[Anime Rewind] Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of Galactic Heroes)

The Best Space Opera of All Time

  • Episodes : 110
  • Genre : Military, Sci-Fi, Space, Drama
  • Airing Date : Jan 8, 1988 – Mar 17, 1997
  • Producers : Artland, Magic Bus

Contains Spoilers

Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes) Introduction

Some of you recently watched the remake, Die Niue These. As you probably know, the original Yoshiki Tanaka novels were already adapted as an OVA over 30 years ago. The basis of the original Legend of the Galactic Heroes is the exact same as Die Niue These. Taking place in the 30th century, two galactic nations, the Free Planets Alliance and the Galactic Empire, have been at war for nearly 150 years. The humble Yang Wenli leads the forces of the Alliance, while the ambitious Reinhard von Lohengramm has command of the Empire’s fleets.

Due to the naming of these two factions, it’s natural to assume that the Free Planets Alliance are the good guys while the Empire are the villains. After all, pop culture and history tends to use such labels to make those distinctions. However, this anime plays devil’s advocate and it will make you re-evaluate everything.

What We Liked About Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)

Beyond its detailed storytelling, Legend of the Galactic Heroes has a timeless soundtrack that perfectly suits its classic European atmosphere. You get to hear the compositions of Mozart and Bach, and it featured Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 long before Nodame Cantabile made it popular. The theme songs are masterfully composed and perfectly capture everything this series has to offer.

Beyond its superb soundtrack, this classic has the greatest seiyuu cast in the history of anime. The legendary Kei Tomiyama, also known as the Mel Blanc of Japan, plays Yang Wenli. As for his rival Reinhard, Ryo Horikawa, the man behind Vegeta, happens to play him. In addition to these icons, you’re also getting Nozomu Sasaki (Yusuke from YYH), Katsuji Mori (the Casey Kasem of Japan), Shuuichi Ikeda (Char from Gundam) and Toshio Furukawa (Piccolo from DBZ).

Why You Should Watch Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)

1. It’s Relatable

As we reflect on the recent bizarre political landscapes around the world with Donald Trump, WWE wrestler Kane becoming mayor of Knoxville, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Brexit, and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party wanting to reform Japan’s military, a lot of the themes presented in this anime are still as relevant as ever. No matter where you’re from and where you identify on the political spectrum, this anime has qualities that are going to engage you in more ways than over 9000.

Just like how there are hardcore liberals that try to convince people that communism can work with the right people in charge, this anime does a very unique job of portraying that autocracies can also work with the right people in charge. Is the true problem the system? Or the people who run it? Should we stick to a system that is slow and imperfect, but the people still have the power? Or should we trust a dominating ruler to get things done no matter what? The fact the anime explores these issues from numerous angles is what will keep you engaged until the end.

2. There Are No Definitive Heroes or Villains

As previously stated, this series does not solidify either side as definitively good or evil. As you watch this series, you’ll see there are heroes and villains on both sides. Despite Wenli and Reinhard being rivals, they are driven by their own principles and deeply respect each other. Wenli knows that democracy isn’t perfect, but in a monarchy, even if Reinhard is the second coming of Jesus, who’s to say his descendants won’t pull off another holocaust? As for people electing their leaders, who’s to say they truly have the interests of the people as opposed to themselves or the lobbies that fund them? Putting aside their rivalry, both Wenli and Reinhard are heroes as they not only fight for their nations, but the systems that exploit its citizens.

Why You Should Skip Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)

1. Portrayal of Computers

Other than violating the laws of physics (what anime doesn’t?), the original Legend of the Galactic Heroes shows its age with its portrayal of computers. They are bulky and data is still stored on floppy discs. As for the computer graphics that demonstrate battlefield conditions, they might as well be an Atari game found in the Alamogordo desert. Then again, it was difficult in the 80s to predict how technology would progress with smartphones and tablets now becoming the norm as opposed to flying cars and Mattel hover boards.

2. Can Be Difficult to Follow

Considering the length of this anime, it’s very difficult to follow with its huge cast of characters. There are some episodes where some minor characters get to shine only never to be seen again. Audiences can understand that an intergalactic war is going to require heavy duty manpower, and this anime knows (and abuses) that. While we can appreciate that this anime takes that approach, whether you binge watch or watch one episode a week, it’s going to be difficult to keep track of everything going on with its excessive cast.

Final Thoughts

While sequels to Die Niue These have been confirmed, if you’re curious to see how the story progresses and ends, the original anime can keep you entertained. While the portrayal of technology is understandably laughable, as is with any other old Sci-Fi product, just pretend it’s still 1988 and you’re fine. With the present political climate around the world, the themes of Legend of the Galactic Heroes are amazingly and frighteningly relevant. If doesn’t matter whether you’re a conservative or a liberal. Watching this anime will make you re-evaluate how government should work for its citizens and that is something all people should agree on, but the true question is, how to make that work.

Legend-of-Galactic-Heroes-Wallpaper-500x500 [Anime Rewind] Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of Galactic Heroes)


Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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