Legend of Galactic Heroes is a franchise that, more than any other one, baffles me as to how it got made. I mean, if it was just a television series or a few movies about realistic space battles between huge armies, then okay: it would have been an interesting experiment to do. Instead though, the creators here just dedicated more than an entire decade to something that seems such a commercial gamble. The creators just came out of nowhere and delivered first an OVA of 110 episodes, only to create two more OVAs of 28 and 24 episodes long respectively. How was this financed? How did the creators keep such a consistent production here on something that seems light-years away from the mainstream?
Anyway, this movie is the one that started it all, being released about half a year before the first episode of the OVA was released. It mainly is just a background movie, meant to tell the past and set things up for the OVA, but I already could tell that, yes: this would be something special.
The cast of characters in particular is what sets this series apart from all other space and science fiction series of its time. There just isn’t any cheese, no overacting, it’s not trying to be childish and neither is it trying to dumb itself down. The creators make sure to give character to not just the main characters, but also the side ones, and even some seemingly unimportant bystanders. The dialogue is well written, intelligent and detailed and does an excellent job of fleshing out both the characters and the plot. Something tells me that the creators of the Seikai trilogy were heavily inspired by this series.
One criticism I have for this movie right now is that one of its purposes is to make the two main characters look smart, and it does so by portraying their superiors as stubborn idiots (yeah, blame Gosick for me, being too focused on that). Even that though is far from as black and white as it seems at first sight, and both of the idiots serve are subtly different from all of the other moron commanders you see in anime. Again, the excellent dialogue is to thank for that.
As for the space battles: the thing with anime is that it’s near impossible to accurately portray battles on a huge scale. This movie was one of the few attempts I’ve seen that realizes this, and tries to give it its best attempt to stay as believable as possible,instead of just randomly copy-pasting the same drawing over and over. Huge fleets are drawn with depth and at the same time budget is saved cleverly with dynamic camera work and an actually readable strategic map for the main commanders. The latter may not look like much, but just try to think of how many other anime just show a bunch of nonsensical technobabble on these screens that are impossible to follow?
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Mostly building up, but it does that well. The space battles are also unique.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Excellent dialogue and a realistic portrayal of its characters.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Nice and detailed animation. Classical music for the background works, but is a bit cheap though.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Potential to become really interesting in the OVA.|
– Armored Trooper Votoms
– Seikai no Monshou, Senki and Senki II
– Mobile Police Patlabor’s First Movie
(Note: I’ve decided not to put Tytania on this list of recommendations. Not because it’s so much worse, but because it has one vital difference with LoGH that really forces you to watch it with a different mindset: Tytania is very theatrical, while this movie had far more restrained actors.)