「常勝の天才」 (Joushou no tensai)
“An Indomitable Prodigy”
After this week I can confidently say any fears I had about LotGH’s remake have been firmly squashed. This remake has its differences and some utterly aggravating nitpicks (seriously, what the hell did you do to Oberstein’s appearance?! It physically hurts), but the story thus far is paced perfectly and slimmed down just enough to retain everything which made the original so damn great. We are still in early days yet, but if LotGH can keep this up, the tasty morsels coming up soon are going to be glorious.
As teased last time the focus here once again turned to Reinhardt and answering the very important question of just what he is after. Reinhardt you see isn’t some genius upstart out for fame (as the first two episodes may have suggested), he’s a man with one goal in mind: rescue his sister from the Kaiser, and seize the Empire for himself while he’s at it. The former is already an ambitious goal given who he’s up against, but the latter? Dreaming big at the best of times. It’s part of LotGH’s strength and fame, however, that such a lofty objective makes sense. As mentioned back in episode one, this show is not so much about the characters as what they seek and represent. They are, whether consciously or not, agents of upheaval bringing about changes no one in the current times ever thought possible. In this picture Reinhardt represents conscious upheaval; the Empire is decadent and stagnant, caught up in a spiral of wasteful corruption few in positions of power care to see because it doesn’t negatively impact them. The common folk suffering from such pompous tyranny though? Willing to latch onto whatever saving grace will fall their way. It’s a situation eerily relatable to our own earthly state of affairs (insert your MAGA meme of choice here), and one Reinhardt has at least some inkling about. To challenge the Kaiser he needs power and prestige, and to acquire both he must prove himself. In this world that means through war, the one place few of his noble status are willing to do. He proves himself like Napoleon, William the Conqueror, and Julius Caesar before him, and when the time comes for seizing power many will throw themselves at his feet for the opportunity to change their fortunes. Of course how Reinhardt sets up the ultimately betrayal is currently unknown, but as we shall see often the most shocking of moments can have the most unassuming of beginnings.
From this as well came some character and background information that will become quite important before too long. Siegfried’s role in this story for example was finally laid out, where he functions much like Reinhardt’s confidant and pillar of support. He may have been dragged along in a sense, but as was made very apparent, Siegfried is following Reinhardt as much for himself as for his friend: the kid after all is in love with Annerose. This is a noticeable change from the original, where Siegfried’s crush was left mostly ambiguous, but will bear a good deal of fruit later on once certain events happen. Simply put remember Annerose’s remarks about Reinhardt’s maturity, that’s going to factor in heavily when it comes to Reinhardt in the near future. Two other important name drops to consider were Oberstein (god his appearance still hurts) and Iserlohn, of which both are about to become very important in this little story. Iserlohn in particular is likely where we are heading next, as the return of Yang Wenli next week means it’s time for the FPA to consider its next move, and as we will soon see, it’s a move no one ever saw coming. Reinhardt may have the tactical brilliance, but Yang? Darling, he’s a magician.
Part of what makes LotGH fun to analyze is its rich representation of kyklos, or the political cycle of governments. This concept, best represented by Polybius’ theory of anacyclosis, states no government system is permanent, that the slow accumulation of entrenched interests and corruption (termed repatrimonialization by Francis Fukuyama) eventually forces a societal “switch” as disenfranchised people rise up (either tamely at the ballot box or through bloodshed) against perceived abuse and lack of opportunity. The Galactic Federation was the first stage of this process in LotGH, with stagnation and a sense of hopelessness leading to the peoples’ saviour in Rudolph Goldenbaum, and from him a descent into tyranny and absolute monarchy. This in turn led some to break away to form the FPA and return back to democracy. Now, however, the past again repeats as the Empire finds itself where the Galactic Federation once stood, with the FPA (as will soon be shown) not that far behind.