Ep. by ep. – Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Eps. 0-4

So yeah, I finally decided to tackle the arguably best anime ever made. It’s really a serious commitment, because 110 episodes is something. Yeah, I know that there are some side stories or other stuff animated, and that’s only speaking about the original run, the recent reimagining is a whole new story. Anyway, I decided to watch for as long as can be kept more or less interested, and do that in the release order, so this installment of my thoughts also contains the sort-of-prequel movie which isn’t necessary story-wise but still recommended. Also, I think it might be interesting to apply my episode ranking strategy (likedokdisliked, from seasonal Musings and Reflections). When the series is so long, I wonder if it can be better /worse than the sum of its parts (and I guess I just love graphs). Let’s begin!

Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Waga Yuku wa Hoshi no Taikai

Smug, are we?
  • Obviously, the two main guys share many things: Reinhard is severely underestimated by everyone except his own crew, while Yang seemingly has only one friend who wholeheartedly believes in him. Both of them seem to come from a humble past. Despite of that, both of the protagonists are just too smart not to be the ones in command. They seem evenly matched, but probably the one difference is that Yang looks more like an everyman while Reinhard seems a more solitary and maybe a bit emotionless and narcissistic (maybe that’s his fabulous hair making an impression) but still the blond behaves like a reasonable and smart guy. In any way you can look – it’s a draw.
  • Coffee is a disgusting mud water? Thanks, Yang. I also prefer tea to coffee, though I wouldn’t be as earnest. Moccha for example tastes pretty good.
  • Wouldn’t say that the art is amazing, but for its time it’s pretty good. At least when nobody moves.
  • What really impressed me was the use of music. It’s not often that some classical music is used for anime. Well, there’s a point that real orchestral music is difficult to write and expensive to perform – it’s not like you can get away with a small basement studio and an acoustic guitar. There’s also a huge stash of old orchestral music but it also comes with a price because it’s hard to choose a piece that suits your story at that particular moment, or you need to tailor your story around that piece. Each way is a bit tedious if your goal ultimately is to tell a great story in a way you want to tell it. Still, there’s a reason why blockbuster films aren’t always satisfied with small acoustic soundtracks – a full orchestral sound adds the sense of greatness like nothing else. And, well, if you plan to tell a story of enormous proportions about an intricate political clash of powers and humans trapped within, you better think hard how to impress the viewers right from the start. And, well, the music chosen for this film really did impress me. Somebody with really good knowledge of classical music and the aesthetic sense must have spent lots of time thinking up the musical line-up. And it works. You need grandness – here, you have it. You need some slower moments of introspection – yep, also there. But what really sold me the film was the use of Ravel’s Bolero in its 15 min entirety. It’s really not a piece I might immediately associate with anime, but it certainly did work. Just as the sound volume slowly increased while the melody remained the same, the two warring sides started preparing their battle plans, and a slow chess game of minds began to unravel. With the increasingly noticeable presence of the music the warships began their dance, and all the blasts and bangs were tied into a very pleasing spectacle. Well, if we manage to forget all those soldiers that were vaporized. Oh well.
  • The ending seems to be too pompous for my taste. I get that everybody went out of their way to show how important the two characters will be and that there’s a story of epic proportions ahead, but I don’t know, it almost looks like an introduction into a cheesy romcom with the two leads continuing to sigh through 24 episodes and finally by the sheer strength of will managing to hold each other’s hand. I guess 80s did see sci-fi and planes as something romantic (classical music also has that particular romantic flavour). So yeah, not the best thing I’ve ever watched but hey, it’s pretty intriguing nonetheless.

Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Ep. 1)

Damsel in distress?
  • So many faces in the OP that I worry I won’t be able to remember them all. At least they don’t seem to be suffering from the same face syndrome.
  • Well, the animation quality isn’t terrific (the film apparently was more detailed, which is understandable) but I always love those hand drawn sakuga moments of moving mechanical parts. That’s what I really miss about 80s anime.
  • A bit hard to believe that one more aggressive than usual commander may so completely exploit his enemies. Was it wise for the Alliance to split their forces into 3 parts and not in 2? And what’s the point in splitting in the first place if one part simply can’t reach the other in time? And it’s not that there’s some tricky terrain or any obstacles – everything’s happening in an empty space with 100% visibility. Level of technology on both sides presumably is also comparable. Oh well, I guess after 150 years of war everybody loves to play safe and somebody who has even the tiniest bit more brain than others will reap benefits.
  • A bit hard to get the feeling of magnitude. Let’s be frank, I can imagine a plane. I can also imagine 10 planes or 30. Any number beyond that just fries my brain – it’s just some big number of planes. And when there’re battleships and not plains we’re talking about, and not 30 of them but tens of thousands… I can’t deal with such huge numbers. And even a more confusing multitude of people that reside in these battleships. Supposedly thousands of them die but without showing that (technical reasons, obviously), it’s hard to really get the magnitude of the battle and, to be frank, to care at all about those numbers and every John, Jim or Joe who isn’t one of the main characters.
  • Oh no, even more seemingly important faces in the ED… Oh dear…

Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Ep. 2)

That's actually a very interesting tactical view
  • I’m not sure, but were the windows of Yang’s ship shattered or not during the attack? If they were and that’s what injured the commander, I find it incredibly funny – a spaceship without any protection from the vacuum outside – it’d be almost as good as space-fishing in the original Macross.
  • It’s a bit macabre to hear cheerful dance background music while the focus is on the space battle and people supposedly dying, not dancing. Though it is probably dancing for Reinhard and Yang – the only way to remain alive seems to be not to stray the tiniest bit from their orders. You do not listen and end up killed – it’s as easy as that.
  • On the other hand, there’s a great point about propaganda – you can lose 10 times more soldiers and even then declare a total victory. Perspective does matter. Weren’t for the losses, it would be outstandingly funny that both sides can fight a battle and declare a victory. Another good point is that Yang’s blond friend’s death seems to have more gravitas than it seemed at first. When it was repeated again I wasn’t too happy, but once it led to the news reaching his fiancée, the sense of war and real losses was made much more real (a little bit of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony’s 2nd movement near the grave also was to the point). Yep, that’s only one man who is mourned and there’s a whole million more, but such a portrayal is much better than a plain message about the head count. I guess this lady might have some role in the story– that would be nice – because she is named. On the other hand, that dude who disregarded Reinhard’s orders was also named, but was vaporized within seconds. Oh well.

Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Ep. 3)

Propaganda, propaganda everywhere
  • Yeah, the show really gets into the guts of propaganda. Well, knowing their history, Japan can definitely say a few things about men being thrown in the firestorm, and making them do it with conviction that it’s only right thing to do. Well, it’s not my place to judge anybody but it’s made crystal clear that people may spread somewhat false information as propaganda quite successfully. And yeah, it can be argued that the nation needs to be incited because otherwise they’ll simply lose the war. And then another eternal question arises – what is more important – lives of millions of people or freedom? I doubt there can be a unanimous answer, even given particular circumstances.
  • On some more earthly matters, when I see a brass band who are about to play an anthem, I expect to hear a brass band. I guess musical instruments must be on a whole new level in this futuristic society so that brass instruments may sound like strings.
  • By the end I began to feel very satisfied with the episode. After the battle, we were able to see how the general public is affected by the war, what is the political situation, and also a future goal appeared. This political manoeuvring seems very promising – if we see more of a kind, I’ll be more than happy. I guess Yang, being a nice person, played his hand to his disadvantage – saving a friend is always fine, but now he’s stuck with owing not a very nice man who’d rather send Yang with an impossible mission than see him grow into something politically dangerous.
  • So it’s Julian next to Yang in the ED. Seems like he’ll feature quite prominently. I’m alright with that but I’d also like to see Jessica more – she already has a backstory and potential.
  • P.s. Mahler’s Adagietto (from his 5th symphony) during the parting between Yang and Jessica was very well placed.

Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Ep. 4)

Shoujo sparkle time!
  • I don’t really know what to think about Reinhard. Yang is positioned as a clear and likeable good guy, so his enemy must be a bad guy, right? Well, I’m not sure. Reinhard is very different from Yang and while I clearly not dislike him, I can’t bring myself to liking him as much as I do like Yang. I guess Yang had his time to show how much he values his friends, he even went out of his way (a lot) to save his friend’s fiancée. It’s easy to like likeable guys. Reinhard on the other hand is very sheltered and while he’s just as tactically brilliant as Yang is, he shows his warmer side only to Kircheis who treats him with more awe and respect than an equal friendship requires. Reinhard just hasn’t done anything to show his values to make it easier to judge him as a human being.
  • The show seems to be everything. Sparkling smiles looks like something shoujo, Kircheis’s infatuation with Annerose is a centuries old romance trope, power of friendship never even thinks of leaving the scene. Some quick-witted might even find some gay undertones here and there. Well, it’s not bad, it’s just unexpected. Which is good, I guess.
  • Nice to be a Kaiser – you have such a great security that no one can enter your party uninvited, no one can carry any weapon, no one can leave unsupervised – not a single person, not even a kid. Oh wait…
  • Reinhard might be a good shounen protagonist. A sidekick is there, a tragic backstory also checks out. It’s usually a dead mother, but a “sold” sister (older sister, by the way) works just as well. And, as a bonus, his mother still can be dead. While Yang seems more like a pacifist dude, Reinhard finally gets some motivations. It’s actually great that his major wish to reunite with his sister does not necessarily mean a war must go on. I’d like for the war to end. Kaiser might drop dead, Kircheis might get Annerose and everyone might live in love and peace. That’d be great.
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