What They Say:
Legends collide in the enthralling reboot of this classic space drama! Caught in a 150-year-long war, interstellar nations reach the pinnacle of strategic combat at the hands of two genius leaders. Reinhard of the Galactic Empire, and Yang of the Free Planets Alliance lead the charge from opposing fronts. Fighting is their destiny, but in this vast universe torn by political intrigue, their greatest enemy may not be each other.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language dub gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that works its dialogue well with placement and depth with a lot of scenes in how the ships are setup and some of the other sequences so there’s good design at work there. A lot of dialogue is fairly straightforward face to face material that uses the forward soundstage well. We do get some really good space battles where the 5.1 mix is able to boost things just a bit more nicely so that it has a better feeling to it overall, especially with the warmth of the score at times. The series works a good sprawling feeling where needed but it also gets up close and personal pretty well too. The dialogue itself is clean and clear throughout at all levels and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this season are spread across two discs in a nine/three standard format. Animated by Production I.G., the visual design for the show is very slick and modern with strong and vibrant colors that are well designed for the series and the stories it’s telling. It’s incredibly hard not to make comparisons to the previous work for a range of reasons. The ship battles have a great sense of scale and detail that’s captured cleanly with the release and the details of the worlds and costuming there is pretty good as well, though it goes for a slightly simpler approach in a lot of ways. The encoding of all of this is pretty strong with clean and solid colors, lots of detail visible, and no noise or breakup of any kind noticeable during regular playback.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly oversized Blu-ray case to hold the discs for both formats on hinges. The o-card and case cover are identical where we get the two leads facing off against each other with their ships in the background and nods to some of their supporting cast below them. It’s filled with a lot of dark material that makes it murky but the core idea is good, it just doesn’t have the color strength to stand out enough. The logo along the top is kept simple and it lists it as the first season clearly. The back cover continues the dark starfield design with a few large shots from the show that are mostly dark themselves. The summary of the premise is kept simple and brief and we get a clean listing of the extras. The technical grid is broken out clearly and accurately while the reverse side cover has two panels of more artwork of the two leads from the Japanese home video side. No show related inserts re included with this release.
The menu design for this release is pretty standard stuff overall as we get static menus for both discs. It works the hexagon style background mapping overlaid on the stars which looks nice while the right side has a look at the two leads and some of the supporting cast as they’re set against their respective ships. The logo takes up a decent chunk of real estate simply because of the length of the title and the font used but it helps to cement things in a good way. The navigation is done in an in-theme style that works well with quick and easy selections and navigation. Submenus load quickly and easily and we didn’t have any issues with it either as a top-level menu or a pop-up menu during playback.
The extras for this release are kept somewhat simple as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences along with the various promos released prior to its debut in Japan.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the novels by Yoshiki Tanaka which are being released by Viz Media, Legend of Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These is a modern adaptation of them by Production I.G. where they’re done theatrically and recut for broadcast and home video release as a TV series. I’m a huge fan of the original OVA project that I’ll likely never to get to see so this is as close as I can get to it at this point. It’s incredibly hard not to compare the two, or do comparisons to the novels, but each project is its own beast and has to be looked at in that way for me. This series, directed by Shunsuke Tada, does a fantastic job of bringing the story to life even if it doesn’t have quite the musical sweep of what has come before for me. Each project exists in its own time and situation and this one brings us something that feels a little more fleshed out in different ways and a bit smaller at the same time as well.
Taking place some fifteen hundred years in the future, mankind has spread to the galaxy but has ended up in a situation where there’s the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance. A bit of galactic trickery allows the two to basically exist separately with a particular pipeline of access between them. The Empire has grown strong but hollowed out under the dynasty that holds the levers of power within it while the Federation is struggling to keep up the fight against them as it’s a war of attrition. The Federation has a fairly standard capitalistic society about it but one based on a war economy that is sucking everything out of it. And in the middle of both of these civilizations is a small neutral world known as Phezzan where the ruler there orchestrates as much as he can in order to profit from both. It’s a solid enough setup and one that sets the stage for some large scale events to unfold.
What we get within it are two main storylines that focus on the two sides through young men that are coming up through the ranks in different ways. Each are gifted strategists and tacticians who are operating in a sphere made up of older general and other leaders that play to safety or to what those above them want. On the Empire side, we get Reinhard Von Lohengramm, who is intent on ending the dynasty that exists as he sees the corruption within it and how dangerous it has become through stagnation. The Free Planets side has a young man named Yang Wen-li, a reluctant soldier who looks for the smart ways of surviving battles and trying to save as many people as possible as all he wants out of life is to be able to enjoy reading books and gaining knowledge. Lohengramm is a serious and intense young man that is building up his cadre to challenge the Empire and all those in positions of safety and power. Wen-li is trying to keep himself alive and to protect the worlds from the kind of attrition that leaders have grown into operating under while holding their own against the sprawling Empire.
The show weaves stories for both with those two as the central figures that are bringing change to hundreds of years of war. Sometimes history hits a moment where the catalysts come about and everything shifts in quick order and it’s fascinating to watch unfold. I’m a huge fan of the novels and am enjoying reading them as they come out but the animated side if what has drawn me in more. This incarnation is pretty solid overall as it covers the main story elements from the books and moves us through several significant moments from those works where both Lohengramm and Wen-li see their fortunes grow and change. The downside is that it feels like we’re getting something that is moving along a little too fast and without enough bridging material to really make it feel like time passes and events are happening across a wide range of space. I do think this series handles things well overall but it’s missing some key ingredients that really take it to the level it needs to. Part of it is that nostalgia element but the score for this series just doesn’t convey the grandeur of it all. I adore the digital design work for the space battles as we get the same kind of massive fleets in play but everything moves not just faster but there’s a sense of less of it overall. Battles that should take a couple of episodes are done in one and everything just feels compressed to me.
All of the right pieces are here for the story, focusing on Wen-li as he settles into a higher position and has a war orphan come to live with him as well as seeing more of how Lohengramm handles dealing with the politics of the Empire and those that want to use him. But that compresesd nature keeps it from really getting the room to breathe so that we feel like we’re a part of these worlds and what the stakes are in both cases. Phezzan is also kept very minimal, which isn’t a surprise, but I never felt like its importance was made clear enough either. I really like the designs for the characters and the expanded settings that we get compared to the more austere designs of the previous series but the tradeoff comes with the battles themselves being smaller and not quite the same sweeping scope on a regular basis. It’s like little bits of the heart of the show were cut out in order to make it work in theatrical form and when you recut that for TV it becomes even more apparent.
The original series is a holy grail for me in wanting to have it in my collection. I was excited by the prospect of this new modern adaptation of the property and there’s a lot to like. Each adaptation draws in the source material through their own view and style and each offers interesting ways to bring it to life. There’s a lot to like with this and I can imagine that the compressed side is an appeal to some but not so much to others. The scale of everything is what I love about it and seeing the two leads weave their tale and struggle against so many forces aligned against them. Funimation’s release is solid with what it presents here with a great looking show, a solid packaging, and a dub that captures a lot of great material. I’m excited to see what comes next in this adaptation.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 LAnguage, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Promos, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: March 26th, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.