I’ve finished Legend of the Galactic Heroes!
So I started watching this anime on August 13, and have completed it on September 6. Which means I’ve watched 110 episodes in 24 days, for an average of 4.58 episodes per day. Crazy to think about! I swear I have a life outside of anime…
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a very impressive anime. It was thanks to GTO that I had an itch to try out another older, classic anime. So I’m very glad I’ve broadened my horizons, so to speak. I used to be apprehensive about watching older anime because I really enjoy the animation in newer anime, but I’ve since learned that the charm of anime transcends something as simple as animation quality.
Now this is the most difficult part of this post – what do I write about? I have a feeling that most of you reading this have never watched the anime, due to the daunting length. I feel that my last post on Legend of the Galactic Heroes did a good job of summing up what I love about the anime, so I think I will write something else here.
But before I do, I will say this: Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an outstanding anime. The anime itself I feel is legendary, to have kept me very invested and interested for all 110 episodes. It’s a real journey. One of those “well, a lot has happened…” feelings. The very first events of the anime feel so long ago. If you have an interest in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but are concerned about the length – give it a try!
There is a good break point about halfway through the anime, where you can easily go and watch other anime before coming back to Legend of the Galactic Heroes later. Even I feel that I should have done this. Right now I find myself craving mindless anime, like a harem anime or something like that. I’m sure 12 episodes will feel so short for a while, now that I’ve been on a single anime for 24 days.
I don’t typically score anime. And I won’t here either. All I will say in this regard is that the 9.08 rating on MAL for Legend of the Galactic Heroes is fair, and I would likely end up rating the anime somewhere around there.
Now for something spoiler related (this will be the rest of the post).
Legend of the Galactic Heroes Spoilers ahead!
While there are certainly many heroes in the anime, all whom deserve the title, there is one man who doesn’t fit the typical heroic image.
Paul von Oberstein.
Despite my love for all of the major characters throughout the anime, Oberstein sticks out to me as the most interesting character.
When we first meet Oberstein, he is a staff officer under Admiral Seeckt of the Iserlohn Fortress garrison fleet. It is here that we first see the man’s genius in action – Oberstein correctly predicts what is happening and provides the correct advice to Admiral Seeckt. Only his advice went unheeded, and the fleet suffered defeat. Oberstein, seeing this coming, fled before the flagship was destroyed.
Oberstein’s actions at Iserlohn reveal some important aspects of his character. Unlike typical Imperial officers, Oberstein had absolutely no sense of honour. Logical and calculating – he refused to die for his Admiral’s mistakes. Reinhard acknowledges Oberstein’s intelligence and decides to make use of him.
Oberstein has this unique ability to see situations from a completely different viewpoint than everyone around him. Not only the other Imperial Admirals, but a different viewpoint from even myself, the viewer. Oberstein has this uncanny ability to find a solution through pure logical thinking, while completely disregarding concepts such as morals, honour or reputation. The ends justify the means with Oberstein – he would prefer to commit a heinous act today to prevent even more bloodshed in the future.
And this quality really sets Oberstein apart from all of the other prominent characters. Achieving his goals are a priority above everything else, even his own reputation or life. It creates an interesting situation for Reinhard. Normally, you trust your subordinates to do their job, but worry about their loyalties. With Oberstein, you trust his loyalties, but worry about the methods he uses to do his job. Oberstein has 100% commitment to the Lohengramm Dynasty’s success, and you can trust that everything he does is to ensure this. Yet, you can’t trust his methods because he does not consider morals, honour, and reputation in his decision making. No empathy, only pure logic.
I’ve never once liked Oberstein as a person. But when I think back, it seems I’ve followed his advice the most. It’s because that man’s arguments are so right that they leave no room for debate. – Kaiser Reinhard von Lohengramm
Contrast this to Yang Wen-li, a man who puts his morals and ideals before his goals. Yang Wen-li would rather not achieve his goals at all than have to compromise his personal values. The polar opposite of Oberstein.
Reinhard himself falls in between both Oberstein (lack of morals) and Yang Wen-li (absolute morals). He often makes compromises, sacrificing his values at times to achieve his goals, but also sacrificing his goals at times to preserve his values. Bearing the burden of his wrongdoings, and achieving a balance of sorts.
I suppose it’s a spectrum in a way. On one side, you have the achievement of personal ambitions / goals. On the other, you have the preservation of personal values / morals. Naturally there are times where a character both achieves their goals and preserves their values, but the anime often shows us that this is the more difficult path to take – often involving more setbacks, sacrifices, patience, et cetera.
And this is what I really like about Oberstein, as a character. Once I understood his mindsest, I began to realize that there is something very honest about the man. You could say that his values ARE his goals – and so you can always trust and expect him to take the most efficient path to achieving his goals.
That man might dethrone me… if my existence goes against the best interest of the dynasty. – Kaiser Reinhard von Lohengramm
But there’s one other thing that the anime mentioned that I really loved about his character. With Reinhard not present, all of the High Admirals were discussing some events that had occurred in the Empire. Chief of Military Police Kessler suggests that two of their enemies may be working together. To which the narrator has this to say:
“Actually, it was Oberstein who first suspected that possibility in the Empire. But with his adamant secretiveness, Oberstein never talked about it to other people. This habit of his became a target of criticism… not only by his contemporaries but also by later generations… but unlike Lang or such… the reason he monopolized information wasn’t for self-profit or self-interest. It appears that he didn’t trust others much… but at the same time, he didn’t think very highly of himself, either.” – Narrator
What we end up with is a very interesting final piece to Oberstein’s character. Everything he does, he does to accomplish his goals. He disregards empathy to do this. But he also lacks self-confidence, believing that he isn’t anything special. Up until this moment, Oberstein appears to be a ruthless and logical man who will let nothing stop him from achieving his goals. But then we learn that Oberstein thinks lowly of himself, and his image changes from that of a ruthless genius to an insecure man who trusts absolutely no one, and even doubts his own abilities.
It’s a very big leap that occurs, all due to that one paragraph from the narrator. Only after do I understand that I had been viewing Oberstein wrong for almost the entire anime. The man truly is a genius in his own right, even if his methods are an issue – which is why learning about his insecurities like this really surprised me. It’s an added depth to his character that I really enjoyed.
Even Oberstein’s death leaves us with the question of whether it was an intentional sacrifice by Oberstein, or just random occurrence. I’d like to believe that it was a sacrifice that still is in line with his goals. The reason I believe this is because I have a feeling that Oberstein knew his own existence would cause turmoil in the administration after Reinhard’s death. And considering his life purpose was for the Imperial Lohengramm Dynasty to succeed, he likely decided to sacrifice himself as a decoy in order to allow Reinhard to die a natural death, while also removing himself from the picture.
Of course I could be wrong about this. He is a very interesting character, who always manages to think differently from anyone else. If I ever decided to re-watch Legend of the Galactic Heroes, I would probably learn a lot more about Oberstein now that I have a better understanding of his character.
That’s all for this post on Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It’s a great anime.
But I am also glad to go back to more mindless anime too! I have a plan for what I am going to be watching for the next little while!
Until next time.
Thanks for reading.