It took my brother two years to watch this from start to finish, and it reminds me more than anything of trundling through The Romance of the Three Kingdoms as a kid — a parallel that I'm sure I'm being unoriginal in drawing, but the mixture of long-form historiography, hagiography, fact and fiction, and faint sense of ennui is hard to ignore.

LotGH is a commitment. It is rarely "fun" in the way I think I would expect a traditional space opera to be fun; perhaps more pointedly, the show uses the "space" part of "space opera" hardly at all except to feint at the size and sweep of the events being depicted, and while hours are spent on space battles the tactics are almost purely naval in nature.

And, unlike Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is not that interested in action scenes.

What the show is interested in is everything else: the nature of history, the foibles of man, the cosmic cruelty of war, the benefits and drawbacks of fascism, the benefits and drawbacks of democracy, the nuances of supply chain mechanics, the lives and deaths of heroes, the curse of memory, the light of peace.

There are parts of LotGH that do not work, or (phrased slightly differently) detract from the core of its gestalt: Terraism (a goofy plot device that serves for little else than a prevention of narrative detente), female characters who exist almost entirely to be married to high admirals. But these are quibbles, little nits to pick out of a rich and nuanced tapestry of how humanity never really changes.

Watch this show: it will be slow, and the first dozen eps are truly terribly animated, but it rewards your patience.



Before freedom and equality, could we have bread and meat?

Having a history differentiates humans from all other living species.

Too many things have happened already / and there is too much already for us to do.

Good people, remarkable people are killed meaninglessly. That’s war, and that’s terrorism. The sin of wars and terrorism, in the end, comes down to that.

Politics always takes vengeance on those who belittle it.

A sword has no reason to exist but as a sword.

Mentioned in

Lightning bolt
Subscribe to my newsletter

I publish monthly roundups of everything I've written, plus pictures of my corgi.
© 2024 Justin Duke · All rights reserved · have a nice day.