The 56th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes is devoted to more back story on the history of the Earth. The documentary Julian, and later Poplan watch provides a little insight into how the Earth became what it now is. However, it never really addresses why it became peripheral more than it simply becoming an afterthought.
The episode begins as Julian and company continue their journey to Earth. Julian thinks that Earth used to be the home of humanity, but it is now nothing more than a border planet. In trying to remember the history of Earth, he begins to watch another historical documentary.
In 2039 AD, a war broke out between the two dominant factions on Earth, and in the Thirteen Day War, thermonuclear weapons leveled all major cities. For most of the century that followed, life was a struggle for those who survived. There was a wish for a united government, since social stability was more important than nationalism. In 2129, a united Earth government was formed with the capital being Brisbane, and the city was developed quickly. Mankind was also exploring space with a base set up on Io, a moon of Jupiter in 2166.
The most active part of the new government was the space agency located on the Moon, and by the early 23rd century more people were located there than in Brisbane and becoming the de facto capital of the Solar System. By the middle of the century, man was beginning to explore other star systems, and with the population having recovered to just 4 billion, there was still plenty of space to live. In 2360, a discovery allowed faster-than-light travel, and with further development the technology was ready to deploy in 2391. In 2402, a habitable planet outside the Solar System was found and a new period of emigration began. With this began debates over how much autonomy could be granted to the new settlements.
Julian is then interrupted by Poplan, who asks if Julian is watching pornography by himself. When Julian tells him that he is catching up on history, Poplan is disappointed, but with nothing better to do he decides to watch it with Julian anyway. Though he still can’t help but ask if there is anything resembling porn.
The documentary continues by charting the development of the Space Force up to 2484. While insisting that they were protecting the public and that they were different from a force that terrorized the people before the United Government was formed, the people had forgotten the history of armies going on mad offensives. This force grew boundlessly even though there were no external enemies, and it’s internal structure was already corrupt. This is shown through testimony which shows an officer having a large living quarters with personal servants, while the common soldiers live in horrible conditions. However, there was more criticism of this expose than investigations because of the military’s influence.
As time passed, the limits of exploration with Earth as the center were beginning to be reached. The limits of expansion did not apply to the military though, and economic imbalances were beginning to grow. With little natural resources left, Earth had to bring in raw materials from it’s colonies, which had a mere facade of autonomy. Any measures in government required 70 percent approval and 70 percent of the representatives were elected from Earth. By 2680, some colonies were beginning to starve because they were being forced into one mode of production, but the government blamed it on the incompetence of the colonies themselves.
This scene had me thinking of the many Five Year Plans that Stalin imposed on the Soviet Union. The forced single method of production on each region and the starvation that occurred as a result of getting materials to the capital are fairly similar from what I can tell.
The Earth was struggling as well, and had to exploit its colonies in the name of capitalism to grow the military and maintain its power. In effect, the colonies were causing their own oppression. In 2682, the colonies presented the government with a set of ultimatums. A smaller military, proportion representation in government and no interference in the internal affairs were the demands, but the Earth pulled back its payments for government in response.
As anti-Earth sentiment grew the Sirius star system took the lead in opposition. Earth responded to this by leaking documents suggesting that Sirius was interested in power and not equality. The response from the colonies was unexpected as people began to believe that Sirius could have the power to overtake the Earth. By 2685, the colonies were looking to Sirius to combat the tyranny of Earth.
In 2689, Earth decided it had to deal with the growing threat and punish Sirius with military force. Under the pretext of a joint exercise with the Sirius military, they launched a surprise attack. The Colonial forces never got off the ground, and the Sirius capital of Londolina was occupied by the Earth forces. The occupation was bad from the start, with soldiers stealing from the people, enemy deaths being over-exaggerated by over a million. So they slaughtered non-combatants to make up the difference and dismembered the bodies. Deaths among their own forces were being under-reported so superiors could collect the salaries of the dead. These accusations came to light because of a reporter, but a military tribunal dismissed all charges and the reporter was sued for libel.
With Sirius out of the way, the military’s band of thieves looked for the next city to rape and pillage. Laglane was next, and while most of the enemy forces escaped there, it was an important industrial center for the country. As Laglane’s mayor tried to avoid war, many in the city felt they could just hand over the rebel soldiers. Citizens formed squads and began to arrest rebels. The Earth forces attacked anyway, with strict orders to kill anyone with a weapon or even anyone who may possibly look like resisting. The soldiers predictably killed numerous civilians in response to these orders in what would be called the “Bloody Night.” Soldiers began stealing priceless art and jewelry while burning books. However, two Earth corps began contesting a diamond and jewel polishing center in the north of the city, resulting in 1,500 deaths between the two sides. Bodies were also showing up that were cut open as soldiers looked for any loot the victims had swallowed. In the ten hours of the attack, over 900,000 civilians were murdered by the Earth forces. The Earth forces, though, denied any of this ever happened. Three days later, the army refuted that while downplaying the horrors of the event and blaming them on the rebels.
I can’t help but think there is some kind of implicit connection of this to Nanjing, which would make it all the more surprising that it is attacked from this angle in the documentary.
In a quest to finish their mission, the Earth forces continued to search for rebels, and in the process killed 350,000 more civilians. Out of this, hope rose among the colonies. A reporter who had been beaten up and left to die in a pile of burning bodies, an accountant who had witness a soldier kill his mother in cold blood who was then framed for her death before disappearing, a student who had killed a soldier for raping his girlfriend then went into hiding only to have her commit suicide, and a music student who had escaped with his nephew after seeing the rest of his family killed all met in 2691 on Prosperina. These four became the foundation of a united colonial force that was able to take on the Earth forces. The Black Flag Force was able to defeat a weakening Earth military by 2702. By 2704, the Earth military could not even hold the Solar System. The Black Flag Forces made the Earth wait out a possible attack and starved their supply lines before launching a full scale attack.
Poplan interrupts at this point to say the Earth’s surface was altered permanently at this time, and the Earth’s population was reduced to one billion. Julian is surprised Poplan knows this, but Poplan says Konev told him all about this as he always deals with people travelling to Earth.
Two years after the Sirius War ended, Palmgren, the political leader of the whole operation died suddenly from illness. Two of the other leaders began infighting and Frankul plotted a coup over economic issues. Townshent found out moments before and the coup ultimately failed. Chao, the fourth leader had returned to Laglane to establish a music conservatory, but he was murdered by Townshent who was fearful of any potential threat to his power. By 2707, Townshent now had dictatorial power, but a strike on the capital by a neutron bomb killed him and any structure the new government had. Another century of chaos followed until the Galactic Republic was founded.
It seems rather convenient that this video wraps up with humanity in almost the same state as it was in the 21st century only more spread out.
Julian finishes the video and summarizes it up by saying Earth was simply forgotten. That may be true of most people, but Poplan says those on Earth may still remember the former glory of the Earth, in much the same way the old royalty in the Empire did. Poplan wonders how many grudges on Earth have built up over the years, which scares Julian a little before they both head off for food. The episode concludes with Julian thinking back on this scene and thinking that everything Poplan said was true when they arrived on Earth.
Thoughts: So another one of these exposition dumps disguised as a documentary. I thought this one was a bit better than the one last season, and there were a couple surprise interpretations in there as well. I still hope that there is a return to normal action soon.