The first episode of Spiral Labyrinth begins with the story of El Facil and the beginning of Yang’s legend. The El Facil story for those who haven’t been following was an event where Yang successfully managed to evacuate the planet’s civilians against all odds before the Empire could close in. This episode focuses mainly on how Yang got to that spot and a few of the decisions he had to make when there.
This episode can effectively be split into 3 parts. The first is Yang’s formative years, while the second and third parts would cover the time before and after he was able to exert influence on El Facil.
The Portrait of a Military Genius as a Young Man
This section of the story began with Yang learning a few things from his father. While he wanted to study history, his father told him that money and interest in the arts were what made a person whole. The former because having enough money meant not having to take orders from others. Soon after, the merchant ship they were on ran into trouble, and his father sacrificed himself to save the rest of the crew from imminent disaster.
After that, Yang learned the lessons of his father quickly. His father was in tremendous debt and his collection of art turned out to be entirely fakes. With no money to his name, Yang searched for a place to study history, but the war meant that funding had been cut from scholarships. This meant the only place he could go was the Alliance Military Academy.
Once there, he made friends with Lap, but focused his academic efforts on history and tactics. The latter of which allowed him to beat a so-called “once in a generation” talent in a simulation in typical Yang fashion. Unfortunately, the history program at the academy was cut and being unable to repay his tuition, Yang accepted his order as an enlisted officer.
These scenes didn’t exactly reveal anything new, apart from maybe Yang’s father having no clue about art dealing. It did, however, serve to remind the audience of just how reluctant Yang was about serving in the military, while at the same time doing anything he could to study history.
My Superiors are Idiots Part 1
The story returns to the action near El Facil where Admiral Lynch is surprised by the Imperial fleet’s strategy of faking a retreat. He soon orders a retreat of his own to El Facil, leaving the rest of his fleet confused and choosing to surrender. On their arrival on the planet, they were greeted by 3 million citizens who desperately wanted to leave rather than face working the rest of their lives in Imperial gulags.
Lynch needed someone to create an evacuation plan, and such was the importance of the task to him that he delegated it to someone who looked like they had nothing else to do. That man, of course, was Yang Wen-li. Yang took up the task easily enough accomplishing all that had to be done even if the evacuees thought he was too lowly and young an officer to be handling the job. He turned the plan over to Lynch, who responded later by fleeing the planet in a few ships with his fellow officers.
This part of the story revisited Lynch, whose infamous acts in this episode were never fully revealed during his participation in the main series’ coup. At least now I could actually see why he was such a hated figure for putting his own personal safety above that of others. Also, the famed Yang meeting with Frederica had to be played out here again. It’s probably the most covered angle on El Facil at this point.
Miracle Yang pulls off his first trick
With Lynch out of the way, Yang was able to do things his way. His calmness eased the evacuees as he assured them they would be safe. He did this by getting them to understand that Lynch had deserted them, but that also meant they would be a diversion. Once back in space, the transport ships from El Facil were able to escape on the hubris of an Imperial commander dismissing the large number of objects on radar as asteroids. Yang had pulled off his first miracle and his legend was just beginning.
I think the lesson from this isn’t that much different from the main series. Yang is able to pull off amazing feats if he is able to lead on his own or is commanded by someone who works well with him. If that isn’t the case, Yang does about as well as anyone in rescuing bad situations, but it is largely damage control. Unfortunately, he has to deal with a military that sees pragmatists like himself as less important than the Wideborns of the world who don’t see the larger picture in battle.
Thoughts: I thought I would do these chronologically rather than in release date order. Apparently that means the next 3 months will be spent on Yang, but I digress. The first thing I noticed was that, although this is from the 2nd Gaiden series, the first episode very much resembled the first episode of the main series. My complaint then was on sound, this time it is the character designs. They are definitely flashier, but they also look very cheap and rushed. So onto the 2nd episode where Yang will likely have to deal with his growing reputation and interference from higher ups.