Visually it's pretty decent considering it's age, there's quite a bit of smaller details that isn't ever missed (Star Fleet Patches, Distinguishing Features of Flagships, Military Badges, Ranking Insignia, etc...) There's a large attention to small detail which is always a plus.
The story explores Military Conflict Logistically, Tactically, and Strategically, as opposed to a "Send in a bunch of fleets and attack" idea.
The Story is not just "Who wins the war", there's a lot of twists and turns. Coups, Defectors, Incompetent Government, Corruption, and 3rd or 4th powers competing non-militarily. Some Episodes are paced very vast (Mostly ones revolving around a Military Conflict), while time between major offensives may be a little more slower-developed.
My reasons for giving it a 9 in Story is because of the change mid-series. In the beginning, characters are direct with their ideas and there isn't a lot to think about. About 1/4 through the series they make everything less direct and another dimension is added to the story. There's also an upgrade to the Animation at this time.
Everyone should at least give it a shot, it's probably #1 on my list of favorites.
Start it off with the movie "Overture to a New War". It's the 1st and 2nd episodes re-done with a lot more of the pre-story expanded on. It will give you a better idea of the series than the 1st and 2nd episodes will. And do not watch the previews, there's Spoilers everytime.
Last updated Sunday, May 25 2014. Created Sunday, May 25 2014.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes (which I'll call LotGH for the rest of this review) offered up perhaps the most expansive developments I've seen with an anime in my ten-plus years of anime fandom. With a very large cast of characters; in-depth focus on political ideologies and military strategies; an extensive history on the Free Planets Alliance and Galactic Empire; and an epic-sized conflict between both opposing empires and other groups that emerge as the show progresses, the series sticks out as perhaps the best space opera anime I've had a chance of coming across. Being at 110 OAV episodes, LotGH makes for quite the commitment considering its intimidating length as many well-known anime titles are known for running at much shorter lengths. However, the series makes full use of its length in exploring the various situations that take place with both the Planet Alliance and Galactic Empire within its time period of five years, as well as exploring its many elements.
The series does enough fleshing out of its various characters that are introduced throughout the series, and the cast of the series is very extensive. It is extensive enough that each episode reintroduces the names of the characters for those who lose track of them. Whether prominent, supporting, minor or not even among the living, LotGH takes enough time at focusing on its characters where we get to know of their motives, personal beliefs, thoughts on a political/ military situation and/or their backgrounds. All these characters do get affected by the outcomes of political decisions and military battles which do effect their characters for either the better or tragically as they come to adapt to them in differing ways depending on how the events influenced their lives.
The series also does enough extensive focusing on prominent areas of the empires, factions and their personal ideologies. Like the characters, LotGH will reintroduce the names of prominent locations in the series within each episode to those who are unfamiliar or lose track of them. Prominent areas within the series serve as either historical landmarks, strategic locations for both empires or major facilities for authority figures and the military. There are also a few episodes in the series that devote focus at exploring the extensive history of the founding and organization of both empires and how humanity eventually colonized other planets.
It also offers up an unbiased look at the positives and negatives to many political ideologies prominent in both empires that a number of the show's prominent characters come to realize, in particular leading Free Planets Alliance character Yang Wenli whose study of past histories give him a thorough understanding of how the flaws of varying styles of government and ideology led to the downfall of past powerful empires and knowing full well the issues within both the Alliance and Empire. The series features aspects to political systems like democracy, autocracy and dictatorship that some powerful figures exploit for their personal gain at the cost of the human rights and decency of common citizens with oppression, abuse of power and concerns of future rulers having differing beliefs than their forefathers focused on, while also addressing the benefits of such systems when less corrupt figures are placed into power. The only shortcoming on the ideological focus I found was the show's skewed views of religion shown through the Terraism cult when it makes its presence known later in the series showing all the stereotypical negative aspects of religion.
Battles within LotGH were very engaging as well as many of the leaders representing their differing factions are some of the best strategists I've seen in anime. The series explores different methods of strategies applied in the heat of battle that involve taking advantage of battle terrain, enemy resources, attrition and fleet numbers. The series also isn't afraid at showing the harsh realities war can create such as low morale for soldiers and the citizens, the shocking deaths of prominent characters and the destruction of major landmarks coming from enemy fire or acts of terrorism.
LotGH is fairly outdated in its animation quality considering the series first started during the late 1980s. Earlier episodes of the series look rough in their details and color shading, though they get better as episodes within the series progress. The show is notable for featuring believable looking character designs as the "big eyes" facial design style isn't used and characters are shown to be anatomically correct in their details. Animation shortcuts are quite prominent in the series during battle scenes with still and reused frames, though this is forgivable as LotGH is more notable in its exploration of the strategical element to battles than the action side. The show's soundtrack mostly consists of classic orchestral pieces of music used to great effect in battle scenes while making use of mellow, tense tracks for other dramatic situations seen throughout LotGH.
If you have no problem with the show's long length, Legend of the Galactic Heroes offers up the most extensive focus on many of its elements within a series that I've come across with enough focus on its characters, ideologies, history and world. It is the perfect title for any fan of space opera titles to hop onto the bandwagon for.
Last updated Wednesday, February 08 2012. Created Wednesday, February 08 2012.
Up to episode 29
I'll offer a bit of a different review... I actually enjoy this anime quite a bit. I admit, being used to more recent animes, jumping into 2 decade-old art styles was a bit of a shock at first, but the storyline, as epic as it is, is worth the regression in technology.
The anime does an excellent job of pulling you into both of the major empires and making you root for both, despite them being at war with each other. The characters are well-developed, the stratagems of the battles are fun to watch, and the plotting of the main characters' rises to power (one intentional, one not), is quite intriguing.
Definitely worth a try, I'll continue watching it.
Last updated Monday, September 14 2009. Created Monday, September 14 2009.
[watched 4 episodes, project aborted]
The first episode feels like a telephone directory: Myriads of characters (with visible name signs). It's getting better then but the impression is overwhelming at first (in a negative way).
And then the two military leaders. I don't like superheroes, "invincibles" (who are going to be beaten nonetheless). That's too much pathos for my taste. Reinhard is extremely arrogant (and obviously megalomaniac as we can see in Episode 4), Yang Wenli is the extreme skeptic - two clichés for the corresponding nations ("evil" German empire against "good" liberal republican UN troops, with greek ship names and a full-scale Nazi as German war minister commanding his own SA-style troops...) while the cunning Russian trader as neutral party maintains trade with both factions... sigh).
A live report from a space battle, visible to other nations in real-time (as shown in episode 2)? Which tactician would be so asinine as to allow to show his decisions (and document potential war crimes) to the enemy in full detail? It's just silly. Same goes for the early focus on those two heroes who aren't even in influential positions in their corresponding nations yet and are already considered as crucial individuals to win the war by the enemy side in both cases nonetheless. Episode 2 is flawed in terms of battle tactics; episode 3 and 4 are slightly better but the show remains on an immature level: Reinhard ought to have died in episode 4 if the Kaiser's guards would perform their job in a professional way. And is there any reason for that war? So far it doesn't look like it.
The use of German and Greek names produces lots of unintentional humorous scenes due to a plethora of spelling errors by the Japanese producers. And no honorifics in the fansub, that's a deficit.
The concept of this show reminds of later epics such as Seikai no Senki or Juuni Kokuki; it's just that I didn't get into this show. Neither the characters nor the story appears convincing, the art is quite old, and 110 episodes (!) is a lot of stuff, making this show unlikely for me to continue.
Last updated Wednesday, August 06 2008. Created Wednesday, August 06 2008.