Posted by psgels on 16 March 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews

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.)

25 Responses

  1. Scamp says:

    “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 I had this problem too. I haven’t seen this movie but I’ve seen the 110 episode OVA and this problem rears its ugly head quite prominently towards the start of the series. Thankfully the dumber characters tend to die off anyway

  2. AshLynx says:

    I can only hope that you will see the LoGH series soon now once your movie spree is over. I actually didn’t realize this movie was supposed to take place before the series until I was well into the third season and didn’t see it until after I’d finished the entire show. The whole time I was watching the show I was wondering how Reinhard and Yang knew about each other and yeah, this movie was the answer. I think you can watch the main series without it, but that pressing question would’ve been there.

  3. kagura says:

    I haven’t even finished the OVA series yet(I’m at episode 92 right now), but I’m already 100% sure that LoGH will end up being my second favourite anime of all time (the first one is One Piece). It’s amazing on so many levels that I don’t even know where to begin, but I can assure you that it deserves all the praise (and worship) it’s been getting.

    As for the movies, I haven’t seen any yet, since I’ve been planning to leave them for after I finish all the 110 episodes (plus those two series of side-stories), but after reading your review I’m really, REALLY looking forward to this one.

    And, of course, I’m looking forward to your review of the OVA series in the (hopefully very near) future ;)

  4. darkerthanblackswordsman says:

    So, anyone have an opinion on the best order to watch this?

  5. Alael says:

    I watched the 110 ep OVA and it is a masterpiece. Well, at least until THAT thing happens at about 3/4 of the series… It just went downhill after that. But I must applaud the creators for having the balls to do it at first place.

  6. kagura says:

    I fail to see how it went downhill after THAT, it’s still just as good to me… But yeah, as I said, I haven’t finished the whole thing yet, so I guess I’m not the one to talk (yet).

  7. Souther says:

    a)This property didn’t come out of nowhere, you know, but from a very successful series of sci-fi novels. It’s not an original anime production but an adaptation.

    I don’t know if it’s what we could call truly mainstream but apparently Legend of the Galactic Heroes was certainly something close to the level of Star Trek and Star Wars for Japanese fans of the sci-fi genre back in the day.

    b)This is perhaps the best and most extreme example of what you can do when a very devoted fanbase is willing to pay for every single OVA episode, even pre-ordering the tapes in advance from what I’ve been told, and thus consistently finance the entire project in the long run.

    Needless to say, it was an impressive and expensive accomplishment that isn’t really possible today, when the OVA market just isn’t what it used to be at its height and when such a devoted audience isn’t really available for most properties.

    c)I don’t mind your giving this movie a relatively low score, by your standards, but hopefully you’ll check out the main series and hold it in higher regard.

  8. Sock says:

    Psgel, I’m guessing you didn’t watch the BD version that Central Anime released, which is a shame because the video quality is like night and day compared to the old one. Not that it really gets into the way of the story but since CA is releasing higher quality Logh eps currently, you should take advantage of the choice.

    As for the actual Logh Ova… well let’s just say I’ll be baffled if you can actually find a flaw in it.

  9. AshLynx says:

    Man, LoGH was the only time I think I’ve ever said “110 eps? That’s not enough! I want more!”
    I think Season 4 would have been more awesome after THAT had there also been a season 5 personally, but 110 eps of no filler and pure greatness? Awesome! I still need to watch the side OVAs personally

  10. Alael says:

    You see, the reason I said the series went downhill after THAT is probably because it could make use of a 5th season… I just felt something was missing at the end.

  11. anon234 says:

    I have to say, I’ve seen a lot of different anime, roughly 250 different series/ova/movies/ect. While that’s nowhere near what you’ve seen, it’s still quite a bit. I’m part of the generation that watched fansubs as translated scripts on paper translated by a local because VHS was the only thing available to watch (the internet was too small for wide-spread distribution; only rich people had a modem faster than 56kb/s).

    That said, LoGH is by far the best series I’ve ever seen. Every show in your top 10 I’ve seen, and think pales in comparison to LoGH. IMHO it is a masterpiece beyond words, a true epic in the style of the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Mahabharata, Xī Yóu Jì, ect. To me, the LoGH ova sets the standard for anime, which I have yet to see be broken or even reached by anything distributed since.

  12. Saint-Just says:

    Yeah, I’ve seen quite a few anime too and nothing really compares to LoGH. The movie is good but the OVA is truly great. Once it gets going, it never stops. It just gets better and better.

  13. AshLynx says:

    Awww man, I was just remembering how for like a week or so, I was watching 10-12 episodes of LoGH every day until I finished the series. That’s a lot for me, I usually don’t watch more than 3 or 4 episodes at once (at least not of the same anime) and usually not on back to back days. So it’s both good and highly addictive. Some people seem to want to take it slower, but others just want to devour it, not sure what group you’ll be in, psgels. I actually want to rewatch it, but I’ve still got the side OVAs to watch. I’m just waiting for a time when I know I’ll have a good month to just watch it all.

    Can’t wait for you to review the entire series! Sounds like a lot of people are. It’s in the “Really really want to watch” list so here’s hoping this will encourage you to watch the whole thing now as well.

  14. Watcherzero says:

    I would also agree the series went downhill after THAT however it managed to wrap the story up in a plausible non fantastical way which wasnt too depressingly a classically good or bad.

    The Prequal series kind of make up for it but the Reinhardt career stories are much better. The FABLED evacuation that made the name of one charachter however when shown in the prequal was kind of a ‘They made a hero out of him for that????’ moment, very dissapointing.

  15. ori says:

    I first got into it via manga. It was really good so then I watched this movie. Even though it was an intro movie I still felt it was amazing. I esp liked the fleets.

  16. Msteak says:

    ”Going downhill” sounds way too severe for a brilliant masterpiece as LoGH. And I strongly disagree, the final season was probably my favorite due to how tragic it was. All the KEY bullshit has nothing on that season, especially the end.

  17. Watcherzero says:

    After reading through all these comments I feel sorry for the poor person who doesnt know what THAT was.

  18. Alael says:

    @watcherzero: :)

  19. HENRCAST says:

    While I don’t think the 4th season was bas, I didn’t like the ending at all. It just felt like the creators had no plausible options left and just went with that. Ans yes, I was too baffled at the creators’ guts to do THAT, but especially at the way they executed it…

  20. leongsh says:

    Just get on with it to watch the main series of LOGH. When (and not if) you do, post about it on an episode-by-episode basis here.

  21. psgels psgels says:

    leongsh: I already know right now that I won’t be able to make a single post about every episode. What I could do is write a few short impressions after every episode (read: one or two sentences long). Is that what you meant?

  22. Watcherzero says:

    LOL, youll find yourself doing episode by episode posts anyway.

  23. leongsh says:

    psgels: No. You will end up doing episode-by-episode posts as in your current per episode posts for ongoing shows. You won’t be able to help yourself when there’s a fair bit that could be talked about. Alternatively, it could be done in a batch of episodes but that’s shortchanging yourself.

  24. Keith says:

    Actually, the most logical thing for psgels to do is just write a review for each season separately, and then a single over-arcing review. To do only one review for the entire 110 episodes would leave a lot to be desired, and each season has its own flavor.

  25. JELEINEN says:

    The series was financed because it was done on a subscription model. The series was broken up into four ‘seasons.’ Before a season got made, they took pre-orders, and they didn’t start production until there were enough pre-orders to pay for it. It wasn’t until the second DVD release (it was released on LD originally) that the show was sold on individual discs in regular stores.

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  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:09 AM)
    @Kaiser Sunny looks interesting but I’ll be honest, when I say Slice-of-Life I actually mean Cute-Girls-Doing-Cute-Things.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:07 AM)
    @Kaiser I actually haven’t seen Black Mass.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 12:57 AM)
    These new Batman shorts called ‘Batman of Shanghai’ are pretty awesome:
    Props to Wolf Smoke Studios for the style and execution. I think this borrowed a lot from the Studio 4°C segment of the Batman: Gotham Knight anthology series. I haven’t been this entertained by a Batman cartoon since the original Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 11:09 PM)
    I have to finish the world is mine someday…and read all of Yamamoto Naoki’s works, looks like some good obscure seinen there.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:52 PM)
    @Realist: Slice of life fan, you’ll want to go off and read Taiyou matsumoto’s work, Sunny being one of them.
  • Kevin
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:50 PM)
    @ninjarealist Ha u that one nigga that jet lol nice way to sneak back, I missed you. Remember me?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:48 PM)
    @Realist: I imagine you will be seeing black mass?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:47 PM)
    @Realist: Oh by the way I remember ages ago you recommended Meserine to me, not the biggest gangster fan out there and this did suffer from the usual issues of the bipic format but some great action bits in it =) and Vincent Cassel doing what he does best.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:45 PM)
    @Realist: Whatever name you prefer is fine. Though its Kaiser now so we may as well use that.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:28 PM)
    @Kaiser/Emma (do you prefer to go by Kaiser now?) Punpun is the best, but I don’t see it getting adapted any time soon. As someone who personally loves slice-of-life, I love Dead Demons.

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