Blogging Legend of the Galactic Heroes Episode 52

Reinhard stares down an Alliance cruiser in what could be the closest this series has to a premature conclusion.

The 52nd episode of  Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees a continuation of the battle between Yang and Reinhard.Yang’s fleet seems to be engaged in a never ending fight against defense lines before another one of Yang’s tricks appears to give his side the upper edge. However, will time run out for the Alliance to kill Reinhard?

The episode begins with both sides breaking off from the first exchanges of the battle. Yang laments that he could use just 3,000 more ships in a fight that had already wasted so many lives. After reorganizing his fleet, Yang orders a lightning strike through the Imperial defense lines. They get through the first 2 surprisingly easily, but there seem to be many more to come.

On a flight deck, Ivan Konev works on a crossword puzzle as he is told they are on combat duty. Poplan then approaches him and proposes they have a bet over the battle, which would be fewest kills would buy the drinks afterward. Konev says Poplan likes gambling as much as ever as Poplan focuses in on one of the clues in the crossword puzzle. A 7-letter word for something everyone goes through once the begins with ‘F’. Poplan jokingly says First Time before realizing that’s too many letters, and Konev says that it is ‘Funeral’. Poplan is disappointed at Konev possibly jinxing himself.

This really isn’t that good as far as foreshadowing. I think a series like this could avoid foreshadowing all together, but maybe there’s a little lack of confidence in the writing.

Two days later, and the Alliance had broken through 8 defense lines, but they kept popping up. Merkatz likens it to peeling off the layers of an onion, but Yang admits there would be at a disadvantage if the stopped to reorganize. Julian walks over and says he has a good idea what Reinhard is thinking. Yang says that with Reinhard what he is thinking and what it appears he is doing are usually well apart, but Julian thinks that they may not be that far apart. Reinhard has been trying to chip away at their endurance, and their defensive lines have been drifting in from the sides as they have gone forward. They just have to deal with that before they can get to Reinhard’s main force. The Imperial forces dispatch fighters and Yang sends out Konev’s and Poplan’s squadrons to deal with them.

Poplan’s squadron engages with fighters led by Holst Schürer. As the two sides exchange fire, Poplan is led in the direction of an Imperial cruiser. He barely avoids hitting it, but the same cannot be said for two Imperial fighters which crash into it and destroying the cruiser in the process. Poplan says those 2 will not count in the number of kills, but he wonders what Konev is up to.

As Oberstein tells Reinhard that extending the front line will only be to their advantage, Poplan radios for an update from his 3 other battle groups. His and 2 others are mostly in tact, but there is only one survivor from the 4th. Then, Murai tells Yang that the fighters are being put in a bad situation and they should recall them and focus on fleet defense, and Yang agrees.

Back from battle, Poplan begins drinking before Coldwell, a lieutenant under Konev walks in. Poplan wants to see Konev, but Coldwell tells him he is now the acting commander for Konev’s squadron. Poplan wants an explanation for that, and Coldwell says Konev was killed in battle. Poplan then asks how many Imperial ships it took to kill Konev, since he would not lose a one-on-one dogfight. Coldwell says he was hit by cruiser fire. Poplan says that since it took a cruiser to take down Konev it would take ten battleships to get him. He laughs as walks out of the room and tosses his flask at Coldwell.

To this episodes credit, the awful foreshadowing is pretty well canceled out by the off

As another defense line is broken, Yang tells his officers that although they are in a trap designed to wear them down, they cannot afford to stop since that would buy Reinhard time. He says their only option is to continue to break through, but he has his fleet withdraw to a nearby asteroid belt.

After the break, it is explained that Reinhard’s strategy employed 24 defense lines that would regroup behind the others as soon as they were broken. This would create the effect that there were many more defense lines that there actually were. However, this strategy required patience that Reinhard may not actually have.

The battle resumes with Imperial sensors picking up what could be the Yang’s main fleet going to the left of their formation. Oberstein says that it could be their main force, or it could not be. Either way, Reinhard has to make a decision. Since he doesn’t think Yang would disperse his forces so casually he decides to turn his formation to deal with the fleet coming from the side. That ends up being a mistake as it was a few Alliance ships mixed in with many asteroids. In the confusion to reorganize, Reinhard’s main fleet is drawn into the battle with a couple of ships near the Brünhild destroyed.

I think this scene implies that given about equal resources, Yang is the superior admiral to Reinhard. That may be down to Reinhard’s buying into Yang’s legend as the “magician,” or it could just be down to a lack of patience. Experience also seems to play a role as well since the Bucock, Merkatz and now Yang have been able to exploit much younger Imperial admirals.

Reinhard realizes that he has possibly made a fatal mistake and asks Kircheis if this is as far as he was meant to go. He is interrupted to be told that there is a shuttle waiting for him, but Reinhard says he cannot run away from battle. The spirits of all he had killed to get to this point would laugh at him as he ran away from battle. He looks over at Emil and says he can’t be a proper conqueror if he is running away in fear of Yang Wen-li. As he rejects another request to leave the ship, some more ships directly in front are destroyed.

With a cruiser baring down on his flagship, the situation looks bleak for Reinhard. That is until Müller’s fleet returns with seconds to spare. Reinhard is rather disappointed when he finds out who it was who saved him. Müller’s fleet had returned at maximum speed, so only 60% of his fleet made it to the front, but that is enough for him to put between Reinhard and Yang.

We are then told that Müller’s fleet was the first to leave as part of the Entrapment strategy, and there was a very good reason why they were able to make it back first. Eight days earlier, Müller’s fleet had arrived at the supply base they were to cease. The base commander, Aubry Cockrane chose to immediately surrender and hand over the supplies. He justified it because the supplies were meant for civilians, and the military should never ruin the lives of civilians. He says they agreed to distribute the supplies to civilians, so a smooth handover with no loss of lives was the ideal outcome. As three officers on the base threaten to kill Cockrane, they are shot by other Alliance officers. Later, Cockrane met with Müller, where the latter offered a post after the war to Cockrane. The request was turned down, as Cockrane and his men just wanted to return to Heinessen. At that point, Müller is informed that Reinhard’s fleet is engaged with Yang’s.

I suppose this is supposed to be some kind of irony in that someone upholding democratic ideals and thinking of the public first dooms Yang to defeat. Also, I would have thought there would have been orders to resist.

Yang laments leaving Müller out as a possibility for returning first, while also admiring the work he was doing in protecting Reinhard. An unshaven Attenborough reassesses the situation and says that the other Allied commanders shouldn’t panic at the sudden change in situation because Yang will come up with something else. Mouton’s fleet, however, doesn’t deal well with the change in situation. They take heavy losses before his flagship is hit and he is killed in battle. Yang can only sigh when he is informed of that bit of news.

The situation is not much better on the Imperial side. Though Müller provides assistance in numbers, they still haven’t broken out of the Alliance’s trap. As some of Reinhard’s commanders are killed in battle, he has no choice but to tell them he has no reinforcements to provide them. On hearing this, one commander is let through by Yang only to be quickly destroyed when Müller’s forces come to help.

The episode ends with Müller’s flagship sustaining critical damage. He agrees to take a shuttle to another ship, the Neustadt and orders all of his officers to abandon the ship. We are told that the Neustadt was destroyed, and Müller ended up transferring to a number of ships to continue the battle, which ended up earning him the nickname “Iron Shield.” As the episode ends, the Brünhild is within firing range with Müller’s threat quelled.

Thoughts: With the Alliance in a winning position, it seems like there’s no way the Empire can come out on top here. Then, why does this seem more like a cliffhanger ending than it should be? I suppose that’s because the narrator really spoiled it at the end of the scene of Müller at the supply base…There was also another Jesus Minci moment in this episode as well, but he’s down to 2nd on the annoying character list behind the spoiler narrator.

12 thoughts on “Blogging Legend of the Galactic Heroes Episode 52”

  1. Hi J, I have been following your blog entries for quite some time now, figure I should drop in and say hi. It’s very entertaining to read your recap and analysis, and I’m very impressed with your patience in sticking with a strict schedule of one episode a week, that says a lot about willpower. You are half way through, only another year to go 😛

    As for the annoying narrator, brace yourself for more… but here is my take:

    I read LoGH novel about 10 years ago and finished the anime version a couple years back. The anime is quite a faithful adaptation of the original work. The narrator in the novel used almost exactly the same script because the author never really cared about spoiler effect and he did it intentionally: the entire novel read like a history book written by a historian born at least a century later, who showed no particular emotional attachment to heroes on either side, and treated all the tragedies / death as if all the readers are already well aware of them. To some degree, this ploy he adopted added some “epic-ness” to the “legend”, but it’s debatable.

    In my opinion another feature made the novel a more thought provoking experience was the author’s frequent critical analysis of a character’s actions at any given point of time. The narrator sometimes cites future academic works of well respected historians (pseudo of course), oftentimes conflicting with each other. This type of exposition could be interesting to read but hard to adapt to anime medium (we already have more than enough monologue as it is, they even added a cat so Yang could talk when he is alone…)

    One thing to add from the novel about this episode: When Reinhard refused to abandon ship, the narrator cited the conversation he had with Emil before the battle started (2 episodes ago?), that “[he] would also run [as Yang] if the time is right”, the narrator sarcastically chided his immaturity and excessive pride. Muller however demonstrated far greater tenacity after learning from the humiliating defeat at Iserlohn.

  2. Three cheers for Muller. The Alliance somehow almost always leverages better match-ups, which negates the number of talented men Reinhard has. His talented but young admirals always end up fighting the very best of Yang’s and are always at a disadvantage therefore.

    It’s like trying to advance a pawn along a column held by a rook.

  3. I think the narrator’s style is largely due to the fact that the author is a historian. The kind of spoiler / foreshadowing-prone writing style is not unfamiliar to history books.

  4. I think the historian’s perspective does have it’s advantages (see episode 51), but it has its disadvantages in the dramatic realm. It’s more the leak of the conclusion of events that has me bothered more than anything. If they had started by revealing the conclusion I would not have had as much of a problem with it.

  5. I feel Reinhard and Yang are evenly matched but because of how battles would be fought, and for them to actually by logical by any standpoint, it will always depend on their subordinates, when it’s all said an done. With Muller and his all-stars all spread out, Reinhard only had Turneisen and the ‘average’ tier of Imperial officers to work with. Yang, meanwhile, has his entire all-star team with Attenborough, Merkatz, Mouton and Jesus Minci.
    (You’d think it’d be more sound to send Turneisen and his tier to conquer the supply bases instead.)

    I’m also disappointed that Holst Schürer doesn’t make another appearence. It’d be nice to see the dogfights from the Valkyrie POV under his command as well in contrast to the constant curb-stomping Poplan and the Spartanians dish out in every sortie.

  6. >I think this scene implies that given about equal resources, Yang is the superior admiral to Reinhard.

    But much worse politician which result in Reinhard usually having much more said resources.

    1. I think that I had covered it before, Reinhard’s political skills along with the Empire’s political system allow him to have the upper hand resource-wise in every encounter between the two. Politics would only play a role if Yang ever wanted to real power, which he does not. Yang serves the machine of a broken democracy, while Reinhard controls an efficient autocracy.

      1. Which before his rule was very INefficient. Economy of Reich was even in worse state than in Alliance, it’s just that there are more of them and less said about they officers and ship commanders in general the better – supply ship commander that can drop cargo without 50% of it flying in all directions is rare wonder and if it’s not only dropped in coherent way but fly in intended direction it’s god-send miracle… no wonder Reinhard made him admiral when came to power. Despite all his idiocy Bittenfeld is one of Reihard best admirals because his people, oh horror, actually trained and, even bigger horror, act like unit and not some cans of shit on the same course.

        And Yang unwillingness to think politically is exactly why Alliance lost. If you don’t want to take power yourself – fine. But SUPPORT THOSE YOU FIND WORTHY, DAMN IT! If they had Lebello instead of Trunicht…

  7. I’d readily concede that Yang is the superior commander, though given more clear thought Reinhard could have avoided that entrapment altogether. Yang has shown a tendency to use the environment to his benefit brilliantly, this situation holds to that standard.

    That observation by Julian was incredibly spot on. It feels like he’s getting pushed more and more into the limelight. I’d just like to see him command a fleet before he does so.

    1. The case here is that Reinhard tries to make an even fight out of his battle with Yang. In that case, Yang shows himself to be superior in a location of Reinhard’s choosing. However, it’s really an artificial comparison. Beyond the battlefield, Reinhard is undoubtedly superior in assuring he has an edge on his opponent before he enters battle. If Yang had half of the political skill Reinhard had, then things would have been much different.

  8. This may be completly out of the left field, but after having watched that episode for the third time, i spotted something interesting.

    Just after Reinhard’ refuses to abandon ship, we see Kessler approach him.(after exchanging a quick glance with Steinmetz) The whole scene was done incredible subtle and of course overshadowed by the huge explosion that happens when Müller arrives.

    Basically, Reinhard’s staff was fully prepared to drag him off the ship by force at that point.

    It completly baffles me, how easy it is to overlook such and similiar scenes in the Series. It also explains to some extend why the Narrator has no problems spoiling stuff left and right The Goal is not as important as the journey, so to speak.

    1. I actually think that moment may be the most important “what if Kircheis were still alive” moment in the entire series. With no clear number 2 under Reinhard, there’s no one who would be in a position to even overturn his decision making unless it got to a point of absurd danger. If Kircheis were on the same bridge as Reinhard, that battle ends much sooner.

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