The first Gaiden series was pretty much what you’d expect it to be: small and big side-stories focusing on Reinhart’s past. The second gaiden series promised to focus on Yang Wenli’s past (who by the way was my favorite character of the main series). It however did not turn out to be as I expected.
First of all, in Yang’s past there was always one event that really kept mentioned over and over again: the things he did on the planet of El Facil. It was one of the core themes of the series as it looked at what it means to be a hero. I expected a very detailed look at it, but instead the creators end up breezing through it in one single episode.
This is just a small nit-pick, though. Spiral Lbyrinth starts off with a huge 14-episode arc, and in that arc is invaluable for Yang’s character. It shows who he was as a kid and how he ended up in the military, along with how he grew. Where the big arc in the first Gaiden Series was typical LoGH, this one is far from it, and it turns into a historical analysis that’s very interesting to watch unfold. When the arc ended, I was really looking forward to see some more small back-stories of the guy to close off the series…
… and suddenly the show goes back to Reinhart again. In fact, Yang only appears in one more episode after that. It’s like the creators were thinking “No! The people want more Reinhart!” The last number of arcs of this series are still good, but overall they don’t match up to the rest of the series, especially when you compare them to the short arcs of the first gaiden series. They’ve got nice ideas, and especially the retriever has an interesting premise, but a little too often they just deal with Reinhart trying to deal with dumb nobles and officers. It doesn’t add as much as the first gaiden season. Thankfully the final two-episode arc is a great point to end the series with, and connect everything together.
Now, this series actually has a different animation team than a Hundred Billion Stars, A Hundred Billion Lights. The two Gaiden series were at one point actually produced right next to each other. The team behind the main series seemed to have taken care of the first, while the second has a noticeably different art style. This art style unfortunately is a bit less successful in hiding the animation flaws in the character models, and it’s also a bit too full of intrusive CG (yes, this was produced around the year 2000. 12 whopping years after the series started).
Overall LoGH can be divided into six major arcs, including the Gaiden series. Unfortunately, the final one seems the weakest one to me due to its reluctance to fully embrace its premise and how it didn’t set itself apart as much as the other arcs. I do have to say that the first half is a must-watch due to Yang’s background and I’d actually consider that one better than the big arc of the first Gaiden series.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – The second half suffers a bit too much from repetition of morons surrounding Reinhart.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Excellent background on Yang Wenli|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Flawed, but thankfully not flawed enough to really impact the storytelling.|
|Setting:||9/10 – Still the same brilliant LoGH setting.|