Okay, that was a great.
As I was hoping, the studio chose to alternate between Reinhard and Yang’s perspectives with episodes 1 and 2! Since Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a dual perspective series, I think the new adaptation has succeeded in fleshing out the humble origins of Yang, tossing him on equal footing with the prestigious Reinhard.
Perhaps one of the more striking differences between the two is their rank. Reinhard von Lohengramm is a High Admiral, and answers to very few people in the Galactic Empire. Perhaps his biggest problem is the multitude of older vice admirals beneath him, who doubt or disrespect his abilities as a tactician. However, Reinhard is still the top dog of his own fleet, he doesn’t have to suffer incompetent commanders, but incompetent subordinates instead.
Yang on the other hand is not a High Admiral, he’s just a Commodore. He has many men who outrank him, and although it’s revealed in this episode that Admiral Paetta does respect Yang’s talent, it is not until it’s far too late for victory. If this was a game of cards, both Reinhard and Yang are brilliant players, but Yang is dealt the worst hand and has to make the most of it. Unfortunately, in Legend of the Galactic Heroes the penalty is not a couple poker chips, but the lives of your peers.
Lieutenant Lao’s introduction was quite amusing to me because usually saying, “I have the devil’s luck!” is an immediate death sentence. Being an original character to this reboot, I was quite confident Lao was going to die to push the motif of how terrible war is. I was a bit sad of course because Lao seems like an excellent fellow, one who is grateful to Yang for saving his life and those of the other men. Surprisingly, he survived, but I have grim hopes for his future.
Yang’s characterization is interesting, and the reboot is definitely reinforcing the idea that Yang is not a war man. While Reinhard is clearly driven by ambition, Yang seems hesitant to play chess on the battlefield. He takes command out of necessity, proposes safe strategies to preserve lives and minimize casualties on both sides, and scolds Jean for giving Yang a dying request. This definitely rings true with the Yang Wenli of the original, but I’m curious as to how they’ll continue forward because the original Yang is also quite the witty goofball. We’ve gotten to see Yang’s kindness, but people love his character not just for that, but his humor as well! I really do hope they do his character justice, but it’s only episode 2, so there’s plenty of time!
Jean’s death was sorta just brushed on in the first episode, and here in episode 2 it’s also given very little time. The most we get is the transmission and then a shot of Yang, Jean, and Jessica (Jean’s wife). I’m not sure if it was really worth even touching upon though because they barely gave it the time of day. Being a one cour adaptation, a lot of Jean’s characterization has been cut out, and I was fine with that, because hey it’s one cour, you can’t have everything. However, with this episode it almost seems like they tried to shove it back in, albeit in a fairly simple way. The sympathy card that the show pulls by showing Jean’s wife is nowhere near as powerful as it was originally was, and seems like a shallow, almost half assed way to have it done. Of course I would love to see Jean fleshed out, and then a reboot of Jessica’s arc from the original. However, I’ve accepted that is cuttable material (even though Jessica’s arc is very important imo), and this attempt to brush on it sorta seems unnecessary.
Another aspect of the reboot that is worthy of note is the battle choreography. The use of clearly visible CGI ships, along with the holographic projections in each ship’s bridge definitely clarifies what’s going on in the battle. The holograms are easy to follow with vibrant colors representing each faction, and simple movements that are easy to understand. The CGI ships are very noticeable in the dark vacuum of space, and their movements are fluid. This is a definite improvement on the original where the holograms were triangles on a grid. Furthermore, cel drawn ships would fade and appear like specks of dust, making battles like Astarte very difficult to follow.
Elaborating further on the holograms, the reboot has definitely made it seem more futuristic. Not just with the massive holographic projections that take up the entire bridge, but the ship designs themselves. The original ships were blocks with holes in the front to shoot white beams, in this reboot they’re sleek and sexy, with engine animations and everything! It’s great.
Overall, I’m super happy with episode two and very sad that this is only one cour 🙁