as possible, despite those minor changes. And it even did some scenes absolute justice, elevating them using top notch voice acting, clever storytelling techniques, and brilliant animation. Want another example? Devilman Crybaby. The character and creature designs were so different from the source material, that it didn’t even feel like it was based off a Go Nagai manga. I’d even go as far as to claim that Crybaby surpassed the manga, because Masaaki Yuasa’s eccentric direction and the trippy colour palates gave the series a more unique, psychedelic flavour, making it stand out amongst other gorefests in the industry. Couple that with some of the manga’s misanthropic themes and messages, and you have a winner. What I’m saying is that if the story, themes, and characters of the source material are well realized in an adaptation, then it doesn’t matter if the designs aren’t the same.Now I know most of you will bring up Berserk 2016 and the recently aired Souten no Ken, but let’s be honest here. These shows also screwed up in the story department, not just with the animation. Ask any Berserk or Hokuto no Ken purist out there and they’d give you a laundry list of key moments that were flat out cut out or poorly executed.Design-wise, the series doesn’t even look half bad to me. You’ve got to remember that both Reinhard and Kircheis were designed in a way that would appeal to female audiences even in the 1988 ova, so I was okay with them looking like Kuroko no Basket rejects. Yang Wenli looks more pleasing to my eyes this time around than his ova counterpart which, while still great looking, seemed a lot goofier, appearance-wise, with that round nose and oval jaw of his (a subjective opinion I know). Some of the other cast members look similar, others look slightly different. Julian for example, is much younger in appearance in the reboot, which contrasts heavily to his look in the ova where he almost feels like he’s in his early twenties.Now on to the animation. The ships are designed here to be as accurate as possible to the novels, but this time instead of being animated using traditional hand drawn techniques, they’re animated via CGI. And I’m not going to lie here, the CGI is very competent, for anime standards that is. Hell, I’d say they completely dwarf most prior anime titles I’ve seen when it comes to this department. You got to give the animators credit for being able to keep up the quality of the CGI animation considering the amount of ships there are in each battle scene. And I mean it when I say, there are thousands upon thousands of battleships. The Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance basically combat one another using gigantic fleets, with smaller battle cruisers and vehicles to expand the numbers. Imagine if in Star Wars, you witnessed thousands of Imperial Stardestroyers facing off against the same number of Rebel battleships. That’s how big of a scale we’re talking here. Considering that they never ran into budget problems with this is astounding. As for the animation itself, well it’s pretty on par for an IG show, and they’re known for a ton of excellently well animated works like Ghost in the Shell, Eden of the East, B the Beginning etc. There is a lot of crisp detail added to the environments, the characters manoeuvre relatively fluidly, and there’s nary an off model shot to be found. If there’s one gripe I have about the animation quality, its that on various occasions the characters rarely blink, but that’s an issue that’s very common with anime titles both now and in the past.The story was the main draw for me here. Two powerful forces, The Galactic Empire and The Free Planets Alliance, duking out amongst each other for territorial control and personal gain in a scenario that alludes to the wars waged by 19th Century Prussia. We begin the series as Reinhard Von Lohengramm, Kaiser of The Galactic Empire, finds himself in a strife against Yang Wenli, the military strategist of The Free Planets Alliance. And thus, begins a long, gruelling, bloody battle that spans generations.Keep in mind that Legend of the Galactic Heroes parades itself as an epic, and the vast amount of characters reflect that. I mean there are so many characters in the show that it has to constantly show a side character’s nameplate each episode in fear that its audience members will forget them. Granted only minor side characters receive such a treatment; it’s not like Boku no Hero Academia where every single character who’s not Deku or All Might have to be reminded of whom they are and what powers they have. Not all characters get the same amount of development, but judging by the number of cast members that have been introduced, it’s not much of a surprise. The series is only 12 episodes long as of now and the next two novels are to be told through a series of 3 movies. So, give it time, and the rest of the stories will soon flow.The uniqueness of this show comes from how it effortlessly manages to combine elements of historical events with a futuristic space setting. From its designs to its policies, its certain that the Galactic Empire was inspired by 19th Century Prussia with little influences from Nazi Germany snuck in there for flavour. Reinhard himself feels like a cross between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler, with his commanding, polite, and affably demeaner giving weight to his overall character. He even has the look of an Aryan for petes sake. Yang also relies heavily on tactics used in past historical wars to strategize all the various battles he partakes in. In a sense, Legend of the Galactic Heroes plays out almost like a Civilization V game, with characters having to tackle issues such as politics, economics, militarization, and even food shortages, just to preserve the reputation and livelihood of their people and government. As a result, it often is a very dialogue heavy series with a huge focus on political debates and agreements. There are battles strewn here and there, but the primary focus is not on what happens solely during each conflict, rather it’s more interested in conveying the preparations that both preceded and followed them. It tries to get you to understand the motives of each side, why they’re engaged in such a struggle, and how they go about trying to secure their victory and resolve it. Its not like a mecha show where a designated hero gets in a giant metallic suit and decimates armies throughout the galaxy. It’s made clear from the very start that there isn’t a protagonist or an antagonist, as both sides are portrayed as being equally as moral.The fact that the show is very talky, is also a criticism in it of itself. Its not a simple task to sell a show based off its premise to a typical, enthusiastic science fiction fan without knowing if all he wants is to watch spaceships blow each other apart and nothing else. People who don’t like heavy dialogue will find themselves getting bored after the third episode or so. Hell, I’d admit there were a few moments where even I failed to keep myself invested, and suddenly found more of an interest in my phone instead. Given most people’s attention spans in today’s day and age, an era where most of us can’t spend a second without gluing our eyes to our smartphones every now and again, it’s not all that shocking really. Nevertheless, the show wants you to know every single preparation before each battle commences, meaning you must wade through political speeches, talks, complaints and other dialogue sequences before you’re able to get into the good stuff. There’s even an entire episode dedicated to a discussion on the impact of a certain battle on a specific population and its presented through this lengthy debate between political delegates and advisors. It basically resembles a congress meeting. Hope you enjoy statistics o weary traveller.Another barrier would be character likability. There aren’t any quirky one liners and such in this show. Characters are about as serious as the situations they land themselves in, and their body language and personality give off that feel clearly. It makes a lot of sense considering that they’re fighting numerous wars, so expecting people to crack jokes at every second would be unrealistic and just plain dumb. What I’ve really noticed about these characters is how much of a commanding presence they exhibit. The moment you take even a glimpse of them, you know that they’re either born from royalty or just folks who exercise a lot of power. These are also morally grey men who sometimes must quell populations to secure their own. If there’s yet another issue with characterization, its also that much of the 12-episode runtime is dedicated to showing the Free Planets Alliance and their numerous exploits. Very little is spent on Reinhard and co, and considering he’s headlining the series, its quite alarming.The music could also have used a bit of work. While I share the unpopular opinion that classical music is not fitting for large scale battles, the soundtrack in this show is less than stellar. Much of the battle osts consist of what sounds like a kid just banging his head on piano keys. It’s a shame that I couldn’t find any memorable tracks in here because this is the kind of series that would benefit from some. Though to give credit where credit is due, the opening theme by Sawano Hiroyuki is brilliant. As if that’s surprising to anyone. I mean it’s Sawano, the same composer who worked on the music for ‘Attack on Titan’ and ‘Kill la Kill’ among others. There’s a reason he’s revered as a god in the anime community.What I’m most worried about now is the format. 12 episodes and 3 movies are a good start for the first 4 novels or so, but what about after all that’s done? Are they just going to wrap up production and call it quits? Or are they just testing the waters out now, and are planning to adapt the rest of the series? We may never know, I mean I don’t work at IG after all. Why can’t they just release another 12 episodes instead of a movie? Is a movie even sufficient enough to cover the second and third novels? I have so many questions for the future of this franchise that it’s starting to grate on me.Overall, I’d say give the Legend of the Galactic Heroes reboot a try. Particularly if you’re new to the franchise, for it really needs to get more exposure. Personally, I watched this without seeing the original, and its gotten me stoked to see what the 110-episode ova series has in store for me. So, who knows? Maybe it’ll get you interested enough to check the ovas and the novels out. I mean it’s a decision between watching an 110-episode series and a 12 episode series, and if you’re uncertain about whether you’d like the franchise or not, I’d say experiment with the latter first.
This anime absolutely blew me away, truly defining the genre "space opera". In this intricate tale, so beautifully spun as a narrative, we peel back the normative polarity of good vs. evil to find ourselves overwhelmed with whom to cheer for, eager to see both prodigies rise to the top. This story isnt just about nail-biting space battles and intricate political schemes - it teaches us about loyalty, friendship, and just how far the human spirit is willing to go to protect those we love. I highly recommend this anime, but we forwarned: this series is not for the faint of heart. Absolutely beautiful job by the English voice cast as well as superb animation and special effects.
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