Blogging Legend of the Galactic Heroes Episode 103

I think Bittenfeld might be just a little angry here.

The 103rd episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes focuses on the situations on Heinessen and Iserlohn. After recovering from illness, Reinhard orders Oberstein to take command on Heinessen. Meanwhile, Julian is left pondering Iserlohn’s next step in response to Oberstein’s appointment. Back on Heinessen, Oberstein begins his plan much to the dismay of the admirals he commands and setting the stage for more internal conflict.

The episode begins with Reinhard recovering from his fever in late February. Hilde is there to assist him, and suggests that Annerose visit him as she was still on Phezzan. After some conversations between Annerose, her assistant Marika von Feuerbach and Hilde, she eventually paid a visit on the 23rd. Reinhard was very much delighted to see his sister before Hilde excused herself from the room.

Later, Annerose tells Hilde that Reinhard should belong to her. Annerose says Reinhard belonged to her for a long time, but that was no longer the case. She adds that 3 and a half years ago, Reinhard probably thought she had given up on him when he needed to be consoled after Kircheis’ death. Hilde then remembers the meetings she had with Reinhard and Kircheis when they were younger, especially the latter. She clearly loved him, but that was taken away on that day. Hilde thinks about whether Annerose really wanted this outcome. Annerose then holds Hilde’s hands and says that Reinhard’s past was something they shared, but Hilde and Reinhard would share the future together.

Of course it isn’t the situation that Annerose wanted in the end. She undoubtedly wanted to keep Reinhard close while being with the one she loved in Kircheis. After the death, Annerose struggled to separate from her brother, and she feels regrets for the way she did so.

As the impact is still being felt 77 episodes later, I think it's safe to say Kircheis' death was the pivotal moment in everything.

Though the expedition was canceled, there were still the matter of the insurgencies at Iserlohn and in the former Alliance territories to worry about. On the 25th, Reinhard assigned Oberstein to Heinessen, and on the next day he would make his command appointments. Bittenfeld was angry at having to serve under Oberstein, since he personally liked to take responsibility for his actions rather than Oberstein’s. He went on to question why he had to serve a career bureaucrat. Müller could only let Bittenfeld’s remarks pass him by.

Traveling back from Schattenburg, Mittermeyer was informed about the appointments by Bayerlein. He could only express surprise at Oberstein’s move, while also expressing sympathy for the people of Heinessen, who would surely be held under tight control. With Bittenfeld and Müller serving under Oberstein, Mittermeyer wondered who was in the most unenviable position of the 3. With half of the Empire’s 8 Fleet Admirals on Heinessen, Mittermeyer wanted to see them, bar Oberstein, again.

The views toward Oberstein from the rest of the admirals have always been a potential flashpoint. He’s seen as a desk jockey outside of the military who has no idea what the situation is really like, and after Lang he also makes his subordinates suffer.

On Heinessen, news of Iserlohn’s victory passed through the the Empire’s censorship. Various underground organizations began using Yang’s name as a symbol of their pro-democracy protests, though the narrator adds that Yang himself would have embarrassingly shrugged his shoulders in response. After the battle, Wahlen had stayed at Gandharva rather than interfere with the protesters and waited for the fleets from Phezzan to arrive.

I think Yang would be facepalming from beyond the grave at this situation

The protests are peculiar as the narrator points out. The ones protesting were the same ones that saw him as a hero when he was fighting for him, however, they never did anything for the institution he was defending. After he dies and the Empire is messing up it’s administration, suddenly they care about democracy again. It just took Julian’s victory to remind them of what they once had.

On Iserlohn, the excitement from victory was in the past since they could not afford to bask in victory for long. Karin and Frederica met in a corridor and proceeded to talk about their respective careers. Frederica asks Karin how old she is, and when Karin says she just turned 17, Frederica begins to remember where she was at that age and how she had no combat experience and how she was more immature than Karin is now. Karin says she is still immature, but tries to hide it when it is pointed out by her peers. As the two go into an elevator, the narrator tells us that Karin feels she can be honest with Frederica and that she wants to be the same with a few other people. Whether this was part of her maturing or something else was an open question.

Meanwhile, Cazellnu wondered what Frederica was planning to do with Yang’s remains. Hortance said that Frederica wanted him to be buried on Heinessen, and that she probably believed that Iserlohn not a place Yang wanted to rest after he died. After asking if Hortance if she was going into another prophesy, his daughter asks what that was. She gives an example saying that if she tells a man in the future “I know what you did,” that man would be startled. After the dinner arrangements are finalized, Cazellnu then thinks about Iserlohn’s situation as isolated, with a poor male-female population ratio and easy to monitor from the outside, but he wondered what Julian would do about that.

The news of Oberstein’s appointment made it’s way to Iserlohn, and Julian along with the officers discussed their options. After Schenkopp and Linz talked about Oberstein as a youth, the latter yet unborn when he left the Empire, Attenborough raised an intriguing possibility. He asked what Julian would do if Oberstein chose to abandon Heinessen. Most seemed to think it would be bait as Heinessen was vulnerable to a large scale attack, whereas Iserlohn was safe. Julian said they would have to make the first move in any case. Poplan then said they could trade the data disk on the Terraists in exchange for a planet. Julian said they would need something else, a military victory, to bring Reinhard to the negotiating table. After Poplan was excited at the possibility of further action, Julian said they would have to wait to see how the situation turned before they acted. Julian thought about the Earth again at this point, and he saw it as a place without a future, but he knew where the future lie though.

On March 14th, Reinhard celebrated his 25th birthday. It was an important holiday in which officers were given the day off and a bonus. Reinhard’s health meant the party was canceled, but Annerose had a painting delivered which symbolized her feelings for the couple and her hopes for a long future.

While Reinhard was recovering, Rubinsky was heading in the opposite direction. Dominque stood over the weakened Rubinsky as he expressed his surprise over her sentimental actions to help Elfriede. After tormenting him by saying how his actions to disrupt the Empire had been failures, Rubinsky said that sometimes one has to take a chance when they don’t hold the best hand. Dominque begins to remember when they first met, which leads Rubinsky to think she will sell him out like Kesselink. She denies that and says she is only talking about how he will be remembered by history. Whether he stopped Reinhard or merely tried to trip him will be something that Rubinsky can not argue.

History will not take too kindly to this man

I thought the statement by Dominique was fairly interesting. It’s hard to see what Rubinsky has been fighting for at times. The fact that his plans have only inconvenienced Reinhard at best will not reflect well on him long-term. There’s also a sense that she is trying to encourage him to pull off one last act to be remembered by as well.

On March 20th, Oberstein arrived on Heinessen along with Bittenfeld who continued to tell everyone in sight how he did not want to be involved in Oberstein’s affairs. After saying that if he died in the process, he would kick Oberstein out of Valhalla’s carriage. When someone points out Oberstein can hear him, Bittenfeld says it is his family’s tradition to denounce someone loudly. While Oberstein went directly to the Supreme Headquarters, Müller and Bittenfeld set up their arrangements at hotels near the airport. Oberstein had no issue with this as the next thing he had to do did not need the 2 admirals.

The next day, Oberstein had so-called “dangerous elements” arrested. In his “Grass Mowing Operation” he had the likes of Huang Louis, Murai, Paeta and Oliveira arrested, as part of having anyone associated with the Alliance confined. The operation confused Müller and Bittenfeld, who wondered if arresting so many people would make it harder to maintain order. Regardless, their attention turned to capturing Iserlohn, with Bittenfeld saying he would fight his own way even if ordered differently by Oberstein. Müller also held up hopes for the return of Wahlen from Gandharva.

For the next 10 days, the 3 admirals were never called upon by Oberstein and fulfilled their own duties. Finally on April 1st, they paid Oberstein a visit. Bittenfeld starts by with a request, which Oberstein orders him to keep brief and succinct. Bittenfeld then asks whether a rumor about a despicable plan to trade those arrested to Iserlohn in exchange for the fortress is true. Oberstein says it is regrettable to be criticized based on rumor is unfortunate, but he doesn’t disavow the rumor. As Bittenfeld visibly grows angry and Wahlen expresses his own worries, Oberstein says that now isn’t the moment for bloody military fantasies. Logically, he says it makes more sense exchanging 10,000 prisoners than the deaths of 1 million Imperial soldiers to get the fortress. Bittenfeld says they should think about the honor of the Imperial fleets, which gets a cynical response out of Oberstein. Bittenfeld then goes on to say how easily he could take Iserlohn alone, and with the help of Müller and Wahlen’s fleets they would have more than enough. Then, Oberstein says that he cannot base his strategy on someone with no track record of success and they are past the point where the military was needed alone. Wahlen and Müller restrain Bittenfeld as he tries to go after Oberstein for his track record comment, then Bittenfeld wonders how he could criticize the track record of those who have fought along Reinhard and won so much. Oberstein responds by saying he knows their track records very well and asks how many times the 3 of them let Yang experience success over them.

Bittenfeld then jumps over the desk and tackles Oberstein to the ground. After they are broken up, Oberstein fixes his collar then orders Müller to take command of the Black Lancers while Bittenfeld is put on administrative leave. Müller questions the order and says the Black Lancers would only serve Bittenfeld. Oberstein then says the Black Lancers are only one group in the Imperial fleet. Müller then asks what Reinhard would think of Oberstein’s plan since the presence of 3 admirals along with their fleets suggested that Reinhard wanted to engage with a dignified fleet battle.

Oberstein then gives a critique of the attitude toward in general. He says pride in the Kaiser is the reason for the millions of Imperial remains scattered in the corridor. If they had done this 2 years earlier, millions of lives would have been saved. He then says that the Empire is not Reinhard’s personal territory, and the Imperial Fleet is not his private military force. He asks them if their is a law that says the Kaiser can sacrifice millions of lives out of personal pride. If so, that would make it no different from the Goldenbaum Dynasty. Ferner observes that Oberstein is right in this case, but that will undoubtedly make him hated. Oberstein then restates that he was given command of their fleets as an agent of the Empire by Reinhard, and they should take any complaints to the Kaiser himself. Ferner then thinks that there was a hypocrisy at play within Oberstein as he went from criticizing the Kaiser one moment to using his name to reinforce his position the next, which Ferner thinks the admirals will also sense. Oberstein then declares the meeting over and asks Ferner to show them out.

Did he really just say that?

Thoughts: Well that was completely unexpected from Oberstein at the end, but Ferner is definitely right. The military culture in the Empire simply does not tolerate the pragmatism of someone like Oberstein. His image as the gloomy presence in the Imperial ranks as symbolized by Schenkopp simply doesn’t apply to someone who can confidently state an opinion that goes against the vast majority of the Empire. However, his position seems to go against Reinhard’s initial wishes, and it will have to be addressed very soon.

7 thoughts on “Blogging Legend of the Galactic Heroes Episode 103”

  1. I always am of the view that Paul von Oberstein is one of the Heroes in the Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Truly he served Reinhard well enough, but only so far as it is his duty to do so. His greater duty to me seemed to lay in the preservation of the Empire and putting forth the very best Empire as possible… despite the natural limits of Reinhard and his contemporaries.

    1. I actually thought that his speech on the limits of power was very much in line with what Yang’s views on democracy. Oberstein, being who he is, can’t frame the fact that he is saving millions of lives in a way to make it seem like that is a good thing. He’s a hero in the sense that his actions are toward creating a better future for the Empire, while also taking responsibility for some of Reinhard’s less popular decisions.

  2. I could never see Oberstein as a hero because he was simply too pragmatic. His overriding duty is to the Lohengramm Dynasty as an institution, and that colors his judgment.

    Consider the “no weapons” policy which pretty much caused Kircheis’ death in the first place. Or his ill-conceived idea to send Kempf and Muller against Iserlohn, purely because he didn’t want Mittermeyer and Reuental to get too full of themselves (I mean *really*, why send anyone but your best up against Yang?).

    Of course, Reinhard does share responsibility with Oberstein’s failings by going along with them (including the Westerland atrocity).

    1. That’s a fairly interesting philosophical point you are trying to make. Can a hero be pragmatic? I think you really have to measure Oberstein’s decision making by it’s intent rather than the end result.

      The “no weapon” policy wasn’t really the primary cause of Kircheis’ death. Rather the blame really should have been left at whoever allowed Braunschweig’s body to be brought into the chamber with a rocket launcher.

      The Kempf and Müller appointment didn’t go to plan, but those were probably the 2 most likely people to show loyalty to Reinhard had they succeeded.

      Lennenkampt’s appointment on Heinessen had a similarly farcical end, but I think that was vindicated by Reuenthal’s rebellion and the fact Wahlen seemed powerless in charge.

      Westerland was another case where he dispassionately went against the prevailing wisdom of military pride and the end result worked out about as well as it could on paper, and the intent was to save many more lives.

  3. That’s a good point, though as far as Westerland is concerned, I really do have a problem with the way the relevant episode handled Oberstein’s arguments for it. It just didn’t seem very likely to me that Westerland was necessary for a speedier victory. Maybe its true purpose, in Oberstein’s eyes, was making Reinhard out to be a hero in the eyes of the people (rather than just the military, as the episode notes) – i.e. planning for the aftermath of the war. Because the nobles were well bottled up in Geiersburg, and whilst the Westerland incident results in mass defections from the nobles’ (few remaining) forces and saved some lives, I have trouble believing it would’ve saved millions.

  4. Oberstein’s point to the admirals about the Black Lancer’s being just one of the many fleets in the Empire is actually important. One of the things that bothered me about the way the militaries (but specially the Imperial side) in LOGH operate, in which the fleet commanders have a kind of ownership over their units. Most of the time one refers to units not by their name or number but that of their commander (the Yang Fleet, the Muller fleet and so on). The military of any well functioning state periodically rotates its commanders precisely to avoid this sense of ownership. Bittenfeldt is making a very valid point in this case.

    On another note, I just wish to point that we finally get some kind of confirmation of what we’ve suspected since Kircheis’ death, namely that Annerose von Grunwald was also smitten by him and that his death strained her relationship to her brother. Considering that she’s the motor of so much that goes on in LOGH, I feel it’s exciting to speculate what would have happened if those two (Annerose and Kircheis), ever had actually started a relationship. I can’t help but thinking that Reinhardt for all his greatness, would have been reduced to a snivelling jealous teenager if he’d seen his onee-sama holding hands with his best friend.

  5. Re: fleets, some things to note:-

    * No Imperial fleets have numbers, they’re all named after their Admirals;
    * The Alliance fleets were all by number – Yang’s fleet did start off as the 13th, after all. But an interesting thing happens after Amlitzer – the 13th Fleet designation falls out of use, and the narrator says that “the Yang Fleet” was officially formed, with Iserlohn as its home.

    Whilst its true that the sense of ‘ownership’ of military units is problematic for any modern state (just look at Julius Caesar for why its dangerous) they must value morale and esprit-de-corps more. How else to explain (outside of starship pornography, that is) the Empire and Alliance’s curious penchant for gifting every single one of their Admirals (above a certain rank) unique warships that are obviously not in serial production? Heck, imagine the amount of paint that went into Guen van Hugh’s battleship Mauria when he (presumably) requisitioned it be painted in tiger-stripes- she’s 975m long!

    Still, I’d say its not too big a deal. We saw that Fahrenheit’s fleet was absorbed into the Black Lancers with little consequence for unit cohesion, even though they had ample reason to hate Bittenfeld for his responsibility in Fahrenheit’s demise., in the end they got with the program at Bittenfeld’s urging, just like any other Black Lancer would.

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