Legend of the Galactic Heroes Gets a Shiny Makeover
by Michelle Liu & Andy Pfeiffer,
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Second picks up where the first season left off but our space boys have a brand-new look. Micchy and Andy revisit the legendary space opera's roots to see if this new coat of paint is merely superficial or if the series still manages to stay afloat in the reaches of the stars.
Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Micchy Y'know, Andy, I know it's essentially tradition for Legend of the Galactic Heroes to have a weird release schedule, but I gotta say, it was an odd decision to put out the first season finale a solid year after the rest of it aired, and as the first 30 minutes of a movie trilogy, no less.
Andy For a series all about the intricacies of planning and execution it sure feels like whoever is in charge of the production schedule didn't take those lessons to heart. There's such a thing as cliffhangers and then there's this, where the first episode of the second season picks up as if it were just yesterday and acts like a season one finale. I can safely say that their trademark name cards were very helpful after such a stunt, because my brain is so locked onto how characters looked in the old series that it constantly disassociates with these shiny new faces.
I'm not as down on the new designs as some fans are (though I still think half of them look like Kuroko's Basketball rejects), but yeah, nu-Dusty in particular doesn't hold a candle to the old series' absolute champ of a pirate cosplayer.
The story of that image is so good and I sure hope they recreate it when they get to that point. You never know with Dusty if he's gonna follow the same path as before since he wasn't in the books. It helps make him one of my favorites as I love the idea that Yang's imaginary friend is real and everyone is forced to interact with him. I'm also with you on the designs overall. For every downgrade (like Frederica) we get upgrades like Bittenfeld being more of an angry dumbass.
Or Oberstein hating Mondays more than ever.
Oberstein's hair is still awful, but I suppose I'm willing to trade a mediocre hairstyle for a terrible one so long as Frederica no longer has that horrible '80s mullet she used to sport.
Sorry but I'll take the '80s hair over looking like a Blazblue clone.
We'll have to agree to disagree on that point, then! Iffy hairdos aside, Die Neue These is looking shinier than ever in its pew-pew space battles, which makes up the bulk of the new season "premiere".
You might argue that the emphasis on flashy spaceship action neuters the series' greater point about war being terrible, but on a purely technical level, the 3D work in Neue is about as good as it gets in anime.
People gonna "Wow cool robot!" no matter what so personally I'm ok with it as long you make a statement worth watching. Especially when scenes like this tell the smaller scale story within the big one. With the majority of the battles being thousands of ships full of thousands of people being obliterated in the blink of an eye, it's nice to see Poplin and his squad in action, especially when this is the payoff.
There's only so much you can convey with ship commanders talking about supply lines. So seeing a few named pilots go from overeager to dead because their ships were faulty, and then the human reason why really gives perspective on how important this stuff is.
For all LOGH's reputation for talking heads dryly discussing politics, its real strength early on is humanizing its tremendous cast in a matter of moments and contextualize their suffering. I'd say that as the series progresses, it becomes less interested in coherent political statements than examining the psyches of its characters and the circumstances that led to their worldviews.
Which is really what makes it work! You don't need to be hammered over the head constantly about which politics are good or bad, but you do need to understand why the characters find them to be!
This season finale opener drops the simplest dilution of the series as a whole.
Like, that's it.
Then you get a lot of people justifying why they believe one of those things and the consequences of that belief.
And most everyone else flip-flops between the two depending on how things are going that day—those are the opportunists, the anything-to-get-reelected politicians, the people with the most potential to muck up society. Yang's off-hand remark is cutting; a real tidy encapsulation of some of LOGH's themes.
Yang's personal struggle of how many lives he has to take to save more lives is nicely contrasted by the rise of this shit stain, who gleefully sacrifices as many people as he can to gain more power.
His arc of warhawking as hard as he could to convince everyone to invade, and then voting "no" at the last minute catapults him into power in a completely despicable, but horrifyingly real, way.
Trunicht is the absolute worst, and worse yet, he's gonna stick around for a looooong time. But in case it sounds like he's the only villain, I should note that Trunicht's nowhere near the only character in this show to use bloodshed as a springboard for political advancement.
This thing has more layers than an ogre, as the interplay between the oppressive Empire and a corrupt Democracy continues and we get the stories of both sides. Some want to fix them from the inside, others destroy them from the outside, and others simply want to live a peaceful life while trying to ignore the greater scale. Everyone's goals and motivations are spelled out in ways you don't usually see in anime, and Reinhard as a central figure of it all is a fitting choice.
I do think the newer adaptation does Reinhard dirty, though. He's frustrated with the arbitrary class cruelty and wants to tear down the hierarchy from the inside, but he has several glaring blind spots that we gotta address.
Oh, do you mean how even the OP leaves room for Jesus?
Just conquering the galaxy with your best bud.
Your closest friend.
But never letting your ships touch
God damn it Micchy.
Yeah no, the new adaptation turns Reinhard's intimate hair-touching into this awkward, emotionally sterile action that lacks any of the homoerotic tension that the OVA series practically bled.
Which, in a series full of war crimes, is a goddamn war crime! The people ordered a sandwich with some Ketchup and Mustard and instead it's like there's only one on each slice of bread.
And if you think this is purely aesthetic then I am sorry, because this also makes Oberstein's goal of trying to put space between them much less thematic.
I nearly yelled at the screen when Oberstein accused Kircheis of being too compassionate to shoot him. When! Did we ever! Establish this!!
It falls so flat and made me so mad!
Oberstein is supposed to be the opposite of Kircheis's empathy and compassion but for some reason this series has made Kircheis so incredibly stoic that it doesn't read at all!
You'd think with the Kuroko's Basketball character designer, the series that was arguably king of early 2010's fujoshi properties, injecting tension into Kircheis and Reinhard's relationship would be a cinch! But this series' failure just goes to show it takes more than cute characters to encourage those interpretations.
I fully believe the characters see what has been done with their designs and are also confused why they aren't emotionally shouting and touching.
I'm not sure who thought the best way to convey intimacy was to have them stand several feet apart in a medium shot, but they deserve a talking-to.
My reaction to this decision:
It's not just the fall of the condiment boyfriends that I'm frustrated with, though. In the '80s OVA series, there was an original scene where a young Reinhard stumbles on a lavish noble party and is horrified by the opulence of it all. His determination to reform the Empire from within stems from both the Emperor's abuse of his sister and his sense of social inequality. Without that scene, Reinhard's quest to usurp the empire reads as infighting among the noble class, simple frustration that he doesn't have the status he thinks he deserves.
Tiny Reinhard pulling a gun at that party and realizing that killing one noble wouldn't do is a moment that has always stuck with me, and it's a shame it's not here. It's also what makes me fear that Pirate Dusty won't make a glorious return in Die Neue These and that's just not right.
Now, perhaps the direction nu-LOGH takes with Reinhard's character is truer to the novels' characterization of him. It certainly avoids the OVA's problem where Reinhard forgot that motivation over time. It also explains why he's willing to employ a scorched earth policy when the Alliance invades.
I just think it's a less interesting take on the character. I liked the liberties the OVA took with the material, so it's a bit of a shame that Die Neue These is so slavishly faithful to the books' interpretation of Reinhard, especially compared to its smart rearranging of Yang's story.
I've gotta agree with you there. The books present Reinhard as more of an antagonist and relies more on his current actions than his past motivations, whereas the OVA sees him as a dual protagonist with Yang early on and tries to set up the basis of their philosophical differences.
It's interesting that Yoshiki Tanaka originally conceived of Reinhard as the protagonist; Yang was always meant to be a foil. That fact helps contextualize why the series goes the way it does in its last quarter or so. For this earlier material, though, I think the dual protagonist structure worked a lot better. And Die Neue These isn't slated to cover past the first two books. it really would've benefited from fleshing out Reinhard and Kircheis better than it has.
At the end of the day the major characters are larger than life, hence the title, and I'm OK with them being twisted a bit to get to the ideological standpoints they represent in the story, but with how well written the individual motivations of all the other minor characters are, it feels off for the protagonist not to be as well done, especially when past material managed it.
For all its flaws, though, at least nu-LOGH knows how to deliver a season finale premiere. I'm still not over how Yang's strategy at Amritsar is "they'll never catch us if our ships are rocks".
CATCH THESE HANDS ROCKS
And Bitty's still as dumb as ever!
I love how after he gets dressed down for falling for the big rock ploy all the other admirals are like "Hey buddy it's ok we wouldn't have seen that coming either."
Though I still question how he got his position when his only plan is RUSH IN. I guess if you're that dumb and somehow survive enough you get promoted.
If Yang is anything to go by, the best way to get promoted is to be so committed to taking the path of least resistance that you always find a way to not die.
Yang is #goals for several reasons.
I love how his response to "why are you single" is "I'm too busy with work to adult".
One of my favorite things in the show is how the Empire commanders have all convinced themselves that Yang is some peerless military man who is the ultimate enemy and the reality is he's kind of a schlub whose one skill is to galaxy brain his way out of no-win situations.
And that's why Yang is the real protagonist of LOGH in my heart. Reinhard can bug off, the one true king is Yang Wen-li
Long live the king!
Oh but not this one.
Season END START
With any luck, this season will bring back the legendary SPACE AXE FIGHTS, which has me eight shades of hyped.
SPACE AXE SPACE AXE SPACE AXE SPACE AXE
I love Walter von Schonkopf and his crazy axe men so much. That and a return to the not-Death Star bodes well for the rest of the season. So while Die Neue These may not contain everything I want from a return to LoTGH there's still a ton here to like, and I'm honestly glad there's a new accessible version of it. It's a super smart show with more than enough dumb goodness to keep it from being too dry, so my final opinion on the quality of the rest of the season?
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