Episodes 25-27 – Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Collision

My thoughts on the opening episode of Collision were covered back at the beginning of the preview guide, and as well, that one was effectively a thematic opener for this season, less connected to the expectedly-dense plotting we all really keep coming back to Legend of the Galactic Heroes for. It also might have served as a harbinger of the more roundabout approach to storytelling this season might be taking overall, as the following pair of episodes aren’t overly concerned with advancing any major battle plans on either side of the conflict either. Instead, these two episodes are about two specific dudes: Wolfgang Mittermeyer and Oskar von Reuenthal. If you’re a fan of LOGH from its previous incarnations, then these two need no introduction, but if you’re a newcomer, this duology serves as a pretty effective one.

Of course, Mittermeyer and Reuenthal have been around Die Neue These For a while at this point, it’s just now that the show is deciding to detail exactly who these two are, and how they got so close with each other and so trusted with Reinhard. Already this sets up for a somewhat different structure this season than we’d grown accustomed to through the previous ones. As with the first episode’s Julian-focused aside prologue, this pair of backstory-based episodes doesn’t super advance the ongoing megaplot of LOGH in any detailed way. Rather, it uses the flashbacks for Mittermeyer and Reuenthal as vectors for overall thematic worldbuilding in laying out what their deal is. As well, getting two episodes in a row about these guys shows early on that Collision might be less beholden to the previous seasons’ rigid alternating Alliance/Empire story focus structure; That also makes sense, given that, as this season’s title implies, the two sides will be more directly clashing again as it goes on, compared to the more isolated plots they were dealing with in the last batch.

All that’s structural setup for the season as it goes on, however, with Episodes 26 and 27 firmly rooted in the past, and entirely on the Empire’s side of things to boot. The initial recounting of the more personal circumstances of Mittermeyer and Reuenthal’s contrasting upbringings are more about establishing the men personally before the past’s plot-heavy stuff rears its head. Stuff like Mittermeyer’s courtship with his eventual wife Evangelin is pretty basic (though his dad’s little fist-pump as his son’s proposal is accepted is a cute detail), while Reuenthal’s drunken confession of his distrust of all women stemming from his problems with his mother is as comparatively melodramatic as you would expect from this series. Apart from the actual context of the content, these beats are mainly here to impart to us the trust in the bond these two men forged. Mittermeyer acknowledges the irrationality of Reuenthal’s issues, sure, but you can’t be heartened at his no-hesitance response the morning after when his bro asks him to act like he didn’t hear anything.

It’s basically all flavor, at least making for a good proper opener for a season that’s seemingly going to be heavy on these guys. It gets them out in front of the audience, and makes clear what their dynamic is and why it’s supposed to be appealing. The next step then, comes in showing that dynamic in more of a story-based context, in this case via a plotline that got shuffled around compared to the previous LOGH anime: The Klopstock Incident. Doing this story as a flashback has a few advantages in this case, like getting to see more of Sieg even after his death at the end of last season. But there is still a sense of the post-hoc about the placement here. A large part of this story is showing earlier interactions between our main Imperial heroes with aristocratic characters like Braunschweig and Ansbach, who you’ll remember from the Empire’s civil war plot from last season. It’s dotted with a lot of signs of how things will lead into that story, particularly the establishment of how Mittermeyer and Reuenthal wound up courting the animosity of this particular group. But given how all those rich jerks have since been killed and their whole story wrapped up, it can feel like a retroactive thematic inclusion to something that finished nearly three years ago, which isn’t great as far as pertinent storytelling goes.

That said, as a piece of storytelling on its own, this is still a tight little flashback arc that expounds on the themes of LOGH while at least keeping the energy of the series up. Mittermeyer and Reuenthal prove themselves in this iteration as still being an appealing pair of characters that can carry a story that’s largely a forgone conclusion by this point. And the thematics remain well-aligned, both in where this season’s story will ultimately go (Let’s just say the discussion of a potential military tribunal is something of a dry run), as well as the overarching ideas that have always been part of LOGH. Sure, we already knew that Mittermeyer and Reuenthal were aligned with Reinhard’s beliefs about the corruption at the heart of the royalty running the Empire at the time, but seeing them demonstrate those principles, against the kind of barbarous bastard who would cut open a woman’s throat just to steal a ring, unflinchingly shows how these guys are the ‘Heroes’ of this story even on this side of the conflict (Also if that scene of him shooting the guy doesn’t convince you that Mittermeyer rules, I don’t think anything will). The procession of events fits with the always-present historical stylings of LOGH, demonstrating that things rarely happen in neat, contained arcs in reality, and it’s instead a sequence of interactions that lead to connections and changes that continuously occur through time. By the end of Episode 27, the implication is that each of the commanders Reinhard has assembled under him have as rich histories personally connecting them to the new Prime Minister as Mittermeyer and Reuenthal do, as if all of these galactic heroes have their own legends. Or something like that.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t comment on the stylizations this sequence of episodes takes us through. Production IG‘s Legend of the Galactic Heroes has always had a fair bit of gloss on it, but these episodes go hard on some of the more colorful elements of the presentation: The contrasting palette on the flashback to Reuenthal’s mommy issues, the striking orange of the sun over Mittermeyer’s gunning down of the noble, or the brief flash of lightning illuminating the conversation with Reinhard and Sieg. It all does a good job of reminding you that, oh right, these episodes are part of a Capital-M Movie in their original release. Things still get a little rote at the end when we’re being introduced to the rest of Reinhard’s commanders and DNT does that thing where it just keeps naming dudes. That means that even in an extended flashback of questionable relevance to the primary story, LOGH is still LOGH, for better and for worse. It can almost make these episodes feel entirely like fanservice for the established viewers at this point, spending time presenting a polished piece about a pair of popular players. It’s an interesting choice three seasons in, to be sure, but it’s also hard to argue with the pure entertainment that results.

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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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