It’s been a while since I look back at this series, but I finally finished the first season and I have my thought on it. Is the military sapce anime with extremely good looking boys still good? Or has the slow grind of the fight finally worn it down? Well after the cut let’s take a dive into the second cour of Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These.
Spoilers for the series, please read with discretion.
When looking at a show like Galactic Heroes, a story from the 80s, you come to understand that it very much is a show from a different era. Instead of the lightning fast action and fighting of shonen or even some mecha shows. Heroes is a long hard grind, focused more on the machinations of the fighting than the fighting exactly. Of course there are lasers, many many lasers, but a gritty, rough and tumble sort of story is not what this is. If you know that, accept it, then you will learn to enjoy what is on display and what Heroes is trying to be.
What it is trying to be, having finally watched this second cour, is a fictional history unfolding. While there are main characters with drive and goals, the deep character motivations and journeys are absent. Instead the viewer finds themselves almost looking over the shoulders of the cast, a witness to the conversations, bargain and sacrificing people make in order to make history. Or to make history bend to its will.
And that is what makes the story work when viewed through this lens. We are seeing the changing of an age and the rise of heroes both determined and reluctant to shepherd in that new era. Whether it is Reinhart trying to seize his dream of ruling the universe, realizing that in order to do good things, sometimes you need to do bad. Or Yang Wen-li, a man devoted to the ideas of democracy and fair play, even though he loathes the people it puts into power. These two men represented the different idea of power, and their ambition, or lack thereof is often what comes from the people who will change the world around them. While it takes a bit for the story to get there, by the time the credits roll on the final episode, you finally understand where these two men are and what they represent.
For the day to day story of Heroes, there is thankfully a forward moving motion that keeps things fresh. The death of the Emperor shakes up the status-quo for the cast, letting Reinhardt move to seize the reins of powers. The following coup by the Free Planets Alliance gives Yang a chance to show how he feels, and shows the flaws of their way of running things. The supporting cast remains as massive as ever, with people coming and go throughout the episodes. Some are memorable, but many are often one-note and feed into the feeling that we are a witness to history instead of being told the story. Paul Oberstein is probably the most notable of the entire cast, channeling his best Littlefinger impression as he steers Reinhardt into going deeper into the dark side of his rise to power. Though I also enjoyed the few moment with Annerose, a woman who after given her freedom, decides it is best to retreated into a solitary lifestyle, even when her brother needs her around.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These‘s second cour carries on the good parts of the first half. If you didn’t care for the series at the start, nothing will change your mind here. It’s still the same slow, grindy and sometimes tedious anime that is a relic of an older era. But if you enjoy that stuff, then it is probably the best example of how it is done beside the original version. It’s an epic saga, a slow burn, but one that doesn’t leave a single stone unturned. I don’t go back to this series often but when I do, I always find myself enraptured by what I see. If this remake of a classic interests you, then give it a look, but be prepared for a slower more macro type of anime.