Legend of the Galactic Heroes Review | Spoiler-Free
Note: I try to say as little as possible so people may read this and still go in mostly blind
If you’re somewhat in the anime community, you’ve probably heard of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, aka LotGH, thrown around as a joke for a show nobody really watches but elitists love. But, with that said, LotGH is much more than an elitist joke. It tells the
tale legend of two rising stars fighting on opposing sides of a 150-year long galactic war, masterfully.
Non-Reviewy Bit | Watching LotGH and the Re-adapation
Watching LotGH is a joke at this point so while not really reviewing anything, it's important. The most intimidating aspect of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, for most, is it’s length. While it does have 110 episodes listed on both MAL and AniList, LotGH is actually four seasons. It was aired over the span of nearly a decade, along with two prequel movies that should be watched beforehand. Here's the watch guide. You can watch it legally on HiDive. I suggest trying to watch the first movie and see if it’s your thing, and if you decide to watch it, do it at your own pace. You don’t want to get burnt out, there’s plenty of episodes to get through. Be careful of taking it too slow though, you may forget plot points and googling them is always a risky move because of spoilers.
A new adaptation for LotGH has been announced. This will be a re-adaptation, not a remake, meaning it’ll adapt straight from the books starting from the ground up rather than remaking the original. For those of you who are looking to wait until the re-adaptation, I’ll ask you to consider trying the original. It’s doubtful that Production I.G will be able to capture the masterful original piece of art, and even so, the original deserves to be appreciated by it’s own merits.
Visuals and OST
Starting off with what is immediately apparent, the visuals and OST. LotGH’s visuals are beautifully detailed despite their age, or rather thanks to it’s age. The OST is compromised of classical pieces, giving LotGH a sense of timelessness. As for the OPs/EDs, the OPs generally are solid but particularly The Sea of the Stars, the 3rd OP, is amazing. All of the EDs are fantastic, and the latter two have significant meanings in the context of the show. I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry to them before, specifically the 3rd ED, but the 4th is my favorite. Anyway, both the visuals and OST manage to perfectly convey the show’s mature, serious, and epic (in the actual sense of the word) tone and atmosphere.
LotGH itself mostly consists of politics, political events, and space battles. Given the length, the space battles are truly epic and never unexciting, though with a disappointing use of their three-dimensional space as it is often ignored. The politics are in-depth and intricate and the story moves along with series’ of political events happening in the galaxy. A wide range of events happen to progress the story but I’ll refrain from saying them for blindness sake and allow you to enjoy the unexpected revelations.
All of the characters in LotGH are able to get their time to shine with it’s 100 episodes. Admirals that would be side characters to our protagonists in other shows are rather main characters, becoming fleshed out parts of the universe. They aren’t things for the protagonists to use in battle, they are truly pieces of the legend. Of course, the two rising stars, Reinhard and Yang, are brilliantly done and have the honor of my top two favorite characters of all time. The designs for the characters are all phenomenal. Each character has a distinct design, making it easy to remember who they are and/or their name, versus something with a similarly large cast like Game of Thrones. As an extra help, it also subs the characters names during their appearances (at least their first few) to help you remember them. Lastly, each character’s voice actors are absolutely perfect for their role. When I watch LotGH, I simply cannot imagine anyone else voicing any of the characters. How they managed to find the talent, I wonder.
One of the best aspects of LotGH is how they divide the screen time between the two sides of the war more or less equally. LotGH portrays both sides of the war in morally grey manners. Each has their pros and cons, their bad apples, outstanding achievers, and… Oberstein. The two protagonists themselves often debate whether they’re doing the right thing or not. There are some not so morally grey subplots in the show, like
the Earth Cult, which is easily the weakest part of the show.
The Earth Cultis horribly morally black and doesn’t really make any sense nor have any reasons for what they do. It’s quite disappointing such an amazing show is bogged down by comically evil villains, but with the length of LotGH, they are only a majorly involved player for a section of the show. That said, the morals between the two major sides stay the same grey all throughout.
One more minor gripe, there is a narrator in LotGH and frankly, he can be a bit annoying. Sometimes he’ll butt in conversations to explain something, but what’s really annoying is that some times he will say spoilers. This is not without reason, of course, LotGH is supposed to be more of an in-universe documentary than an entertainment piece, so in-universe, something that we would consider spoilers, they wouldn’t, but that doesn’t do away with the annoyance. Just make sure to skip episode previews, they contain major spoilers.
The only thing I feel we didn’t get enough of was the galaxy itself and how Reinhard and Yang affected it. We see them and their rivalry, but we don’t see how life is for the common man. I would also have liked some more history. There were two episodes dedicated to the history of LotGH but I can’t get enough of it.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes lives up to most of it’s heavy praise, but not without faults.