Blogging Legend of the Galactic Heroes Episode 81

Schneider takes a quick nap

The 81st episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees the battle for the corridor resume as Yang takes on most of the 2nd-tier Imperial admirals in consecutive battles. In the process, he has to deal with a devastating loss of his own. Ultimately, the conclusion of the battle is shaped away from the battlefield rather than on it.

The episode begins with the return of Yang’s forces to Iserlohn. They are clearly exhausted from the constant battles, but morale remains high due to the psychological effect of forcing the Imperial forces into a temporary retreat. The next morning, after Poplan and Attenborough engage in their typical banter, Yang says they have little choice but to go on the offensive because of the difference in numbers.

After launching the attack late in the day, Yang runs into resistance provided by Müller, who Yang says is living up to his Ironshield nickname. At the same time he thinks about Müller, Steinmetz and Fahrenheit and he believes they fought out of loyalty to one man, Reinhard. At the same time, he hopes that Julian is not fighting for him, but rather for democracy.

I think this was a rather strange position to take for Yang. The reason he is still able to fight is because he has men who fight only for him and not some government body. If they had really wanted to fight for democracy they would have been fighting with Bucock and Trung all those episodes ago.

The battle continued, and Yang’s strategy appeared to be working in breaking down Müller’s fleet using mines and artillery fire. In the midst of this, a report of Mittermeyer’s death was delivered to Reinhard, which stirred an emotional response out of Reuenthal, but Mittermeyer was quick to send a message confirming he survived.

The next day, Reinhard made a change in strategy for the battle. After announcing Steinmetz’s posthumous elevation to Fleet Admiral and Hilde’s appointment, he stated that they would use brute force in fighting Yang. After the meeting Hilde confronts him by accusing him of chasing down Yang and cornering him when he posed no threat to his power. While Reinhard admits she would be the only one who would say that to him, he does not appreciate the sentiment.

The next day, the Imperial forces moved on their new plan. They attacked in waves which attacked then quickly retreated. This was exactly the strategy Yang feared, but even returning to Iserlohn was not an option because Müller could quickly move on it.

While Yang was having trouble finding the time to formulate a strategy, Hilde and Emil were concerned about Reinhard’s health. After delivering food to him, Hilde stops Emil and they talk about how he has barely eaten. She thinks he may have a fever, while Emil thinks it could be the excitement of the battle.

That plate of food has important plot significance.

Most of this season has seen Reinhard seemingly fatigued from something. At this point, it’s become obvious that something else is wrong with him. The excitement of the battle would inevitably make it worse, which is why I don’t find the timing of it convenient.

After 30 hours, Müller’s fleet had to pull back due to fatigue and mounting losses, but they were quickly replaced by Eisenach’s fleet. They moved quickly to try to surround Attenborough’s retreating fleet, but ultimately were caught in a pincer maneuver and were forced to surrender. Although he did leave openings in his retreat, Eisenach could not get Yang to bite, because he was more worried about resupply and replacing injured soldiers at the front.

With Yang’s fleet nearing its limit, they were quickly attacked by the fleets of Mittermeyer’s subordinates. The fleets of Büro, Bayerlein, Sinzer and Droizen were quickly pushed back, which delayed the arrival of the next line of attack which was Bittenfeld and the remnants of Fahrenheit’s fleet. Bittenfeld pushed his own flagship forward in the battle and while Yang was able to surround his fleet, the reduced number of ships in command meant that the Black Lancers were able to do tremendous damage. Ultimately, Bittenfeld had to retreat without defeating Yang, but the damage had been done.

The attack had destroyed the Shiva which was commanded by Fischer. This was of great strategic importance because much of Yang’s success in fending off the Imperial forces was because of Fischer’s navigational skills. It also left Yang’s fleet vulnerable to a full frontal assault, but the Empire was not attacking because they had a concern of their own.

Reinhard had fallen ill and had to be treated by a team of doctors. Hilde tells Mittermeyer and Reuenthal that the best reason they can come up with for his illness is fatigue. Reuenthal laments that the body of someone who gets nourishment from war is unable to handle the constant excitement. He recommends that they withdrawal from the corridor, which they ultimately do. Mittermeyer is furious at the fact that while the Empire can conquer all of the galaxy that they cannot conquer one man.

Yang, meanwhile, tells Attenborough not to pursue and then notices that Frederica is struggling to stand up. He confirms that she has a fever and tells her to rest before ordering her to do so when she initially hesitates. Julian prepares to take over her role when they receive a message from Reinhard offering a ceasefire and negotiations.

Yang did not respond to the initial request for a ceasefire because he wanted to return to Iserlohn and recover from the consecutive battles of the past week. Upon their return to Iserlohn, soldiers began collapsing from exhaustion all over the fortress, which leads Schneider to comment on the trouble they would be in if the Empire returned, before he collapses in an elevator himself.

For the Imperial forces, many of them are forced to accept the fact that Reinhard wishes to negotiate even though they want to keep fighting. Bittenfeld remains confident that the talks will collapse and the war will resume.

Thoughts: This episode had the feel of a final encounter of sorts. It was one last battle between Yang and the Empire which was fought to a conclusion that no one really wanted. It seems about right that the Church survivors would arrive in the chaos and do their damage on Iserlohn with no one able to stop them, which I hope doesn’t happen. Reinhard’s seeming weakness lately also further sets the stage for conflict amongst the Imperial admirals in the final season, but that is still at least a few episodes off.

14 thoughts on “Blogging Legend of the Galactic Heroes Episode 81”

  1. Attenborough will later comment on what soldiers fight for, and I find his explanation eloquent in his own way.

    While I should have known all along that Iserlohnn would be an important place in the show, I never expected it to be such an important and historic locality. It’s almost a character in itself. I feel there should be a history on just the fortress. Maybe I’ll do it, but I may not have the energy for it.

    1. I guess certain places take on a character of their own. The fortress I feel is just a way of symbolizing control over the actual entrances to the corridor which have much high strategic significance.

  2. Fischer’s death and the importance Yang attaches to it, show’s how Reinhardt was not the only one who surrounded himself with talented subordinates. Yang’s exploits would not have been possible without men like Fischer and Murai, who provided shape and discipline to Yang’s ideas.

    1. I guess it would be typical of history to forget people who were critical to the events, but weren’t actually very interesting. The Imperial subordinates have had a lot more focus on them because Reuenthal, Mittermeyer, Oberstein, Bittenfeld, etc. all seem to have a certain amount of influence in their own right, while Fischer and Murai aren’t the most interesting personalities.

  3. Here is my summary on the novel’s information on the origin of Iserlohn Fortress, I hope it helps.

    The concept of constructing a fortress in the Iserlohn Corridor first surfaced right before the Empire launched its first invasion into the Alliance which of course culminated in the Empire’s massive defeat at the Battle of Dagon. It was the brother of Emperor Fridriech III who made the proposal because he saw the invasion as an unnecessary adventure but it was shot down by the self confident Emperor. As the conflict raged on around the Corridor, both sides became more aware of its strategic importance since they had begun to rely on numerous ad hoc military bases in the Corridor’s vicinity. The second person to come up with a somewhat similar concept was the Free Planets Alliance’s Admiral Ashby (he appears in Spiral Labyrinth). What he proposed was more like constructing a large scale military base rather than a full fledged fortress. However, when the Alliance’s political leadership demanded Ashby to choose between enlarging the Space Fleet and constructing a fortress in the Iserlohn Corridor, he chose the former. The Iserlohn Fortress we have become familiar with was constructed during the reign of Emperor Otto Friedrich V. The one in charge of the construction was Count Luderitz. He had a less than stellar record as a fleet admiral so the Emperor wanted the Count to redeem his reputation by displaying his exceptional administrative skills. The construction of the fortress started in Space Calendar 767 and Imperial Year 459 and was completed five years after. The construction was delayed not only because of the fortress’ sheer size but also because the Emperor had misgivings about the related costs and put a stop order on several occasions. The Emperor also reproached Count Luderitz for the high costs and it resulted in his suicide in the middle of the construction process.

    1. That’s interesting information there. I think it shows that even a 110-part OVA cannot fit in every bit of information from the source materials.

      1. In fact, there is a full fledged side story volume called “Julian’s Iserlohn Diary” and it wasn’t even adapted into anime unlike other side story volumes. But that’s just a piece of an iceberg. But to its credit, the anime actually added some new story elements that weren’t in the novel. This is especially noticeable during the first season. For example, Yang’s visit to Thernusen in ep 10, Kesler’s role in Reinhard’s scorched earth strategy in ep 13 and the tragic story of Valleymunt in ep 14 aren’t even in the novel. And the anime is a lot more detailed in describing various fleets’ situations in episodes 14 and 15.

      2. The first 20 or so episodes are strange in a way because it seemed like they were caught between faithfully adapting the material or producing spectacle. Hence why we get original stories trying to make the Empire seem worse than it was before it really finds its stride with the Lippstadt arc.

  4. Wow. I have to admit that when I read stuff like Joshutree’s post, I am forever gutted at the fact that the novels will probably never be translated to english.

    1. I was thinking that if it had originally been written in English it would be cult material with a small, but devoted following. It’s probably about the same in Japan, and as a result there’s really no chance of it being translated since it would never be commercially viable. It’s a shame really.

      1. Actually, the novel was quite popular in Japan and Korea. Close to 10 million copies were sold in Japan alone. In some ways, it’s similar to how Romance of the Three Kingdoms is so popular in East Asia but not so in the West.

      2. With that theory destroyed, I then have to go on the notion that publishers think that Western readers cannot handle something with this level of depth and cover the translation and licensing costs. It’s a shame really.

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