Tag Archives: Tragedy

An event shakes the character’s world apart. Often coupled with Melancholy, but not mutually inclusive.

Orange – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Orange

 

Related: Orange: Mirai (alternative perspective + extended ending)

Similar: Erased

AnoHana

Blue Spring Ride

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Science Fiction Drama Romance

Length: 13 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Nice colouring and animation.
  • Some sweet moments.

Negatives:

  • Forgettable characters.
  • One of the weakest, most non-committal endings.
  • Needs to be smarter.

(Request an anime for review here.)

The more I think of Orange, the dumber it gets. Okay, you receive a letter from your future self warning of the death of a friend. Included are a list of events and instructions on how to save your friend. Do you: a) Read the whole letter to know what’s to come or b) Leave the letter and read each event at the last moment or better yet, after the crucial event. Now imagine you’re the future self, do you: a) Tell your past self exactly what happens or b) Keep events vague so the story isn’t spoiled. You know, I’m not convinced you care about saving your friend.

This scenario is where Naho finds herself. The letter from her future warns that the new transfer student, Kakeru, who joins her circle of friends, will die soon. The letter laments Naho’s many regrets in life, such as not playing in a school baseball game, sharing an umbrella with Kakeru… Wait, these are the crucial regrets that will save Kakeru’s life? Furthermore, the ultimate plan save to Kakeru is to get him together with Naho. It’s not that he has deep psychological issues because of his unstable mother and her suicide. No, he needs a date. The goals are so menial, so petty that despite the consequence being someone’s death, it doesn’t feel as though the story has anything at stake. Orange is a slice of life anime trying to convince us it’s a drama.

I can’t even talk of what happens during spoiler moments (‘spoiler’ is too strong a word here). There is a twist of sorts in act 2 that makes Naho’s decision not to read the whole letter seem genius. Turns out, Naho doesn’t get smarter with age.

Look, the premise is interesting, but such a timid approach isn’t viable. Compare Orange to Erased. Both feature abuse, parental problems, warnings from the future, and death as the consequence, yet feel nothing alike. Where Erased has tension, Orange worries about playing sports. Erased has its many faults and I appreciate that it’s easier to pull off this story when you have a murderer to confront, but at least it understood the weight of its consequence. The only time Orange bothers to have any weight is in the final episode. And you know what caps it off? One of those non-committal, insipid endings that doesn’t want to make the tough choices with its characters. The live-action film deviates from the source material in this one aspect, to better results, which is something.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the explanation for how the letters travelled back in time is…idiotic. This is fiction, where you can do whatever you want and you went with the science fiction equivalent of ‘pulled out of the arse’? I would show no surprise if I learnt that Orange took a day to write. No effort went into any part of this story.

I have enjoyed many mediocre or bad stories because of good characters. Orange does not have these. Naho is too dim-witted to find endearing. Apart from not reading the whole letter like a logical person, one point of “conflict” has her not understand what Kakeru means by holding out his hand. “A guy I’m dating (sorta) reaches for my hand several times. What could he possibly want? What does it mean!?” No joke, she has to consult her friends for an answer. I really hope no one’s relying on Naho to save a life…

The other friends are forgettable. I honestly forgot the nerd friend until past the mid-point, thinking he was a background filler student until then. These friends lack those moments that endear the reader to the group. The first scene that tries in episode one has them hanging out, eating bread from one friend’s family bakery. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but eating bread isn’t enough to make me love characters. They have some joke about one girl’s nickname related to a shinkansen, which they find hilarious…for some reason. Think back to your favourite group of fictional friends and how quickly you loved them. The TV show Friends is my go to example – one scene and I want to see more of them. Orange’s friends can barely fill a test tube with their chemistry.

What good is there to say of Orange? Well, it isn’t atrocious, more sigh-worthy when logic jumps out the window, and the visuals and audio are pleasant. They fit perfectly to the slice of life Orange wishes it could be. In essence, everything taken from the manga is lazy while the rest is good.

Art – High

Nice colours and a good amount of animation found here, but some of it looks strange, such as the way a couple of characters smile – coat hangers in their lips.

Sound – Medium

The voice work is good in Japanese and English, though the script doesn’t allow for much. I like the OP and ED for being different from other anime in the genre.

Story – Low

A schoolgirl receives a letter from her future self to save a friend from death. Orange is a slice of life masquerading as a drama that needed more thought before the first draft.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: Skip it. Orange makes no effort to recommend itself. Watch Erased if the premise entices you or the recently reviewed Your Lie in April if you want a romance about avoiding regrets.

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

Positive: None

Negative:

Induces Stupidity

Your Lie in April – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

 

Similar: AnoHana

Kids on the Slope

Nodame Cantabile

Chihayafuru

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Music Drama Romance

Length: 22 episodes, 1 OVA

 

Positives:

  • The protagonist’s arc and conflicts.
  • Balance of humour and drama.
  • Gorgeous music in both audio and visuals.

Negatives:

  • Love interest lacks a dimension.
  • Finale climax isn’t as strong as the mid-point.

(Request an anime for review here.)

Your Lie in April was the fan darling of the fall/autumn 2014 and winter 2015 seasons and though I avoided discussions, morsels still fell off the grapevine to inform me of its heavy emotional content. I feared another Clannad. But after several requests for review, it was time to step up.

Since the death of his mother, former piano prodigy Kousei can no longer ‘hear his music.’ The world is monotone in his eyes. Along comes Kaori, his opposite, a violinist with energy, colour, and humour he has never had. Her exuberance forces him back onto the stage to play a duet with her in a contest. She sees the potential to revive his passion.

Your Lie in April shows its strengths within minutes. First, I love the humour, which punctuates the drama to avoid depressing the audience – “The school shouldn’t be standing in the ball’s path!” Kousei’s childhood friend says after she smashed a baseball through a classroom window. In contrast, we have the foreshadowing, hinting of the sobriety and weight that is to come. The absence of his mother, the abuse he received by her cane, his lifeless view of the world, and his lack of joy are excellent foreshadowing. This is how you do dramatic storytelling – not by suddenly throwing it in for the final act.

As Kousei’s backstory unravels and his arc progresses, we see April’s most brilliant quality – the love-hate relationship between Kousei and his mother. The writer could have left the backstory at child abuse or even just having a dead mother, but this delves so much deeper. Boy abused by his mother – that’s the basic level. Boy abused by his mother, who wants him to be the prodigy she couldn’t be after illness claimed her motor functions – interesting. Boy abused by his voyeuristic mother, whom he still loves and wants to impress despite an awareness of the abuse – now you have my full attention. And she affects him more in death than in life? I can only be so engaged! Remember, this is just one thread in his arc.

The way the narrative shows this internal drama is spectacular. The spectre of his mother leering over his shoulder during a performance conveys all we need to know in a single image. That said, his inner monologue could do with trimming in parts.

Where Your Lie in April stumbles is in Kaori. If someone has recommended this anime to you, they have most likely done so by focusing on her and her arc as the best aspects. However, Kaori lacks the dimensions seen in Kousei. Earlier, I talked of the several layers in Kousei’s conflict with his mother, but for Kaori, she stops at the first level. She’s a girl with a serious illness. And that’s it for her conflict layers. By no means does this make her a bad character, yet for someone that is near equal protagonist to Kousei, it isn’t enough. Having a tragic circumstance doesn’t make a character deep – that way lies emotional manipulation.

Her main purpose is to be Kousei’s opposite as she brings him back to life, which she does excellently. The problem dwells in the two-way exchange. Because her own conflict is only surface deep, Kousei does not have much to help with in exchange. She complements him, but he doesn’t complement her with even a tenth of the effectiveness. For a great example of her role done right, look to Kimi ga Nozomu Ein, where the love interest also has to bring the protagonist back to life. The difference between Kaori and Nozomu’s girl is that the latter has her own intangible weakness to interfere with her good qualities. She’s helpful and kind, but also selfish, never mind the seed of resentment buried deep within her towards the protagonist’s previous girlfriend, who was also her best friend (drama!). This gives the protagonist an angle to help the love interest in return. Kaori is kind – no but. Yes, she’s sick, though as mentioned earlier, that doesn’t automatically give emotional flaws. Now, if the illness made her bitter or some such, then we’d be talking.

Kaori’s design problems also result in her finale having half the impact of Kousei’s dramatic high note at the mid-point. If their relationship had had more give and take, her finale would have struck better. The finale is still good regardless because of his perspective on the events and the spectacular final performance (bloody hell that is beautiful).

Also, she’s too whimsical. Her introduction has her dancing and playing music atop a kids’ igloo, tears in her eyes, as birds fly around her. I know her liveliness is to juxtapose his introduction – the episode is titled ‘Monotone/Colourful’ after all – but this is so whimsical that a flock of tweety birds now serenade me awake every morning and bring me my slippers.

Again, I want to stress that Kaori is not a bad character. She is plenty of fun and complements Kousei well, but is average beyond this and not the reason to watch Your Lie in April.

I wish I had more space to explore the childhood friend’s arc – my word count is already high – so a quick note, since it’s worth mention. She realises she has feelings for Kousei only once he takes an interest in Kaori. She was there for him through the worst and now…he’s turning away. This is an effective subplot in showing another consequence of Kousei’s actions. I feel so sorry for her.

Well, here we are, the end of an anime I both looked forward to and dreaded. Your Lie in April turned out much better than I anticipated (Kousei’s arc, honestly, brilliant) and I would recommend it to most viewers.

Art – High

Colourful and vibrant art makes this anime leap off the screen, especially in the spectacular final performance. Full animation when playing music is great to see and they mask the CG well.

Sound – Very High

Piano and violin? You truly are trying to make me love you, aren’t you? The VO is great in both languages, as should be expected these days.

Story – High

An aimless pianist has colour injected back into his life when a girl his opposite forces him to tickle ivory again. Your Lie in April has one of anime’s greatest character arcs in its multi-layered protagonist, but the love interest, who should by all right be his match in quality, doesn’t leave his shadow.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: Watch it. Your Lie in April is a great anime, worth it for the protagonist alone. Even viewers averse to heavy drama will find the humour enough to stave off depression after the story’s darkest moments.

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

 

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

Positive:

Deep NarrativeExtensive Character DevelopmentGreat Music

Negative: None

School-Live! – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Gakkougurashi!

 

Similar: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Higurashi: When They Cry

High School of the Dead

Perfect Blue

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Psychological Horror Mystery Slice of Life

Length: 12 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Good contrast.
  • The opening sequence.

Negatives:

  • Moe over world building.
  • Beach episode.
  • Unexplored psychosis.

(Request an anime for review here.)

NOTE: In order to review School-Live, I must spoil an early point in the series. If you want to go in blind, do not read further.

Though the ‘moe gone dark’ genre is a congregation of mediocrity, whenever a new one releases, I can’t help but give it a shot. I try to ignore it, but it keeps nudging me, “Hey, I might be as good as Madoka Magica. You won’t know until you watch me. Eh? Eh?Yeaaaargh…alright. School-Live, show me what you got.

Four girls and a teacher find themselves trapped inside their school after a zombie outbreak. As the last survivors in the area, they hole up and do their best to make school a home, going out on excursions for supplies. School-Live’s angle to stand out lies in its protagonist, Yuki. She has no idea they live in a zombie apocalypse. The ruined school is still whole, the zombies are still her classmates, and the foraging excursions are merely class trips or ‘Tests of Courage’. Well, you’ve hooked me.

Unlike other psychosis stories where the mental breakdown is the climactic twist, School-Live reveals the secret in the first episode. It instead focuses on how the characters around Yuki deal with her psychosis. Everyone plays along with her idea that all is normal, which creates great contrast between her happy world and the tragic reality. I felt sorry for her.

And School-Live almost nails it.

Alas, we now turn to the ‘moe’ part of the ‘moe gone dark’ genre. Unlike Madoka, where moe is just the outer shell, the style, School-Live’s moe is the focus. When given the choice to show girls doing moe things or girls developing character, this anime chooses moe nine times out of ten. School-Live is the perfect example of what I mean when I say that moe ruins shows – it’s not the ugly character design or the terrible voices, but the story focus.

Imagine you are on episode 9 out of 12 and so far the series hasn’t given much in the way of backstory or world building, and instead of realising the climax is fast approaching, it gives us a beach episode. Are you serious? You haven’t shown how the world got into this state or how the zombies overcame everything Japan threw at them! If these girls kept the zombies out by stacking a few desks and if they are so slow, so easily distracted, so easily killed, how did anyone fall to them to begin with? It’s not as though these are the Nazi vampires from Hellsing Ultimate – these don’t wield rocket launchers. Zombie apocalypses are flimsy premises to begin with, but School-Live does nothing to suspend our disbelief. Instead, we get a beach episode. Yay…

Inner-character – motivations, secrets, psyche – has toe-deep exploration. Even Yuki, who is so far broken from reality, has little airtime to unravel her psychology. Give us more to believe such a mental block would occur and in this way. School-Live strays close to having this psychosis for shock value only.

The most glaring absence is the lack of development for the students-turned-zombies. When one girl has to kill a former classmate, I do not care because they were never people to begin with as far as story is concerned. They are faceless zombies included to fill the space. No one outside of the main five and one other girl have any story or personality to them. Again, cut a few moe sequences in favour of showing us life pre-outbreak.

Fans of Higurashi will also find some disappointment in how tame School-Live’s horror is. When things should go from 0 to 100 in a split second – like HigurashiSchool-Live reaches 50 before it’s distracted by more moe. I don’t recall a single scary moment. Tension, sure, plenty of that, but no real horror.

School-Live is still a decent anime. Its greatest tragedy comes from how obvious its faults are throughout the story. The manga apparently has many differences, so may be a better use of your time.

Art – Medium

The colourful palette works well contrasted with the ruined environment. Could do without the auras around the zombies – looks silly.

Sound – High

The cutesy VO, mainly for the protagonist, could have been worse for a moe anime. The cheerful OP is so damn catchy. I like how the sequence grows darker each episode, happy scenes replaced by their current state of ruination.

Story – Medium

Four schoolgirls and an airheaded teacher survive a zombie apocalypse inside their high school. School-Live’s great idea does not live up to its potential – less focus on moe next time, please.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: For moe-gone-dark fans. If you love the contrast between moe girls and a dark world, then School-Live is another to add to your library. Others will likely feel disappointed by this anime’s shortcomings.

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

Positive: None

Negative:

Hollow World Building

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica

 

Related: Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie 1 & 2 (alternate version)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie 3: Rebellion (sequel)

Similar: Steins;Gate

School-Live!

Princess Tutu

Neon Genesis Evangelion

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Supernatural Psychological Drama Thriller

Length: 12 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Relentless conflict against the characters.
  • Keeps getting better.
  • Superb development of the plot points.
  • Many beautiful art elements.

Negatives:

  • First two episodes are dull enough to turn people away.

(Request an anime for review here.)

“It’s a deconstruction of the genre – it’s so good!” Whenever I hear this word ‘deconstruction’ as praise for a series, I take it as a warning sign of incoming rubbish, for it’s often used as a blanket excuse to wave away the same mistakes from the genre it “deconstructs.” Throw in a moe style, and my hopes for Puella Magi Madoka Magica aren’t high going in. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.

My fears are realised in the first episode. Madoka Magica opens with an it-was-a-dream sequence – the worst opening type – and we soon meet a borderline Mary-Sue in the transfer student, Akemi (perfect at school, loved by all, etc.). Random psychedelic stuff happens suddenly to protagonist Madoka with no explanation, ending in an offer from a Digimon to become a magical girl.

Akemi turns out to be a magical girl. However, she wants to prevent the Digimon creature Kyuubey from contracting Madoka and her friend Sayaka to become magical girls. In exchange for service fighting evil witches, they would have any wish granted. What wish could these privileged girls want granted when they have never wanted for anything in their lives? Kind classmate Mami, also secretly a magical girl, takes them on a witch hunt to help them decide.

Episode two ends and I am still unimpressed. Studio SHAFT already wowed me with their visually superior Bakemonogatari, so the interesting world won’t keep me engaged alone (the giant moe heads don’t help). Seeing Mami summon rifles from under her skirt is…nifty (each girl has a different power), but where’s the hook snared in my brain to keep me until the end of the series?

And then episode three does something truly magical. It gives a third dimension to one of its characters. Mami says that being a magical girl is not fun, a lonely existence, and frightening. Something in her manner hints at the disturbing events to come.

From that moment on, Madoka Magica had me. The writers demonstrated they understood depth of character in that single scene, earning audience trust that we would not be lead into drudgery.

Despite Mami’s words and Akemi’s warnings, Madoka still wants to become the most wonderful of little girl superheroes because she feels it would give purpose to her bland life. She doesn’t seem to understand the terms of the contract – we do; the story makes sure of this. She must soon learn that being a magical girl isn’t a game.

Meanwhile, the promise of any wish granted looks tempting to her friend Sayaka when it can cure her hospitalised friend. He could walk and play music again. Will she feel he owes her love for what she has done for him? (I recently read a true story of a man who took a bullet for his long-time crush, causing irreparable damage to his spine. He feels she owes him love, even though he knows it’s wrong.)

With the approach of the all-powerful witch Walpurgis Nacht, the girls have to make a decision fast.

Madoka Magica improves so much that it manages to justify opening on a dream sequence and having Akemi approach Mary-Sue status. A rare feat, indeed. The twists and turns as we spiral down this story just keep getting better.

I still stand by my distaste of the first two episodes. I know Madoka Magica is supposed to start like any other magical girl story before it flips the table into a realm of trauma. Still they could have started better than the generic entries of the genre. Yes, the episodes that follow do lessen the impact of a weak opening, but better writing would have pieced out morsels of foreshadowing. The morsels would show us this isn’t like other magical girl anime, though we aren’t quite sure why…yet. Mami’s words in episode three is one such morsel.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is not a happy anime full of wishful-thinking and fun times. It’s dark, disturbing, and – I cannot believe I am going to say this about a moe anime – receives my highest recommendation.

Art – High

I like the world – sterile, yet interesting in its space, almost like a dream world with so much infrastructure, yet so few people to populate it. Madoka’s bathroom for example, is gigantic and full of mirrors but in a house too small to fit it. At school, each classroom is a glass box, like the storage rooms in the Vatican library. That said, I am not a fan of characters with heads as wide as the shoulders, and the compositions aren’t what Studio SHAFT would achieve later in Bakemonogatari.

Sound – High

Fine acting – no fake squeaky voices! The Celtic music is a nice touch.

Story – Very High

A young girl is set to learn that the world of Magical Girls isn’t quite so magical. After it gets over the weak start, Madoka Magica dives into a world of psychological challenges, punishing conflict, and a beautifully meted out plot.

Overall Quality – Very High

Recommendation: A must watch. I don’t care if you hate moe or magical girls, you must watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I cannot guarantee you will like it, but I promise you it will be different.

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

 

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

Positive:

Deep NarrativeExtensive Character DevelopmentFluid AnimationHoly S***Strong Lead CharactersStrong Support Characters

Negative:

Terrible Start

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

 

Similar: Code Geass

Rose of Versailles

Mobile Suit Gundam

Game of Thrones (TV)

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Science Fiction War Drama

Length: 110 episodes

 

Positives:

  • 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.

Negatives:

  • 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)

Positive:

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

Negative: None