The 2nd of 3 Legend of the Galactic Heroes movies is mostly devoted to two separate battles which showcase the talents of Yang and Reinhard and marks the beginning of the rivalry between the two. The first is a battle on the Planet Legnica before concluding with the 4th battle of Tiamat. In that time, the weakness of those higher up than Yang and Reinhard are fully revealed.
The action in the movie starts off quickly as Reinhard’s fleet is sent off to Planet Legnica to deal with Alliance forces even before they arrive on Iserlohn. Muckenburger says that it is just more efficient that way, even as Oberstein raised mild objection. Reuenthal and Mittermeyer also know that Reinhard has to accept the order, so off to the planet they go.
We are then introduced to the device used to portray the common Imperial soldier in the form of two gunners on the Brünhild. The older soldier is completely relaxed as they head to an environment where they would be blind, while the younger one is tense as it appears to be his first battle. He’s told to relax or he will tire out by the time of the battle, as the older soldier says, they only have the job of firing when told.
The plot then moves on to their opponents in this battle, a group of Alliance ships commanded by Paeta. Yang happens to be serving as his Operations Analyst, a position that Paeta finds worthless in real battle. So Yang headed back to his quarters to indulge in a bit of coffee mixed with liquor supplied by Attenborough.
The battle gets off to a quick start as the Alliance fleet maneuvered out into the open in front of Reinhard’s fleet. Both sides struggle with the winds in the high atmosphere, but Reinhard and Kircheis get an idea on how to use that to their advantage. After firing for a long enough period, the winds temporarily stopped. Paeta saw it as an advantage as he had more ships. However, Yang and Attenborough immediately realize something is up right as Reinhard has his fleet ascend.
As the winds pick up rapidly, Yang suggested to Paeta that they ascend immediately even if they are going to be fired at. Then, he quickly realizes that’s pointless as he’s being yelled at for even suggesting it. He walked over to Attenborough and told him that if he were in Reinhard’s position, he could wipe the Alliance fleet out in one shot because of the composition of the atmosphere, but he doubted the Empire would have someone aware of that.
Unfortunately, they did. Reinhard ordered a nuclear missile to be fired at the planet’s surface. The missile passed through the Alliance fleets on its way past, at which point Yang and Attenborough made their move. Attenborough pretended to fall into the ascent controls right before the explosion wiped out most of their fleet. Yang had saved the ship as Paeta struggled to understand what had happened. Reuenthal was grateful that he didn’t have Reinhard as an enemy.
The reaction on both sides was pretty much summed up by luck. Yang and Attenborough were lucky enough to escape the explosion because of their quick thinking. Paeta blamed the result on the weather and refused to acknowledge he had made a mess out of the operation. On the Imperial side, Muckenburger and Flegel dismissed Reinhard’s victory in the battle entirely on luck. They figured it would have to run out soon, as they planned for the encounter at Tiamat.
Later, Yang and Attenborough talk in the former’s quarters. Yang is still a well-known hero within the Alliance as he receives tons of fan mail and love letters from people who admire him. Yang thinks the personally, El Facil was a mistake for him. He can’t retire as the young hero of the military, and the older officers hate him. The pay is also something to complain about. Yang then reveals that he has thought for some time about a strategy to win the war, but he’s confident no one would allow him to try it. They are interrupted by the announcement that they are heading to try to take Iserlohn again.
The Empire is aware of the Alliance’s movements, and Muckenburger handed out the fleet positions on the eve of the battle. Reinhard was given the entire left wing of the formation. The story quickly moved back to the common soldiers where the two gunners discussed how this battle would be a light loss since there wasn’t a way this war would end quickly since it had been 150 years. While at a local pub, insults about Annerose prompted a scuffle among soldiers under Reinhard and other fleets. Kircheis ultimately intervened and made the younger officers feel more confident by simply knowing their names.
The next day, and to the soundtrack of Ravel’s “Bolero”, the 4th Battle of Tiamat began with Reinhard’s fleet making a seemingly suicidal charge in front of the Alliance fleet because he was ordered to do so. Yang immediately deduced that the Imperial Command wanted to be rid of Reinhard, which disgusted him greatly. At the last moment, Reinhard ordered his fleet to turn starboard. This maneuver so shocked the Alliance fleet, that they didn’t fire as they believed it was a trap. Yang, knowing Reinhard’s skill, urged them to fire to no avail.
After Reinhard had managed to guide his fleet to the Alliance’s left wing, the battle properly got underway. Mecklinger nervously pointed out how bold a plan that was, and Reinhard vowed to never use such a dangerous strategy again. The battle between the main fleets was largely even as their sizes were roughly even. As far as the reactions of the commanders, Lobos was upset no one had fired on Reinhard’s fleet, while Muckenburger couldn’t ask Reinhard to join in because he would lose face.
Ultimately, Reinhard would rejoin the battle as Kircheis convinced him of the lives that would be saved on the Imperial side. The battle quickly turned into a rout, and the Alliance immediately went into planning an escape. They planned on sending a decoy fleet at Iserlohn and hoped it would provide a path to retreat. Since this was essentially a suicide mission, no one stood up to volunteer until Yang did. Attenborough chose to accompany him because he would rather die under Yang’s command than in their current predicament.
Yang’s small group of ships launched toward Iserlohn and Muckenburger started to turn the main fleet’s attention to it. Reinhard, though, knew it was a ghost fleet and Mittermeyer had already dispatched 12 ships to take care of them. Reinhard sent the message to Muckenburger that the fleet was a decoy, which allowed the Imperial fleet to completely surround the Alliance fleet.
There was to be one final twist in this battle. Yang in the Ulysses had survived the assault from the ships sent to defeat them. In the chaos of the end of the battle, Yang guided the Ulysses directly underneath the Brünhild. With Reinhard held hostage, both sides ceased firing. Reinhard issued an order to fire, but Steinmetz as captain of the Brünhild told him to worry about commanding the fleet instead. Slowly the Alliance fleets made their escape and eventually Yang joined them.
The result of the battle was clearly a defeat for the Alliance. Yang scoffed as Trunicht praised the soldiers sacrifice in the holy war against the Empire. On the other side, Reinhard proved without a doubt that he had the talent to belong where he was without his sister’s help. However, both Yang and Reinhard were aware of each other for future battles, which complicated the plans both had for their personal goals.
Thoughts: Finally, Legend of the Galactic Heroes as I remember it. The focus on the two battles made this much more entertaining than anything I had seen since I finished the main OVA. Reinhard and Yang begin their epic rivalry with a bang, and to think how close it could have been from ending quickly for either. Next week, it’s back to the 1st Gaiden OVA to wrap up the Dishonor arc.