After a couple episodes where they’ve been pointedly sidelined and uninvolved, it makes sense for this episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes to mark its own momentousness by checking in with Reinhard and Yang, right before the latter formally reenters the focal battlefield. I enjoy the series finding time for other characters – Merkatz was great last week. But I’m also not going to complain about my extremely favorite lazy historian heading back into the fray. Plus it signals a clear escalation in this ongoing Fortress vs Fortress storyline, and fulfills the conditions for the Alliance to get off of playing defense in this confrontation, and having a chance at actually winning. It should be a huge, tide-turning fulcrum for the story to tilt on, so why, at this crucial stage, does it feel like LOGH sliding back into some of its most basic bad habits?
But let’s start with the good, and there’s still enough of that to talk about. Die Neue These has been regularly effective at constructing an episodic through-line around an idea with this arc, and that still remains true here. In this case, both Reinhard and Yang independently express their belief that simply ramming the teleported space fortress into the opposing one would have been the most bluntly effective tactic. It’s a prophecy that gets fulfilled by the end of this entry, as Kempff, perhaps too late, also comes up with the idea. But it also embodies the ideas of decisive offense that are overall integral to the combat in this episode, as well as expressing the idea of convergent strategizing between like minds. Both Yang and Reinhard speculate on the space-station-smashing idea, and similarly, Julian is able to what Müller and Kempff are planning with their pincer maneuver simply by putting himself in their predict shoes, motivation-wise. As well – and this won’t fully pay off until next week’s entry – the Iserlohn fleet and Yang’s rescue fleet wind up coordinating on strategy absent any communication or pre-planning, based simply on Julian’s synergy with his mentor. It’s a compelling argument not necessarily that great minds think alike, but that they can think effectively so long as they’re able to consider each other.
It’s a core sentiment echoed by Reinhard at the very beginning of the episode, as he opines that those in his current circle “don’t even try to understand” him. It’s perhaps an effective contrast which explains why Yang currently appears poised to come out on top in this particular conflict: The people at Iserlohn operating under Yang, even in his absence, had the kind of faith in him that allowed them to power through having to stall for time, even placing their trust in a former enemy like Merkatz on account of Yang’s own willingness to do so. Meanwhile, Reinhard’s representatives in the likes of Kempff couldn’t even be arsed to send a detailed status update, seemingly worried about glory-stealing from the likes of Mittermeyer and Reuenthal, who get anyway since Reinhard doesn’t have any other inklings of information as to what the most effective support to provide would be. It actually makes for an entertaining contrast against the prior story’s illustration of the administrative struggles of a democracy versus a brisk authoritarianship. Yang’s with his subordinates let his effective connections shine through even if he’s not around, while Reinhard’s people are influence hamstrung the further away they get from his direct command.
All those illustrated ideas are as interesting as ever for LOGH, as are the conceptual battle-plans showing them off. It makes the descriptions of fake-outs and counter-fake-outs compelling to read or see described, which, unamusingly, is pretty much how that information is given to us in the episode anyway! I’m not certain why, several episodes into this cinematic movie climax of a situation, Die Neue These opts to go this route, but the dang narrator of this show is far too enthusiastic at this stage, talking over several pivotal situational scenes that wind up as effective History Channel montages where there could have been actual dramatizations of these plans being put into action. The shaky signs are there from the start, with the narration glossing over the administrative struggles that resulted in Yang being assigned a perhaps more ragtag fleet than he’d have preferred. That might be fair in keeping the story’s energy levels up overall in that particular instance, but it’s baffling that even the dramatic destruction of much of Kempff’s fleet is rendered in this way. It’s a jarringly dry turn for the tone at this moment, and it sucks all the suspenseful air out of an otherwise impressively-constructed story situation.
If I wanted to be cynical, my guess for the ‘Why’ of this presentational misfire would be that the series is trying to find ways to add more minutes of space to bring these movie-chunks up to proper television time-slot length, exacerbated by this adaptation’s aforementioned extension of this particular act. But it results in a lose-lose situation, since it artificially inflicts a drag of pacing onto this otherwise critical story point, and leaves the whole arc more poorly-constructed overall. But regardless of any reasoning or excuses, it just plain doesn’t work, and means an episode that should have been a climactic upswing for the storyline instead sticks out for more contentious reasons. It is just one rough entry in an arc that’s otherwise been mostly fine, and the tone this one wraps on indicates that it could turn things around as the plot continues to escalate next week. But we’re left frustratedly holding our breath until then, wondering if we’ll actually get to watch things resolve, or simply listen to the narrator drone over describing it.
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.