Episode 34 – Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Collision

So after several episodes of LOGH‘s most white-knuckle ideological arguments over the course of a government inquiry, we have to pull back for the obviously much more mundane proceedings of two giant space stations shooting huge lasers at each other. The most skippable of filler, surely. For real though, as a follow-up to the inquiry story arc (and the inciting reason for causing that to happen, from Fezzan’s point of view, anyway) this initiating bout of Iserlohn Fortress vs Geiersburg doesn’t directly feature Reinhard and doesn’t t necessarily have Yang at the scene yet. It means that a lot of the more prudent political movements are irrelevant to these two sides just trying to blow each other up, and, for once, most of those sociological analyzes can be checked at the door.

…Is what I would be saying, except there is one element to this plot I feel ought to be touched on. I referenced the Great Man Theory of history in my review of last week’s episode, specifically arguing that LOGH‘s usage of Yang in that storyline countered the suggestion that the series as a whole was devoted to illustrating that theory. I tend to stick by that for the franchise overall, but this particular arc does run into the issue of driving up the stock in Yang’s position to levels that might seem too singularly mythic. The remainder of the Alliance command on Iserlohn scarcely give themselves any chance to come up with a counter to Geiersburg on their own, seemingly resolving themselves to barely being able to survive until ‘Miracle Yang’ shows up, surely equipped with some scheme to bust them out of this jam. It’s one case where LOGH actually falls into plainly-visible plot mandation, with Yang’s inquiry shuffling him offscreen for this so the time limit on his return can drive up the drama. Sure, plenty of other experienced commanders, including Merkatz, are present and could demonstrate leadership and strategic abilities, but then we wouldn’t have the tension of waiting to see if Yang was going to make it back in time to save Julian, Caselnes, and all his other friends.

It winds up flopping right into the lap of that Great Man exercise in how it makes everybody else on Iserlohn come off as ineffectual at anything other than stalling for time. And even then, their main strategy for doing so revolves around making their Imperial enemies think Yang is still there commanding them, since apparently the Alliance commanders here would be helpless in the face of the direct attack Kempff and the Geiersburg gang would launch if they knew they weren’t being opposed by anybody special. The idea that drawing Yang away from the corridor would merely put the Alliance at a disadvantage in this confrontation was a sound one, but having the presence of a single sleepy dad be the sole win-or-lose condition definitely does a lot to break LOGH‘s immersion with its usual grounded, historically-precedented stylings.

But enough griping about a setup we saw coming for weeks (or even longer, if you’re up on the previous versions of this story). For all my snarking at the beginning there, you oughta think that an ostensible motion picture of a production would make the most of the spectacle that is a clash between two moon-sized space stations. But some particular choices in this case drive up that distance that Die Neue These seems to struggle through at times. The blast-trading of both battlestations’ big beams seems to go for quantity as a demonstrator of scale, turning what should be a serious demonstration of potential mutually assured destruction into what’s basically a turn-based battle, with both sides mostly seeming to stop once they get bored. The first shot by Geiersburg is easily the most impactful, making a point of the way the resultant destruction simply happens, a second and a wave and then suddenly we’re informed that 4,000 people are just gone. But the following blasts render that number as the statistic you could have at least seen them satirically treating it as. So then all we’re left with is just a whole bunch of shots of commanders standing around on bridges talking about what attacks they’re ordering.

That same vibe extends to the rest of the supposedly-strategic maneuverings we see carried out this episode. Granted, they do have the presence of mind to break things up with some more humanizing, personal touches. With Yang absent, it makes sense most of that would come through in Julian, and indeed he gets parts like specifically evacuating Caselnes’s family as the attack gets under way, and delivering the relieving news once that’s taken care of. Julian also gets to recall some extremely Yang-core advice in the heat of all this (“Sleep whenever you have the opportunity”) and we’re centered on him as Poplin gives out his own amusingly unconventional advice to the fighter pilots before going out . It adds just that dash of personality that this episode is otherwise so wanting for, and keeps us endeared to Julian, tragic as it is that the boy even has to be out here in this situation.

The other strategies we’re treated to run the gamut from functional to frustrating. The point that the Empire would know and be able to exploit Iserlohn’s specs because, you know, they built it, is a good one, and pays off the episode’s earlier implication of how densely Kempff and the others plotted out this plan. On the other hand, you’ve got Caselnes and the Alliance shrugging off the Imperials shooting them with ‘solid shells’ as a supposedly useless attack, right after they confirm that point about their enemies knowing all their strengths and weaknesses, by the way, before letting themselves get sabotaged by the obvious trap. It’s one more reminder that, as far as this point of the story is confirmed, even our supposedly sympathetic characters can’t pull anything off without Yang there to guide them. But it at least ends on a promising upswing. If Caselnes can only barely hang on under this attack, then Schönkopf will apparently be going on the offensive, taking the Rosen Ritter out to do that thing I’ve been lamenting they didn’t get to do way back in the first season of this adaptation: Fight with some dang axes!

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Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Collision is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.

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