Based on the novel series by Tanaka Yoshiki, Legend of the Galactic Heroes takes place in the distant future in the far reaches of space. Humankind has colonized numerous star systems and they are split into two governments: the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance. For generations, both factions have been at war.
The series has a humongous cast of characters but is mainly told through the respective military leaders of Yang Wen Li of the Free Planets Alliance, and Reinhard Von Lohengramm of the Galactic Empire. Both sides equally display how they are the heroes and the villains of the series. Not only does the series portray this conflict on the outside, the audience is also given a very in-depth view of the internal conflicts between the characters of these respective governments.
The series is an excellent metaphor of not just war, but the role of government to the people they serve whether it would be a free democracy or a monarchy. So for today’s list, we will explore similarities of six other anime that share some qualities of this timeless classic that long time dedicated fans consider to be the best anime of all time.
Similar Anime to Eiyuu Densetsu / Similar Anime to Legend of the Galactic Heroes
1. Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan)
- Episodes: Episode: 25
- Aired: Apr 2015 – Sept 2015
Also based on a novel series by Tanaka-sensei (and based on a manga adaptation by Arakawa Hiromu, the author of Fullmetal Alchemist), The Heroic Legend of Arslan takes place in a fantasy setting. Starting in the year 320, the Kingdom of Pars has ruled with an iron fist for hundreds of years but their authority has been challenged by the neighboring Lusitania. After a crushing defeat in his first battle and with the present king under enemy capture, the teenage Prince Arslan must re-group the Parsian army with his best advisors in order to reclaim his throne. With both original source materials by the same author, the series shares a good number of qualities.
Despite the different settings, both series dwell into war, politics, religion and tolerance that relates very excellently to audiences of all backgrounds. Though the Kingdom of Pars may be prosperous and is the home of the main cast, do they mean they are perfect or collectively the good guys?
The series shows that Pars not only has problems with their rivals, but they must address their own internal problems, which is a recurring theme in Legend of Galactic Heroes. For example, Wen Li and Reinhard are fighting for the good of their people and want to make changes on the inside. Reinhard grants more freedom to his people, and Arslan wishes to end the slave trade within his kingdom at the insistence of his wise advisors though his father feels it must be kept for traditional and economical purposes.
What’s also interesting is that the series addresses that sometimes noble deeds can have unintended consequences. For example, you can free slaves, but what do the slaves do when they are free if they can’t find a job or home? Last, it also shows they key to winning wars is having the right strategy with knowledge of your environment, your resources, and the trust of your citizens and soldiers. So anyone who loves war and political stories no matter what the backdrop is will enjoy The Heroic Legend of Arslan.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan Japanese trailer
2. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: Mar 1985 – Feb 1986
Taking place seven years after the inaugural Gundam series, the Earth Federation maintains peace through the ruthless rule of their Special Forces unit, the Titans. Their tactics are comparable to the Gestapo, and they go as far as using biological and chemical weapons to suppress any further rebellion. The power of the Titans goes as far to the point that even the Federation, the very government that created them, fears their influence. No longer wanting to take their oppression, a group of former Zeon soldiers and citizens that wish to rebel create their own organization, AEUG, short for the Anti-Earth Union Government. And one of their leaders is the legendary Red Comet himself, Char Aznable. After recruiting teenager Kamille Bidan, the son of Federation engineers into their cause equipped with his Zeta Gundam, they now have the strength to push back.
Both this series and Legend of the Galactic Heroes have numerous qualities that fans familiar to both of them can think of, but present themselves in distinct ways. While the politics with LOGH are more in your face, Zeta Gundam tends to focus more on the mechs and action. Whenever Zeta Gundam focuses on its politics such as Char’s Qatar speech, it does make a profound impact on audiences and demonstrates that conflicts can be won with words and effective leadership. Ultimately, both series are about human rights, which is the noblest of causes, but sometimes the problem behind that is how do people achieve those goals which both Zeta Gundam and Legend of the Galactic Heroes do a great job of portraying.
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam II - Lovers -
3. MacrossΔ (Macross Delta)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 2016 – Sept 2016
In the year 2067, citizens of various planets are succumbing to a virus called the Var, which originated from a rebelling New United Government planet, Windermere. The Var messes with people’s brainwaves and makes them aggressive. The only way to cure this disease is through special energy called fold receptors that can only be activated by certain people with special singing talents. This is thanks to Walkure, a cosmo idol group. Assisting Walkure in their unique missions is an elite ragtag squadron known as the Delta Unit.
Ever since Macross made its breakthrough over 30 years ago, it has been known equally for its high-octane mech action, intricate love triangles, and their energetic soundtracks. As long as Macross is breathing, that’s what both new and old fans are going to get. However, what makes this an addition to being on this list?
For starters, yes, it is a space opera between two opposing sides. Not only that, the audience gets to see that both the New United Government and the Windermerians have their own legitimate causes that drive them into battle. Next, viewers also get to see that though there are good people on both sides, there are also some rotten apples that are driven by their own selfish agendas.
Last, the series has its own unique rivalry. Just like how Wen Li and Reinhard shared a deep respect for one another (if anything, they both know that they would be best friends if the circumstances were different). Keith and Messer shared their own unique rivalry where they were not driven by hatred, not by their pride for who they were fighting for, but by their pride as men in a similar profession. The fact that conflicts can be categorized and motivated both internally and externally on many scales is the main appeal for both of these epic series.
Macross Delta Trailer
Any Anime Like Legend of the Galactic Heroes / Any Anime Like Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu?
4. Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 (Space Battleship Yamato 2199)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: May 2012 – Oct 2012
As a reboot of the original legendary Space Battleship Yamato series that debuted in 1974, this edition is faithful to its core but makes some appropriate changes (and improvements) to keep it fresh and modern (such as diversifying the cast by adding more female characters). Just like its predecessor, the series takes place in the year 2199 and the Earth is at the brink of extinction after being bombarded by radioactive planet bombs by the Gamilas Empire. As a last hope, with some help from the distant planet of Iscandar, the people of Earth refurbish the Yamato, a World War II battleship, for intergalactic and light speed travel in order to retrieve the Cosmo Reverse system, the only machine possible of restoring Earth to its former glory.
On a foundation, both the new Yamato series and the Legend of Galactic Heroes are space operas that are war stories. They also share themes of colonization and explore if peace between Earth and the Gamilas are at all possible. The series also dives into the consequences and rewards of the choices and sacrifices one makes for their friends and/or homeland. Last, they both share not only the core conflict between Earth and Gamilas but the internal conflicts within them as well. For the crew of the Yamato, there are some people who feel Earth is not worth saving and that they should colonize Earth-like planets instead. Within the Gamilas Empire, there are high-ranking officers who wish to claim the power for themselves.
"Space Battleship Yamato 2199 PV 120 seconds version
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 2008 – Mar 2009
Based on another novel series by Tanaka-sensei, Tytania is another space opera epic that explores various conflicts of the Valdana Empire, which is ruled by the titular Tytania family. One day while dispatching an elite fleet to the city-state of Euriya to retrieve some technology, they were ambushed and humiliated. As a result of these actions, various alliances are crushed and it’s all out war across the stars to claim control. Not only that, the very conflict itself becomes a struggle within the royal family itself.
So knowing that the original series is written by the same author, fans familiar with one or the other already has a clear idea of what they’re getting into. Mass hysteria, senseless massacres, betrayals, forging new alliances, etc. Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend? What are the consequences of our actions despite our good intentions? What is a family? Does power truly corrupt? Though they are very similar, Tytania takes a more linear and compact approach in comparison to Legend of the Galactic Heroes, which tends to be expansive and develops outward. Though on the surface they are very similar, the differences in execution still make for very fresh distinctions that tell their own unique stories.
6. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct 2006 – Jul 2007
In an alternate present reality, Code Geass is composed of three super powers, The Britannian Empire, the European Union, and the Chinese Federation. The Britannian Empire controls both American continents and rule Japan, renamed as Area 11, with an iron fist. One resident of Area 11 is the exiled prince of Britannia, Lelouch vi Britannia. After obtaining a geass power that allows people to obey his commands, he uses his natural charisma and exceptional wits at strategy and politics to rally the people of Japan behind him to rebel against his homeland as the masked hero, Zero.
What can be said about Code Geass that hasn’t already been said? Though on the surface people think it’s just your run of the mill mecha anime, but when watching it, the mechs are purely secondary. Though some people would think of Legend of the Galactic Heroes as a space opera anime, it’s just simply a backdrop to what the anime is truly about. Primarily, both Code Geass and LOGH are political thriller animes about two opposing conflicts, but also explore the internal conflicts within the various factions. Is obedience truly peace? Is it ok to live as a second-class citizen? Is freedom really free? Can one person truly make a difference? The answers to these pro-founding questions not only make them similar for both fans to check out but define their timeless qualities as the best animes of all time.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Season 1 Trailer
The great thing about science fiction (along with other genres) is that though these stories are told in a futuristic setting, they are still a great critique of the modern human condition. As shared on this list, many of these series along with Legend of the Galactic Heroes are about war and politics as their foundations.
Whether it would be in the vast distant of space, in modern times, or in a fantasy setting, maybe the problems and scenarios they commonly share are an unfortunate inevitability in real life as seen throughout real history. Whether it would be literature, anime, or history itself, audiences have learned that history is consequently doomed to repeat itself. Maybe some day mankind will migrate to space so we can find the answers ourselves.
How do you guys feel? If you got anything to add, you are always free to comment.