Warning: We assume that you have watched the first three seasons of Legend of the Galactic Heroes (The first 86 episodes) before reading this. We will not spoil anything major in the fourth season but everything and anything in first three seasons is fair game.
The first half may have had scenes that threw you off balance but nothing beats the leg sweep that was season 3. With a mixture of sadness and curiosity we eagerly dove into the last section of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. The questions that everyone was asking was how and where would they end this epic story? Would the ending live up to the first three sections? Who would live and who would die? Thankfully all the questions are answered in a fashion equal to the first three parts.
You’d think after more than 80 episodes you’d be ready for the end, but no, it goes by in a flash and you desperately want to see the continuing story of this galaxy. Legend of the Galactic gives its all 100% all the way through the end. The turn of events, the people who live and die, the final conclusions, and the unanswered ponderings make for a satisfying ending.
By the start of season 4 the Empire is triumphant in almost every way and all hope for democracy seems lost. Yang was trying to lead a duel life of retired married bliss and secret rebel leader when his own government sells him to the wolves. This forced him to hastily retake Iserlohn with the aid of the planet of El Facil. After barely fending off Reinhard’s attempt to retake Iserlohn Yang dies by the hand of Earth Cult assassins. The season ends with Julian forced to take the place of Yang while he wonders how can he keep this small new nation alive in a galaxy controlled by the Empire when Yang was barely able to do so.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, truly prepared me for the end of part 3 and the death of Yang. Even with the narrator constantly hinting at it, it was still an emotional and hard to accept turn of events. Believe me when I say there was a long period of silence after the end of the episode. Reinhard is the main character, but with the third season taking a greater look at Yang and since he plays an obviously pivotal role in the story it’s hard to see where things will go. Or maybe it’s just hard to really think they can be as good as when Yang was around.
On the surface Reinhard seems to be an unstoppable force in the galaxy but there are cracks in his armor. He is still unmarried and without an heir; there is tension within his top brass especially centering around Oberstein; and the Earth Cult continues to poison people’s minds. At the same time Reuenthal is restless and others plan to take advantage of these feelings. Reinhard has gained another victory in the worst possible way and now there is no way he can ever beat Yang. Everything he has won might seem amazing to anyone else but Reinhard sees them all as Pyrrhic or hollow victories. Also he notices that he excels more at battle than administration. With Yang gone who will provide the challenge he needs to thrive? Can anyone replace those he has lost in his journey?
Much of this season centers on the increased internal struggles going on withing Reinhard’s trusted officials and the growing threat of the ever-mysterious Earth Cult. The Empire comes back to center stage with some dire consequences presenting themselves very early on. Since these divides within Reinhard’s government are driven purposefully choosing a side is difficult for both the viewer and the characters involved. It also incredibly hard on Reinhard since there are few people he truly calls friend he must choose between understanding, loyalty, spite, and doing what he feels is right. Once again certain events have been foreshadowed again and again but with Legend of the Galactic Heroes it doesn’t seem to lessen the emotional impact of things on screen coming to fruition.
Good-night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. While I am sure that Yang’s death did not surprise some people I know it floored all of us watching. One of the two main characters is dead and the show marches on. While it was hardly a game ending event it does throw you for a loop. And so you have to wonder where does the story go from here. In fact everyone in the Iserlohn Republic must wonder as well. Julian is essentially forced to be Yang’s successor. While Julian is thankful that Reinhard has seen fit is ignore the Iserlohn Republic, it is only a matter of time before his small outpost of democracy must confront the Empire again. Can anyone fill his surrogate father’s shoes? Julian is facing a task that might have even been impossible for Yang with none of Yang’s reputation or experience.
As everyone grieves, the reaction to Yang’s death by his troop are heartfelt and varied. The moments where Julian must tell Frederica that he came back without her husband are truly great. Since Yang was the backbone of the rebellion his death sends many a person packing which only compounds the difficult task that lies before Julian and the few people that truly believe in his abilities. As always what is so enjoyable about the rebels is their easy-going camaraderie seen through Dusty, Poplan, and Schenkopp’s wit and banter. It is also nice to see some development of Schenkopp and Katerose’s estranged father-daughter relationship. Where Julian is able to lead this rag-tag team is so uncertain for him as he constantly struggles with Yang’ memory and what Yang would do in situations vs. his own instincts and ideas for the future.
The main theme for the last fourth of Legend of the Galactic Heroes is that keeping the peace is often harder than fighting a war. It is easy to know what to do when you have a clear enemy and a clear goal. When those goals are accomplished the more nebulous and hidden threats internally and externally are harder to see. Both Reinhard and Julian must deal with this situation in their own fashion. But beyond that lingering questions are answered and all the running themes are once again addressed as we see the conclusion of 110 episodes of build up.
A good deal of this season and its themes focus on the future, when will war end, and what to do if and when it does. There is a real conflict throughout the entire series about whether or not lifelong soldiers can ever really accept peace. Especially in a world that has been fighting for hundreds of years. There has always been a lot of scheming going on in Legend of the Galactic Heroes but we really get to see how strong it becomes in the fourth part and how manipulative and confusing information can be. Much as everyone has their ideas about how to handle things, there is no clear conclusions or definite answers in Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
This is not the end of our Legend of the Galactic Heroes coverage. On Wednesday we will give a short account of our overall feelings about Legend of the Galactic Heroes with full on spoilers. So much comes to fruition in this last section that we dare not do our final thoughts except in a separate post. We will discuss our thoughts on all the events of the last season and the series as a whole. Thus we turn another page in the history of the galaxy.
With Legend of the Galactic Heroes there is always more to say it seems, so even after writing so much about the series all of these posts just don’t cover it. We need to have a final post just to talk about the spoilers and conclusion of the series, we need to. I’m sure anyone who bothers to read this doesn’t really object to so much being written about the show anyway. Look forward to all the thoughts we’ve been holding back!