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Japanator Review: Legend of the Galactic Heroes

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Have you ever wondered how different the anime industry would be if personal computers were invented ten years earlier? If the internet became popular around 1988, which gave the tools to allow non-Japanese otaku to be able to watch anime that was released during this time. Instead of talking about how cool Dragon Ball Z was, we would be discussing the newest episodes of Ranma ½.  If this were the case, then I would not be writing this review now, because you would already know the masterpiece known as the Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

I’m going to go ahead and say this now, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is the most underrated anime in America today. The reasons why most have not seen this, or will never see this are plentiful.

A)    It’s old. Some fans do not like to watch old anime, it’s sad but true.
B)    It’s long. 110 episodes to be exact.
C)    It will never be released outside Japan. What company in their right mind would license a series that has the two faults listed above; especially in the current market.  

The problems don’t end there, even in Japan this had a lot going against it. The biggest fault was that this was initially released as an OVA. Yes, a 110 episode OVA. Can you imagine the pain of buying only two or three episodes per VHS? However somehow this anime survived these shortcomings, and it survived for a reason; see why after the jump for my full review.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes (OVA)
Developed by: Kitty Films
First aired December 1988



LotGH is a space opera that takes place in the 35th century, where humans have spread out across the Milky Way Galaxy and formed two warring powers; the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance. There are no aliens in this series, there is no magic in this series, and there are no light sabers or gundams in this series; just good old space ships and men with giant axes. In fact not everything is as it seems here, the Galactic Empire gets an amazing and well loved dictator, and the Free Planet Alliance are full of corrupt, scum-sucking leaders; though the same could be said about the other side as well. Just like real life, it is the individuals who define the government in which they live, and the same goes with LotGH.

An interesting aspect of this series is the way it changes focus between its two main characters every other episode, Yang Wen-li of the Free Planets Alliance and Reinhard von Musel of the Galactic empire. Both are extraordinary men who fight for their own reasons, and none of which have any evil intent. This allows the audience to view both aspects of this war, and to grow extremely attached to both individuals. However, this anime does not only follow these two heroes, but an enormous amount of others throughout the series. So much so that the anime helps you out by displaying the name of the character the first time he or she appears in the episode throughout the entire series; god I love that.

LotGH in essence is a show about politics, a Romance of the Three Kingdoms set in space if you will. The story is fantastic, and the reason behind this is because it was based off of a series of novels written by Yoshiki Tanaka; and much like its anime child, it has not been translated as of yet. You know a story is deep when two episodes are dedicated to a documentary about the history behind the series’ two super powers.

Now looks are not everything, but I believe this series has aged well. Hand to hand combat is well animated, and extremely bloody, but the space combat could use some work. Basically in the future war has digressed back to the days when armies would stand in formation and shoot at each other until one group was dead. Which makes sense because there really isn’t anyplace a capital ship can hide for some cover in the emptiness of space. But don’t you worry, there are smaller fighters too that do some of the dirty work, like in Star Wars. Either way you will be more concerned with the strategy behind combat rather than the shortcomings of the animation.

Sound on the other hand is completely and utterly miles ahead of its time, and can easily blow away anime from this day of age. For one LotGH has one of the largest voice casts in any anime. Unlike most long-running shows, this one does not double up the voice actors in multiple roles. This only happened once within the entire show. This was the beginning and end for some of the biggest names in voice acting history. Such as Ryo Horikawa who played the role of Reinhard, had went on and played Vegita in Dragon Ball Z. However on the other hand Kei Tomiyama who played Yang Wen-li, shortly died after the series completion. He previously preformed in Space Battleship Yamato, Captain Harlock, and Galaxy Express 999. Not to mention Norio Wakamoto plays a very important role in this series as well, and who doesn’t love Wakamoto?

You can’t go wrong with classical music, especially when tied to space battles. LotGH makes use of pieces from many different classical composers for its soundtrack, with out hardly ever repeating a single song. This is one of those series that is married so closely with its music that it would be something else entirely if it were anything else but this.

Now this show isn’t for everyone. This has no fan service, no power ups, no moe, or no vampires. But what this does have is a fantastic science fiction story about what is worth fighting for, and how violence is the end result to bad communication. Now Central Anime has subbed the entire series, one of the movies, and a couple episodes from the gaiden series. Since this isn’t licensed and will most likely never be, I do not feel bad for supplying you all with the link. We must not let this anime fall into obscurity; LotGH deservers its place next to the other great anime classics, just give it a chance.


Score: 9.5
Verdict: Watch it!

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reviewed by God Len

 

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