Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These ?
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These has been hewing closely to the original novels more than the old OVA series. However, its cinematic tics and expansive scope also mark it as an attempt to be the "blockbuster" version of those same events. This is especially evident in this episode, which successfully expands a few pages of descriptive lead-up into a fully dramatic story. More impressive than simply making the most of its minimal material is how well this episode works on its own.
The opportunity is still taken to include as many details as possible in the run-up to the titular attack on Iserlohn Fortress. LOGH has a reputation for episodes that are entirely comprised of characters preparing for an operation, and this one falls squarely in that category. It is nice to see Yang bantering with his new officers, giving us snippets of how he knows them. This series' proper introduction of Frederica is also strengthened by the included foreshadowing of her in Yang's flashback a couple of episodes ago. And if her little moe chuckle makes you worry that they may be attempting to make her too conventionally cute, that goes out the window when you see her arm-throw a member of Rosen Ritter a few scenes later.
The Rosen Ritter are an important component to in this storyline, although I'm torn on their portrayal in this adaptation. On the one hand, they're pointedly shown to be more ‘badass’ than the rank-and-file Alliance troops, which makes sense given their role and pedigree. But that pedigree also leads to them acting like jerks, getting snippy with Yang and outright harassing Frederica. The ‘good guys’ in any given portion of LOGH depend on which side of the conflict we're following at the moment, so the Rosen Ritter acting antagonistic to our main Alliance characters belies their Empire-defected nature. It's a storytelling tool that lends contrast to various sub-factions like this and ups the intrigue as Yang pitches an already uncertain plan. However, the way their unpleasantness is portrayed comes off a little too obvious; they feel less nuanced or misunderstood and more like simply unpleasant allies of convenience.
This extends somewhat to their commander, Schönkopf. He's presented as a slightly more polite balance to the Rosen Ritter's immature rabble, but he still carries that unpleasant air of antagonism. He comes across largely like he's supposed to have a snarky personality, and overall he does seem more animated than the novel or OVA's version of the character. But the portrayal does veer into smirky jerkwad territory too much at times. Overall, the dialed-up tension and antagonism between Yang's crew and the Rosen Ritter works for this broader anime version, wringing more drama out of the slow reveal of the plan to capture Iserlohn.
The latter chunk of this episode mostly consists of Yang explaining things. Thanks to the character's delivery and dialogue, this mostly works. Yang's response to Schönkopf raising questions about his own loyalty is still a classic moment of characterization, and their discussion about retiring for ‘a few decades of peace’ is excellent content, which speaks both to Yang's character and the historical realism this series strives to convey. Still, listening solely to Yang does get somewhat monotonous, and given that this episode is largely covering content that was only summarized originally, it might have been beneficial to bring Frederica or even Admiral Sithole in to break up the conversation a bit.
It's still an effective and entertaining expansion of the scene, aided by the episode wisely not ending just as the characters wrap their plans. Instead, we spend the final minutes of the episode with the Imperials at Iserlohn (its liquid-metal composition rendered quite nicely in this shiny new production). It's important to bring us up to speed with them, since the Empire has been out of focus for maybe too long, but it also provides a unique way to watch the Alliance's plan unfold. Admittedly, these interest points seem moot if you've already guessed their strategy or know the story from previous versions of this material, but at least we're reminded that the Alliance is still active in the story.
The competing Admirals at Iserlohn offer a good perspective to visit at this time. Between their squabbling as well as the tempering suspicion of Oberstein, we get to see all the angles they think about approaching the possible trap from and where they plan to go from here. Despite the space-battle strategies being a selling point of LOGH, there is criticism to be had in how much of these military successes might depend on the incompetence of their opponents. This way of presenting the story lays out how victories can also arise when confronting a nominally effective enemy. Seeing Oberstein raise the objection against the Admirals also fits with the story's overall theme of young upstarts challenging the assumed ideas of the old guard, and this scene makes for an effective cliffhanger to the story so far too. This isn't the most action-packed episode of LOGH, but it's still among the stronger entries by virtue of strong adaptation.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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