Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These ?
The season may be up for Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These, but it's neither the time nor the place for the series to ride off into the sunset. The past few episodes have all been (perhaps too gradually) building to this big confrontation, and fortunately all that setup does pay off! As much as LOGH DNT has leaned into the dryness of its source material over the last couple episodes, this week sees the show's distinctive cinematic ambitions come roaring back to the fore.
After treating the Alliance's defeat during the invasion as a foregone conclusion for so long, this episode retools the scenario into a more expected setup for a season finale. The sympathetic members of the Alliance army are at their lowest point, and their rally to survive their situation becomes the driving motivation of the episode. The excitement quotient is upped by featuring our first big space dogfight since the beginning of the series. The pilots of the Alliance Spartanian fighter ships haven't gotten a chance to appear until now, since the show's been too focused on the big-picture maneuvers of the higher-ups. But this one scene makes quite an impression, even if most of Poplin's team gets killed off.
This type of ‘troop-level’ focus is a nice treat for this last episode, and the zippier battle scene gets our attention as something fresh that this modern adaptation can deliver at a higher level than the original OVAs. There's an inherent thrill to the whole segment, selling that win, lose, or draw. Knowing that Poplin and other characters later become more integral to the plot as this story goes on, this delightful dogfight does well to get me excited at the prospect of seeing more of this in a future season.
The rest of the episode is especially effective when dancing between all the moving parts of the factions and climactic battle. There are a lot of quick cuts between commanders reacting, adjusting, and countering, set against a background of classical-style music to create a big explosive version of the old LOGH material. When intercut with heavier moments such as a commander committing suicide in the middle of a losing battle, or another reluctantly saving lives by finally choosing to retreat, it makes the points the show wants to make about the depth of war while also providing exciting television. It's probably the most edge-of-your-seat Die Neue These has been.
It also helps that the production is giving this episode everything it's got. Fan-favorite character Dusty Attenborough finally makes an appearance partway through, expanding the character range for likely future stories, and the episode sets up one last encounter between Yang and Kircheis, presumably so character-based stakes can carry us through to the end. Sadly, this very end is where the climax stumbles a bit. How the confrontation plays out between Yang and Kircheis is actually more exciting on paper than it's seen in the anime, with quick cuts being transparently abused to pace out an oversized slow chase scene. At least there's more of a swell when the cavalry arrives, and it leads to a great moment when the show doubles down on its strategic points by having Yang still choose to withdraw.
But then the ending trips over itself a few moments later by simply cutting to the credits. Rather than wrapping on some sort of resolution of the Alliance fleet being safe or even foreshadowing a major occurrence that could shake up the Empire's plans, episode 12 trails off with the characters heading off to another battle. Of course, anyone familiar with this series knows that the legend is only just getting started, and a second season of Die Neue These is already scheduled to come out next year in both episodic and movie forms. But given what a strong apex this season finale reached, it would have been more appreciated if they had left off on a firmer resolution. Then again, it's good that the only criticism I had for this episode was that it left me immediately wanting more.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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