The original 110 episode long Legend of the Galactic Heroes OAV series is considered by many to be one of the best anime series of all time. This claim is supported by many things, including the fact that the series currently sits with an impressive 9.1 rating on IMDb. Like any long-running series, some episodes are better received by fans than others.
This list will examine the ten best-rated individual episodes of Legend of the Galactic Heroes and why fans hold these episodes in the highest regard. Because all these episodes come from the latter half of the series, there are some massive spoilers in this article.
10 The Battle of Marr-Adetta Starzone Part One (9.0)
This episode is the first part of a two-part storyline that focuses on Reinhard von Lohengramm taking on Admiral Alexandre Bewcock in the Marr-Adetta Starzone, a star zone noted for his unstable solar activity and a dense asteroid belt.
This episode sees Bewcock hiding his fleet among the asteroid belts to launch a sneak attack on Lohengrammm’s fleet. This sneak attack leads to the episode ending with the Imperial fleet surrounded by Bewcock’s fleet. This episode is regarded as a good example of the show’s focuses on the tactical side of space combat, and the ruse seen in this episode is a particularly fun one to see in motion.
9 The Battle of the Corridor: The Invincible & the Undefeated (9.0)
This episode is the first part of the three-part storyline that shows Lohengramm and Wen-li’s final battle against each other. The episode starts with the Empire forces moving cautiously into the Iserholen Corridor in response to one of Yang’s subordinates claiming to defect from Yang’s fleet. This was, however, a trap set by Yang to separate some of the Imperial fleets from the main force.
The success of this trick leads to Yang’s forces surrounding the main Imperial fleet and he would have won if not for Admiral Fahrenheit and his fleet sacrificing themselves to open a hole through the encirclement. Like the previous episode, this episode is a great example of the show’s style of space battles with strategic twists and turns.
8 The Urvashi Incident (9.0)
Unlike the previous two episodes, this one is a more grounded and character-focused one. The episode begins with Julian Mintz dealing with some of his subordinates’ complaints about his lack of experience. Meanwhile, Reinhard von Lohengramm deals with being pursued by assassins on the planet of Urvashi.
The episode climaxes with Lohengramm and his entourage surrounded in the forest by assassins with Lohengramm being able to intimidate them, through an excellent speech, to buy them time to escape the planet. This episode places a spotlight on Lohengramm and how he thinks about his role in larger historical events makes this episode one that is very well regarded by fans.
7 The Battle of the Corridor: Kaleidoscope (9.1)
The second part of the Battle of the Corridor begins with the Imperial fleet having broken through Yang’s encirclement but facing a new problem. That problem here is that Yang had the entrance to the corridor filled with anti-ship mines to force the Imperial fleet to restrict the number of ships they could send through the corridor.
The Imperial force, however, clears more of the mines than Yang expected. The mines, however still succeed in slowing the Imperial forces to allow Yang’s Fleet to threaten Lohengramm’s flagship. Lohengramm would have perished if was not for a sacrifice of a subordinate’s ship. This episode again features a great space battle with a high-level tension as the battle constantly shifts from the favor of one side to another.
6 After the Festival (9.1)
This episode primarily deals with the previous episode that saw the death of Yang Wen-li. This episode is concerned both with how Yang’s subordinates and allies respond to his death and deal with the issue of who will now lead his resistance. Yang’s remaining staff members decided that his widow Frederica Greenhill would become the Iserlohn resistance’s political leader and his ward Julian Mintz to be the commander of the residence’s fleet.
Julian soon finds himself facing his first trial as commander dealing with talks of desertion among the resistance’s surviving members. Julian decided to let them go, allowing those still willing to fight the Empire to stay at Iserlohn.
5 Die by the Sword (9.1)
This episode features the final battle of the Reuenthal Rebellion storyline, where Oskar von Reuenthal rebels against an Imperial government that he believes is being corrupted by Lohengramm’s close advisors. The episode begins with Reuenthal’s fleet being caught, while retreating, by the fleet commanded by Reuenthal’s former close friend Wolfgang Mittermeyer.
The battle takes a turn when Reuenthal’s ship is fired upon by one of his subordinates, fatally wounding Reuenthal. Reuenthal, however, survives long enough to order his surviving ships to retreat. This episode features a very emotionally complex space battle as two former friends face off each other for the soul of the Empire.
4 Endless Requiem (9.1)
This episode follows up “Die by the Sword”, as a dying Reunethal seeks to put his affair in order. This episode begins with him telling his new second-in-command to peacefully surrender to the Empire. He also killed the turncoat Alliance politician Job Trunicht to ensure that that Imperial’s occupation will moves smoothly in the future. He also tells his mistress to allow Mittermeyer to adopt their son.
By the time that Mittermeyer and his fleet arrive at Heinessen, Reunethal is long dead leaving his friend to mourn his passing. Meanwhile, Heydrich Lang, one of the advisors that Reunethal opposed, admits that he was working for the former Landesherr of Fezzan. Overall, this episode has a melancholic feel with the Reuenethal Rebellion arc concluding with no clear winners, instead ending with a feeling that Reunethal might soon be vindicated.
3 The Beautiful Maiden Wants Blood (9.1)
While there are still two episodes left after this one, this particular episode is the series’ climax. The episode begins with the heads of the Imperial Military learning that Lohengramm is dying from an unidentified disease. Meanwhile Julian and several loyal officers infiltrated Lohengramm’s ship to force a truce between the Iserholn Republic and the Empire.
While Julian succeeds in meeting with Lohengramm to convince him to declare a truce, it comes at the cost of several Republic officers who died to buy Julian time. Overall, this episode is triumphant and melancholic in feel, with the conflict between Empire and Republic ending on a peaceful note. This peace, tragically, comes at the cost of several fan-favorite characters’ lives.
2 The Magician Doesn’t Come Back (9.6)
This episode is the climax of the show’s third season, with the attempt at peace talks between the Empire and remnants of the Alliance ending in tragedy. Yang Wen-li realizes, after the last battle, that any attempt at resuming conflict with the Empire would be suicide and decides to accept Lohengramm’s offer to a ceasefire.
On his way to meet with the Imperial fleet, Yang finds himself attacked by a group of Terraists disguised as Imperial personnel. While Yang and his guards fight off the attack, Yang dies due to a wound he received during the fight. The episode represents the tragic conclusion of Yang’s story as his effort to end the Alliance-Empire conflict is ruined by powers beyond his control.
1 Dream: To See It to the End (9.6)
What fans consider to be the show’s best episode is actually the series’ finale. This episode is mostly about the Empire’s head of Security, Paul von Oberstein, efforts to finish off the Terraists so that Lohengramm can die on his terms. This effort succeeds but at the cost of Oberstein’s life.
The episode concludes with Lohengramm preparing the regents for his young son and having Mittermeyer’s adopted son to serve as his son’s friend. The episode ends with a little bit of hope in the face of the uncertainty if the Lohengramm’s son will be a worthy successor to his father. The reason why the finale is so well received is because it serves as a great distillation of the show’s themes and tones.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is one of the greatest animes of all time, but what are its 10 strongest episodes? We turned to IMDb for the answers.