This year I saw three anime that made it into my top 10, amusingly none of which aired this year. These were Berserk, Gankutsuou and Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Each of them have a bit of an elitist atmosphere surrounding them and their fans, and it’s pretty easy to see why, even if I think they’re more accessible than their reputation would have you believe. Certainly I think anyone could enjoy Gankutsuou. Its animation style is less artfaggory and more flashy and pretty. Berserk is probably a bit more difficult to recommend, but the story of Berserk is not complicated at all and has enough raw entertainment to be pretty accessible. Galactic Heroes is slightly different though.
When I first started watching Galactic Heroes, I found myself wondering why this has such an elitist reputation. The appeal you draw from Galactic Heroes wasn’t a whole lot different to, say, Death Note or some Gundam series. Politics and masterminds at work. The politics is handled with a hell of a lot more wisdom than your typical Gundam series, but that’s still the primary draw. Plus, it’s silly enough to make fun of while you’re watching it. Julian Minci performing flying kicks is quite low down on that list of silliness, especially when Reinhard is using every moment when he’s not talking to flick back his beautiful golden locks, or Yang Wenli is waxing philosophical about the glories of alcohol. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, so why do most reviews act like it’s unapproachable?
It did eventually creep up on me why Galactic Heroes has this reputation. Let’s go over the facts again. 110 episodes long old anime with animation that didn’t look good even in its day. It doesn’t really have a slow start, seeing as it doesn’t exactly do anything different at the start of the series compared to the rest. It just takes you a while to get sucked into the world. It takes about 20 episodes before you really start to enjoy the series, and about halfway through before you fall in love totally. That is a ridiculously high barrier of entry. Yet I’m convinced that most people would watch this series and thoroughly enjoy it.
That doesn’t mean everyone should instantly drop everything and go watch it. You will know yourself when you’re ready for it. If you are the type of person to search out Legend of the Galactic Heroes, you are the type of person who would enjoy it. A series that selects its viewers, not the other way around. Eventually you’ll start to look around the 80’s for more anime to watch. Something mature? Exciting? Intelligent? It’s at that point that you’ll find yourself watching Galactic Heroes. It didn’t strike me as unusual when I started watching it, but as I reached the 3/4 mark, it hit me that only now was I in the right state of mind and right time in my fandom to fully enjoy this series. It was as if Galactic Heroes reached out and selected me as the next person worthy of watching it. That’s my moment #7. When Galactic Heroes selected me.