They aired after the main Legend of the Galactic Heroes series, but make no mistake: the two Gaiden series are prequels. One Hundred Billion Stars, One Hundred Billion Lights tells stories about the past of the main character, Reinhart von Lohengramm. In theory, they could be watched at any point in the series after episode 3 of the TV-series. The benefit you get from watching it early is some solid characterizations, backgrounds and introductions before the series gets really fired off. The benefit you get from waiting to check it out until the series finishes is a very solid background arc.
Now, the main series did hint at various events that happened in Reinhart’s past that we never fully got to see. Surprisingly though: this OVA doesn’t address those at all, and creates a whole array of new stories throughout Reinhart’s teenaged years. There are three small arcs of four episodes, followed by a big one comprising of 12 episodes. The last arc is typical LoGH: it focuses on large scale tactics and strategies, while weaving the stories of all kinds of characters together while at the same time asking many poignant question about the nature of war and commanding an army. Reinhart here shows a version of himself that he did not show throughout the main series, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
And then there are the short arcs, which really surprised me. It’s here where Legend of Galactic heroes shortly dabbles into other genres than its area of expertise: large scale space warfare. Each of these arcs are completely standalone and surprisingly varied. One of them even turns into a murder mystery, but in particular the third arc is masterfully told: it combines Legend of Galactic Heroes’ signature style of thoughtful dialogues and complex motives, and throws it into a story that instead of being told by reason, is told by emotions. That was the highlight of this season for me.
Now, these side stories miss the grandeur of the main series, so I can’t rate it as highly as the first. The stories are all really good, and again very intelligent, but they don’t come together as well as the main series did with its 110 episodes. It’s not that this movie is as unconnected as the first movie was. It’s still pretty much the best you can get in terms of warfare on a much smaller scale. It lacks the politics that made the main series so unique, though, and they definitely add a lot of things to this series and its cast. In terms of the big picture it’s just a matter of comparing a panther to a gigantic lion with wings.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Surprisingly varied: actually experiments with different genres, while keeping up its distinct style of very intelligent dialogue and storytelling.|
|Characters:||9/10 – The characters in the original Legend of Galactic Heroes were already really well developed. The side stories allow them to show off even more sides of themselves.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Actually an slight upgrade compared to the main series.|
|Setting:||9/10 – This show doesn’t have the chance to get really grand and daring with its setting like the main series did, but it’s still a ridiculously solid portrayal of fleet warfare.|