History tends to repeat itself. From the ancient reaches of the past to the yet untold stories of the future, people repeat the same mistakes, unleash the same wars, love with the same unconditional way. The Legend of the Galactic Heroes tells such a story.
Japanese Title: 永遠の夜の中で
What is this Anime about
The Legend of the Galactic Heroes is based on the original sci-fi novels by Tanaka Yoshiki and on the enormous 110-episode OVA that was released in Japan between 1988 and 1997. Both the novels and the OVA were unreleased in the west until Anime Expo 2015. Viz Media finally licensed a few of the novels and Sentai Filmworks made the OVA available on streaming platform Hidive.
The plot is simple yet becomes very complicated as the story moves on. Sometime in the 36th century (far more advanced in the future than most sci-fi titles) humanity has spread to most of the Milky Way galaxy and is divided into three territories: the Prussian-inspired (or German Empire) Galactic Empire; the disarranged democracy of the Free Planets Alliance; and the mysterious Dominion of Fezzan (I am guessing Anatolia). The first two are engaged in a seemingly endless war that is spearheaded by two military geniuses, Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li. They are the titular Galactic Heroes.
Space. Battleships. Military tactics. A battle of wits between two strategic geniuses. I am so ready for this series and I really hope it delivers on the promise of adapting a 90s sci-fi anime classic based on a series of equally classic novels, both translated for the west just 3 years ago.
It starts right in the middle of things, during a battle of epic proportions where thousands of ships are barraging the hell out of each other as we are served amazing space imagery and awesome technological details. The storytelling may seem slow paced, but that is the nature of real war and the tale of the two Galactic Heroes is one that will try to explore the fundamental nature of war, plus a little necessary personal drama.
This first episode focuses on two Empire officers, Reinhard and Kircheis, who are in charge of an advancing fleet. Going against the tactical logic of his generals, Reinhard follows unconventional tactics to set up the right conditions for victory against an enemy force that seems far superior at first. In a scene that seemed to prepare us for the imminent appearance of Reinhard’s alter ego on the opposite camp, Kircheis asks him if he is afraid that the enemy may have their own strategic genius. And of course, they do. His apparent victory is thwarted by Yang Wen Li, a commodore of the Free Planets Alliance who seems to have seen through Reinhard’s plans.
Those without skill are destined to fall
HomoeroticShipping: I don’t know how you interpreted the obvious sexual tension between the two Reinhard and Seigfried, but I am calling ‘couple’.
Spaceships: I am a sucker for spaceships and I really dig the design of both sides’ battleships. I am also glad that they adopted a more navy-like style of combat, similar to that found in Space Battleship Yamato.
OP Theme: I am also a sucker for the opening theme. It’s not loud and explosive like most openings and it was composed by one of my favorite Japanese musicians, Hiroyuki Sawano. If the style seems familiar, it is because he also composed the opening theme of recent anime Re:CREATORS.
Themes & Trivia
So Many Names: The first episode was crammed with names of ships and characters. There were so many that I had to pause the episode to read each and every name that appeared on the screen. It seems that is a trend that is bound to continue, since the series has too many characters to account for, from the military people and the government types to the simple peoples and the low-ranked soldiers. I am guessing that we will need all the help we can get with the names, and if the new series follows the example of the 90s OVA, then each time a character first appears in the episode, we will see his name hovering on screen.
All-Star OVA: With so many characters, the 100-episode OVA that was released in the 90s had an all-star voice cast that included many of the top stars of the decade. Just to name a few: Ryo Horikawa, Masashi Hironaka, Shigeru Chiba, Kazuhiko Inoue, Kaneto Shiozawa, Akio Ohtsuka, Akira Kamiya, Rikiya Koyama, Masako Katsuki, and many more!
Slow Pace: I have heard people online complaining about the slow pace of the series, and this first episode comes to confirm that complaint. There is a nickname for the old series that resembles that sentiment, ‘Boring Germans in Space’. Well, I hope this anime is not as boring as that nickname claims its predecessor to be.
‘There’s a wiki for that.’: Following the wiki rule, of course, there is one for the series. You can find it here.
Culture Reference: The Empire is based on a Germanic-Prussian Empire model with most of the names of the characters having a Germanic origin and the names of the ship coming from Norse mythology. On the other hand, the Free Planets Alliance is more diverse. The names of the characters are more diversified (Chinese, English, etc.) and the names of the ships are inspired by Greek mythology and history, probably a testament to ancient Greek democracy.
I haven’t seen the OVAs. I haven’t read the books (I have started reading the first one). I come into this series a complete Ginga Eiyū Densetsu novice and without any expectations. I want my sci-fi fix to surprise me and the first episode was enough to intrigue me. I am sure there is something more sinister to be found in Reinhard’s intentions and that Yang Wen Li sounds too sure of his abilities. I can’t wait to see how he is going to turn the battle around.
Well, not exactly, but these two Galactic Heroes are going to find themselves in each other’s face and try to win the most battles. That is how it seems it will go from this first episode, but I am sure that, like with every military drama out there, we will get some plot twists along the way.
Did you like Episode 1 of The Legend of Galactic Heroes? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to check the rest of our Spring 2018 reviews here on MANGA.TOKYO.
The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: The New Thesis – Encounter