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The best anime no one has heard of - Legend of the Galactic Heroes

ClevingerClevinger Registered User regular
edited March 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Well, not exactly no one, but practically no one. This is the most criminally underrated anime I’ve ever seen, which I’m sure is at least in part because it’s never been licensed and distributed in English.

It is, by far, the best anime I’ve seen, and the only other anime that even comes close in maturity, intelligence, and just general goodness is Monster (in my opinion, of course).


Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a sci-fi series (I guess you’d call it Space Opera?) based on a series of novels set close to a thousand years in the future when men populate planets all over the galaxy. At the time of the series, there is a very large and drawn out conflict between the autocratic Empire and the democratic rebellion called the Free Planets Alliance. The series mainly follows the two most prominent figures of each side of the conflict, but that’s really only scratching the surface of what it covers.

There are lots and lots of characters, most of which are fleshed out fairly well, and none are sacred. All of them are very fallible and human and mortal. Many die in ways you wouldn’t expect.

There are two main sides to this conflict:

On the democratic side, there is the Free Planets Alliance. A nation that came to be from people escaping the rule of the Empire, and has since been fighting them for their continued freedom. The main character on this side is Yang Wen-li.


Yang Wen-li is a man who hates war and being in the spotlight immensely, yet is continuously pulled back into both through events out of his control. He would much rather be a historian (a professional he sought in the first place, but was too poor to be educated for it, thus ending up in the military) after retiring from the military. He is a brilliant tactician who makes use of the Alliance’s smaller army in ways others can’t, and because of his gifts he is manipulated by politicians and is also relied upon by his comrades. He is nicknamed “Miracle Yang” and “Yang the Magician” for his ability to succeed against horrible odds.

And on the autocratic side, there’s the Empire under the rule of the Goldenbaum dynasty, which was started by a tyrant that can be compared to Hitler, but on a galactic stage. The main character on this side is Reinhard von Lohengramm


At a young age, his sister was essentially sold off to the Emperor by their father for financial gain. He enters the military, and because of his sister’s closeness to the Emperor, he initially has some influence. After participating in an event the nobles of the Empire didn’t like, he was put on the front lines of the war in hopes that he would be killed. But because of his gifted military prowess, he and other admirals in his favor quickly rise in ranks because of their great accomplishments in battle. Reinhard wishes to topple the current dynasty to establish his own, and to conquer the rest of the galaxy.


I’m not sure how to describe the series. I almost want to say it’s kind of like A Song of Ice and Fire, but in space. That’s probably wrong, but oh well.

It’s this sprawling epic about war, and follows it from many perspectives, including the rulers, soldiers, politicians, and society. There are schemers plotting in the background against other characters, and there are schemers behind them plotting against the other schemers. People, nations, political parties, religions, dynasties, and armies rise and fall throughout the course of the series. It’s all done in such an intelligent way, and free from most anime clichés I know.

I think the biggest flaw of the series is the animation. The series started in 1988, and was made slowly until 1997. So the animation starts off pretty bad, but as it goes it gets better, and ends as pretty good.

I should also say, if you want nothing but action or a quick payoff, this probably isn’t for you. A lot of the series is just dialogue and space battles with bad animation. It’s also 110 episodes long, so there’s that. But if any of this sounds even remotely interesting, GO WATCH IT NOW. Start now because it’ll take a while to get through it.

And for those who have seen it, feel free to sing its praises and talk about it.

Clevinger on


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    AntimatterAntimatter Devo Was Right Gates of SteelRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Discuss it in the Anime thread, man.

    Antimatter on
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    ClevingerClevinger Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I thought it deserved it's own thread, especially when ones of the main reasons for it was exposure.

    Clevinger on
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    archonwarparchonwarp Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Kind of reminds of Robotech/Macross, at least from the whole 'conflict from multiple perspectives' side of things. I'll have to check it out, thanks. For the record, I wouldn't have seen this had it been in the anime thread.

    archonwarp on
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