Legend of Galactic Heroes
Alternative Titles: Ginga Eiyu Densetsu, Derdensagen vom Kosmosinse
Year: December 1988 – February 1997
Genre: Science Fiction, Drama, Military
Plot Synopsis: For decades, the Galactic Empire has been locked in an interstellar war with the Free Planets Alliance, a conflict that involves thousands of spaceships and millions of soldiers on both sides. Two new commanders enter the conflict with great hopes: Imperial Admiral Reinhard von Lohengramm, who made a pact to destroy his masters, and the Free Planet Alliances's Yang Wenli, who truely wishes to become a historian. As they deal with superiors and subordinates, maneuver through complicated political arrangements, plot strategies, and win battles, each will be tested, and ultimately, changed, by the reality of war.
The story of Legend of Galactic Heroes is one of those few titles that genuinely deserve the title of epic. This is not a story about war, but about people, in fact, very little of the story is dedicated to actual battles but rather political plots behind the curtain, love, death and loss.
This long story never lets up for a second, although played at a slow pace; there is virtually no filler, which is the curse of anime of such a length. Every episode serves some purpose at forwarding the storyline or giving you utterly vital background information.
When watching this anime, you quickly become part of its world as you learn of all the stories that occur. You are treated to not only the stories of its major protagonists, but also of all the other cast (which I will cover in characters). This is not a story about a few, it is the story of history and of mankind.
Unfortunately this anime has been cruelly classified as a boring talk fest. This seems to me to be the result of people coming in expecting the next Star-Wars. This is not a story about cool star ships and lightsaber battles. This is the story of a universe and its place in history. And this is a good story, that is dialogue driven by a brilliant cast of characters.
Many people talk about the extensive cast list of Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny. The number of characters in LOGH will utterly blow such assumptions out of the water. Counting the list of named cast member (not including younger versions of characters) at Animenewsnetwork.com came up with a total of 107 characters, at least 20 or so of those characters play significant roles within the story. While this does sound like much, in your typical anime you are lucky to have 5 or more characters that play any major or significant role in a storyline.
The depth of this cast is something that is not skimmed over, as even outside the major protagonists there are many stories and personalities that will grab the viewer’s attention and are played out on the background of war. These stories range from Jessica Edwards, whose fiancé was killed in battle and deducates herself to ending the war, to Oskar von Reuenthal who distrusts women when his mother nearly gouged his eyes out as a baby to hide the fact that he was the child of an illicit affair, which was shown due to his different coloured eyes.
You quickly get attached to these characters, as they are incredibly well explored and step well beyond the bland stereotypes. These characters have real emotions, backgrounds, depth and quirks. The most interesting quirk belonging to the ultra cold and logical Paul von Oberstein, who was rumoured to have taken in an abandoned Dalmatian and take care of it.
This anime, lasting nearly a decade has a surprisingly high grade of animation considering its age. While it can never compare to the computer-generated graphics of today’s blockbusters, these cell-animated images are certainly easy on the eyes.
The character designs themselves are very well designed, and every character has their own unique traits, which make them much easier to distinguish. This may sound trivial, but when dealing with a cast of hundreds, it is vital to be able to tell one character from the next.
The star ship battles are well ahead of their time, with very unique and well-animated action sequences. The most outstanding of these animated sequences is a short sequence of a launch from the cockpit view of a Spartanian fighter.
The opening and closing animation of this anime is something that should be noted here, as each sequence is dedicated to each of the factions. The opening focusing on Reinhard and the Galactic Empire, the closing animation dedicated to Yang and the Free Planets alliance. These are solely dedicated to showcasing the most major of players and give a great feel to the characters themselves.
Voice Acting/Music (10/10)
The voice acting in this anime is absolutely top class, consisting of a class of well-known cream of the crop seiyuu for their time. Many of these actors have played pivotal roles in anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Vampire Princess Miyuu.
Although the most standout of these voice actors is Ryo Horikawa (better known as Vegeta from Dragonball Z) whose portrayal of Reinhard von Lohengramm is nothing short of stunning.
Music is also very well done, the opening themes being entirely in English and Closing themes done entirely in Japanese help to emphasise how each of these sequences “belongs” to each faction. Although, personally, the English songs of the Empire’s were much more catchy and enjoyable.
The opening and closing themes are the only original music in the entire anime. The background music of the series is entirely made up of classical music. This move proved to be excellent as it gave a wonderful, catchy soundtrack and a very classical and epic feel to the series.
I know what you are thinking, that this is a “ZOMG I L0V3 this anIMe and want to give it the ten”. Please, you must understand I do not give perfect scores lightly. This anime is virtually perfect; it is quite possibly the ultimate experience in anime Sci-Fi. Please, believe the hype to this grossly underrated classic of Science Fiction.
If you come in looking for violent, amazing space battles you may find yourself disappointed. But, if you are after a deep, truly epic storyline with an amazing cast of characters who are genuine, you will have the anime experience of a lifetime.