Anime: Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Die Neue These
Season aired: Spring 2018
Number of episodes: 12
Genres: Drama, Action, Science Fiction
Thoughts: It seems like even the anime world has become interested in remaking classics, and the one Production I.G chooses is nonetheless one of the most epic space fantasies to have ever graced anime history: Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Die Neue These aka LOGH 2018.
LOGH 2018 is a story in the far future where intergalactic travel has become commonplace. For centuries, the monarchic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance have been at war over their opposing government philosophies and their respective leaders’ desires for power. Things begin to change drastically as a young Count Lohengramm of the Empire and a nerdy Vice Admiral Yang Wen-li of the Alliance enter the battlefield as enemies and fight to create a better future for their people.
I am judging this anime adaptation purely on its own merits and will not be comparing it to the very successful OVA series that was released back in the 1980s. Just as nostalgia allows us to judge a sequel more leniently because of our adoration of the original (Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card of Winter 2018), nostalgia also forces us to judge remakes more harshly because of our inability to let something familiar go. However, I believe that is largely unfair to remakes as a whole and as a result, I will never at any point in this article refer to the original adaptation.
One of the biggest standouts to me about this adaptation is the animation quality. Production I.G is very famous for its high budget animation, usually geared towards sports anime, and it is an absolute blessing to have this production company animate this series. And in a story whose genre is literally science fiction, the better animated the futuristic details are, the more life it breathes into the anime. The space battles look extremely realistic, and even the small details such as the cars, elevators, and communication devices are enhanced by animation’s ability to make them seem real. The new technology for anime truly elevates this story to a degree that reading cannot do.
The story still continues to grip the audience’s attention, and even more so as the political climate erupts into chaos around us today. What’s particularly fascinating about this anime that is hard to find in others is that even though there are two distinctly different sides on a battlefield, neither side is truly good nor bad. We have characters on both sides who are caring, courageous, idealistic, smart, and fighting for their people. At the same time, we have characters who are greedy, selfish, power hungry, and are just trying to keep their own careers. LOGH 2018 becomes a story that isn’t about hoping for the battles to be won. Instead, it’s a story where you simply hope that the characters you love will succeed.
This brings me to the two protagonists of the anime: Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Empire and Yang Wen-li of the Free Planets Alliance. They are enemies on the battlefield, but they are both heroes to the anime. One is an ambitious upstart who desires to change the entire Empire after seeing the greed and corruption of the royal family. The other is a humble but genius strategist who really just wants to be a historian and read books all day, but is dragged back into military missions because of his unique brain. One is trying to change his entire country, while the other is simply trying to survive and do the best for his men. Both are incredibly complex and good individuals, and the worst part? You can’t root for both because they are inevitably against each other.
In complex stories where politics, economics, and human nature constantly collide in multiple arcs and plot points, a powerful plotline simply can’t be held up without having just as powerful characters to shoulder the story. And Reinhard and Yang Wen-li shoulder this story well as they drag the audience into first sympathizing, then empathizing, and later supporting their endeavors. But in the end, there can only be one victor.
These powerful characters cannot fully reach its potential in an anime without superb voice acting. Miyano Mamoru and Kenichi Suzumura shine as Reinhard and Yang Wen-li respectively. Miyano Mamoru in particular gives an excellent performance. His ability to create unique intonations colors the personality of Reinhard, illustrating exactly how complex the ambitious count is. While his calm, commanding tone when standing in front of officers is formidable and inspirational, it is Mamoru’s ability to change Reinhard into someone soft, patient, and affectionate when speaking to his sister or his best friend, Kircheis, that proves how good of a man Reinhard is at heart. Kenichi Suzumura gives the awkward Yang Wen-li justice as well with nervous chuckles, calm analysis, and chill, accepting tone when he makes unwelcomed observations to his superiors.
The music is absolutely grand, as it should be for a story of this size. The opening and ending theme songs are beautiful, but it is the score that takes the prize. Every scene is accompanied by perfect instrumental background music, and when the battlefield music starts, I would get literal chills throughout my body.
There are slight downsides to what seems to be my complete acclaim for the anime. The first is that it was simply too short. At only twelve episodes with a story that has more than twenty actual characters, the supporting cast could only be shown and introduced briefly, as the more important ones were provided a little more screen time. Despite not reading the novels, I could sense that certain arcs that might’ve focused more on the supporting cast were cut out due to their supplementary contributions to the main conflict.
The second is that the pacing can actually be a bit slow. As a result, this becomes a series that is more enjoyable to binge watch instead of following weekly. Because the world, characters, and situations are so complex, the plot must be carefully set up before every big battle or event. The episodes that introduce new characters and governments unfortunately will leave certain viewers bored or frustrated since the buildup will take several episodes to reach the climactic event.
However, that is now a moot point now that the series is complete. Even if certain supporting arcs had to be cut, this did not bite much into my enjoyment for the anime and the storyline. I highly recommend everyone to check out this masterpiece and to wait in fervent appeal of the next step in the story.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 8
FINAL SCORE: 88