Late in this episode, late in the whole of the series that has been LOGH: DNT – Intrigue, young Julian Mintz muses that there are “many different kinds of battles.” That is the entire point, of course, as this stretch has been defined by the information war waged in the background of those massive spaceship battles that Julian is missing here. The irony, of course, is that while Julian himself is dissatisfied with being pushed into engaging with this element, his frustration is still our gain, as I think I’ve made clear how well I believe Die Neue These has done with this material so far. The glossy, cinematic approach of Production I.G‘s reboot feels like it’s afforded a more effectively fresh presentation of all these People Standing Around Rooms Discussing Hypothetical Movements than it did even with all those big CGI space battles.
The differences in approach between this new version and the old OVAs have their merits, of course. The ’80s-’90s LOGH was so likened to a historical documentary that they saw fit to insert an actual historical documentary that they let Julian watch between episodes here. Die Neue These, meant for an engaged audience to watch in a theatrical setting, naturally has no space for such an indulgence, but as amusing as that was back in the day, it’s not that missed. Instead, we’re treated to scenes like Julian dreaming of being back to looking after Yang, the idyllic background music of their morning cutting into the cold silence of Julian’s assigned ship trip. The hues of DNT‘s always-colorful spacescapes highlight him, bookended as it ends up being with seeing Julian in his dim quarters towards the end of this episode to make him seem isolated and small within these cramped rooms.
It’s proved to be genuinely impressive on the part of Intrigue that it’s maintained this series’ cinematic ambitions even at a smaller scale compared to those sweeping space fights, and it shows that work again across this particular episode. Technically, this is a very linear and procedural entry on the same level as previous treatments of the material. We watch Julian coming and going from different offices and meet-and-greets as he gets up to speed on his new work assignments. Political ideals are discussed, which we can reflect on in a moment; those slow-roll schemes and plots are advanced. But across it, all that production sheen reflects the tone of the story, from the too-gorgeous setting of Fezzan itself to the literal fat cats that Julian notes populate its areas. The welcoming party that Julian attends would always have some undercurrent of foreboding. Still, the classy background music stops explicitly in a way that diegetically speaks to Julian’s probing questions making things awkward, scattering in reactions of others muttering under their breath at him as he recklessly asks questions. Little details like these add up to that all-important atmosphere.
It is all in service of leading up to an actual big battle in the form of the much-hyped Operation: Ragnarök that Reinhard formally kicks off at the end of this episode. But getting there, it also delivers more of LOGH‘s meditations on how all the contesting between these competing government systems must come across. Admiral Bewcock, the experienced old dude that he is, provides some pretty measured assessment of the Government-Versus-Military situation that’s driven so much of the Alliance’s issues lately. It’s still a subjective angle whether military powers should be afforded more consolidated resources, especially in times of direct conflict, or if averting the potential for a military dictatorship should always take priority. It’s especially salient, given we already saw the Alliance be threatened by such a formation earlier in this show, to say nothing of how the situation over in the Empire has gone. Bewcock’s point is important: blaming even a corrupt system of democracy is painful since that system ought to be corrected by its citizens’ strengths, not military might. Such a military exists to protect those people, not to impose its own will.
It’s one of the more easily agreeable positions on military power we’ve seen articulated by Yoshiki Tanaka within the pointedly tense ideals outlined in this arc. Even then, it might be too optimistic. Elements like the new ‘Legitimate Government’ of the Empire are clearly shown to be a pawn of larger bodies like the Alliance leadership, all figureheads serving as excuses for broader moves and self-empowerment. With no means of direct defense, Fezzan finds its people’s faith in the status quo shaken up by one Military Adjutant young man rambling at a party. This bit is at least an amusingly imperfect gambit by Julian, the treatment of his character demonstrating that he’s not quite at Yang’s levels of smooth schmoozing his political pontifications in the plan-seeding phase (though he’s at least got his mentor’s irreverent little shrug down pat). LOGH can’t be a calculatedly researched political mouthpiece all the time, and when it allows its characters to weave into those sorts of aspects as characters, that’s when its true strengths shine through.
Plenty else occurs and is shown off in this episode of LOGH, but the general idea of that strength carries most of it. Some of it is a little overblown, least of all stuff like Kesserling’s damn near mustache-twirling scheming at this point. But it fits with those heightened ambitions of dramatics and character. It continues to feel like a bit of elevation of the material, at least for this stretch.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Intrigue is currently streaming on
Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.