Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu


Related: In recommended viewing order, all are prequels (none included in review):

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Overture to a New War

Legend of the Galactic Heroes Gaiden: Golden Wings

Legend of the Galactic Heroes Gaiden: A Hundred Billion Stars

Legend of the Galactic Heroes Gaiden: Spiral Labyrinth

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These (new version)


Similar: Code Geass

Rose of Versailles

Mobile Suit Gundam

Game of Thrones (TV)


Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Science Fiction War Drama

Length: 110 episodes



  • Endless depth to the characters and story.
  • Unpredictable conflict and developments.
  • Masterclass in dialogue and performance.
  • Galaxy building.
  • Orchestral and operatic score.
  • Riveting to the end.


  • Art and sound show their age in the first season.

(Request an anime for review here.)

How do I talk about Legend of the Galactic Heroes? How do I tell you this is anime greatness without overhyping it? When someone says x movie is the best movie ever made, it never lives up to expectations, even if it is the best movie because of how our brains equate “best” to mean “flawless.” And if we find a single point we don’t like, our cynical brains say, “This is the best? Pfft, didn’t anyone else see he was wearing a Rolex in medieval warfare? Unwatchable!” So, when you read this review, don’t believe anything I say until you see it for yourself. I don’t want overhype.

In an alternate future, the Galactic Empire ruled the stars until several planets rebelled and formed the Free Planets Alliance in the name of democracy. This decades war with tens of thousands of ships and billions of lives on the board has no end in sight. Both sides believe victory is at hand with the rise of their respective heroes – Reinhard von Lohengramm, young, arrogant, ambitious, on the Empire’s front line and Yang Wen-Li the miracle strategist of the FPA.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a space opera of epic proportions with so many characters, so many threads, and so much conflict that it’s tough to simplify. In essence, take Star Wars but from the perspective of the commanders rather than the pilots and Jedi, while also dealing with the political complexities of Game of Thrones. The Alliance draws parallels to the UK, USA, and East Asia, whereas the Empire has a more WW2 German and European aristocratic design. As if leading millions into battle wasn’t enough, Yang and Reinhard have to manoeuvre the political landscape of aristocrats plotting for maximum profits in war, politicians using any opportunity to gain favour, factions within factions, and even military superiors threatened by their rise through the ranks. Galactic Heroes throws conflict from all sides at its protagonists. Their mettle tested, inexperience crushed, relationships strained, kindness seared by enemies, the reality of war will change them.

The greatness of Galactic Heroes dwells in its handling of the conflict, particularly between Yang and Reinhard. I’m sure we’ve all seen stories where the author favours their protagonist to the point of unrealistic wins for said protagonist. That problem doesn’t poison this narrative. With two protagonists on opposing sides, such favouritism isn’t possible. A win for Reinhard is likely a loss for Yang and his allies or vice versa. And you never know who will win a given battle. Such unpredictability and masterful plotting keeps the audience leaning forward, hands gripping armrests as a character could die at any moment. The first episode kills what I thought was a major character.

Furthermore, the dictatorship versus democracy motif isn’t so black and white. The easy road is to paint one side as evil while the other shines like a monastery of saints. The hard road means to balance both, using no black or white, just grey across all players in the game. “Who is right?” is a complex question to answer when everyone has flaws. One detail that stuck with me is the Patriotic Knight Police of the Alliance, who will beat anyone that disturbs the peace and “unity” of the Alliance’s democracy – “You are free to say anything you want as long as it’s what we like.”

The quality is even more impressive once you realise Galactic Heroes is ninety-five percent dialogue. You wouldn’t imagine such a dialogue heavy story could be this riveting – in most cases, dialogue dominance does result in boredom – however, this dialogue is so sharp, so lean that every line builds the world, builds character, or advances the plot. You must pay attention.

Galactic Heroes’ overarching plot is a slow one, as is the case in real life war and politics. To offset what could be poor pacing, short stories occur episode to episode. For example, we may see how Reinhard deals with a gluttonous noble in one episode, while the next may dive into a moment of history and build the world with richness that makes loremasters foam at the mouth. A personal standout was the rise of the first Kaiser and how the public gave him ultimate dictatorship, free rights sacrificed for what they believed was the greater good. He then executed 20,000 people on mere suspicion of planning his assassination. The next emperor killed 500,000,000 in an uprising and exiled another 10,000,000,000 relatives by association. Galactic Heroes draws on real world events for its conflicts with an attention to detail rarely seen in fiction – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” These writers studied their history.

Longer story arcs often focus on a ship-to-ship battle, where fleets dot space like stars in the night. Though these battles have plenty of action, our view is still from the bridge alongside the commanders – imagine spectating a real-time strategy game. Seldom do we fly out with a dogfighter. That said, important pilots enter the story later on for us to follow.

A most interesting battle occurs early when Yang has the task of capturing Iserlohn Fortress, an artificial and impenetrable planet thanks to its Death Star-like weapon, Thor’s Hammer, capable of wiping a fleet in a single shot. Every battle has complex strategies that keep the audience riveted throughout.

Galactic Heroes has its flaws, of course. Outside of its age, my main complaint would regard some of the minor characters. After a hiatus for several dozen episodes, some important yet unmemorable characters crop up once more and I ask myself, “Who is that again?” for a few episodes. It’s a problem because context is everything with such complex dynamics, where a detail as simple as a character’s faction alignment can change all meaning in their words. The immense crew of memorable characters makes this particularly noticeable.

Alright, I have talked enough. I could go on for days if I don’t stop myself and this is already my longest review by fifty percent – didn’t even touch on the cast of a hundred characters, the planet dedicated entirely to banking, Reinhard’s sister being married to the Kaiser, religious elements, and so much more. I don’t like to set ‘my favourite’ anime in stone without giving it time to simmer as I deconstruct every facet for a while, but I expect Legend of the Galactic Heroes to claim the throne when all is seen and reviewed. I didn’t hold this back for my 200th anime review for no reason.

Art – High

The art starts old (not 70s hair old) and the animation is a little wobbly. However, the show goes for so long that the art improves significantly. In fact, you can see the difference between old and new within the same scene as it switches shots in season one. Like a lot of older sci-fi, much of our technology is more advanced than predicted, but Galactic Heroes uses a coherence of style and society to draw us in regardless. I would recognise these characters instantly.

Sound – Very High

Along the art’s vein, audio quality starts feeling old but soon improves. I love the Austrian influenced orchestra and opera, which sounds like attending a war with Mozart playing on one side and Beethoven on the other. The actors are perfect throughout, thanks in no small part to the phenomenal script (see how many industry veterans you recognise in their early days). Outside some occasional Engrish music (for the Alliance national anthem, oddly enough), I have no complaints.

Story – Very High

Two factions of opposing ideologies war across the stars as their leaders crumble around them, giving rise to two heroes who will shape the conflict like no other. It is difficult to capture into words the grandeur and depth of Legend of the Galactic Heroes’ story. Characters, conflict, or story, there is little to improve.

Overall Quality – Very High

Recommendation: A must watch. Legend of the Galactic Heroes is phenomenal in every way and should be experienced by all. However, this is a demanding anime. If you can’t dedicate the time and focus to pay attention, it’s simply not worth trying. Also, do keep its age in mind when you start.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)


Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)


Deep NarrativeEngaging DialogueExtensive Character DevelopmentGreat MusicGreat OP or ED SequenceHoly S***Phenomenal VillainRiveting ActionStellar Voice ActingStrategicStrong Lead CharactersStrong Support Characters

Negative: None


20 thoughts on “Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Anime Review”

  1. Hey again, it’s the same guy who posted in your Gungrave review. (I’ve still yet to watch it, sadly – life’s been getting in the way, you know how it is. I have managed to get round to Ergo Proxy, which I thought was great, but not top 10 worthy for me. The search continues for that elusive 10th anime series!)

    Glad you love this so much. I only just prefer Monster, my favourite anime of all time. Still, they’re both masterpieces – if you prefer LotGH I wouldn’t bat an eyelid! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have seen 21 episodes and so far it has been very good and I can confidently say this is much better than monster.Monster felt like it was poorly paced and the antagonist wasn’t really my favorite.Many people say it is a realistic series but antagonist himself is enough to prove that this series is not that realistic.You never get to see how he actually works,it’s all left to imagination.Monster did really test my patience and the open ending left more bad taste in my mouth
    Whereas LOGH feels much more nicely paced,something significant always happens in each episode from internal conflict,war which clearly was not the case with Monster. LOGH is much more engaging and easier to enjoy compared to Monster.I don’t know why everyone says starting episodes are weak,these episodes itself are much better than most of the anime I have seen.


  3. Hey, I found your site a month or two ago and it has been invaluable!!

    I was not a big anime fan when I found your site. I wasn’t against it by any means – I had just not watched much. But after seeing Stein’s Gate (wow), Ouran, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (wow) and a couple others that I really enjoyed on a friend’s recommendation, I wanted to watch more.

    So I searched for review sites. Most would list the top
    10 or 20 anime with minimal descriptions. Effectively clickbait and usually with One Piece or Bleach at the top.

    Finally I found your site. I was so excited by your thorough reviews, but more than that, by your comprehensive organization of anime: by score, listing pros and cons, giving awards, etc.

    I hadn’t (and haven’t) seen anything else like it. It’s amazing. It’s what I would aspire to create if I were an anime review blogger :). But at that point I hadn’t watched any new recommendations, although I was happy to see that you agreed with me about my favorites (and added far more to my understanding of them).

    So I went through your top scorers and decided to watch Legend of Galactic Heroes. For three reasons:
    1. It seemed to be your favorite.
    2. I had never heard of it, nor seen it on any of those “top anime” articles, so it seemed like a unique recommendation.
    3. Your description made it sound amazing.

    It was incredible. I laughed, I cried, I was blown away by the beauty of the story, the richness of the characters (almost of whom were in shades of gray), the mysteries that were resolved, the strategies and tactics (some more brilliant than others but mostly great), but most of all, the incredible, perfect ending. So much anime is great and then just totally screws up the ending. They overreach on grand themes and then there’s no way to land the ship in a way that is satisfying. Often it’s either a dumb explanation of a mystery or a deus ex machina resolution. Not in this case. It was beautiful. Perfect. Joyful and hopeful, but also so sad and very open ended.

    Anyway, since then we’ve rewatched Code Geass (liked a lot although maybe a little bit of too powerful characters), and watched for the first time the Rose of Versailles (loved it), the Count of Monte Christo (liked it a lot, didn’t love it, maybe because I’ve read the book and saw a lot of it coming), and RahXephon (still processing but really enjoyed it).

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for this site. I will continue to use it regularly and it has already given me so much.

    I’m sorry that I don’t see hundreds and hundreds of comments here! This is by far the best anime review site I’ve seen. I’ll definitely tell my friends. And if you have a Patreon or donation page I’d be happy to support!

    Thanks again and I’ll be back soon :). I just wanted you to know that you’ve brought a few incredible experiences to me in a tough time (covid obviously) and it meant (means) a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dan,

      I am glad to hear you have found my reviews useful. I am most touched by your heartfelt comment.

      That’s a good selection of anime to begin with. FMA is easily one of my first recommendations to newcomers (Death Note or Cowboy Bebop as well).

      Legend of Galactic Heroes is still my favourite (I doubt that will ever change, but I never say never). It is a dense series and difficult to approach, so it’s great to see another convert. To have even one new fan of the series makes all the time put into the review worth it.

      Yes, the ending (and the fates of many character leading up to it) is truly what seals the anime and makes me certain of my choice. As you say, many anime don’t manage the landing. I often find myself loving a series, certain it could be a “favourites” contender, but then we reach the end and it makes me doubt everything I felt prior. I’ve mentioned in a few reviews that a poor end is the worst section of a story to screw up, for it leaves the audience with a bad final impression when they walk away. Legend of Galactic Heroes just keeps getting better.

      I will rewatch it again after I finish reading the books.

      Quite a few readers write in directly using the feedback & review request link, so you won’t see their comments here. I don’t monetise the site. I’m hesitant to turn it into “work” unless I can dedicate more time and make it a high priority. Your enjoyment of the content is all I require, though do feel free to share it with friends.

      Stay safe in these Covid times and keep watching anime!


  4. I also have been reading the books after finishing the series although I got a bit slowed down after the third one.m because the rest don’t have audiobooks and the show followed the books closely enough that it’s quite similar. But I definitely still enjoyed the first three quite a bit.

    I have definitely told quite a few peoples about your site and I’d tell more if I knew more people interested in anime (maybe I’ll try to convert some of my friends to the medium).

    Since writing that comment I’ve watched several more of your recommendations – namely:
    1. The Rose of Versailles (loved it)
    2. Shiki (really liked it – agreed with you about the priest though)
    3. Gungrave (liked it but I was really surprised by the whole necrolyzer thing and didn’t love that but thought it was a subplot, then realized no this is the rest of the show haha. But still enjoyed it)
    4. Psycho-pass, which I had seen before (really liked it a lot)

    Also started full metal panic which I wasn’t sure about and stopped, and just started Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, which I have to say I didn’t love the first episode but I’ll keep going for a few more.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that, in my opinion, you should ABSOLUTELY feel free to put ads on the site and try to make some money. Or start a Patreon (I’d conyribute). I get the concern about not wanting to make it a responsibility if you can’t follow through, and I suppose that’s a strike against something like
    Patreon (although plenty of people don’t post super regularly), but I think you have EVERY right to make money off of what you’ve already created even if you never write another post. I mean each of your reviews is long and thoughtful and there are a ton!!! There must be hundreds!!

    Seriously – there are sites with wayyyy less content where people are trying to make some money from it. And even then, fair enough, if you put out good content you deserve a reward. And you have definitely put out a ton of great content.

    Obviously I respect your thinking and I understand not wanting to take a fun hobby and make it into something that is stressful. But I just wanted to say that what you’ve made is really awesome and useful and it’s already way past what I would consider just a fun side blog.

    Either way I look forward to reading more reviews in the future :).


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Dan,
      I need to rewatch Rose of Versailles. I can feel a French period drama binge coming on, including a Count of Monte Cristo read.

      Yeah, the second half of Gungrave is where the show does weaken compared to the Godfather-esque first half.

      I have been considering doing video content (need to find the time first), which might push me to look into Patreon. Too many things I want to do and only 24 hours in the day!

      (Haven’t managed two reviews a week recently while swamped with work projects, but I should be back online soon.)

      All the best.


  5. Ok sorry for the quick follow up but I just saw in your about section that you generally post two reviews PER WEEK!!!!!

    That’s about what full time movie critics do!!!

    I know people with a Patreon who post once per month!!

    Anyway don’t mean to pressure you or give more unsolicited advice haha. Just thought I’d say that because while I knew you had written a lot of reviews, I had no idea quite how prolific you were!

    Liked by 1 person

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