By Yoshiki Tanaka. Released in Japan as “Ginga Eiyū Densetsu” by Tokuma Shoten. Released in North America by Haikasoru. Translated by Tyran Grillo.
These novels seem to have been alternating between political intrigue and space battles, and as you might guess that means the majority of this volume is the latter. And some fantastic space battles they are, showing off good strategies, the horrors of war (one of Those Two Guys is even killed off), and a battle of wits between Yang and Reinhard. As for who wins, well, as you can imagine, it’s not as clear cut as all that. There is a decisive winner of the war, though, and that leads to the scene that everyone has been waiting five books for, which is Reinhard and Yang meeting face to face. It’s not a very long scene at all, and the two respect each other but don’t really change their mind about much of anything. Still, it’s iconic, and I imagine must be one of the highlights of the anime series. Of course, there’s still five books to go in the main series, so the question is where does LoGH go from here?
Perhaps a romantic comedy? Unlikely, but it’s not an accident that each main character has a capable and beautiful young assistant. That said, Frederica’s feelings for Yang have been far more noticeable, whereas it’s harder to get a read on Hilda (as the two generals mirror each other, so do their aides). Given that, it’s unsurprising that Yang takes the plunge here, with perhaps one of the most awkward proposals ever recorded on paper. It’s still nice to see, and combined with the war being over you sort of hope that Yang gets his wish to settle down, retire, and become a historian as he’s always wanted. That is highly unlikely to happen, sadly. As for Hilda, she’s far more active in the plot, but any potential romance (which, given the differences between the Empire and the Alliance, I expect would be more a political than romantic arrangement) is scuppered by her actions here to ensure Reinhard’s safety, which are very clever, work 100%, and absolutely infuriate him. Reinhard has never grown up in many ways, and it’s never more clear than in the scenes at the close of the battle, where he can’t accept what’s actually happened.
As always with LOGH, there’s about twenty other things also happening. Much to my surprise, the bratty child Emperor has not yet been terminated with extreme prejudice, but he has been made completely irrelevant, which works just as well. Julian is back with Yang, though that also means he has to deal with Yang and Frederica getting together, which (as a teenager with a crush on Frederica himself) is vexing. And there is still politics and intrigue, mostly on the Alliance side – in fact, given this is the midpoint of the series, it seems appropriate that a decisive and crushing final victory… is completely averted, leaving everyone pretty unhappy.
As you may notice, I’ve been trying to be less spoilery than usual, because the joy of this volume really is trying to guess what’s going to happen. Of course, the amusing thing is that the main audience for these novels may be fans who have already seen the anime. That said, if you’re on the fence and you like dense, verbose space opera, you absolutely have to be reading this.