Legend of the Galactic Heroes (LOGH from now on) is a highly regarded anime series by many fans and critics alike. It has even garnered a reputation among some as being the pinnacle of elitist taste, and while I do not believe in such things I certainly understand why it would be the recipient of such an appraisal.
It was one of the first OVAs, and was a pioneer in developing and broadening anime’s growing impact in Japanese and eventually Western society. In particular, it was one of anime’s first super-long-form adult-oriented drama stories, and laid the ground for the continued growth of this genre of anime into the ’90s and beyond.
But why has this show in particular been the target of such near-universal praise from a loud majority of those who have seen it? There is a lot of information to unpack here, so I’ll get right into it.
This post will contain spoilers. If spoilers matter to you and you haven’t watched this brilliant series then I encourage you to stop reading this post, go watch it, then come back when you’ve finished. Or if you’re like me and couldn’t care less about spoilers then speed on ahead!
An important piece of information relevant to this series can be found in it’s name – Legend of the Galactic Heroes. LOGH is indeed a legend, and its story is told as such. Legends can be loosely defined as a timeless story of great importance, and in most cases are at least somewhat fictitious. As such and like many other legends, the story is long and full of twists and turns, characters friend and foe, but rarely if ever is it unpredictable. The story sticks to a fairly predictable track, and while there are twists here and there for the most part everything feels par for the course. Nearly every major event is heavily foreshadowed for a long time before it happens. Additionally, the story does a targeted job at trying to avoid the having viewer becoming emotionally attached to one side of the story or any specific character. Of course readers/viewers of stories are bound to develop such attachments, but LOGH makes a concerted effort to present its story from an emotionally uninterested position. Its stance on its events is strictly neutral, as one would hope for from something along the lines of a historical documentary. And that is really what LOGH feels like to watch, something historically significant which you can experience to learn, think, and ponder the implications of what you’re experiencing.
These trappings of storytelling might feel out-of-place among other long-form adult-oriented media which so often rides on its dark twists and highly strung emotions. But LOGH is different in that its goal isn’t to make you feel emotional or to shock you. Its “goal” so to speak is just to present its legend as a “historical” anecdote of its world – the rest is up to you, the viewer.
With that out of the way, I will dive into the two sides of this story, with a significant focus on the two main characters, and while making sure to reference and tie the threads between important characters and equivalencies on both sides of the conflict. The following will be a summary/analysis/explanation of the story, its main characters’ important moments, and my interpretations of it all.
LOGH has two main characters, one on each side of the conflict. Yang Wenli and Reinhard von Lohengramm. Both begin in very similar positions, as mid-ranking military officials in their respective nations, the Free Planets Alliance (FPA from now on) and the Galactic Empire. The way these two are presented initially might lead you to believe that they are destined to share the same fate. And that isn’t entirely incorrect, though as the story progresses their position relative to each other will be more fleshed out and will consequently become significantly more nuanced. The connections and equivalencies between these two are one of the most interesting parts of this story, and despite their highly divergent ideals and goals, their remarkable similarities remain thoroughly interesting.
Yang and Reinhard both prove themselves to be highly gifted military commanders with a knack for rallying their comrades and subordinates around them in unified determination. They both are clearly poised to rapidly rise up the ranks of their respective militaries due to their skill. But this is essentially where their similarities end, at least for the time being. Reinhard is an extremely ambitious man, with lofty ambitions of conquering all of space, whereas while Yang values his work, he really has no ulterior ambitions of any kind and actively wants to quit his job and become a historian. This isn’t to imply Yang is lazy or unmotivated, as that is far from the truth of the situation. He simply doesn’t have anywhere near the scale of ambitions and firm determination in such that Reinhard has. The important takeaway here is at first their similarities, and later to appreciate and understand their differences.
I will note that Siegfried Kircheis, Reinhard’s childhood friend; while not technically a “main character” is effectively the butter to Reinhard’s bread. Kircheis is a significant influence on and ally of Reinhard for the early part of the series and remains an important character even past the point of his untimely demise.
At the core of LOGH’s narrative is the constant back-and-forth presentation of democracy vs autocracy. Throughout its story, the merits and drawbacks of both forms of government will be compared and contrasted in many different ways. For example at the beginning of the story the comparison is between a corrupt democracy vs a fading, bloated autocracy. Whereas at the end of the story the the comparison is one of free republican democracy vs an enlightened, efficient autocracy – both in very pure and streamlined forms in comparison to the beginning. And the transition from beginning to end on both sides is nothing short of fascinating.
While Reinhard has very real ambitions of becoming a statesman and eventually leader of his nation, Yang’s foremost priority and most prominent ideals were those of always maintaining free and open democracy at all costs and working towards a lasting peace in the galaxy. He himself states many times that a military official should never become the leader of a nation (notwithstanding them being publicly elected). Even despite the fact that those around Yang come to value him as an unparalleled hero and actively want him to take power, Yang firmly states that such an action would be undemocratic and violate the very thing he is fighting for. In reality, Yang has no desire to become the leader of a nation. He isn’t a politician, and states this many times to those around him. When put in the same position, Reinhard conversely leaps at any opportunity he can for power, though never through illegitimate means. Reinhard consistently vies for power but only through methods that align with his own sense of morality and chivalrousness. Both Yang and Reinhard both value their own ideals very highly, and do their utmost to never stray from their own internal codes of conduct.
The first major arc of this series mainly serves to establish the main characters, the nature of government on both sides of the conflict, and to draw the audience into the story before things start to rapidly change. Said first arc mainly revolves around the capture of Iserlohn Fortress by the FPA, and the subsequent invasion of Imperial territory after that. Most of the substance of this arc comes from the careful and detailed picture the viewer is presented with of both types of government and the people who run them.
On the side of the FPA, it quickly becomes apparent that this democracy is not a fair one, and that in its current form it is highly corrupt and ineffective form of government. To name some examples that prove this:
- The upper echelons of government have a private army which actively works to undermine freedom of speech, silence and destroy opposition, and frankly to work against the supposed rules of democracy that exist in the nation
- The decision-making process among the small group of aforementioned government bigwigs is highly undemocratic, and is very misguided and incompetent. The feelings, opinions, etc. of the people have very little sway in the upper council of the FPA
- The decisions made by this upper council are highly erroneous, and ensuring re-election and popularity is more important to them than logical decisions concerning the nation and military
That last point shows itself most directly when the heads of government are deciding what to do in regards to the ongoing war with the Galactic Empire. Following the capture of Iserlohn Fortress at the hands of Yang, the heads of government actively make the decision to invade the Empire while being fully aware that they do not have the military capacity nor the resources to do so. Knowing this, Yang and the other military higher-ups all realize how much of a disaster this would become, but they have no sway in that decision-making, and therefore prepare for the invasion just as they have been asked to. Of note, Yang isn’t even particularly upset at this. He merely thinks that he is doing his job and that even if he disagrees with the decision and knows it will fail, he doesn’t have the right to change it. As far as Yang is concerned in this situation, while the democracy he lives in is far from perfect, he is still fighting for and working with the forces of democracy and freedom against the autocratic Empire.
On the side of the Empire, it quickly becomes apparent that the state of its autocracy is far from efficient, and suffers from layers upon layers of bloat and cruft from centuries of mismanagement. To name some examples that prove this:
- The elderly Kaiser and leader of this autocratic monarchic state couldn’t care less about actually governing the nation, and instead would prefer to leave his duties to his prime minister
- The real power in the nation lies with the countless squabbling noble families who exert their soft power over each other and vie to be at the head of decision-making by working against each other in quieted schemes
- Much like the FPA, the heads of government have no knowledge of military affairs, and frequently make uninformed and stupid decisions in regards to the ongoing war with the Alliance
These problems manifest themselves during the invasion of the Empire by the FPA. While the Empire eventually achieved strategic victory, the situation was initially disastrous for them, and was not without massive sacrifice of manpower, resources, and honor on behalf of those leading the nation. All this stemming from the ignorance and incompetence of those in power. In contrast to Yang’s position on his side of the conflict, Reinhard leaps at the opportunity to increase his military prestige and show the entire galaxy his strategic aptitude and strength as a commander and indirectly as a leader as well. Similarly to Yang, Reinhard wasn’t upset at the situation in his nation and instead funneled his power into endowing himself with ever-more prestige and power in the eyes of the kaiser and his prime minister.
At the end of this arc, both sides are in a very similar position to how they were after the capture of Iserlohn Fortress by the FPA. But unexpectedly the old Kaiser Friedrich IV dies without warning. In the weeks following this event, a power struggle slowly comes to surface in the Empire between Reinhard von Lohengramm and a coalition of aristocratic families lead by Otto von Braunschweig called the Lippstadt League. The tension over who should hold power slowly increases in the time being. Thinking on his feet, Reinhard organizes an exchange of several thousand prisoners-of-war with the FPA – among them spies with the goal of orchestrating a coup d’etat. Knowing that a civil war in the Empire is imminent, Reinhard wanted to make sure that there is as little risk of an invasion by the FPA as possible. And in this he was remarkably successful. Soon after this, the pre-existing government on Heinessen (the FPA’s capital) is overthrown by the National Salvation Military Council.
From this point forwards, the narrative slowly begins to display the flaws in the existing forms of government, and rapid change erupts on both sides as they simultaneously experience civil wars on a massive scale. It was only thanks to Reinhard’s quick thinking that the FPA would be occupied with its own problems during the Imperial civil war.
During both civil wars it becomes clear the only the strongest will come out on top on both sides. On the side of the Empire it is apparent that Reinhard is the more adept and skillful leader between himself and the Lippstadt League. While this is the case, the Lippstadt League was still a significant threat to Reinhard’s ambitions, and therefore kept him occupied for the time being. On the side of the FPA it quickly became clear that Yang and his subordinates were the strongest force between them and the National Salvation Military Council. Yang naturally supported the end of the military coup and the restoration of the previous government due to his consistent adherence to democratic principles. Since the previous government was democratically elected, that was the one Yang would support. While Yang was in a position of power here, he saw himself as merely working to restore the previous government and not in any way as trying to take control over from it. This even despite his open dislike for Truniht, the elected leader of the FPA who was by no means the kind of person Yang would have wanted in power given the choice.
And as both civil wars drew to a close, on both sides the stronger and more skillful sides of the respective civil wars won. The major difference being that Reinhard effectively became the head of government in the Empire and began to reform and strengthen it from within, whereas Yang merely restored the corrupt and inefficient regime that existed previously. What follows this in the near future would be difficult to define as unexpected, as one side had reformed, streamlined itself, and overall improved whereas the other side had weakened in its overall strength due to the civil war and restored a stagnant and corrupt government. But for the time being the situation between the Empire and FPA remains strategically the same as after the capture of Iserlohn Fortress by the FPA at the beginning of the series.
Though Reinhard experiences a significant loss with the death of his long-time friend and second-in-command Kircheis. He is utterly devastated, and loses the motivation to continue on for a short while. This time gave the alliance some breathing room before Reinhard’s Operation Ragnarok, which would follow in the near future.
The following mini-arc mainly revolves around Yang and his subordinates defending Iserlohn Fortress and the inquiry made on Yang by the Alliance government. Yang and his subordinates are successfully defending Iserlohn Fortress from an Imperial attempt at capturing it when Yang is recalled to Heinessen for an inquiry by the heads of government. Reluctantly he does so, and begins his journey there while knowing that he is needed more than ever at Iserlohn.
Once Yang arrives on Heinessen, he is effectively imprisoned and intermittently questioned by the heads of government with means that clearly seek to label him as a traitor and as someone seeking power. Yang valiantly defends himself, and is able to do so quite effectively since there is no concrete evidence against him, and his gift for persuasion and defending himself. The heads of government merely want to selfishly remove him from any position where he might have the power to overthrow them. Of course had they known Yang as a person they would have known that that was something he couldn’t and wouldn’t ever do. Their bad timing starts to reflect in the situation at Iserlohn where the Imperial force slowly appears to be gaining the edge over the FPA. As this worsens, the heads of government have no choice but to release Yang back to the battlefield. Though this also had to do with persistent work to free him from his adjutant Frederica Greenhill.
This situation yet again displays the utter incompetency of the FPA government, and foreshadows its imminent downfall in the near future. Yang is allowed to return to Iserlohn Fortress just in time to save it and nearly completely annihilate the Imperial forces.
The next arc wholly focuses on Operation Ragnarok; Reinhard’s plan to invade and completely conquer the FPA and subjugate Phezzan, the independent planet-state de-jure under Imperial rule but de-facto independent. As mentioned previously, the balance of power between the Empire and the FPA now drastically tips in favor of the Empire due to the result of both civil wars. That difference would now come to manifest itself in the upcoming fight between the two powers. The FPA government expected any Imperial offense to come from the Iserlohn corridor which connects the two states, but they did not suspect Reinhard to come from the Phezzan corridor as well, contrary to the way it had been done previously.
Unfortunately for the FPA, this was precisely Reinhard’s plan; and he quickly invaded Phezzan and toppled the government there while simultaneously keeping Yang occupied at Iserlohn Fortress with one of his best admirals Oskar von Reuental. While Yang wanted to abandon Iserlohn Fortress and counter Reinhard’s offensive through the Phezzan corridor, he was occupied with Reuental and couldn’t leave Iserlohn.
By the time Yang was able to abandon Iserlohn to Reuental, the Imperial forces had already made a firm foothold in Alliance territory past the Phezzan corridor. As Yang prepared to engage Reinhard in battle, Reuental and Mittermeyer (Reinhard’s other top admiral) were on course to meet up outside of Reinhard’s forces.
Yang engaged Reinhard in a long and drawn-out battle with the fate of the FPA at stake. The battle raged for a long time, many times favoring either side as the balance of skill and tactics swayed back and forth from side to side. As the battle continued, Reinhard made several small tactical errors that allowed the Yang fleet to gain the upper hand on him until the moment arrived where Yang’s flagship was in dangerous proximity to the Brunhild (Reinhard’s Flagship). In this short moment Reinhard realized that at this moment everything could come crashing down, but simultaneously he was satisfied to have been defeated in battle by his longtime adversary Yang Wenli. But unbeknownst to Reinhard, his close adjutant Fraulein Mariendorf had gone against his orders and told Mittermeyer and Reuental to head to Heinessen. Their fleets’ arrival at Heinessen prompted the surrender of the Alliance government and their consequent orders to Yang to cease fire with Reinhard’s fleet. Though he was so close to killing Reinhard and destroying the beating heart of the Empire, Yang’s consistent and unwavering adherence to the rule of democracy meant that he obeyed the ceasefire, despite the upset of his exhausted subordinates who felt betrayed by the government on Heinessen.
Yang then quickly worked with his subordinates to allow some to escape and plan for the return of democracy somewhere in the future. But for now he and the majority of his crew had to respect Reinhard’s complete subjugation of all of space. As for Reinhard, he felt very violated that his victory was not a strategic one but a circumstantial one. One very important facet of Reinhard’s personality is that he functions best when he has an enemy to keep him occupied. Reinhard himself was very calm and accepting of his perceived fate in the moment that Yang strategically defeated him. And to not only have that torn out from under him but also to half-heartedly experience victory was absolutely devastating to him. This concludes the arc of Operation Ragnarok.
The next arc revolves around the slow revival of republican democracy by Yang and his subordinates and friends. For the time being though, Yang settles down on Heinessen and buys a house with his newly wedded wife Frederica Greenhill Yang. The following few episodes are almost comical in their portrayal of what Yang would have had his life be if it were up to him. Just a very slow, mellow existence with his wife while visiting his friends in the Cazellnu family, who a very short time ago were his comrades in arms. Though Yang appears subdued at this point, the spark of democracy remains alight in his and his comrades’ minds, and Yang is now reliant on his former comrades to fulfill the loose plan they had set about regarding the restoration of democracy.
The new governor of “Neue Land” (Imperial name for FPA former territory) becomes Lennenkampf, a paranoid and ruthless Imperial admiral hoping to redeem himself following his defeat in a former battle at the dismay of Reinhard. He begins instituting intense surveillance on former Alliance military staff and monitoring their moves very closely. But no matter how much he stares into the private lives of Yang and his former subordinates, nothing seems to be amiss. And in reality, nothing was besides Yang and Cazellnu sending notes to each other encased in food disguised as a gift. But due to this Lennenkampf’s paranoia only increased as he worried about a potential uprising in his territory. I will just pause for a second and point out Lennenkampf’s resounding visual resemblance to Joseph Stalin along with their similar paranoid personalities and ruthless governance. There are many other references to real history in this series, but this is one that stood out to me in a humorous way.
This led to him arresting Yang on no particular evidence of wrongdoing simply out of paranoia. The puppet alliance government under Lennenkampf wanted to end all possibility of Yang rebelling against them by first interrogating and then executing him.. While this was happening, Schenkopp and Attenborough agreed on the need to act against the Empire and rescue Yang. They quickly rallied many of the former Alliance forces including the Rosen Ritter in order to cause commotion and distract Lennenkampf so they could simultaneously rescue Yang from captivity. At this time Yang was very nearly executed but in the nick of time was rescued by his compatriots and his wife Frederica. Following this, Schenkopp led an attack on Lennenkampf’s headquarters in order to capture him to use as a bargaining chip against the Empire to assure passage off of Heinessen. Once this was achieved, Yang was able to escape Heinessen and then meet up with admiral Merkatz, who had been left in charge of the secret forces hiding in wait for Yang’s return. Unexpectedly, Lennenkampf committed suicide in captivity. Though Yang’s forces did not reveal this to the Empire until the opportune moment since Lennenkampf was a valuable hostage, and revealing such information could have compromised their ability to escape Heinessen.
The significance of this moment cannot be understated, for Yang would not have been one to go against the terms he agreed to in the treaty ending the Alliance-Imperial war. But following his unjust and unfair interrogation and near execution on no legal grounds he had come to realize that sometimes he has to act against his ideals that he believes in in for the overall betterment of democracy in the future. This was a profound moment for Yang, and though this does not change his actions much it does show a growth of character on his part in reference to adapting to change and working within the constraints of the situation he is presented with.
At this point, the puppet government of the alliance had broken the newly self-appointed Kaiser Reinhard’s expectations in regard to the treatment of Yang and other former Alliance military members. Therefore the Kaiser declared his intention to restore order in Neue Land. While many of said former Alliance military personnel had fled Heinessen with Yang, some had stayed in order to defend the shell of the former Alliance from falling via outright annexation by Kaiser Reinhard.
While Admiral Bucock and the bare remnants of the Alliance fleet bravely defended the dying husk of the Alliance from complete annexation by the Empire, Yang and his fleet had met up with the new self-declared El Facil Revolutionary Government. It was on planet El Facil that he decided on the plan to retake Iserlohn Fortress. Yang decided on this because Iserlohn Fortress is borderline impenetrable, and housing his fleet and supporters of democracy there would be more secure than staying on El Facil, which was a mere planet with no special defenses of any kind. Kaiser Reinhard had left Iserlohn fairly lightly defended while he concentrated his forces on fully incorporating Neue Land. This decision was one of his major missteps, as it was soon exploited by Yang and his fleet as they retook Iserlohn fortress and proclaimed it the bastion of freedom in the galaxy. Upon learning this, Kaiser Reinhard’s hard-fought victory against Admiral Bucock was soured by this news. But an unspoken fire within Reinhard’s heart was reignited once again. For his great adversary Yang Wenli had returned as a threat, and a part of him was excited to deal with Yang once again. That is just the kind of person Reinhard was, he operated best when he had an adversary to work against.
Kaiser Reinhard then decided to initiate the reconquest of Iserlohn Fortress from Yang and his forces. Imperial forces moved in to retake the fortress. The battle was hard-fought on both sides, and Yang continuously proved his strategic aptitude and one-upmanship of Reinhard. He continuously outwitted and outmaneuvered the Imperial forces even despite the nearly impossible odds. Eventually, after Yang’s aptitude and tactics led Mittermeyer and Reuental to withdraw from the Iserlohn corridor and Kaiser Reinhard offering peace talks to Yang.
After several days of careful deliberation, Yang decided to take up Reinhard’s peace talk offer. However, while he was en route to negotiate with Reinhard, his ship was boarded by Terraist attackers who fought tooth and nail with his crew inside the ship. They tried desperately to save Yang, and many sacrificed their lives for his sake. Even when Julian (Yang’s adopted son) and Schenkopp were able to board the ship they were too late to save Yang, who had been shot through the leg by a Terraist and had died silently in a lonely corner of his ship.
This death deeply saddened me when it first happened, as it seemed like half of this brilliant series’ energy had disappeared. And in some ways it had. Yang was the life and blood of the Iserlohn forces, and the undefeated master tactician of the Alliance, and the bastion hero of democracy. His death was a crushing blow to all involved, including Kaiser Reinhard, who retreated all his forces following news of Yang’s death.
The more I think about Yang’s death the more I think this was a fitting end for him. I certainly don’t believe he deserved such a fate, but I do think there was no way that would have seemed right for him to die. An undefeated man couldn’t be defeated but by those forces which he had no control over, including those which any human would succumb to, hero or not. Yang was a humble man, and some kind of bombastic death charging against the enemy wouldn’t have fit his personality nor his ideals. Though his death was deeply saddening to all the Iserlohn forces, the retreat of Imperial forces meant that they could finally at long-last proclaim a free and fair democracy in the name of the recently deceased Yang Wenli – the Iserlohn Republic. While Yang died, his undying spirit lived on in the hearts of those continuing his legacy aboard Iserlohn Fortress – particularly in Julian and his wife, Frederica.
Yang’s death was the opposite of that which the viewer might expect from such an important character. It was calm, slow, and silent. There was no emotional death speech or soaring music, just a silent scene void of music or even color; showing the untimely and unfair death of perhaps the greatest military tactician who ever lived. That concludes this arc.
The next arc focuses on Imperial Admiral Oskar von Reuental and his “rebellion” against Kaiser Reinhard. Following the Imperial reconquest and incorporation of Neue Land, Oskar von Reuental was appointed as its governor general based on Kaiser Reinhard’s order. After Reuental settled in to govern over Heinessen and Neue Land, rumors started to circulate that stated he was going to rebel against Kaiser Reinhard. While this was not the case, after an attempted regicide against Kaiser Reinhard that had nothing to do with Reuental orchestrated by Terraists, as would be later found out. But Reuental chose to embrace the rumors and to rise up against Kaiser Reinhard with the justification that his subordinates Lang and Oberstein were trying to usurp the Kaiser’s power. As someone who had always had a rebellious personality, and to not sacrifice his pride, Reuental decided that if he was going to be blamed for the treasonous attack then he would rather be a traitor than be framed as one. He then broke ties with the Imperial government and rose up in revolt. Thus, his close friend Mittermeyer was ordered by the Kaiser to lead a fleet against Reuental to restore order in Neue Land.
The battle between Mittermeyer and Reuental is an emotionally transfixing one, for they both know each other well and have been friends for years. They both rose up the ranks in the Imperial military all the way to being Kaiser Reinhard’s number two duo. And the fact that Reuental felt he had to rise up to expose Lang and Oberstein was deeply upsetting to Mittermeyer. Despite this, the two engaged in battle in full force and tried their hardest against each other. Reuental eventually lost the strategic edge and his flagship was struck by enemy fire, injuring him fatally. Though he did not die then and there, he knew his time had come. Reuental returned to Heinessen and waited for Mittermeyer to come to him so they could share a final drink together. Reuental was visited by several people during this time, including Job Truniht, the former leader of the Alliance (whom he killed) and the mother of his child Elfriede von Kohlrausch, who he was able to meet with on decent terms and see his child for the first and last time. He instructed her to deliver their child to Mittermeyer so it could grow up in good hands. Reuental succumbed to his injuries before he could meet with Mittermeyer as he had hoped.
The death of Reuental hit me nearly as hard of that of Yang. He was a noble man, but was a deeply flawed one. His strategic aptitude and classy charm were a brilliant combination that served him well in his career. And he spent the last days of his life doing exactly what he would have wanted to, facing his friend Mittermeyer on equal footing in a fight to the end. He died a highly respected man, which was far from the idea of a traitor that he had embraced in his final days.
Following these events, it was revealed that Lang and Grillpalzer (an admiral in Reuental’s forces who had gone turncoat) were a part of the regicide attempt on Kaiser Reinhard, and that Reuental had nothing to do with it. Reuental remained highly respected even after his death and neither the Kaiser nor Mittermeyer bore hard feelings towards him in death. That concludes this arc.
The final arc focuses on the final battle between the Iserlohn Republic and Reinhard’s Empire and the death of the Kaiser. Although I did not mention it up until this point, Kaiser Reinhard had been the victim of an increasing frequency and intensity of illnesses up until this point in the series. This is important later as you likely know already if you’ve read this far. His wife Hildegard von Lohengramm had also given birth to their son despite nearly being killed by a Terraist attack on Heinessen.
Julian Mincz, the new commander of the Iserlohn Republic’s military decided to engage the Imperial Forces once again at this time. Fighting broke out after disagreements over the escort of a civilian refugee ship heading for Iserlohn. Julian commanded the Iserlohn forces with near Yang’s level of aptitude, and was able to consistently outmaneuver the Imperial forces repeatedly. This was in part due to the Kaiser’s rapidly deteriorating health, that made it increasingly difficult for him to coordinate the Imperial forces amassed at Iserlohn corridor. But Julian proved himself as a worthy successor to Yang, which was something neither he nor those who knew him were completely assured of. During the battle, the Iserlohn forces noted the sluggishness of the Imperial Fleet’s movements due to this, and decided to aim straight for the Kaiser’s flagship, the Brunhild. At this time Kaiser Reinhard collapsed and became unconscious upon his return to the bridge from the infirmary, and was rushed back to the infirmary. Unable to coordinate itself properly, the Imperial Fleet was unable to fend off the following attack which led to Julian being able to crash his ship into the Brunhild and board it with Schenkopp and other melee forces. They fought ferociously in the corridors of the Brunhild, many of Julian’s comrades and friends dying in the process. Julian fought his way through the Brunhild and eventually found Kaiser Reinhard, who was awaiting him. It is important to note that it was never Julian’s intention to kill or even harm the Kaiser, he merely wanted to negotiate with him just as he had requested of Yang before his untimely demise. Julian was able to secure a ceasefire between the Imperial and Iserlohn forces, but before he could continue negotiation he succumbed to his exhaustion and minor injuries and collapsed on the ground in front of the Kaiser in full battle regalia.
To me, this moment fulfilled Yang’s ultimate hopes for peace and the restoration of democracy, as the peace talks the Kaiser had offered Yang before his death had finally come to fruition.
After the Imperial forces and the Iserlohn fleet had returned from Iserlohn to Heinessen, news of the Kaiser’s terminal illness was announced to all. On Heinessen, the Kaiser and Julian discussed the future of the galaxy after Reinhard’s inevitable and unpreventable death. They were both able to agree on the return of Iserlohn Fortress in exchange for Heinessen gaining autonomy in the Empire. They did discuss the idea of constitutionalism and eventual transition to parliamentary democracy, though Reinhard was unsure of this and said that Julian would have to discuss the details of such with his wife Hilda, who would be regent for his son following his death. Lying in bed surrounded by his friends, compatriots, loved ones, and several foes the Kaiser died that day. Even at that time he was subjected to an attack by the remaining Terraists after Oberstein used a fake rumor of Reinhard’s recovery to draw them out. This was ultimately crushed, but resulted in Oberstein’s death. Upon the Kaiser’s death, his wife Hildegard von Lohengramm succeeded him as regent for their son Alexander Siegfried von Lohengramm. So concludes this legend of galactic heroes.
The death of Reinhard hit me nearly as hard as that of Yang, and I feel very similarly about it to the way I feel about Yang’s death. Reinhard didn’t deserve to die this way, but like Yang the only fitting reason for him to die seemed to be an unexpected and uncontrollable one. Also in line with Yang, he died a well-respected military hero of his respective nation, and was the founding father of the new Imperial dynasty and government. Both great men died due to circumstances outside of their control and beyond their means to defeat in battle. In a sense, they were too great for the world they inhabited, and that world found a way to extinguish their light by means beyond the field of battle, contrary to what the both of them might have expected or wanted.
Both Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wenli were paragons of their ideals, and were shining examples of such during their times alive. In my mind they were the two truly legendary galactic heroes among the many, many others that exist in this story.
The above was not meant to accurately and completely summarize this story, it was merely to describe, analyze, and discuss the two greatest heroes of this legend and the complex and multifaceted story they were involved in.
But Yang Wenli and Reinhard von Lohengramm are far from the only noteworthy characters in this story. LOGH is filled with incredible characters of all kinds who all have their own unique and interesting stories, though they don’t have a place in this particular post but perhaps I will discuss some more of them at length in the future. Oberstein and Reuental in particular are very interesting characters, though I do not have time to further discuss them here.
I will mention it again, but LOGH is truly a legend-worthy story. Its magnitude and scale are of a caliber rarely seen in any medium, and the depth and care put into its narrative and story are absolutely magnificent to behold. The fact that a series this long doesn’t decline in quality over its entire 110 episode run that lasted well over 9 years of continuous production is something of a miracle. This story is truly a masterpiece on so many levels, and after having finished it it feels like a timeless tale that will remain a part of my life forevermore. It is rare I can say that about any piece of media, but I can tell when something has stuck with me and that I’ll be thinking about it for years to come. LOGH certainly fits that metric and passes with flying colors.
Its production value, while not overly impressive or outlandishly extravagant is certainly consistent in quality, and even manages to slightly up itself over the series’ run; mostly in regards to character design consistency and animation quality. The character designs in particular are a marvel to view. Every single character has a believable and realistic hairstyle, and every character looks unique and is easily distinguishable from one another. What’s more is how memorable the entire main cast is on both sides of the conflict. Watching the first opening for the first time somewhat bewildered me at the sheer number of faces, but not only were they all memorable and individually interesting but I also found myself remembering nearly all their names; which was not something I expected to do when considering the size of this series’ cast.
The selection of famous orchestral music from the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Holst, Chopin, Brahms, and so many more well-known classical musicians is incredible to behold, and is such a vast and fitting selection of pre-modern classical pieces all of such incredible weight and beauty. On top of this, the series does also have a small selection of original pieces, all of which I can think of are on par with and fit in well with the rest of the soundtrack. I found it equally as enjoyable as experiencing the series itself to explore the selection of classical music it uses. A small selection of such can be found here if you use spotify.
Thank you to anyone who has stuck through with this gigantic post up until this point. I did not expect to write this much in one sitting, but when I’m as passionate and excited about something as much as LOGH made me feel, 5+ hours of writing can fly past in a moment. If you enjoyed this post, please make sure to follow this blog so you can keep up to date with my posts.
What did you think of Legend of the Galactic Heroes? What did you think of this post? Please let me know in the comments. Constructive criticism is welcome as well as writing advice or pretty much anything else.
At this point I need some rest, but I will leave you with a quote from Yang Wenli that I find very fitting considering the person he was but also relate to and appreciate quite deeply.
“Perhaps in this universe, there exists a solitary, absolute truth. Perhaps it clarifies every question. But that’s beyond the reach of these short hands.” – Yang Wenli