#205 : Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars

It all began here. Behold a grand vision, an epic beyond scope. Witness a story about a fated meeting between two talented men who were destined to play the game of life while serving on different sides of a conflict. All of this during a particular point in time… and space. Welcome to the world of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. The grand 110 episode OVA would be released late in 1988, but earlier in the year a film would kick off the animated version of Yoshiki Tanaka’s novel series. Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars begins this grand space opera that for many of us became an obsession.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 100How does one open a great anime film? With explosions  flashy colors, or beautiful people? NO!!! You enter a black screen with scrolling German text and the beginnings of Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony. Heavy! I love Mahler’s music so I was very impressed, but may I ask… is this really an anime? Enter spaceships, multitudes of them, and a blonde young man in a pondering mood accompanied by Chopin. OMG are you for real? All of these great classic pieces of music and superb artwork… would you believe at first I hated anything that was Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

LoGHMCitSoS_2I was very much in a state of ignorance, prejudice and being closed minded from the possibility that this anime franchise was more than the hype I had heard. LoGH has a very, VERY!, dedicated fan following that puts this series on such a pedestal that I with the way I am had to be oppositional.  Then over time as I continued on the LoGH journey I would change my perspectives. I began to see that I was witnessing something very beautiful and special. It may be true that LoGH has a lot of dialogue, battle tactics, politics and is quite a long experience to watch, but at it’s core is a story about people, the lives they live in an extraordinary time and the emotions they go through.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 100Introductions for both our ‘Heroes’ is long overdue. Meet Yang Wen-li, a well educated junior officer from the Free Planets Alliance that is strategically brilliant. As as a young and lower ranked officer he is often overlooked, unheard, or put into his place by his superiors. Meet also the Galactic Empire’s Reinhard von Müsel (later von Lohengramm), who being the attractive blonde youth archetype and the brother of the Kaiser’s mistress was gifted the rank of Admiral. He commands a beautiful white vessel too. While many elders hold much jealousy toward him in terms of moving up through nepotism, they don’t realize his dormant talents as a commander and tactician. Both young men are not taken seriously, until the events of this movie by way of the two standout moments: The Battles at Legnica and Iserlohn Fortress. By the end of the film both ‘Heroes’ learn of each other and with a sixth sense both end up feeling a great respect towards each other and a tie that binds them together in terms of fated destiny.

LoGHMCitSoS_4Being young, brilliant and full of new possibilities can be a wonderful thing except at times there is a problem. When one is young, brilliant and full of new possibilities that is situated in a group that is propped up by an older, more conservative and, or more stagnant environment, then a clash of energies can bring about tensions. Call it jealousy, call it ignorance, or call it reluctance to surrender. When one is young and wanting to prove oneself in the world there is often resistance and sparks will fly. This in simpler terms is the battle of generations; the older guard who refuse to step aside to allow the new vision and hope take their rightful place in the sun. Maybe this newer regime has to grow some patience within the short term and eventually learn to bend the system and work within strategic loopholes, which are nothing more than opportunities.

LoGHMCitSoS_5This for me in a nutshell is what My Conquest is the Sea of Stars is, a rising up of a new generation and a new ideal to follow. We get a taste of what to expect in the coming OVA and coming back again I was more than ready, excited and loving it all more than the before. What makes this movie, this franchise, so great? Well, the proof is in the pudding. Just open your eyes and ears, because its there for all to see, hear and feel. This may not be for everyone, but this is space opera and science fiction at it’s best. A true hallmark for an intelligent and mature audience be it anime, or any other expression of storytelling.

… the only downside to this movie is that now I can’t get Ravel’s Bolero out of my head. And why is this a downside? … Well it isn’t 😉

Anime Wisdom from Quattro Bajeena… I believe in a better tomorrow that is here today.

Quattro Bajeena, or Char Aznable by any other name, and yes there were others, Édouard Mass and even Casval Rem Deikun… Will the real Quattro Bajeena please stand up? And he has. As a central figure to the original Gundam timeline, Quattro, or Char, was at his most humanitarian height in the sequel Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. It is a shame he fell from grace in terms of being a hero from Zeta Gundam to Char’s Counterattack. His guise as Quattro seemed to have shed anger from the past to move ahead into the future, but this sadly was temporary.

It was a time when he had the awesome hair and swapped the mask like helmet for aviator sunglasses; he was stylin’! That aside, Quattro’s ascension as an individual for change was his climatic speech in the Assembly at Dakar. A speech in which he came out to everyone as Char and issued a call to everyone to rethink what we need to focus on for not the future, but the right now…

I would like to start by asking the forgiveness of the assembly members and all Federation citizens. We mean no disrespect by taking over this meeting. I am Lieutenant Quattro Bajeena of the Anti-Earth Union Group. There is one more thing I must disclose before I say what I came to say. I have another name. I am also the man who was known as Char Aznable. I have come to you today as someone who carries within him the true aspirations of Zeon. Do not think of me as Char of the Principality of Zeon, but rather as the son of Zeon Deikun. Zeon Deikun’s legacy has nothing to do with the evils and hatred of the Zabi family. Zeon Deikun did not build the principality of Zeon! When one sees how the Titans do as they please with the Earth Federation Forces it becomes apparent that they are more depraved then the Zabi family ever was!

Humanity went to space so that the planet would not collapse under the weight of the people on it. Once there, they flourished, expanding their living space as they built more colonies on their own! Unfortunately, their success filled them with hubris and dreams of glory creating evils like the Zabi family! We mustn’t repeat that mistake! Why won’t people understand that moving into space will broaden their horizons!? We believe that humanity should no longer pollute the Earth! But the Titans whose souls are pulled down by gravity think only of ravaging it! Why is it so hard for people to understand? From the dawn of history, mankind has played in this cradle called “Earth.” But now, humanity must leave the nursery behind! Our infancy has come to an end!

Tell me why at this turning point in our history we must fight amongst each other and further pollute the Earth? The Earth should be returned to its natural state and all of humanity must make its home in outer space! Otherwise, Earth will no longer be the planet of water. Even this very city of Dakar is slowly being engulfed by the desert. This is how exhausted the Earth is! Right now, every one of us would like to see the Earth remain alive and beautiful. If we truly feel this way then we should not cling to the Earth as parasites just to fulfill our selfish desires.

The Titans have started a battle disregarding the lives at this assembly. See for yourselves the brutality of the actions they take. They place themselves above the regular Earth Federation Forces and label anyone who opposes them evil doers. But, their own arrogance is the greatest evil; they will be the ruin of humanity! Those of you who were watching the television must realize by now that this is how the Titans go about their business. I admit, it was wrong to take over this assembly, but what of the Titans who were trying to destroy it with the members still inside? Would they even destroy their own supporters?!

There is of course more than one form of pollution. Greenhouse gases are one thing, but fear and negativity are another. I don’t believe we need to leave our beautiful planet, but instead change the way we view the world and ourselves. I see a lot of fear right now, a lot of negativity right now, but a whole lot of potential for creating something beautiful RIGHT NOW! The era of dividing humanity and fulfilling aimless desires we don’t believe in anymore is over. This holds true for both Universal Century 0087 and in our calendar year of 2020. Old corrupt regimes will do what they can to hold onto power by making you afraid, but there are those who are willing to stand up and say, NO! I am a sovereign being and I am one with all my brothers and sisters and we fear nothing that is not real. And you too are a sovereign being and I am willing to shake your hand, give you a hug and say you are my friend. United we all stand.

Special : Lady Oscar

How often do we see live action adaptations of the anime we love? Of more recent there have been many a handful from the studios of Hollywood and depending on your fandom, you see these movies in whatever light you hold to the original. Some like to see anime turned into “real” people and some don’t… again depending on your fandom. Yet how interesting would it be to see a live action re-interpretation of a beloved classic during that anime’s original run when it was current in the zeitgeist. Enter 1979… the year Riyoko Ikeda’s manga of Rose of Versailles would become a full blown animated television series and… and, a live action motion picture by the name of Lady Oscar.

LO_1Twice I have talked about The Rose of Versailles here at CAM (original entry, updated entry), so I will not delve very deep into the story. Without question one of the landmark anime of the 1970s, The Rose of Versailles is for me and many others a personal favorite. A story of passion, duty, humanity, freedom, love and gender identity all wrapped up under the guise of late 18th century France, the time of the French Revolution. A radical time and a dangerous one at that, a powder keg of the clash between old and new. I love The Rose of Versailles and respect Oscar François de Jarjayes as one of my favorite characters of all time. When I learned there was a live action film adaptation, I was keenly interested.

LO_2Financed by Japan and directed by famed French director Jacques Demy, ironically the film’s native dub would be in English. Interesting and convenient for those of us who speak English as our native tongue, but perhaps French may have been more appropriate? English of course allows for more international distribution as I am sure this film was made more for an overseas audience than just Japan alone, my hypothesis. And how does it fair as a film? It’s good, slightly above average, but nothing like the tv series. Accept no substitute when comparing 40 half hours of content to only two hours. Anime is often more colorful and The Rose of Versailles does show itself with many grand colors, but it is never off the wall. Lady Oscar is more muted, which makes sense as this is not animation. Props for the costume designs though!

LO_3Besides the original TV series of The Rose of Versailles, I also think of another contemporary film to Lady Oscar, which told a story in a similar time frame of the late 18th century, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Honestly I kept thinking why couldn’t Lady Oscar look and feel more like Barry Lyndon? I am sure Lady Oscar’s budget was nothing close to Barry Lyndon’s. Stanley Kubrick’s style for lighting, intensity and photography are also his own, a true auteur, and I am sure Jacques Demy had to play the part of following the boss’ orders to the best of what he was given. My ideal vision for a filmed version of The Rose of Versailles would be more Barry Lyndon than Lady Oscar, but I have to accept what is. Instead of a grand cinematic experience, Lady Oscar feels more like a TV special, but it does a good job with what it had to do. I can’t be judgmental, or hard on the things in life I cannot control.

LO_4Lady Oscar is not a bad film, or a great film, it is just a good movie to enjoy and try out at your own leisure. While live action adaptations are often tempting, they never seem to hold a candle to the original TV series, or even the manga if that is your preference. Lady Oscar is a good supplementary entry on your watch list, but should never be a full blown substitute to the grandeur of the original The Rose of Versailles TV series. Yet it is a treat that this film was even made, but when it comes to live action adaptations, I prefer to keep them as their original form. Let cartoons, be cartoons and anime, anime (which to me is saying the same thing twice,) because it is perhaps one of the best story telling mediums ever created.