One of the most highly anticipated shows of the season, especially for fans of military science-fiction, is the modern-day adaptation of the classic novel series of the same name, The Legend of Galactic Heroes, which is being produced by Production I.G. The director of the project is Shunsuke Tada. This shōnen, space opera is loved by many fans within the otaku world and has been equated to being the anime version of Dune and Ender’s Game in terms of importance to the genre. I remember seeing the original a very long time ago, and after watching the pilot for this new edition, I must confess that I feel its quality and justice to the original can go either way depending on how it is developed.
The series is about a never-ending war between two interstellar factions: the monarchic Imperial Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance. The first episode begins with the Free Planets Alliance planning to overwhelm the Galactic Empire with their sheer force in a surprise attack. After being made aware of what is going on, military Genius Reinhard von Lohengramm utilises a unique military strategy to defeat their enemies. However, an unforeseen development causes Lohengramm’s plans to backfire with dire repercussions.
This is a difficult post to write because on one hand I see the potential that this series brings, but on the other, I recognise all the things that die-hard fans will hate about this latest adaptation. I am someone who can enjoy a neoteric edition of a magnum opus for what it is: something innovative, different, and fresh. I almost never expect it to be a clone of the original. Yet, not everyone feels that way as for many folks the modern take can sometimes ruin or disrespect what they have come to love so passionately. The Legend of Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These will cause some strife, nonetheless, personally I feel it can also revitalise a cult classic, introducing it to the newer, younger generation of anime watchers.
A good example of this are the ship and character designs. They are very true to their original counterparts with upgraded visuals, making them a sort of homage. I enjoyed turning on the episode and seeing the designs. It filled me with a sense of nostalgia that made me more excited for what was to come. However, on the flip side, there were a lot of missing components in this contemporary adaptation that I noticed familiar fans were quite upset about.
If I had to choose a quality I did not particularly care for, it would have to be the soundtrack. The updated music is far less dramatic, which harshly hampers the tension and dramatic effects of the space battles. The episode starts and immediately goes into a military fight, but there was no tension or suspense to it at all. It unfolded with such lacklustre personality, regardless of being fast-paced, and left me feeling deprived. The music helps to build the tone and atmosphere, and in this case, it did not really build anything at all.
Regardless, the fights did leave me feeling impressed with the animation style. It blends computer generated graphics and hand-drawn visuals together in a fluid and seamless manner. This is how CGI should be used, to complement and enhance traditional hand-drawn cinematography, without being clunky, awkward, or disjointed. Even the space battles, where most of the CGI was used, were beautiful and vibrant. The explosions and manoeuvrability of the smaller attack vessels were, for lack of a better phrase, cool as heck.
Lastly, I love the use of a sensationally classic military science-fiction trope: young military strategy and battle prowess versus veteran tactical strategies; the idea of new versus old. For me, the implications of it in the pilot as the much younger Lohengramm enacts a crazy device to win the battle, is totally an allegory for the present-day adaptation of The Legend of Galactic Heroes versus the old, original from 1988. This trope is a classic in sci-fi media for a reason, and by using it here, not only does it stay true to the traditional narrative, it also challenges it; while familiarity and going with what works is fantastic, sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zones into strange territory to discover greatness and success.
Overall, the first episode was not a masterful work of brilliance, but it was not a terribly constructed hot mess either. It shows potential for greatness, a foundation for a modernistic interpretation of something that is prototypical within the science-fiction genre. We just have to be open-minded and optimistic, which I definitely am. I plan on keeping with The Legend of Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These through the Spring season.
You can watch the series on CrunchyRoll on Tuesday mornings.
Thank you for stopping by! Until next time, happy reading and happy otakuing! ♥
**All graphics were made by me unless stated otherwise.**