Posted by psgels on 15 October 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




Oh my god. I’ve finally finished the first part of this behemoth of a franchise. Legend of Galactic Heroes is completely unique. It took more 12 years for it to completely finish, from the opening movie to the final side-stories. It was un-rivaled at the time when it came out, and nothing like it ever appeared again. With amine being as it today, I don’t think there will ever be another series like it. I know that it’s long (it totals a whopping 162 episodes and three movies), however if you have the time to watch it and are tired of anime’s trends towards moe and cheap entertainment: by all means give it a chance.

This is one of those series that actually changed my perception. After finishing this series, my view of how to portray tactical warfare, strategical warfare and politics are completely different. In those three areas, this series just blows every other anime out there out of the water with its complexity, maturity and ingenuity. Instead of basing itself on weird logic, just about everything in this series is carefully thought through and fleshed out. The main cast of this series is intelligent, without being perfect: everyone in this show has his or her flaws to make up for it, ranging from hypocrisy to laziness and temper.

I remember that my biggest criticism for the first movie was that the creators tried to make the main characters smart by surrounding them by rashly thinking officers who can’t see the big picture. This thankfully also got fixed throughout this series. Not by just removing it, but giving it a very deep meaning within the story. Whereas the movie was just a depiction of a space battle, the TV-series has very strong themes about Autocracy versus Democracy, what it means to be a ruler and commander, and what it means to be a hero. The incompetent people who fail at their jobs are used perfectly in order to illustrate how difficult commanding an army can be.

And then, there is the character development. This series has 110 episodes, divided over 4 seasons. All four seasons stand on their own as different, and this particularly shows in the character development, and how the characters think and act. The main cast changes subtly, but significantly, but even the side characters grow throughout this series. And really: the cast of this series is ENORMOUS. What this show also likes to do is take minor side characters who haven’t appeared for what feels like 50 episodes, in order to put them a bit in the spot-lights and show how much they’ve changed.

Now, this series has undoubtedly parts that it does better than any other anime out there. Did it turn into my favourite series, though? For that question, I’m afraid that my answer is no.

At this point, Legend of Galactic Heroes is ridiculously hyped. Let me however clearly state what this show isn’t: it is not a roller-coaster ride. It’s also not a series that is easy to get into, it’s not a series that blows you away time after time, it’s not a series with an impeccable atmosphere, nor is it a series that’s very easy to watch and draw you in.

The storytelling in this series is very composed and polite. It’s so very calculated and the plot twists feel very natural, but I did have to force myself to really sit through such an emormous amount of 110 episodes. The direction delivers its plot twists as they are, and rarely adds extra spices to the storytelling in terms of inventive camera work, or passionate voice acting. The animation as well is very composed: it’s good enough to keep character models consistent, battles interesting, but only one out of 10 or so episodes really goes beyond that. And heck, the episodes with the best animation aren’t the most important ones to the plot, and there is one character death episode that actually suffers from very bad animation. It’s a bit like reading a history book, really: it is incredibly interesting to see how everything plays out, but it still feels like something is missing when you compare it to other forms of entertainment.

110 episodes is really long. Nevertheless though, I still believe that this was the absolute best that anime had to offer until Escaflowne came out.

Storytelling: 9/10 – For its length, this series actually never drags. The dialogue is truly excellent, the battles are all well written. The direction could have used a bit more bombast though, and is sometimes a bit too composed for its own good. Nevertheless, that composure also has plenty of charms on its own.
Characters: 10/10 – Brilliant. The cast is huge, and yet everyone feels different and has his own part in the story. The changes over 110 episodes are immense, and what especially sets the cast here apart is how intelligent half the cast is.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Solid, with very few weak moments and the creators have come up with a very inventive way to depict huge space battles, but there are still too many static frames for me to really rate it as 9/10.
Setting: 10/10 – In terms of politics, strategy and tactics, this series is completely un-rivaled. An enormous setting that dynamically changes, and reacts believably to the characters’ actions.

Suggestions:
Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette
Mouryou no Hako
Seirei no Moribito

31 Responses

  1. Avatar gandalf8 says:

    So you’ve finally finished it ehh? LOGH really is the most epic anime series I’ve watched and will probably remain so. Although Psgels, does this review encompass the entire franchise with all the movies and extra OVAs or is it only the main 110 episode OVA?

    On a side note, I really wish that watching LOGH could be made compulsory viewing for all the politicians in the world. Maybe that can cure some of the plain idiocy being shown by a lot of politicians these days.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Nope, it’s just the first 110 episodes. The rest of the OVAs are still coming up.

  3. Avatar Thomas says:

    Acutally i didnt like the ending ‘small bad’ boss. They always tried balance good/evil of all sides in this conflict, so this [SPOILER] is a bit too much ‘one sided’ for me.

  4. Avatar Nix says:

    I suppose the next show you will be tackling is monster?

  5. Avatar Scamp says:

    So psgels, the question you have to ask after someone watches LOGH: Who do you prefer, Yang or Reinhard?

  6. Avatar Guigas says:

    You finally finished this masterpiece o//

    I know that it does have some problems, like the bad animations sometimes, and the fights are quite lame and unnapealing for me. But heck, this is the most intelligent piece of animation I had the pleasure to watch, no doubts of that.

    I watched over +800 animes, and I can’t think of any anime that left me more impressed or satisfied than this one. Un-rivaled story level, politics and strategy. Fantastic cast and the best dialogues I’ve witnessed on a anime. It’s something that everyone definetely should see to taste how a REAL masterpiece is. One of the very few animes with score 10 at my list along with Mushishi and Monster (Psgels will preety much love this one as well XD).

  7. Avatar AshLynx says:

    For me personally, I found it pretty easy to get into after ep 2 and while I took a break after the first season (cus it was sad), once I started season 2, I must’ve watched 10-12 eps a day and went “what time is it? Whatever, I can fit in another ep” so for me it was absolutely addicting and easy to watch in large chunks. Might be because I already like the political thriller/drama genre a lot as is though. But I probably would’ve watched the whole thing straight through (it only took me 2 eps to get into it after all) were it not for those pesky things called “sleep” and “classes” and “food”. For me it was a roller coaster, just not a typical one I suppose.

    I’ve yet to watch the OVAs, but I’ve seen all the movies, I’ll get to it eventually, but I’m on a manga binge phase.

  8. Avatar AKI says:

    @Ashlynx You forgot “pee” and “bath”. Or maybe you really did not.

    Anyway, LOGH was a masterpiece. I can see why psgels gave it a 90+. I finished the series in like, 3 months? It was exciting and the intrigue factor was one of the things I liked. :)

    Psgels finished it much faster than me. Kudos!

  9. Avatar Pax says:

    After reading your review to me it feels like watching Lotgh was more of a chore to you than a pleasure, I read this review and I just don’t feel your usual enthusiasm that I find in reviews of series you gave a score over 90.

  10. psgels psgels says:

    Pax: there is indeed a difference. Most of the series I rate above 90/100 are emotional roller coasters. Legend of Galactic Heroes wasn’t. Instead, it contained the best and most intelligent politics and strategies out there. For that, I rate it very highly, but it was indeed a challenge to sit down and watch the damn thing.

  11. Avatar Alec says:

    Didn’t hear too much about this anime until I registered in MAL. People wee talking too much about in the forums…hmm… I think I should give it a try after finishing the annoying Excel Saga.

  12. Avatar Will says:

    The only real problem I found with LOGH was in fact in the beginning, the rest was magnificently easy to go through. Hell, after I finished the first part, I blitzkrieg through the whole OVA series within 10 days.

  13. Avatar Silty says:

    psgels, you’ve hit the nail on the head when you said that you had to force yourself to sit through this anime.

    This is the problem with elitist anime like this and Monster. Personally, I’d rate the “fun factor” for this anime as a mere 7/10. It has its moments of awesome excitement, but a lot of it is a bit of a drag and doesn’t provide the entertainment expected from an anime.

    As such, I don’t see why you gave it a score in the 90’s instead of somewhere around the mid-80’s. Anime that have epic setting, characters, and story are certainly good animes, but they don’t deserve to be put on a pedestal as the “best” if they don’t also rate highly in the entertainment factor.

    It’s not fair to say “this is boring and sucks,” but it’s also not fair to say “this is great despite being boring.” The overall mix of attributes makes an anime like this just “good.”

  14. psgels psgels says:

    Silty: boring is a strong word. There was no point at which this series was a proverbial pain to sit through. Instead, it did not keep me at the edge of my seat either. It’s somewhere in the middle, and because of that the dialogue and intelligence were able to make up for it.

    Oh, and Scamp: I have to say that my favorite character was Yang Wenli.

  15. Avatar wakka9ca says:

    @Silty: People have different tastes concerning whether an entertaining or a solid series are “good”. Just because you found it “boring” doesn’t mean everyone found it so. Just like many people cannot read classics, others are totally absorbed into it. For me, LoGH was not in anyway “boring”. Personally, I found Madoka to be boring but others don’t think so. Thus, people tastes differ and there is no “right” way to rate a series. Psgels rates it like he wants.

  16. Avatar mnedel says:

    To me this is the best anime I ever watched. It has everything, great plot, deep characters (who are adults), interesting world. To me it was very entertaining. After a few episodes I was completely addicted, finished the entire series in les than two weeks.

  17. Avatar thepotatohead says:

    psgels..I think you should not forget about another epic, “12 Kingdoms”.

  18. Avatar kero says:

    I thought this would get a higher rating!

    My brother first watched this, and he recommended it to me, he liked it so much that he watched it with me again. Almost every night we were both free we would sit and watch 2/3/4 episodes of LOGH. I understand what you say about it not being a rollercoaster, but if ever the word EPIC applied to anything, it applied to Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

    It was entertaining and intelligent, and the way they depicted the battles and the strategies was fantastic.

    I think it stands alone in so many aspects, I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like this again.

    It’s a shame that it didn’t fire you up like how it made me feel.

  19. Avatar Hades says:

    Well if this series wasn’t able to pull off a 97,5 so I’m coivinced no anime will ever reach this mark. And 100/100… I don’t think I’ll live enough to see a perfect mark =P

    @Silty
    “This is the problem with elitist anime like this and Monster. Personally, I’d rate the “fun factor” for this anime as a mere 7/10. It has its moments of awesome excitement, but a lot of it is a bit of a drag and doesn’t provide the entertainment expected from an anime.”

    That’s certainly not my case. I think these animes were never supposed to be just pure and simple entertainment. You’re wrong if you think that animes are made just to provide fun. Both LoGH and Monster are animes that provides lots of reflections and critical thinking, they certainly are not pure/simple entertaining since they were not made for this purpose to begin with. And I’m not saying this as some elitist like ” You don’t like it cause you are dumb, go back to your shallow entertainment, cough, Code… cough, Geass. I’m more intelligent/skilled than you do, that’s because I like elitist anime and you don’t” like lots of LoGH fans do.

    “… they don’t deserve to be put on a pedestal as the “best” if they don’t also rate highly in the entertainment factor.”

    That only means you base your criteria to rate animes considering the fun factor as your primary standard. You should give more value for the story and characters. It’s not easy to make such a rich and detailed setting and story like the ones present on animes like Monster and LoGH. And BTW I think that both are between the best animes I’ve seen.

  20. Avatar evolstar says:

    psgels, I can’t believe you watched 110 episodes in less than a month. I marathoned the first two seasons, but when I found out about a “certain event” in the third, I put it off for the longest time. I finished it only a few days ago myself and will be doing the rest over the next few days.

    “I have to say that my favorite character was Yang Wenli.”

    Yep, I agree with you 100% there psgels- he was by far my favorite character all the way.
    While this isn’t my #1 favorite anime, it’s very close- the politics and strategy in this show are unparalleled and the characters outstanding. It’s sad to say that if it were to air in today, it never would have stood a chance.

    psgels, do you plan on doing separate reviews for the two side stories or one for both?

  21. Avatar death13a says:

    For me this anime raised a question.
    If you have 30 billion people and under Democracy 70% of those 30 billion chosen a leader, but what about 9 billion people that are not satisfied, should their choice simple be ignored? Those 9 billion could create their own government but would other 21 billion people simple allow those 9 billion to do what they want?

    Democracy will simple self-destruct under it’s own population.

    Autocracy provides forceful but stable government. But it slow sinkhole that will erode to only shadow of government it was at beginning.

  22. Avatar andrea says:

    If logh isn’t entertaining I don’t know what else could be. Most of the movies from the 30s up to the 70s have that kind of soberty logh has, it’s a normal thing.

  23. Avatar Watcherzero says:

    Two points to make.
    Firstly while lacking in space action the post main series Prequal stories do up the ante in hand to hand action, visual quality and animation, mainly due to improved production technology. I wasnt a huge fan of the ending of the main series though it works if you realise its not a heroic story in the vein of the Greek but a tragedy like Shakespearean plays. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespearean_tragedy

    Second, the problem of forcing yourself to watch it. This is a problem that exists when you come to a very long series that has been running a long time. More complex series are harded to cram than simpler ones, for example I crammed Dragonball and Naruto, catching up from scratch when they were around the 100 episode marks and its not that hard and quite pleasent. LOGH on the other hand was a whole kettle of fish, you must allow yourself to watch it slowly a couple of episodes a week as that was the way it was made to be shown, its too complex a series to cram and it wont leave a pleasent feeling. This density of content is in part because the episodes came out so slowly, it was never shown on TV but a straight to VHS series released a few volumes a year, the production company financed itself from sales of the tapes and they could not work faster than the income from the sales, so the adaptation of the novels was a lengthy process taken with great loving care and time.

  24. Avatar Silty says:

    Wow, I did not expect so many responses.

    Anyways, I did not mean to imply that LotGH was boring per se, just that it didn’t have the amount of entertainment I would expect from a 90’s-rated anime.

    Thank you for your opinions, everyone. It was a bit shortsighted for me to see anime as purely entertainment.

    Though, it just goes to show how subjective ratings are – from now on I will probably pay less attention to scores, and continue reading the interesting commentary psgels has. Thank you for continuing to post reviews. :)

  25. Avatar Fedek says:

    Masterpiece in every aspect. But not so easy to get into.

    Casual anime viewers , should stay away from this one.

    Anime can be entertentment, or a history book.

    But not both at the same time

  26. Avatar billish says:

    I really like your analogy of a history book in comparison with this anime. You are a talented writer psgels.

  27. Avatar jared says:

    I’m seeing no mention of one of the greatest aspects of the show….the music!!

    Never have I seen an anime be able to use Mahler or Shostakovich smack dab in the middle of a show and have it seamlessly enhance the story.

    This will forever be one of my favorite series, and it cannot be hyped enough imo. It’s easy to identify with any of the characters regardless of your background (Oberstein ftw, cough). Glad to see it’s popularity spreading.

  28. Avatar Guigas says:

    @jared

    There are also 2 animes i’ve seen that uses classical music with brilliance besides LoGH: Princess Tutu and Nodame Cantabile. Both are also excellent animes so if you like great classical music you should check them out anytime =D

  29. Avatar Alec says:

    “I’m seeing no mention of one of the greatest aspects of the show….the music!!”

    The music in my opinion is decent. However, the the OP and ED songs (particularly the 3rd ed) screams of Nostalgia. I just finished this anime a few hours ago, and just seeing the op or ed song makes me eye get almost teary.
    The op and ed seemed annoying to me at first, but I finally understand what they are for.

    As for my fav character… it used to be Yang Wenli, but it became Reinhard, for he finally showed us that he is human, and Finally it became Oskar von reuenthal, for his amazing[SPOILER]. The fact that Yang[SPOILER] didn’t make him my favorite character.

  30. Avatar Alec says:

    “I’m seeing no mention of one of the greatest aspects of the show….the music!!”

    The music in my opinion is decent. However, the the OP and ED songs (particularly the 3rd ed) screams of Nostalgia. I just finished this anime a few hours ago, and just seeing the op or ed song makes me eye get almost teary.
    The op and ed seemed annoying to me at first, but I finally understand what they are for.

    As for my fav character… It’s Oskar von Reuenthal. It used to be Yang Wenli, then it it became Reinhard, for he finally showed us that he is human, and Finally it became Oskar von reuenthal, for his amazing,[SPOILER]

  31. Avatar cobra34 says:

    Rating: 92,5/100

    Oh what a pathetic plebeian you are. I thought you had taste since you arrogantly insult others for liking their “moe and cheap entertainment” but you are not better at all. Seriously, only 92 out of 100? Go away, with your coarse tastes you are in no position to criticize others’ tastes.

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