Yang—having never held the slightest intention of becoming a soldier, having aspired instead to the life of a historian—had learned through his studies that no matter how powerful a nation may be, it will eventually collapse without fail: that no matter how great the hero, after gaining power there also comes a fall.
In Legend of the Galactic Heroes, one of the primary themes is that there is no one true sense of good, that morality and justice can take on as many perspectives as there are stars. With so many outlooks on humanity, its heroes can likewise take on many forms and ideals. However, in spite of the differences, the core ideas and concepts behind these perspectives are often similar, more than we would ever admit to ourselves. Thus wars are ever fought, and the strategies and outcomes alike will always repeat. And there’s no better embodiment of this theme than the contrasting characters of Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li. While near opposite to each other in personality and motivations, their stories up to this point have more often than not paralleled each other, particularly in the second book of the series. In Volume Two: Ambition, and episodes 17-26 of the OVA, Yang and Reinhard cease to fight each other, in order to fight their respective battles against more personal enemies, as both the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance erupt into civil war. These two conflicts give the heroes a time to shine in their own spotlight, and, being tested, establish their true capabilities. But with this newfound glory, comes great personal loss. While a detour from the main plot of the overall series in some capacity, the second part of Legend of the Galactic Heroes tests them both in ways they never have been before, and changes them forever. But how do the books and anime depart in their depictions of this turning point?
NOTE: This article discusses major spoilers up to the end of book two and episode 26. If you would like to read the previous article, discussing the first book and episodes 1-16, click here.