Episode 31 – Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Collision

As anyone who follows Legend of the Galactic Heroes knows, Reinhard von Lohengramm and Siegfried Kircheis were really, really good friends. We know it, and everyone in the show knows it, since an understanding of it upon Kircheis’s untimely demise was the major catalyst for the final power upheaval in Reinhard’s favor at the end of last season. And now in this episode, we revisit the cherished friendship of those two again, with the title of ‘What Was Lost’ specifically referring to Kircheis and his loss’s effect on Reinhard, and much of it centering on characters discussing that or ideas tangential to it. This is all framing the continued project of warping Geiersburg Fortress, following up on the suggestion from a couple episodes ago that Reinhard is throwing himself into the daunting task as a distraction from the grief he’s still feeling over his Special Friend. Unlike in that instance though, it’s being communicated through those meditations and conversations with the characters, putting it a cut above what the narrator was just reading off to us there.

Attempting to fill the void as Reinhard’s personal council is Hilde, who gets the most time adjacent to the Prime Minister and his projects this week (and just in this episode in general). She, along with a few others in Reinhard’s inner circle, find themselves specifically reflecting on “What Would Kircheis Do?” as a question of guidance. Hilde, to her credit, shows an understanding of Reinhard’s personal struggles (even if she would never tell him out loud what she thinks is bothering him) as well as a knack for analyzes of psychology and historical-context politics. She’s hardly on Yang’s level, but she does astutely come to the same conclusion that we saw the Fezzan folks working off of last week: An organization of people primarily needs an enemy to unite them. She’s even able to confirm that the true enemy of Reinhard and his people ought to probably be the lingering Goldenbaum Dynasty, rather than the nominal rebels of the Alliance.

Putting this pointedly parallel with Fezzan’s machinations we saw last week does a smart job of tying the ongoing plots together a bit more, to say nothing of letting Hilde show off as something other than a sounding board for Reinhard, but it does also highlight some of the shortcomings here in Die Neue These. I didn’t particularly mention it last week, but that episode oddly omitted the line between Rubinsky and Kesserling that specified how Yang’s position in the Alliance was dependent on them needing him to oppose Reinhard. I felt like the lingering implication of the point was fine at the time, but it does mean the connection doesn’t land as immediately strong when Hilde brings up enemy-uniting focus as a relevant point to Reinhard’s reign.

The other issue that re-emerges out of this is the old emotional focus. Die Neue These has regularly proved contentious for its rather…stiff handling of many of the characters’ personalities, particularly the connection between Reinhard and Kircheis. It was especially egregious when it came off like the series wasn’t willing to show either character express any tenderness or affection until after Kircheis was a corpse. Similar to that issue with communicating things entirely via narrator a couple weeks ago, this episode has so many of the characters in Reinhard’s orbit exposit about how vacant and distant they can tell he’s feeling as he mulls over the loss of Kircheis, but we still barely see that reflected in his attitude or behaviors. Part of that admittedly makes sense, as it’s made clear that one of Reinhard’s coping mechanisms here is throwing himself into the Geiersburg project with an all-business facade, not letting his mask slip, for instance, until he takes some time for private reflection in the same room in the fortress that Kircheis spilled his ketchup all over that fateful day. But it still all comes off as too dry a solution for communicating these kinds of feelings he must be going through to simply have other characters explain how they can tell how sad he must be feeling, or cycling through lingering on dramatic shots of setpieces from last season (See, the damage from the attack is still present in the room, just as it is upon Reinhard himself, do you get it?).

And least you think I’m getting picky about an adaptation three seasons into this particular way of doing things, Die Neue These actually demonstrates an aptitude for such subtleties and emotional indulgences in this very episode! Mecklinger’s visit with Hilde’s cousin Kummel (who somehow looks even worse for wear in this version than he did in 1991) includes a nice job of selling Meckler’s little taken-aback reaction to Kummel’s situation. Then again the bit also includes voice-over specifically letting us know which parts of the conversation were foreshadowing, so perhaps subtlety still isn’t all that much a strong element. As well, we get to spend more time with Kempff and his family before he heads off to the big, defining setpiece battle with Geiersberg, and there’s some nice, baseline emotion to that setup. Of course, it also comes off like some pretty hilariously-obvious tragedy bait, to the point that even Kempff’s wife says in-story that it feels like he’s pushing his luck. That’s the irony, I suppose: You ask for Die Neue These to commit to a bit more emotional drama, and they end up swerving a little too far in that direction.

For all the imperfections of tone and emotion, I’m still mostly satisfied with this episode as a setup installment. I ultimately have to prefer the likes of Mittermeyer and Reuenthal discussing the ins and outs of what’s compelling Reinhard’s particular strategy, or what it says about the health of the nation he’s leading, to that old narrator. It blends some character with those more studious concepts to chew on that I so expect from LOGH. And I admit I’ll always have a weakness for any entry that reminds me of the rolling relationship of those boys who are friends, Reinhard and Kircheis.


Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Collision is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.

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