The Spring 2022 Preview Guide
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Gekitotsu
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Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These - Collision (movies) ?
Community score: 4.5
What is this?
Following the resolution of their respective civil wars, the conflict between the Free Planets Alliance and the Galactic Empire has resumed in earnest. Julian Mintz, adopted son of Yang Wen-Li, enlists in the Alliance military and, while being trained during a routine patrol, finds himself caught up in a conflict with a passing Empire fleet. Under the command of Dusty Attenborough, the Alliance soldiers struggle to hold their ground until Yang can send reinforcements, as Julian and his fellow recruits struggle to adapt to the realities of being thrust into real combat for the first time.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Gekitotsu is the third season of the new anime of Yoshiki Tanaka's epic science fiction novel and streams on Crunchyroll on Thursdays.
How was the first episode?
Three years later we're back with another set of new Legend of the Galactic Heroes movies, with Crunchyroll once again chopping them up and releasing them as weekly episodes. Granted, it's more likely the other way around, as just with the pacing of the previous 'season', this first episode pretty clearly functions as an isolated half-hour that is connected with a greater whole as any piece of serialized storytelling. And it means there's enough focus in this premiere episode to bring us back into the story of all these Galactic Heroes, with just enough passing remarks on the status quo to remind us of how we got here (Though given the storied history-book density of LOGH, it might not hurt to at least go back and peruse some synopses for the preceding plot. It has been three actual years after all).
Helping to ease us into all that is the fact that this one has a relatively narrower, smaller-scale focus than LOGH adventures previously tended to end up with. The real-world-style march of time in this galaxy sees Yang's young ward Julian formally enlist in the Alliance military, and it's through his eyes that we get back to engaging with the focal conflict of this series. It comes off as a brisk, concentrated re-introduction to things, where instead of focusing on Reinhard or his consolidations in the Empire, we get a bunch of flashbacks to Julian's training and details of what he's been put through up until this first battle he finds himself in. They do also throw in some informational setup for future long-term developments of this arc (there's a reason a class question prompts a whole spiel from Julian about warp technology), but otherwise this is firmly a story about seeing the war through the fresh eyes of a rookie and their feelings of contrast with the various flavors of veteran we know exist in the LOGH ranks.
That's all well and good in terms of directly defining Julian as we follow him in this new stage of his life and the show's plot, but it does also have the side effect of the series feeling given to over-explaining its tones at every turn. There's basically no time to see Julian reflect on his situation on his own; each point has to be punctuated by a conversation with someone else in this establishment. For instance, the episode sends Dusty down to just have this detailed, emotional conversation with Julian in-between fighting where the kid directly exposits all his thoughts and feelings about the battle he was just in. The episode ends with Julian's rookie-in-arms Peter rambling about the complexities of experience and survivor's guilt in relation to the deaths of their more experienced comrades, when the following simple, solemn shot of Julian looking up at his instructor's name on the listing of the deceased communicates that same impact much more effectively in a moment. If you've been keeping up with this LOGH adaptation this long, these kinds of overt sensibilities aren't really surprising, but it's still mildly annoying to see them still in place, even as the series shows inklings of knowing how to do more with less.
Thankfully, a lot of the appreciable little touches of LOGH persist here. I love the bit where Dusty relates a funny anecdote to the bridge crew and they all laugh, despite being in the middle of a heated battle. Similarly, the idea that ostensibly-inexperienced fighter-pilot movements would cause Empire officers to second-guess their approaches because they're used to going up against Yang's galaxy-brain strategies is a fun acknowledgement of how far reputation for the main characters has come at this point in the story. And it's all presented with the now-expected glossy finish of this modern animated adaptation, making the most of the opportunity to open with an episode that features a bunch of zippy space-ship dogfights. Some of its less-welcome adaptational flourishes persist, but this is still recognizably Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and it's still nice to have more of it.
One of the great things about space operas is the size of their stories. Here we have the start of a new season, with one of our warring protagonists suffering from the tragic death of a close friend and the other having just crushed a rebellion full of people he respected. Yet this episode touches on none of that—our main characters barely even make an appearance. Rather, it is a largely self-contained “boots on the ground” story from the front lines centering on the first deployment of Yang Wen-li's adoptive son, Julian.
Julain is in a unique position. While he is intelligent and brave, he stands in the shadow of the Alliance's greatest hero. Instead of being jealous of this fact, he is humbled and wants to be of use to his adopted father. But how do you support a man like that? By becoming a fighter pilot, Julain has decided to be Yang's eyes on the front. His personal struggle over the episode is one of ego, learning to accept the victories and the losses without letting them go to his head or force him into despair.
At the same time, the whole episode is a graphic example of the futility of war. What we watch is a meaningless battle: two patrolling fleets that run into each other and start fighting. Then both sides call in reinforcements and it just snowballs. It's a pointless meatgrinder of a battle. Nothing will change based on who wins or loses. By the time Yang shows up with a fleet so massive that retreat is the only option for the Empire, pretty much every fighter pilot besides Julian is dead—and the one other newbie who made it through is on the edge of a mental break.
It's great stuff full of drama that explores the nature of the human soul—or to put it another way, it's an average episode of The Legend of Galactic Heroes.
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