What’s it about? In the year SE 796, three forces are locked in conflict across the universe: the Goldenbaum Dynasty of the Galactic Empire, the Free Planets Alliance, and the Dominion of Fezzan. The Empire is gifted with the young tactical expert Reinhard von Lohengramm, whose victory in battle seems assured until the mysterious Yang Wen-Li steps up to command the Alliance.
The new LOGH anime has big shoes to fill. The franchise has been a juggernaut since the ’80s, with over a dozen novels, three films, an anime adaptation with OVA-grade production that ran for 110 episodes over nearly a decade, plus another 52 episodes of side stories. It’s a big, sprawling series known for its characters and political drama and beloved by a dedicated fanbase (who are currently being milked for everything they have).
The new series has… twelve episodes, with a pair of movies to follow as a second season. Granted, this new season is only purported to cover the first novel, but it immediately leads off with the worry that this series will wind up brushing past character details and political machinations in the name of hitting big plot points and space battles. Those fears might come to nothing, but they feel worth noting given the sometimes spotty track record of remakes.
As for how the premiere looks on its own, your opinion is likely to be determined by your patience for dialogue. Lots and lots of dialogue, interspersed with exchanges of knowing looks and the occasional shocked reaction to a computer screen. There might be an explosion-laden space battle going on outside, but most of the action is concentrated on the bridge and in the war room. If tactics-focused slow burns aren’t your thing, you’re probably going to be bored.
If you don’t mind all that, there’s a high level of craft to keep you hooked—as you’d expect, given the pedigree of the material. The conversations about military maneuvers and the metric ton of character names that flash by are grounded by a focus on young upstart Reinhard, the waves he’s making among the established military commanders (the theme of old versus new ideology is quite strong here), and his relationship with his childhood friend Siegfried Kircheis. The entire episode plays a long con, emphasizing Reinhard’s decisive successes despite a lesser-sized fleet and arrogance as a genius tactician, only to reveal his rival-to-be in the final minutes of the premiere.
The extremely German Reinhard is perhaps not on the winning side (when has naming something an Empire ever meant good things for their intentions?), but the episode spends so long insisting that you stick with this character and admire his intelligence that it’s a genuinely effective shock to see him outmatched. It manages this even without showing what exactly happened—it trusts that the disbelief on Reinhard’s face, given what we know of him after 20 minutes, is enough.
It’s a solid, engaging start, with hints of political machinations—Reinhardt is implied to have risen through the ranks because his sister is close with the Kaiser, which is also the closest the episode comes to having a female character—as well as potential branching paths going forward. And it looks pretty too, as you would expect from Production I.G. The CG spaceships sometimes blend poorly with the backgrounds, but the laser effects and occasional dramatic pans do their jobs for a show where they’re very much not the focus.
I walked away wanting more, but I couldn’t tell you whether my impulse is to keep up with this new version, or to hurry over to HIDIVE and watch the original series before this new one spoils all the plot points.