The first episode of the first Gaiden series of Legend of the Galactic Heroes begins with the story of Reinhard and Kircheis on their first assignment as Imperial officers. Already at the start of their careers, the two friends are having to deal with issues at the Imperial court. At the same time, as Kircheis fondly remembers his childhood with Reinhard and Annerose, they also have to deal with a lack of discipline from the other officers. By the end of the episode, Reinhard’s pursuit of honors on the battlefiel, hatred from the officers and a secret order from the court mean that the two of them will have to fight on the frontlines on their own.
The episode begins with a clearly unhappy Benemunde, who is upset at the fact that Friedrich prefers to have Annerose at his bedside while he is sick to her. She thinks it is possible that one day Annerose may become part of the Imperial family. She then remembers that Annerose’s younger brother recently graduated from military prep school and got a higher rank and post than a normal graduate would. Then, someone tries to correct her on that by saying that Reinhard did not desire a comfortable assignment because of his sister because he is on the front lines. She then says she can make it easier for Reinhard to be killed, even if it isn’t by the enemy.
After the conversation, the recipient of Benemunde’s anger laments the situation. He notes how much Benemunde has changed in 11 years since she arrived. The woman he was traveling with then comments on the fact that men are the ones who cause women to change.
The return of the series court politics angle comes quite quickly here. I do like the line in the carriage about men being the one’s to change women, it was an excellent one-liner and it really applies throughout the series as a whole. I wish there were at least some attempt to name some characters here. Benemunde was recognizable, the other 2 are complete blanks.
On Planet Kapche-Lanka, Reinhard and Kircheis report for their first assignment. They talk to Herder who lectures them that life on the front lines is different from the academy. After than, Reinhard is frustrated that his first battle will be in a frozen wasteland that only has strategic importance in preventing the other side from using its natural resources. Kircheis assured him that the situation meant that it would be easier to obtain glory on the battlefield.
Reinhard ends the conversation by saying he thought Kircheis would have been a great teacher if they had never met. This brings back flashbacks for Kircheis as he remembers meeting Reinhard and Annerose, then the manner in which they parted ways. Then imagining the treatment that she would have received at the hands of Friedrich which is then broken by a woman screaming.
Kircheis runs over to see a woman being assaulted by a group of low-level Imperial officers. They demand that he stay out of their business, but Kircheis orders them to stop. They laugh at him, then Kircheis charged in and began fighting them. He deals with a couple of them before he is restrained. Just as Kircheis is about to be punched, Reinhard arrives and takes down their leader. They eventually disperse after Reinhard threatens to crush his throat with his boot.
I think these scenes serve as a few important reminders. One is that the Imperial military is rotten to the core with its ties to the nobility. That in turn makes Reinhard universally disliked by his superiors because he is the son of a low-level noble who happens to have a connection to the Kaiser that even he would not want. It is also a reminder that although Kircheis serves generally as the logical counterpart to Reinhard, that he is able to pick and fight his own battles.
After that incident, Reinhard discusses disciplinary measures with Herder. The argument is that Kircheis began the fight, so he should face the harshest punishment. Reinhard first argues that he was disciplining them for disobeying orders since Kircheis held a higher rank. Then, Reinhard points out that discipline at the base was poor and reflected badly on the Empire if they just dragged women off of civilian territory. Herder then says he will defer a decision on Kircheis’s punishment.
After Reinhard leaves, Herder and his subordinate talk about how to eliminate Reinhard. Herder holds a letter from someone in the court with the order to make sure Reinhard does not survive. Seeing as Reinhard wants to seek glory on the battlefield, they have the perfect assignment for them.
Reinhard and Kircheis then receive the order to go on a scouting mission on their own the next day. Reinhard knows it is clearly punishment, but he is actually looking forward to it. Kircheis remembers that Reinhard was always like that, and he recalled how he was persuaded to join the military by him. Reinhard then says that they will have to win that battle, then the next one after that.
Thoughts: This was definitely more entertaining than before and it definitely shows more effort was put into the Imperial side than the Alliance side when it came to these Gaiden series. The sending people into suicide missions intending to kill them was again used in Spiral Labyrinth, so I have somehow lost even more respect for that series. I believe this coming battle was alluded to in the main series, and the two of them did manage to fight their way out against numerous Alliance soldiers. Though they obviously survive, it will be interesting to see if they can evoke a greater dramatic tension than Spiral Labyrinth.