Legend of Galactic Heroes

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"There are few wars between good and evil; most are between one good and another good."
Yang Wen-li

Du Jedem Zeit
En Jedem Ort
Blebiet Das Tun
Der Menschen Das Gleiche

("In every time, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same...")

An enormous, sprawling 110-episode (plus side stories) Space Opera originally released to home video (making this the longest-running OVA of all time, although it was later shown on TV). This is in Japan, of course, as neither the anime, nor the manga, nor the huge series of novels written by Yoshiki Tanaka which spawned the franchise have ever been released in America. (A noble yet feeble attempt at licensing a dub version of the anime was made many years ago, but no one bit, and thus the only way the series is accessible in English nowadays is through Fan Subs.)

The meat of the story is this: sometime in the 36th century[1], humanity has spread out amongst the stars and has split off into two great superpowers which are now sadly engaged in a decades-long knock-down, drag-out war with each other. Fighting in the forces of the Galactic Empire (whose government is based on 19th century Prussia,) is an ambitious young noble named Reinhard von Müsel, better known by the name granted to him later, Reinhard von Lohengramm. Fighting for the opposing Free Planets Alliance (a government which resembles a crumbling, bloated 20th Century democracy,) is Yang Wen-Li, an easygoing historian who reluctantly joined the military because he was broke. Together, these two men (both tactical geniuses) are destined to commit great deeds, eventually becoming the series' titular Galactic Heroes.

The story, crammed with detail, is played very straight and seriously. It's also got Loads and Loads of Characters, from the big players at the top of the government to the lowly farmers and grunt soldiers at the bottom who get everything done. There's, in fact, so many that each episode always shows a character's name when he first shows up on screen (in case you forgot who he was). At times, this can become confusing—to the point where one really needs a scorecard of some sort to keep all of the character's names and ambitions straight. Also, the pace of the story can be very slow. It's possible to watch an episode where the heroes prepare for an invasion, skip ahead three episodes, and find the heroes still preparing for that same invasion.

A manga adaptation illustrated by Michihara Katsumi was released in 1990, while another manga adaptation by Fujisaki Ryū (known for his work on Shiki) begun in 2015, and is still ongoing.

As of the present, the series is finally seeing formal English licensing courtesy of Sentai Filmworks beginning in 2016. A new adaptation by Production I.G is in the works, expected to be released in 2017.

Tropes used in Legend of Galactic Heroes include:
  • Absent Aliens: There isn't even any sign of alien flora or fauna on any of the planets.
    • Save for the greenery on Heinessen before the first settlers of the FPA arrived there, and the alien-looking ruins seen in the very first episode of the series.
  • The Ace: Yang Wen-li is a slight subversion. Yes, he is sometimes lazy, and likes to hit the bottle pretty hard, but if he's leading a battle he WILL win. Period. Even Reinhard von Lohengramm, who has gone through the humiliation of ONLY being defeated when Yang's involved, sees him as a Worthy Opponent instead of an enemy.
    • Yang may be The Ace in anything involving using your head. He hates warfare but ends up being the best tactical genius of the entire series. Walter von Schönkopf commented that even though Yang hates being involved in politics, if he were forced to participate he may very well be a political genius as well.
    • Julian may also count. His legal guardian is Yang Wen-li and it is not an understatement to say that he has learned a lot from his legendary foster father. Also, unlike Yang, Julian is a genius when it comes to man to man combat as well.
    • Siegfried Kircheis, more so than any other character in the show. Seriously, the guy is a military genius possibly greater than even Reinhard, excels in close combat (being able to fight on equal footing with Schönkopf) and is mentioned to be an even better marksman than Reinhard. And then he serves as Reinhards conscience and is all around one of the nicest people in the entire story. No wonder that his death lastingly affects the entire course of the story heavily and no wonder that "If only Kircheis was alive" has become a memetic phrase.
      • Kircheis also has the singular honor of not having lost his fleet engagement with Yang.
  • Ace Pilot: Ivan Konev, Olivier Poplin
  • Adaptation Distillation: The 2015 manga, while staying true to the novels, incorporates elements from the OVAs (especially the ship designs) as well as the mangaka's own take on the Empire and Alliance. All the while expanding on the backstories of Reinhard and Yang.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Erwin Josef II, who ascends the Galactic Throne at the age of five after the death of Friedrich IV. Also, his successor, Kaiserin Catherine, who is only 8 months old at the time of her ascension. Neither of them stay in power for very long, however.
    • Technically, Reinhard's son Alexander Siegfried. But the real power lies in the hand of Kaiserin-Regent Hildegard, and Reinhard explicitly asks her to remove their son's right to rule or to move to democracy if she finds it necessary.
  • A Father to His Men: Any officer worthy of the role in the series exhibits this, but it's much more evident on the Alliance side, where protocol doesn't get as much in the way of the relationship between officers and the soldiers under their command. Yang Wen-li is pretty much this trope incarnate.
    • He had some good role-models: Sidney Sitolet, Alexander Bucock, Dwight Greenhill....
    • It's taken to a whole new literal level after Julian formally enlists, making Yang both his superior officer and legal guardian.
  • Alternative Calendar: The Empire uses a calendar that began with Rudolf von Goldenbaum's coronation. With Reinhard's coronation they take the opportunity to reset the calendar and begin a new era. The FPA resurrected the calendar used by the old Galactic Federation, referred to as either the "Space Year" or "Universal Calendar."
  • Ambition Is Evil: Played both ways. Yang Wen-li is directly compared to Rudolf von Goldenbaum. Both are/were brilliant yet frustrated with current conditions, but Rudolf's ambition drove him to declare himself Emperor. As an inversion, Reinhard's ambition that stems from his desire to reform The Empire and protect his big sister is shown as a positive trait. He doesn't live long enough to succumb to Motive Decay, though.
    • Yang lacks ambition for power, money, and things like that and he is shown to be more humane and moral than Reinhard. Reinhard is a virtuous guy but sometimes his ambitions makes him do some more questionable things.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Terran cult has apparently been using Fezzan to manipulate both the Empire and the Alliance for centuries. Subverted in that in the end it doesn't really work.
  • And Then What?: Becomes a very prevalent theme of the story towards the end.
  • Animal Motifs: One of the games has two little omake parodies of the Momotarou story, one for the Empire's side and one for the Alliance's side, in which the characters are wearing animal costumes (with the exception of Reinhard and Julian who play the role of Momotarou). In the Empire version, Kircheis is a dog (and can't say anything other than "Yes, Annerose-sama/Reinhard-sama"), Reuenthal is an eagle, Mittermeyer is a wolf, Bittenfeld is a tiger and Oberstein is a bat. In the FPA version, Attenborough is a dog, Schönkopf is a monkey and Poplin is a hawk(?)... and Karin is the Queen of the demons.
    • In the series proper there are quite a few, too. Mittermeyer's title of Gale Wolf and the Lohengramm Dynasty's winged lion, just to name two.
  • Anti-Hero: Reinhard is closest to Type IV.
  • Armchair Military: Many of the Alliance Army's top brass who got there by smooching posterior. In the Empire under the Goldenbaum dynasty, many nobles got command positions because they were from the right families.
    • Admiral Staden, one of the leading commanders among the Lippstadt rebels, is mentioned as being derisively known as "Succumbed to Theory Staden" by his students back in the day, due to his preference for theory over practice. Which proved to be his undoing when he was forced to deal with one of those former students, Mittermeyer.
    • The 2015 manga puts more of a spotlight on how young nobles in the Imperial military tend to be kept away from the front, ostensibly to do desk duties in relative safety and comfort. Reinhard isn't pleased, especially given how commoners don't get that same "treatment" and are instead more likely to die on the battlefield.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Subverted, the series tries its damn best to make you see how awful and tragic the death of the average soldier is. The officers in the army also constantly show that the deaths of their subordinates weight on them heavily.

Narrator: After the encounter called the Battle of Astarte, the survivors of the Imperial Fleet numbered 2,450,000 and the Alliance, 4,060,000. However, compared to the Imperial Fleet's 150,000 casualties, the Alliance's numbered ten times as many, 1,500,000.

  • Brought up in the 2015 manga when Yang tries to explain to a young Julian about the numerous casualties from past assaults on Iselohn. Alex Cazerne however cuts in, commenting about the logistics and scale needed just to deal with those grieving from said casualties.

A. Cazerne: "'Boom?' Come on...Try having to deal with calculating the war damage and the compensation for the bereaved families after a battle."

  • Animation Bump: Episode 7, the first capture of Iserlohn Fortress, is noticeably better produced and animated than all preceding and many later episodes.
  • Anyone Can Die: Characters die, often unexpectedly, regardless of their minor or main status. Of the speaking roles in the 1st Episode only a few characters live to see the finale (A number don't make it past the second episode).
  • Artificial Limbs: Cybernetic replacement limbs for amputees are apparently quite common in the setting, but offer no obvious advantage over natural ones. Wahlen gets one of these when his left arm had to be amputated due to an assasination attempt.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Frederica Greenhill in-verse. Who goes from being a starry-eyed admirer of the "Hero of El Facil" to his personal aide and even becoming his wife.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Played straight AND subverted. In both sides of the conflict, there's people who use their authority for heavy loads of badassery and people whose authority is actually a detriment to their society. Reinhard von Lohengramm, Yang Wen-li and their subordinates are examples of the former. Job Trünicht, the former Imperial Nobility and some particularly incompetent military officers on both sides are examples of the later.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Not the characters, but the ships. You would think that having over 10,000 ships in even relatively small fleets would lead to them being designated by numbers or boring callsigns, but most of them have pretty cool names.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: For Reinhard, though it doesn't take place at the end of the story.
  • Axe Crazy: Ovlesser. Reuenthal remarks that "he's a man who was born to beat people to death."
  • Back From the Brink: Yang Wen-li is notorious for this.
  • Badass Adorable: Julian starts the series as a Cute Shotaro Boy, ends it as a blond-haired pretty boy. You would never suspect the things he can do with an axe, ESPECIALLY if you push his Berserk Button.
    • Let's reminisce about some of his achievement, shall we?
      • Joining the army while still in his teens.
      • Taking down myriad enemy fighters and a battle cruiser on his first actual space flight, which was during a training exercise.
      • Serving as Yang's liaison in Fezzan and managing to escape the planet during an imperial invasion and capturing an enemy ship while doing it.
      • Being commissioned as a lieutenant while still in his teens.
      • Going to Earth and not only helping take down the main body Terran Cult and revealing many of their conspiracies, but also doing it WHILE SUFFERING FROM DRUG WITHDRAWAL.
      • Participating with the Rosenritters in taking Iserlohn a second time, and distinguishing himself in said battle.
      • Becoming Yang Wen-Li's successor after his death. Them's some big shoes...
      • Avenging Yang Wen-Li's death with his own hands.
  • Badass Bookworm: Yang Wen-li. He had dreadful grades in the military academy, but that's mostly because he never wanted to be a soldier, he wanted to be a HISTORIAN. And in practice, he's formidable on BOTH accounts: he's a strategic genius without equal and his knowledge of history allows him to second-guess the enemy's motivations and strategies easily.
    • Yang is -by his own admission- quite inept when it come to actual combat: Julian his way closer to the definition: he is quite the bookworm -thanks to his foster father influence- but you do not want to face his fury
  • Badass Army: The Rosenritters, General Schönkopf's motley crew of infantry badasses. They're so infamous, they've actually gotten out of ambushes by saying "We're the Rosenritters" and the enemy turning tail.
  • Badass Normal: When the Rosenritters board his flagship, Oskar von Reuenthal comes face to face with Walther von Schönkopf. The former is a career naval officer wearing only his regular uniform and carrying a service pistol, the latter is the battlehardened commander of an elite unit of infantry with a fearsome reputation wearing powered armour and wielding an axe. Reuenthal still manages to dodge or parry all his attacks and even cleave the axe in half with a shot from his pistol.
  • Batman Gambit: Almost everything Yang and Reinhard do is based on their ability to predict what the other side will do. Example In order to take Iserlohn again (taking advantage of the trap he left the first time) Yang proceeds to send contradictory fake orders to the commander, on the assumption that the commander will believe that the real orders are the ones to stay in the base (they aren't, but even Yang doesn't know that). He further assumes that the commander will assume it's a trap to get him to leave the fortress (it is; he does), and that he will leave anyway in an attempt to trap Yang's fleet (which he assumes Yang will send to the fortress as soon as he leaves; he does) between the fortress and and it's defense fleet. This all happens. The only thing the commander failed to realize, is that Yang planted a code in the fortress the last time he abandoned it, which allows him to disable the fortress, and capture it.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In one of the historical documentary episodes, the naked bodies of fallen soldiers have very conspicuous shadows obscuring their crotches. At least people have nipples, even though they are rarely seen.
  • Beam Spam: Alliance ships are particularly prone to this tactic, having up to eighty beam cannons mounted at the bow.
    • The theory among fans is that the beam cannons on Imperial ships are more powerful where the FPA relies on multiple, but less powerful, beam cannons, which would explain the 6 cannons on Imperial battleships in comparison to the 32 cannons on FPA battleships.
    • In fact, this is due to the Alliance's preference for large numbers of medium-range cruiser-caliber guns on their flagships, whereas their battleships prefer eight large-caliber, long-range cannons, putting them on par with Imperial battleships. Some long-range flagships are built, with range rivaling that of their Imperial counterparts.
  • Bearer of Bad News: During the Admirals meeting in the wake of Kircheis's death and Reinhard's Heroic BSOD, one of the admirals asks about delivering the news to Annerose. Cue the awkward silence. Thankfully for them, Oberstein already did it.
    • Same with delivering the news of Yang Wen-li's death to Frederica. Julian and Schönkopf first ask Ms. Cazerne to do it for them, but she insists that Julian will have to do it himself. Julian's reluctance to spitting the matter out is what tips off Fredericia to what news he brings: it is the only thing she can think of that would be that difficult for Julian to speak up about.
  • Berserk Button: Never insult Annerose in Reinhard's presence.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Alliance Rear Admiral Borodin, during the Battle of Amritsar, upon finding out that his fleet has been reduced to eight ships, pauses only momentarily before using his service pistol to blow his own brains out.
    • Merkatz was going to do the same before Schneider talked him into defecting to the Alliance instead.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Yang is a nice guy and a great drinking buddy, who does not like war and does not even enjoy being good at it. No matter what you do to him, his worst reaction will be a snarky remark. It takes no less than 73 episodes (four years in story), to finally make him snap: the result is bloody. Yang's foster child Julian is also guilty of this: he starts as a Cute Shotaro Boy, but he knows kung-fu and heaven take pity of you if you push his berserk button. Also, the very ladylike Annerose smashes a would-be assassin's face with a thrown statuette when he threatens her and Hildegard.
  • Big Damn Heroes
  • Bishonen: Loads of 'em, including our two main heroes, especially in the manga.
    • Julian is stated to be one; he has a "pretty face" and girls squeal over him. The squealing is explicitly shown during his stay in Phazzen.
    • Reinhard and Kircheis in particular are shown to be this in the 2015 manga as well.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Not THE ending to the series, but A ending: during Reinhard von Lohengramm's coronation as Kaiser of the Empire, he was heartbroken that the two people he most wanted to be there with him, Siegfried Kircheis and his sister, were not present.
    • The actual ending is rather bittersweet, too. What with Reinhard dying, finishing the chain of Kill'Em All, and Mittermeyer's "You too, Felix?" * sniff* This is also present with a peace treaty signed, but the question of whether the Empire will begin incorporating constitutionalism into its political structure left open. This troper suspects, however, that Hilda being Hilda, the answer will eventually be "yes," which would probably be the best possible thing for humanity.
  • Bling of War: Apparently the guiding principle of The Empire in Legend of the Galactic Heroes; its highest-ranking admirals sport full capes (in unique colors!) and field marshals' batons.
    • Their insignia are literally embroidered on the uniforms. In real silver thread. It goes from rather simple patterns for junior officers to the ornate tapestries just short of the flak vest for admirals. You see, the Empire really dug that ceremony thing.
  • Blood on These Hands: Both of our protagonists realize that they are pretty much responsible for the deaths of up to millions of people. Yang in particular can't stop bringing up how much blood he's shed.
  • Blood Knight: It's subtle but Fahrenheit himself is a self-admitted one. In the Overture to a New War movie, as his fleet is moving to attack, he declares that he doesn't care who gets the glory for this victory as long as he gets to fight and lead men into battle. Some have considered him to be a more quiet and reserved Bittenfeld.
    • Then again, he became a soldier so he wouldn't have to starve...
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Bittenfeld has elements of this, being the aggressive leader of the Black Lancers and of muscular build. But his attitude and habit of attacking without orders does earn him the dislike of some admirals, namely Wahlen and Oberstein.
    • The dislike between him and Oberstein is mutual - it escalates to the point where Bittenfeld physically attacks him.
    • Schönkopf also loves taunting his enemies right before sending them to their grave.
  • Booby Trap: How Reuenthal and Mittermeyer catch Ovlesser.

Reuenthal: The best way to capture a beast is to use a trap. And such a clichéd trap was enough to catch a simpleton like you.

  • Break the Cutie:
    • Frederica Greenhill goes through quite a bit over the course of the series. The deaths of her father, Dwight Greenhill and later, Yang himself, are the worst.
    • Yang's tragic, ignoble death also wasn't taken well by Julian Mintz, who proceeds to end the murderers once he finds them.
  • But Not Too Foreign: It's revealed in the 2015 manga that Julian Mintz is mixed-blood, as his mother was an exile from the Empire.
  • Bunny Ears Admiral: you would never guess how deadly this social misfit, borderline alcoholic, unable-to-keep-his-own-house-in-order-without-the-help-of-his-foster-child slob can be when he is not commanding his army.
    • On the Imperial side, Eisenach is a mild example of this. He speaks so rarely that some of the other admirals assume he is mute, and commands through gestures that his adjutant translates into spoken orders.
    • Trung Yu Chang is a bit of one as well, supporting sound military advice with examples of popping stale bread in the oven to freshen it up.
  • Camp Gay: The sales assistant in the clothing store Julian visits on Fezzan.
  • Casanova: Olivier Poplin and Walter von Schönkopf turn this into an outright contest. Walter's been at this long enough to have an illegitimate daughter, Katerose von Kreutzer, in the same fleet.
    • Reuenthal is also infamous for this, though less so in the anime than in the novel.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Partially averted; though large fleets move through space with seeming ease, it does take quite a bit of time. Reinhard's flight from Uruvasi to Fezzan is stated to take three weeks.
    • It is also stated that the logistical cost of building and maintaining such fleets is enormous: The Empire has several gigantic fleets and even artificial worlds/fortresses that would make Emperor Palpatine nod approvingly, but at the price of leaving many of its planet underdevelloped; the Free Planet Alliance does not fare much better: while its GDP per capita is nearly twice as big as the Empire, the constant state of war is taking the best engineers and the most apt workers away from civilian life, not counting the huge amount of resources spent on maintaining the alliance's fleets: Fezzan is the most prosperous planet in The Verse precisely because it does not have to spend so much of its resources to build and maintain huge starfleets.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Various characters on both sides are painfully aware of the burdens and responsibilities that come with commanding vast armies. Time and again, the welfare and deaths of their men are shown to weigh heavily.
  • Chaste Hero: Both Reinhard and Yang remain this until fairly late in the series, even though they should have had plenty of opportunity to engage in romance earlier.
    • With Yang it's strongly implied that he loved Jessica Edwards, but didn't pursue her after she chose Lapp.
    • It is also implied that Yang was attracted to Frederica Greenhill early in the series but doesn't return her feelings because he felt that with all of the blood he's shed and all the orphans and widows he's made, he didn't deserve familial happiness.
  • Cheerful Child: The daughters of the Cazernes.
  • The Chessmaster: Oberstein, Rubinsky, Truenicht...
  • Childhood Friends: Reinhard von Lohengramm and Siegfried Kircheis had a bromance as epic as the title of the show. Their shared childhood memories were commonly shown in flashbacks.
  • Church of Happyology: The Terraists present themselves as this in public. There's a lot more, of course, than meets the eye. As an undercover Julian Mintz learns to his horror.
  • Civil War: On both sides, practically at the same time. The Empire's resulted in a change of regime that invigorated its stagnant society. The Alliance's resulted in needlessly lost human life and a weakening of the morale of its populace and military.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: In the Imperial military, medical personnel can be recognised by their white uniforms, and the rarely seen female staff wear blue, possibly indicating that they are considered auxilliaries rather than full-blown soldiers. Oddly enough, both naval personnel and ground forces wear the same black uniforms.
    • Also, Bittenfeld's fleet are referred to as "The Black Lancers" and the hulls of their starships and ground vehicles are painted black rather than the standard dark grey. No other Imperial fleet does anything similar (though custom colored ships exist, such as Reinhard's Brünhild and Müller's Parcivale, both shiny white, and Kircheis' Barbarossa which is red).
  • Cool Old Guy: Merkatz, Bucock.
  • Comic Relief: Poplin, most of the time.
  • Conscription: Both sides resort to drafting soldiers to keep their numbers up, but in an interesting subversion, the Empire actually has a much easier time getting volunteers to join after Reinhard von Lohengramm assumes control of the Imperial military.
  • Cool Ship: Main characters (particularly in the Empire side) get their own custom Shiny-Looking Spaceships, the most obvious ones being Reinhard's bright white flagship, the Brunhilde, and Siegfried Kircheis's bright red flagship, the Barbarossa. On the Alliance side, the most unique example in Nguyen Van Thieu's flagship, the Maurya, which is seen painted with tiger stripes. Now consider that these ships are about 800 to 1000 meters long...
  • Corralled Cosmos: Regions of space that are "untraversable" for one reason or other restrict fleet movements, which in turn affects both strategy and tactical maneuvering.
  • Crazy Prepared: Yang Wen-Li thought it was a good idea to leave a secret code in Iserlohn's computer systems in the event that he had to abandon the fortress and subsequently retake it. And it works.
  • Creepy Monotone: Does Paul von Oberstein ever sound anything BUT sinister?
  • Curtains Match the Window: Played straight with most of the characters. Subverted with Oberstein, whose clear blue artificial eyes top the sundae of his creepiness.
    • It's interesting that in the books Oberstein has light brown eyes. Granted, blue electronic eyes look way creepier.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Yang Wen-li is seen as this after he escapes from prison and reunites with the Merkatz fleet. This is another testament to the Alliance government's utter stupidity.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Kaiser Friedrich IV in the 2015 manga gives a subtle one to a young Reinhard after his graduation from the academy. Hinting at his intentional efforts to let Reinhard achieve his ambitions.

Kaiser Friedrich IV: "Feel free to aim even higher!"

  • Days of Future Past: High technology abounds, but The Galactic Empire looks more like Versailles than The Future. The people running it also tend to dress like 18th century aristocracy. You'll also see deranged nobles dressing in togas and republican politicians in 20th century fashions --which you'd think would have become quite passe by the 35th century.
    • Mind you, the Empire's Prussian fashion sense has a distinct cause - its founder was a German Fan Boy.
    • Even better: Both Reinhard and Hildegard, possibly other characters as well, are seen to write with quill pens. Retro fashion is one thing, but that particular choice seems rather impractical. The relatively broad strokes of the letters seem to rule out this being normal pens that look like quills, and in any case normal fountain pens are seen elsewhere.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The irony is that it pretty much self-descructs via the Lippstadt Rebellion.
  • Dead Partner: When Yang's old friend and mentor figure of sorts Alexander Bucock gets killed during a desperate battle he has started to give Yang enough time to organize his own troops, Yang reacts by crushing a plastic goblet and by stopping being lazy, and when a character that has remained undefeated against the local galactic empire despite VERY unfavorable odds while being drunk half of the time and sleeping the other half stops being lazy, going after him is not recommended.
    • Also, Kircheis whose death sends Reinhard into his first Heroic BSOD.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Played very straight. If a character that's not very important dies, it's only barely acknowledged. When a MAJOR character dies, the character's death can be felt throughout the entire series, i.e. Siegfried Kircheis.
  • Defector From Decadence:
    • The Rosenritters, who are to a man Imperial exiles serving the Alliance and ultimately, in Yang's forces, see themselves as this to the Empire.
    • Reinhard, his allies and supporters in the Empire tend to see themselves as this to the corrupt High Nobles and Goldenbaum dynasty.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: A favorite tactic of the Alliance. Yang Wen-li's so great at using them that Imperial admirals facing him actually consider RETREATING when he goes on the defensive.
  • Deflector Shields: and sometimes, you even see them work!
    • Subverted in that they're a lot less useful than most, seeing they only seem to be effective at longer range.
  • Delaying Action: Another favorite tactic of the Alliance. In fact, the Empire much prefers starting with the advantage and keeping it than using lesser numbers in any situation, although they will use it if needed.
  • Democracy Is Flawed: The show spends a lot of time showing that democracy at its best is nowhere near as good as the best that can be done with an iron fist, but it also is unlikely to sink quite as low. The Free Planets Alliance is corrupt to the core, but people still can basically talk about it without being sent to GULAG. The Empire is becoming a great place to live, but this follows a period of despotism.
  • Depraved Homosexual: One of the Goldenbaum emperors kept an entire choir of teenage castratos. He eventually eloped with his favourite singer and was never heard from again.
    • Not so much: this emperor was one of the few Goldenbaums who was neither a Manipulative Bastard or a Complete Monster. He might actually have been the most sympathetic member of this wretched family: he did not like his role as a supposedly ruthless emperor, refused to go along his chancellor plans for an arranged political marriage and eventually abdicated from the throne to be with his boyfriend
  • Despair Event Horizon: The would-be assassin who tries to kill Reinhard for failing to save the population of Westerland suffers this when Oberstein takes responsibility for the affair and informs him that NOT letting it happen would mean that the Lippstadt war would have dragged on for longer and at least five times as many people would have been killed. The assassin kills himself in his cell the very next day.
  • Deuteragonist: Yang Wen-Li is the second viewpoint character and thus fits the role of deuteragonist.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Several times, usually in some unimportant details (like a "Lestaurant" Yang Wenli seems to love) that nevertheless jump to the eyes of the western viewer. You also have to wonder whether they actually knew that "Sieg" means "Victory". "Sieg Kaiser Reinhard" (Victory emperor Reinhard) makes little sense; presumably they were aiming for "Heil Kaiser Reinhard" (Hail emperor Reinhard).
    • More likely than not, they were aiming for ""Sieg Zeon"
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Happens a few times, but the most straight playing of the trope (and the most HEART-WRENCHING) is Siegfried Kircheis dying in Reinhard Von Lohengramm's arms.
    • There's a painful subversion as well: mortally wounded and resigned to die, Reuenthal keeps clinging to life to see his dearest friend Mittermeyer one last time. Finally he dies only an hour or so before Mittermeyer arrives.
  • Dirty Business: Paul von Oberstein is perfectly aware of both his lack of a conscience and the need Reinhard has for people like him to do what's necessary, however murky the wetwork needed may be.
  • Dirty Coward: Arthur Lynch, a disgraced Alliance rear admiral turned prisoner of war who left El Facil virtually undefended while his fleet turned tail in the backstory, the ensuing events ironically giving an up and coming Yang Wen-Li his famed reputation as "Miracle Yang" and the "Hero of El Facil." Reinhard and Oberstein eventually find him and, despite their own disgust at the man, give him orders to cause discord within the Alliance. Given the Civil War that ensues, it proved too successful.
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Alliance=20th century Western-style civilian wear and beret-borne military uniforms.
    • Empire=19th century Prussian-based military uniforms and noble wear.
    • Fezzan=20th century European-style evening wear.
  • Driven to Suicide: Susanna von Benemünde, Prince Braunschweig, Helmut Rennenkampf, Admiral Borodin, Oskar von Reuenthal (and his mother), Hans Eduard Bergengrün... This series drives many people to off themselves.
    • Merkatz got about this close.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Jessica Edwards, who gets her head bashed in by the footsoldiers of the coup d'etat at a political rally. She effectively becomes a martyr for the cause and later we see a statue of her in Heinessenpolis.
  • Drunk with Power: Rudolf von Goldenbaum could be interpreted to be this; he originally ran for public office in order to reform the old Galactic Federation, and it is certainly possible that his despotic and eugenistic tendencies developed later.
  • During the War
  • Dying Alone: The last person one would expect.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Denied for most characters, but there are a few exceptions...
  • Easy Logistics: Generally averted: the starfleets are dependent on regular resupply and both sides are adversely affected when the opposition shoots down their supply fleets during the invasions of enemy territory.
  • End of an Age: At the end of the seriesa peace treaty is concluded and the galaxy apparently enters an era of peace and stability under the Lohengramm dynasty. Characters even talk about how there will be little need for heroics and derring-do in the years to come.
  • Eternal English: though Translation Convention renders speech as Japanese, the written languages of the Empire and Alliance appear to be badly spelled German and English respectively. It is not terribly likely that any language used by an interstellar civilisation around AD 3500 will resemble any language familiar to contemporary audiences.
    • French is used comically out of place during episode 93 (3:48). Reuenthal is fuming, but the text he is watching has absolutely no link to the situation: it is the beginning of a book about the NSUAP (the infamous Nazis).
  • Et Tu, Brute?: The effect of Reuenthal's rebellion on Mittermeyer and Reinhard.
  • Everyone Is Single: Seems to apply to most of Reinhard's admiralty: Mittermeyer is the only one to bring along a spouse to Reinhard's wedding. This is odd given that Eisenach is stated to be the father of a small child, and the rest of them except possibly Oberstein should be highly desirable as husbands considering their positions and ages.
    • Explained later in the show: Reinhard's admirals generally felt they should not marry if their Kaiser is still single.
  • Expy: Rudolf von Goldenbaum is a clear Hitler expy.
    • Oberstein is arguably an expy of (a loyal and reined-in) Maximilian Robespierre.
      • Even more so of an Irish revolutionary Theobald Wolfe Tone. Given Tanaka's massive knowledge of history, that's not improbable.
    • The aforementioned Goldenbaum emperor who suddenly abandoned his power and status in order to be with his male lover could be an expy of Lucius Cornelius Sulla.
    • Reinhard, Kircheis and the relationship between them bears many striking similarities to that of Alexander the Great with his BFF, Hephaestion. Check it.
  • Extreme Melee Revenge: You can only kill'em once, Julian.
  • Fallen Hero: Oskar von Reuenthal. Particularly tragic, since he did not rebel against Reinhard out of genuine malice or ambition, but because he was framed and was too proud to accept punishment for a crime he did not commit. His death is arguably the most senseless and undeserved in the entire series.
    • Ambition and pride had a lot to do with it, though. This had been brewing in him ever since Reinhard challenged him after Kircheis' death.
    • In the backstory, Rudolf von Goldenbaum especially for the Alliance. Given how he went from renowned hero and popular figure to the infamous autocrat who forged the Empire.
    • In the FPA, Dwight Greenhill, who agreed join the coup during the Alliance's Civil War, believing that it was in the best interests of his countrymen and in the hopes of minimising casualties in the process. He's killed, however, upon realizing too late that he had been an Unwitting Pawn to Arthur Lynch's machinations and, ultimately, Reinhard and Oberstein.
  • Famous Last Words: Most main characters. See trope page for examples.
  • Fan Service: The sexual kind is almost completely absent, though episode 89 shows quite a lot of Fräulein Mariendorf.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Necessary, considering that this takes place between two arms of the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Faux Action Girl: Lt. Greenhill graduated salutatorian of her military class, so you'd expect her to be fairly good at physical combat. But when she and a fellow soldier are attacked by the PKC, she literally runs crying into a corner while her friend gets beaten up. Was it reallly too much to ask for her to at least get in a fighting stance? And if you have to run, at least try running into a different room instead of running headlong into a corner!
    • To be fair, they were completely cornered and the PKC had stun batons and intent to kill, so they were for all intents and purposes completely defenseless. And come on, everyone should remember Greenhill's CMOA when she singlehandedly infiltrates the building where the Alliance government is keeping Yang prisoner and blows the brains out of his would-be assassin right in the nick of time.
    • Also, note this anime is not like many others where girls can defy the laws of physics, defeat men twice their size, or defeat a mob of people, unarmed and single-handedly. The Rosenritter, even if they are the best of the best, does get absurd at times though, winning battles where they are outnumbered with few to no casualties. Lt. Greenhill is handy enough with a gun but she had never actually directly killed a person or been in many close-combat situations until the breakout incident.
  • The Federation: The Galactic Federation started off like this before degenerating into a bloated, decadent mess, from which Rudolf von Goldenbaum forged the Empire. The Free Planets Alliance, seeing itself as a successor to the defunct Galactic Federation, also fits the bill.
  • Feudal Future: The Empire. Justified, since its founder specifically modelled it on Prussia (with a dash of the the Third Reich). Reinhard's reforms means that it ceases to be this, however.
  • Fiery Redhead: Bittenfeld and Katerose. Averted with Kircheis and Eisenach.
  • The Final Frontier: In an interesting twist, humanity's expansion across the stars is shown to exponentially decrease over the centuries.
  • Final Speech: (Almost everyone who dies gets to have one.)
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Lutz gets engaged to a nurse who treats him after he was injured in a bomb attack.
  • Flower Motifs: Orchids tend to show up around Kircheis and Annerose.
    • Also, in a case of the Japanese writers having done the research, there are a few instances of the language of flowers being employed (or intentionally misemployed) in the Empire. For example: after having made a callous remark on a sensitive topic the night before, Reuenthal brings to the Mittermeyers yellow roses, which are a symbol of friendship and apology.
  • Forever War: At the beginning of the series, the war between the Empire and Alliance has been waged on and off for 140 years, with no party able to gain a decisive advantage until the first capture of Iserlohn.
  • For Want of a Nail: This trope doesn't happen, but given the historical theme of the show, sometimes the narrator or one of the characters will comment on how some tiny insignificant detail had changed history.
  • Foreshadowing: Arguably, Yang eventually passing his mantle on to Julian was foreshadowed from the very first episode. Just watch the closing credits.
    • Both Yang and Reinhard more than once make a passing comment on the possibility of their own demise.
  • Four-Star Badass: Many. This series' most distinguished characters tend to be high-ranking officers in their respective army, at least Admiral or above. There's a REASON they got that far. The most literal example of the trope, however, would be General Schönkopf, commanding officer of the Rosenritters, an elite assault infantry regiment recruited from exiled Imperials. Facing him in battle is a DEATH SENTENCE.
    • And on that note, let's not forget Oskar von Reuenthal, the only man to fight Schönkopf head to head and live to tell the tale. No wonder he's one of Reinhard von Lohengramm's elite admirals.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: The entire series is the Kaiser of this trope. It's got to the point wherein there were so many different character arcs going on at once, they show subtitles with the characters' names every time they appear just so you could keep track of everybody.
  • Freudian Excuse: Reuenthal is a textbook case of Oedipus Complex. Most of his issues stem from the fact that his mother hated him. Later he becomes sexually involved with a woman who wants to kill him, and remarks how similar she is to his mother.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: A recurring aspect in the whole series.
    • Reinhard von Lohengramm goes from being an Impoverished Patrician to becoming one of the most powerful and popular figures in the Empire. Eventually becoming Kaiser himself.
    • Yang Wen-Li similarly rises from being a reluctant officer into being a strong figurehead for democracy, as much as he would rather not be.
    • Julian Mintz rises up from being a Cute Shotaro Boy at the start to being Yang's successor by the end.
  • Future Imperfect: Averted. Although Earth itself may be a half-forgotten backwater, human history is well-preserved and understood in general by most people. Which is further highlighted by various customs and placenames, as well as on the names of the various ships on both sides.
  • Gallows Humor: Poplin's conviction that he'll never reach the age of 30 is one of the series' running gags.
  • Gambit Pileup: Yang, Reinhard, Oberstein, Reuenthal, Rubinsky, Truenicht, De Villiers... most of the time the chain ultimately leads back to Yang, Oberstein or Rubinsky.
  • Gambit Roulette: Subverted: The Terraists are an ancient cult that has been secretly manipulating the universe. When they try to put their plan (which involves predicting the action of every major player in the universe) into action however, it fails as often as not and They end up being controlled by a member who doesn't care about their religion. Then they all die.
  • Gender Flip: Rubinsky is a black woman in the manga adaptation, named Adriana Rubinskaya. Her personality is the same, though, and she's just as bald as his male counterpart. (She's a lot prettier, though. The mangaka, Michihara Katsumi turned him into a woman because she was fed up with drawing men all the time.)
  • Gender Is No Object: The Alliance makes no real distinction between men and women in their ranks, much like in their society at large. In the Empire meanwhile, women serve only as auxiliaries in the military, though wield considerable influence in civil and political life.
  • General Failure: Distressingly common in the Alliance's officer corps; in fact, aside from Yang's allies and subordinates, this trope would seem to fit most of the FPA's brass. The same applies to most of the Old Guard nobles in the Empire as well; those who are not either ally themselves with Reinhard eventually or flee the country.
  • Generation Xerox: Frederica Greenhill serves in the Alliance military, like her father.
  • Generican Empire: The two opposing factions are known simply as the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance.
  • Genki Girl: Marika von Feuerbach, at least some of the time.
  • Geodesic Cast: At the outset of the show, you have Reinhard von Lohengramm in the Empire, a highly principled strategic genius of an admiral with strong ethics, who has a close right-hand man, a close right (left?) hand woman who later becomes his wife, and a group of admirals who are loyal to him and question the prevailing social order since they are trying to serve better ethical principles (honor, loyalty, transparecy and relative equality) than the ruling aristocrats. Over in the Free Planets Alliance you have Yang Wen-Li, a highly principled strategic genius of an admiral with strong ethics, who has a right-hand boy, a close right (left?) hand woman who later becomes his wife and a group of officers who are loyal to him and question the prevailing social order, since they are trying to serve better ethical principles (honor, loyalty, transparency and democratic equality) than the ruling bureaucrats.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told:
    • It's strongly hinted at that Oberstein's aware of a lot more than what he lets on in his machinations to keep the Empire safe from various threats and the Terraists. But whatever secrets and plots he's uncovered, kept away or otherwise purged are known only to him.
    • The mystery surrounding Bruce Ashbey, the 730 Mafia and his tragic demise is this. Despite Yang's research, he realized that either Ashbey took the truth with him to the grave or that there are still those keen on making sure it's never told.
  • Glory Hound: SUPERFICIALLY the motivation behind many politicians' and officers' support of the war. The politicians, however, have less idealistic reasons, and the officers don't last long...
    • Most participants of the Lippstadt Rebellion are glory-seeking dilettants, starting with Braunschweig, Littenheim and Flegel.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Reinhard and his compatriots initially hoped to just stir up enough trouble in the Alliance to keep it busy while the Lippstadt Rebellion raged. They didn't really expect how the civil war that ensued within the Alliance turned out be such a crippling, bloodied affair.
  • Good-Looking Privates: Common in both sides, but in a different way: the Empire's soldiers are elegant and gentlemanly in the extreme, while the Alliance's are more roguishly attractive. Both sides have their share of lady killers as well.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Subverted... and how! Sure, it takes a regime change to fully subvert this trope since the Galactic Empire isn't precisely a bowl of peaches at the start of the series, but the Alliance starts out as mostly rotten and pretty much stays that way.
    • It is actually played straight, but in a very subtle way: The Alliance is at the lowest point of its decadence at the beginning, while the empire gets a new, competent, charismatic, popular leader who crush the former rotten imperial nobility and put better, more honest people in charge of his administration and reach its apex. Even so, the Alliance at its lowest, with less people, a smaller territory and less resources is more prosperous than the empire at its peak and manage to fight its militaristic enemy to a standstill and it takes dozens of plans and the Alliance leaders screwing up with their best admiral at every turn to finally allow the empire to have the upper hand
    • In reality, the show doesn't take a true stance on which form of better. Really, it shows the positives and negatives to both sides, but doesn't single one out. Like Yang said himself, there is nothing inherently wrong with a dictatorship, it just matters who the dictator is.
      • Yang Wen-li even goes so far as to say that if the Alliance was formed to oppose a ruthless dictatorship, and that it is now a BENEVOLENT dictatorship, that there's no real reason for there to be an Alliance anymore. Considering the dreadful state of the Alliance government and his position within it, those are words DANGEROUSLY similar to treason. But then again, it's Yang Wen-li we're talking about.
      • And on the other side, during the third season, Reinhard states that he would never have won if the idealistic people who still believed in the founding principles of the Alliance had been allowed to lead. What is interesting here is that it is stated that the empire was decadent because it was ruled by aristocrats who believed to be the embodiment of value and greatness, and became better once Reinhard, who was a lot more cynical even about himself, but also way more competent took over, while the Alliance which still had some efficient politicians and intellectuals among its leaders (Truenicht was a full fledged Smug Snake, but was way smarter that the Empire's nobility) but their lack of idealism was what caused the Alliance downfall. In other words, the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism is actually the most important plot point of the whole series, as it resumes the ideological differences between Yang (for whom idealism comes first, even if it means serving worthless elected officials) and Reinhard (who values efficiency above all else even at the risk of crossing the Moral Event Horizon): Brilliant
  • Government in Exile:
    • Some defeated Imperial nobles attempt this. Reinhard von Lohengramm does not approve.
    • As the Alliance crumbles, a handful of exiled republican governments emerge, the most lasting one founded by Yang and becoming the basis for the Alliance remnant based on Heinessen in the ending.
  • Gratuitous English: Plenty of examples in the Alliance, but special mention goes to their National Anthem, with lyrics entirely in Engrish. Typical example:

My friends, let us sing a song
sing a long ring a bell, liberty!
Oh hail! Liberty bell!
True freedom for all men.

  • Gratuitous German: on the Empire's side, German being the language spoken there. "Feuer!" "Neue Land," "Kaiser," and of course "Sieg Kaiser! Sieg Heil!" complete with what looks suspiciously like the Hitler salute. As mentioned before, the Galactic Empire was founded by a German (or, more specifically, Prussian) Fanboy. The title screen for this series isn't even initially in Japanese, but (horrible) German: Heldensagen vom Kosmosinsel, which translates roughly into "Hero myths from the cosmic island" -- the additional Blind Idiot Translation-ness of using the wrong grammatical case is sadly untranslatable.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Neither The Empire or the FPA are inherently better or worse than the other as both sides have vaild points and often suffer from the same problems.
    • White and Gray Morality: While the war between the two nations is full on gray, the conflict between Yang's group and Reinhard's group can be seen as this.
    • Black and White Morality: Given what the Terraists do in reality, the Empire's purging counts as this.
  • Guile Hero: Yang Wen-li is a textbook example: Smarter than any Chessmaster or Magnificent Bastard in the series, managed to control a personnal Badass Army of one million soldiers, overthrew a junta with insulting ease, fought Reinhard to a standstill while being hopelessly outmanned and outgunned, raised his foster child to become able to keep working for his cause after his death, and yet, still obviously a good guy
  • Hair Colors: Most characters have plausible hair, except for greenhaired Attenborough and grey-haired Müller, who is stated to be the youngest of Reinhard's admirals.
  • Happily Married: Wolfgang and Evangeline Mittermeyer are like an oasis of peace and love.
    • Also, Alex and Hortense Caselnes/Cazenellu/however you spell it Cazerne. And both Yang/Frederica and Reinhard/Hildegard, for as long as it lasts...
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Katerose von Kreutzer as a romantic interest for Julian in the latter half of the main series.
  • Heroic BSOD: when Kircheis dies protecting Reinhard (Heroic Sacrifice much?)
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mashengo takes several laser blasts for Julian.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Reinhard and Kircheis, Poplin and Konev, Reuenthal and Mittermeyer (despite the latter being happily married). Bordering on Ho Yay.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: A side effect of Loads and Loads of Characters. Let's just have a very short list:
  • History Repeats: "In every time, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same..."
  • Hollywood Tactics: Save for the likes of Merkatz, most of the nobles in the Lippstadt Rebellion behave like this. But as they couldn't command themselves out of a paper bag, they get brutally crushed by actual professionals.
  • Honor Before Reason: Yang is a democrat: he serves the democratically elected alliance government, period. Even if he did not vote for the people in charge, even if they are a bunch of Smug snakes, even if their orders are stupid: they've been chosen by the people, they are in charge even if this means to capitulate after winning a battle and having his nemesis at gun point.
    • Reuenthal also follows this principle when he decides to rebel against Reinhard, even though he knows perfectly well that he's been set up.
    • Although Merkatz was implicitly coerced into leading the Lippstadt rebels, he still does so out of a sense of honor for his liege as well as out of concern for the men in his command.
    • Alexander Bucock and many of the older Alliance officers ultimately lead their forces to one final act of defiance against Reinhard knowing fully well that they'll all die. All this in the name of democracy.
    • Some of the old guard admirals in the Empire take "better die in glory than live in shame" to hopeless extremes, dragging whole fleets down with them. Ironically, Yang hates the notion as he sees it as one of the reasons why such conflicts could never end.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The historical document that Yang listens to while researching Bruce Ashbey's 730 Mafia specifically refers to this. Vittorio di Bertini (9th Fleet admiral) is described as a huge intimidating (but gentle) scarred man. The document directly calls this out, referring to his wife being half his height.
  • Humans Are White: The Empire seems to be all light-skinned European folk with German names - for a reason. The Alliance is dominated by the same light-skinned people, though with a number of dark-skinned and black people and some East Asian types (including Yang himself). Their names suggest a wide variety of ethnic origins, but the culture seems to be quite uniform.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Subverted, in that, while Siegfried Kircheis is this to Reinhard, Reinhard is nowhere near ineffectual(he's pretty much the most formidable character in the series, in fact). The first time Kircheis's fleet of 2000 is sent out, it's completely on its own against a ring of satellites that decimated a fleet twice their size in seconds. The second time, he has a force of 40,000 against 50,000 enemy ships. He wins both times with minimal effort and almost never losing the soft smile on his face.
    • And what about Hilda? having the only person able to outsmart Yang has his lover/wife/right-hand-man/heir was what allowed Reinhard to emerge victorious and alive during the second season. In fact, having Hyper Competent Sidekicks is Reinhard's MO and what differentiates him from the rest of the petty nobility of the Empire: they want servile underlings, he wants efficient officers. Reinhard even goes as far as forgiving blunders from his officers and merely requesting they do a better job next time to prove themselves. His officers are more than happy to oblige.
      • "Outsmart" is perhaps too strong a term since Yang, being who he is, is most likely already aware of this option but it is one of the many disadvantages that Yang cannot or will not do anything about. Reinhard is also aware that that is the most effecient path to victory but his pride and his Worthy Opponent complex wants a direct victory against Yang. He felt he had lost, in terms of tatics, to Yang in all of their previous encounters and wanted to prove to everyone and to himself that he could beat Yang. If he wasn't confident he could win then he wouldn't had faced Yang but Hilda realized that the chances of Reinhard losing to Yang was high and took the appropriate actions.
  • I'll Kill You!: Lang learns the hard way that Mittermeyer is not as laid-back as he usually seems like.
    • Even the cultured Mecklinger briefly acts like this towards one of the doctors tending to Reinhard.
  • Improbable Age: Reinhard and Siegfried not only made it to the admiralty at age twenty, they also had their first commands at fifteen or so and were apparently able to make the decision to enter the military academy at age ten without having to get approval from their parents. Having teenagers as junior officers is consistent with several historical aristocratic societies, but the rest makes little sense. There is also the Alliance practice of letting 15-year olds like Julian and later Katerose pilot starfighters and participate in combat. Even the Imperial admirals seem rather young to hold such high rank: Mittermeyer is 32 or 33 at the end of the series, Oberstein 38, and none of the others seem to be older than them.
    • Note, though, that in the story Reinhard and Kircheis' military career is treated as extraordinary, and the FPA tends to be strapped for soldiers (in fact, it's an in-story problem that most of their youth die at the battlefield).
  • In the Blood: Julian Mintz. The 2015 manga reveals that the Mintz family not only has a long military tradition, but also has a strong streak of defending democracy, with Julian's ancestors even being close comrades with Arle Heinessen himself.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: By this point Earth has a total population of ten million and is home to a fanatic Cult that wants everyone to either return to Earth or die in a fire. Indeed, even after Reinhard becomes Kaiser and moves the Imperial capitol to Fezzan, Odin proves to be a much more popular tourist attraction than Earth.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Yang and Bucock, Schneider and Merkatz, Julian and just about everyone else after he gets a little older (but always with Yang).
  • Irony: The story is teeming with all kinds of it.
    • Yang is a subdued and peaceful man who despises war. He figures that the more often he wins, the sooner the tide of war will change and he will be able to quietly retire. He is also one of if not the deadliest of military commanders alive, and his superiors soon find him indespensible on the warfront.
    • Wolfgang and Eva Mittermeyer are unable to have children, to their sorrow. Reuenthal and Elfriede? Plenty able.
    • Lebello grimly warns Yang that he may have to take military action opposite the Free Planets Alliance in order to protect himself, and that he wishes the time may never come. Eventually, it is Lebello himself who puts Yang into this very predicament.
    • Merkatz is an elderly admiral who has spent the greater part of his life fighting against the Free Planets Alliance. He ends up becoming the leader of an independent military force fighting for the restoration of democracy.
    • Reinhard initially sought to bring down Kaiser Friedrich IV in his rise to power. Not only did the Kaiser die of a heart attack before Reinhard had a chance to take him down fairly, but the monarch even aided him secretly despite knowing of his ambitions from the very beginning.
    • Bittenfeld once comments during a strategic discussion that it mightn't even be necessary to deal with Yang's fleet to attain victory if they simply attacked the Alliance's capital planet, Heinessen. The other admirals promptly shoot him down. A few episodes later, however, this is the method which Hilda uses to save Reinhard's life and bring the Imperial forces their complete victory over the Alliance.
    • When a new space fortress is named "Drei Admiralsburg" ("Fortress of Three Admirals") to honor the three KIA admirals, Bittenfeld half-jokes that if another admiral were to die soon, they'd have to rename the fortress "Vier Admiralsburg". Guess what happens a couple of episodes later?
    • In episode 103, Bittenfeld says that since Oberstein lived all his life at the desk of the Ministry of Military Affairs, he should die at his desk as well. In the end?.. Ahem. Bittenfeld might be the author's favorite Ironic Echo.
    • Time and time again, Mittermeyer, the "Gale Wolf," demonstrates the remarkable swiftness of his fleet. However, he arrives too late to speak with Reuenthal one last time before the latter's death, a fact Reuenthal bitterly but amusedly lampshades.
  • It's Raining Men: The fleet under Grillparzer drops airborne forces onto the base at Urvashi.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Yang, who more than once openly expresses how he'd rather be living the quiet life of a historian and later, husband.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The tactic used by the Yang Fleet to successfully re-capture Iserlohn Fortress.
  • Karma Houdini: Job Truenicht for most of the series. In episode 98 Reuenthal finally gives him what he has coming - a laser bolt to the heart. Well aware of both his hypocrisy and his tendency to dodge responsibility for his crimes.... and feels not one whit of remorse for any of it.
  • Kill'Em All: the author, Tanaka Yoshiki is not nicknamed "Mass Murderer" for nothing. By the end of the show, most of the main cast is dead.
  • Kill It with Water: Occurred in the backstory during the Sirius War when the Black Flag fleet decapitated Earth's leadership by flooding their Himalayan command bunker. Also occurs when the very same bunker, now headquarters of the Earth Cult, is invaded by Imperial troops.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: When Frederica and Yang lock lips for the first time.
  • Know When to Fold'Em:
    • It's strongly implied that Kaiser Friedrich IV saw the writing on the wall that the Goldenbaum dynasty's days were numbered and that if the centuries-old line were to collapse, it would be as magnificently as possible. Which also explains why he constantly elevates Reinhard into positions of greater power, seeing in him the catalyst for change in the Empire.
    • Gregor von Mückenberger, Reinhard's former commanding officer, ultimately comes to recognize his talents and ambitions even as the aging admiral's peers sneered at the upstart. It's no wonder then why, instead of joining the Lippstadt Rebellion, he opts to retire. Though he still tries to give one last warning to the rebelling nobles against going on what would be a pointless war against Reinhard.
  • Last-Name Basis: Most characters, especially in the Empire. Even close friends such as Reuenthal and Mittermeyer never call each other by first name. Kircheis calling Reinhard and Annerose by first name is a rare exception.
    • A well-earned exception, natch.
    • Also, when Hildegard pays a visit to Annerose the latter quickly suggests they switch to First-Name Basis. Hildegard happily obliges. Reinhard and Hilda attempt to do this, but find it much too awkward.
    • Also, with the exception of his father (in a flashback scene in the side stories) nobody ever refers to Yang by his first name (Wen-li), not even Jessica and Lapp, his friends from military academy.
    • Averted with Julian - even after becoming military commander-in-chief of the Iserlohn Republic, he is still often addressed only by his first name by his older acquaintances.
  • Last of His Kind: The 2015 manga reveals that Julian Mintz is the last living member of his family.
  • Last Stand: More common on the Imperial side, but seen on both sides.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Mittermeyer has no child and wants one, while Reuenthal has one and didn't want it. Reuenthal lampshades this every chance he gets. Also, Hildegard gets pregnant the very first time Reinhard beds her, something they certainly hadn't planned on.
  • Little Hero, Big War: How Reinhard, Yang and a number of other characters start out initially. Over time however, their exploits, actions and the repercussions of both mean that they don't stay "little" for long.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: This anime has quite possibly the largest cast of any show ever. Bleach and Naruto put together have nothing on it. Hell, it's the page image.
    • According to the Official Gineiden Encyclopaedia, there are 660 named characters in the main series, side stories and movies.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Count Alfred von Lansberg, an incompetent poet who thinks he could be the savior of the Empire. He's not what he thinks he is. The same goes for at least some of the nobles who join the Lippstadt Rebellion, believing themselves the true loyalists to the Empire and would-be vanquishers of the "upstart" Reinhard. They pay for their hubris with their lives.
  • Lower Deck Episode: There are scenes and even whole episodes wherein the focus is put more on everymen and grunts on both sides.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Reinhard apparently has only two outfits: a fancy uniform with a voluminous white cape and, when bedridden, pyjamas. It is noteworthy that he never wears anything like the formal civilian wear used by his ministers while in public, even when functioning as the Prime Minister prior to his coronation or as the head of state afterwards - he seemingly always emphasises his role as a military leader. The only exceptions to this rule are flashbacks, a scene where he goes horseback riding and another during his honeymoon with Hildegard.
    • Same with Reuenthal whom we never see in anything else than his military uniform, even when he serves as the governor of the old FPA territories.
    • Special mention goes to Merkatz and Schneider, who keep wearing their old Imperial uniforms even after throwing their lot in with the Alliance and later the Iserlohn Republic. This is almost lampshaded in one of the later end credits, showing a hypothetical picnic between the Alliance-side cast. Everyone is dressed casually except Merkatz and Schneider, who are still in uniform.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Rubinsky and his councilor, Rupert Kesselring. Slightly subverted in that Rubinsky knew all along Kesselring was his son, but acknowledged it as a sign of respect to Kesselring on the anniversary of his mother's death. Rubinsky also acknowledges that he appointed Kesselring his councilor not out of nepotism, but out of genuine respect towards his abilities.
  • Luminescent Blush: Hilariously, Reinhard and Hilda in episode 89. Reinhard also does this in a side story where an older man offers him a drink and he must turn it down because Reinhard and Kircheis are still underage. Also, in the fourth season, Julian and Karin.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Alliance tries this against Iserlohn during their sixth attempt to capture it. It actually does considerable damage and leaves a hole in the station's defenses, but Reinhard's counterattack ensured that they couldn't exploit it.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Invoked by Poplin when they go to Earth. Boris Konev promptly shoots him down by saying that he "should write for children's TV anime".
  • Manly Tears: While mourning Reuenthal, Mittermeyer shocks his subordinates by weeping openly on the bridge of his flagship.
  • Meaningful Name: So many of them: Reinhard means brave and cunning, Hildegard means "battle stronghold", Julian means youthful, Adrian means "Dark" and "Rich", and the best example is Yang Wen-Li himself: in Chinese, Wen means "culture, literacy" while Li means "reason, logic" as well as "strength, power": quite fitting considering that the man's brain may be the most dangerous weapon of the known universe...
    • (理 means "reason, logic", while 力 means "strength, power". There is no Chinese character pronounced "li" that means both "reason, logic" AND "strength, power". Wen can also mean "literature" or "words".)
      • Wen-Li is usually written as 威利 (Wei Li) in Chinese. "Wei" can mean "power", and "Li" can mean "sharp".
    • Even some Imperial flagships have meaningful names/ThemeNaming: Reinhard von Lohengramm has "Brünhild," red-haired Kircheis has "Barbarossa" ("Red-beard"), Wolfgang Mittermeyer, paragon of male virtues, has "Beowulf", Tall, Dark and Handsome Tragic Hero Reuenthal has "Tristan", orange-haired, yellow-eyed, short-tempered Bittenfeld has "Königstiger" (the German name for the Bengal tiger, but often translated directly as "King tiger"), artistic and wise Mecklinger has "Kvasir" (in Norse Mythology Kvasir was the wisest man in the world and the mead of poetry was created from his blood), and Eisenach, the Silent Admiral who is famous for communicating through hand gestures, has "Vissar" (misspelling of "Vithar", son of Odin who was famous for being always silent).
  • The Men First: The best officers on both sides of the conflict ALWAYS make their soldiers' lives their first priority. Many of the greatest military victories in the series happen with almost no loss of human life, Siegfried Kircheis being the best example (as in winning a battle with NOT A SINGLE LIFE LOST on his side).
    • This also explains some of the reasons why Reinhard and Yang earned their titular reputation as "Galactic Heroes." In the case of Reinhard, he shares in his men's struggles and makes a point to lead from the front line. While in Yang's case, he always keeps in mind the costs of sending his men to fight - and die - in war.
  • Mildly Military: A nice subversion: The Alliance, and especially the "Yang Team" are very casual: you will see them throwing parties, drinking alcohol during strategic meetings, going after every girl they meet, and even making fun of their leader's (lack of) sex life in front of him. Do not take this for a lack of competence or discipline: they know the horrors of war, and have chosen to enjoy life as much as they can between battles. When the battle starts, you're quick to remember why they were handpicked by Yang.
  • Military Maverick: Yang Wen-li, though never reckless, almost never adheres to Alliance convention. Which is good, because those who do are invariably shown to be incompetent, inflexible morons. The entirety of the Rosenritter contingent are also mavericks, of the more reckless sort. Bittenfeld is also rather reckless, both as fleet commander and in personal interactions.
  • Minovsky Physics: This series goes one better with Zephyr Particles, which are invisible, directional, and extremely flammable even in vacuum.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Oskar von Reuenthal, much to his chagrin.
  • Modern Stasis:
    • Civilian life in the FPA seems to be rather like this. Aside from wall- or deskmounted picturephones and personal vehicles with optional autopilot, their material culture seems to be very similar to what you would find in first-world countries during the 1980s, down to the hairstyles and fashions. The main series takes place in the 3590s.
    • Humanity in general is implied to have reached a socio-cultural plateau of sorts at some point, freezing certain aspects of culture even as technology continues to advance.
  • Mood Whiplash: The beginning of the third season is VERY mellow compared to all that happened before: Reinhard is emperor, and has to deal with the duties of a ruler and administrator instead of soldiering, and Yang is married and retired, but constantly living under imperial surveillance. Of course, this is only temporary, as the war eventually flares up again and places both men into the environment they are most suited for.
  • Morning Sickness: Hildegard has a scene where she experiences this.
  • Mummies At the Dinner Table: Count Landsberg acts like this towards the remains of deposed boy-emperor Erwin Josef II.
  • Mythology Gag: The 2015 manga reveals that a young Reinhard muttered the phrase "My Conquest is the Sea of Stars" during his first off-world journey, when he realized how vast the universe really was. Coincidentally, it's also the title of the OVA movie, My Conquest is the Sea of Stars.
  • National Anthem: The Free Planets Alliance has one in Gratuitous English titled "Revolution of the Heart." Aka "Liberty stands for freedom..."
  • Necessarily Evil : Oberstein's modus operandi. The worst thing about it is that his ideas all work.
  • The Neidermeyer: Commodore Andrew Fork personifies this trope. Even more obscenely, he combines it with the worst aspects of Miles Gloriosus and Knight Templar. (For clarification, watch episodes 12-16.)
  • Next Thing They Knew: Despairing in the aftermath of the second attempt on his life, Reinhard asks Hildegard to stay with him, telling her that he can't bear the thought of being alone that night. From the context it is clear that he is looking for emotional support, not lusting after her. The next scene takes place the following morning with Hildegard waking up in bed next to Reinhard.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: If they're not stuck in the 18th century, they've got a serious case of Eighties Hair: Frederica Greenhill sports a mullet, while Adrian Rubinsky dresses and even looks like Telly Savalas.
    • Admiral Willibald Joachim von Merkatz bears a stunning resemblance to Charles Bronson.
    • Let's not forget Admiral Ernest Mecklinger and his Porn Stache.
    • Fashion is very odd in general: Imperial farmers seemingly wear 18th century peasant wear, urban civilians sometimes wear the same late 20th century styles as the Alliance, other times late 19th/early 20th century styles. The late 20th styles were also in fashion cirka 500 years earlier when Rudolf Von Goldenbaum established the Empire and seemingly even when the first world government was established on Earth in 2129, some 1400 years prior to the events of the series. And there is also the matter of the 18th century styles remaining in fashion since Rudolf deliberately introduced them.
  • No Export for You: Thankfully, the non-malicious version, but the practical version. Quite a few distributors would love to bring a franchise with this much quality and prestige out in the West, but at this juncture the logistics of such an undertaking are staggering in their scope. Even discounting the side-stories, there are one hundred and ten episodes to dub into English or even just subtitle (which, discounting the OP/ED portions, still amounts to something on the order of thirty-six hours of material), and realistically good sales would require dubbing; if dubbed there are at least dozens if not hundreds of actors to recruit, quality of footage and transfer must be ensured for all the material, if dubbed the entire soundtrack has to be re-layered into the English track (again, thirty-six hours of such), and then the distribution company would have to distribute a product that is roughly equal in length to the first three seasons of Battlestar Galactica combined. It might have been possible years ago had the series been released in America roughly coequal to the Japanese releases, but at this point outside of a television deal (for a series which contains animation that is upwards of twenty years old) with advertising support, any kind of domestic release is completely impossible. An OVA-style release would be suicide in the current market, even at five episodes per disc: five episodes per disc at, say $30 would still equal a twenty-two disc set that would cost the consumer six hundred and sixty dollars. So barring a miracle with Sci-Fi or Cartoon Network or a similarly interested television network, a United States or European release will never happen - not due to any apathy or maliciousness on the part of anyone on either side of the Pacific, but just from the sheer, mind-boggling scale of such an undertaking in the current market.
    • It's worth noting that the hobbyist fansubbers who have subbed LoGH with the highest dedication and quality themselves took years to complete it - the final episode of the second Gaiden series was released in September 2010. The first season of the main series had been completed in 2003. Anyone attempting to translate LoGH faces an absurdly Herculean task.
    • As of 2016, the series is at last getting a formal English release via Sentai Filmworks.
  • Norio Wakamoto: Oskar von Reuenthal, one of his earlier roles.
  • Not So Different:
    • While Fraulein Mariendorf prefers pursuing more peaceful and gentle means to dealing with situations compared to Oberstein, both of them share a habit of coldly manipulating others and plotting Machiavellian schemes to meet their ends. Something that Reinhard himself brings up with her.
    • Yang Wen-Li is at times compared to Rudolf von Goldenbaum, especially given his rise to fame and popularity. Yang himself is all too aware of said comparisons, the people around him wondering whether they really hold any weight.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Subverted. The horrors of World War III still resonate strongly over 1,500 years afterwards that there's a widespread taboo against using nuclear weapons on inhabited worlds or civilian targets Westerland notwithstanding. Nonetheless, that hasn't stopped nukes from being developed or used in certain military situations.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Grimmelshausen in the side stories. On the surface he is a frail old man suffering from dementia who is indecisive and over-catious when commanding his fleet. In his more lucid moments, however, he reveals that he is fully aware of his own lack of talent and that because others consider him a harmless fool they act indiscreetly around him, enabling him to gather plenty of incriminating evidence of the nefarious deeds of the High Nobility. Grimmelshausen entrusts Kesler to deliver said evidence to Reinhard in order to help him bring down the nobles. Though Reinhard appreciates the intent, he refuses to make use of it, preferring to bring them down in a more honest fashion.
    • Kaiser Friedrich IV. On the one hand, he's a former hedonist who's long since deferred power to his ministers, preferring to indulge in hobbies like gardening instead. On the other hand, up until his death he's painfully aware of the fact that the Goldenbaum Dynasty's days were numbered and that change was needed to ensure the Empire's survival. He's also aware of Reinhard's ambitions and rise to fame from the very beginning, but nonetheless saw in him the hope for the Empire's future.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Alliance is so full of these, it's a miracle they get anything done.
  • Odd Friendship: Tall, Dark and Handsome, filthy rich aristocrat Oskar von Reuenthal who has a Dark and Troubled Past, all sorts of psychological issues, and is a well-known womanizer; and short, blond, commoner Wolfgang Mittermeyer who is a paragon of all male virtues (well, mostly) and is Happily Married to his teenage sweetheart. They met in a barroom brawl, clicked instantly and over the years their friendship (as well as their military prowess) has become somewhat of a legend in both the Empire and the Alliance.
    • They even have a not so subtle Red Oni, Blue Oni thing going on: Mittermeyer is associated with red, Reuenthal with blue, and their personalities follow the trope patterns.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Played straight, but not for laughs, with Rennenkampf's body.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Reinhard von Lohengramm. For one, he orders his entire fleet to salute the slain enemy admiral Bucock after the Battle of Marr-Adetta. Many of the other Imperial Admirals qualify for this as well, particularly Mecklinger, and Mittermeyer who went as far as executing one of his own men for rape and pillage.
    • Sadly lacking on the Alliance side. While Yang and his allies and subordinates tend to fit this trope, many of their fellow officers are careerists, opportunists, cowards, predators, or some combination of these traits. In fact, the actions of a group of officers seeking to secure high rank with the Empire are ultimately responsible for the Alliance's final dissolution. Naturally, Reinhard is uninterested in playing ball....
  • Offing the Offspring: Adrian Rubinsky offs his own son Rupert Kesselring just before the Imperial invasion of Fezzan. Granted, this was actually due to Rupert's failed attempt at being a Self-Made Orphan. Also, Kaiser Friedrich IV only ended up on the Galactic throne because his father had executed his two older brothers for treason.
  • Off-Model: The art style changes noticeably between seasons and even within them. One strange example of this is how Elfriede looks noticeably tanned in her final appearance when she seemed to have very fair skin earlier. In addition, later DVD editions of the OVAs have whole scenes completely redone with sharper artwork, which can look jarring at times compared to the older footage.
  • Old Friend: Kircheis runs into an old friend from school while visiting his old hometown. Said friend is studying literature in university and is worried about being conscripted into the military and used as cannon fodder. The narrator reveals that six months later Kircheis learned that this friend has been arrested for anti-war activism, and that when after two more years had passed and Kircheis had gained more power he attempted to have his friend released only to discover that he had perished from malnutrition in a forced labour camp.
  • One Sided Battle: Averted. Many of the larger pitched battles are brutal stalemates with millions of casualties on each side, no matter who wins in the end. The camera frequently switches to the gory deaths of mooks from both sides to highlight the horrific human suffering caused by war. These scenes tend to be filler for the narrator's author tracts on the brutality and futility of it all. The taking of Iserlohn and Siegfried Kircheis's supression of the Kastrop Rebellion certainly qualify, though. Not to mention some of the battles during the Lippstadt Rebellion, if only in part due to how utterly inept the rebelling nobles are in commanding fleets.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in episode 22: after Marquis Littenheim blasts through his own men to cover a retreat, the only two survivors left on the bridge on one of the ships - a cabin boy and severely wounded officer - find out that they are both named Konrad.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Utterly subverted, despite futuristic medicine technology.
  • Orchestral Bombing: Oh yeah.
    • Dvorak's New Wold Symphony has never had its sheer grandeur matched by its visual accompaniment until the Battle of Amlitzer! Possibly the best soundtrack to set a massive, MASSIVE space battle to; tens of thousands of ships exchanging Intano Circus's, fast paced dogfights between agile star-fighters, and massive particle cannon bombardment resulting in the deaths of millions on either side, all the while lamenting the and emphasizing the horror and tragedy of the event! War is bad has never been so glorious!
  • Origin Story: The first chapters of the 2015 manga put more focus on Reinhard and Kircheis' backstories before the events of the OVAs. Eventually, the scope expanded to include Yang and Julian's backstories as well.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Partially subverted. Humanity is shown to have largely abandoned organized religion prior to the events of the series, but it resurfaces in the form of the Terran Cult, as well as the somewhat hilarious Imperial penchant for invoking "the great god Odin" and Valhalla. The latter seems to be mostly a vestige and/or formalities, though, since no Imperial character is shown to be religious.
    • In one of the side stories it is mentioned that Whit Sunday is still being celebrated, but has lost all religious meaning and is nothing but an early summer festival.
    • Even the Terran cult could be a subversion. They revere the Earth because it is the original home, the "mother" of humanity, but they do not seem to really believe in anything supernatural.
  • Overly Long Name: Despite the penchant for long, important-sounding names in the Galactic Empire, the winner here is actually Alliance politico Henrique Martino Borges De Arantes E Oliveira, who shows up in maybe four episodes.
  • Overranked Soldier: Though he is very capable, Emperor Friedrich IV promoting twenty-year old Reinhard to Fleet Admiral in charge of half the Imperial fleet seems absurd, especially considering that there were many more experienced commanders available and the military establishment and the High Nobles oppose the appointment. Reinhard's handpicked admirals are also rather young for their posts, with the youngest, Müller, starting out as Vice Admiral at 25 or 26 and the others not being much older, mid-30s at the most. The Alliance also does this, but to a lesser degree.
    • It helps that Reinhard's sister was the emperor's favorite concubine, and Reinhard himself was in a very privileged position. The novel mentions that Friedrich IV doted on him to the point where some might have suspected he had the hots for him. As for the admirals, Reinhard wanted people who weren't loyal to the current establishment, so it makes sense that he started looking among younger soldiers. (They didn't start out as admirals, they were all promoted to that rank.)
  • Percussive Therapy: Reinhard smashes at least one wineglass per season, only one of them celebratory.
  • Pet the Dog: Oberstein has an actual dog, and the narrator mentions that Lang secretly gave money to charity his entire life and was apparently a loving father and husband as well.
    • Schönkopf, who usually doesn't hesitate in killing Imperials, at one point spares a young-looking soldier after asking the youth whether he has a girlfriend, then hearing a yes. Later on, he initially tries to secretly keep his illegitimate daughter, Katerose von Kreutzer, out of harm's way upon learning that she's in Yang's fleet.
  • Planet of Hats: Fezzan, where everyone is a scheming, moneygrubbing merchant.
  • Playing Both Sides:
    • Fezzan in general (especially under Adrian Rubinsky) takes advantage of the conflict between the Empire and Alliance, even selling arms and intel to both sides. Filling its merchants' coffers with bountiful profits in the process. At least until Reinhard has enough of Fezzan's shenanigans and assumes direct control over the planet. Making it the new Imperial capitol world in the process.
    • The Terraists have been doing this for centuries in the hopes of wiping out both great powers and once again making Earth humanity's heart. They ultimately fail.
    • Both Rubinsky and Trünicht show themselves to be this, as in their own ways, they're only loyal to themselves and whatever gives them the most power.
  • Principles Zealot: Yang to a degree. More than once, his insistence on keeping to the values of democracy have unwittingly backfired. His own friends and allies comment on how only his firm adherence to his ideals, rather than the likes of Reinhard, could defeat him. Sadly, they're not that far off from what ultimately killed Yang.
  • The Promise: "Please win the universe, Lord Reinhard!"
  • Proud Merchant Race: Fezzanis are portrayed as such.
  • Proper Lady: Annerose von Grünewald and Hortense Cazerne fit this archetype fairly closely.
  • Prussia: The Empire effectively revived the country IN SPACE!
  • Psycho for Hire: Ovlesser is a hulking brute who seeming fights solely for the love of killing.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Other than the opening and closing themes, and two National songs (the anthem of the Free Planets and the war song of the Imperial Army), the entire soundtrack is made up of classical music.
    • And it knows how to use the music, too. For example, episode 14, "Liberation of the Frontier Zone" makes good use of Dvorák's New World Symphony, and many other episodes and scenes feature relevant and fitting passages from Beethoven's Eroica and Schiksal, Mahler's Fifth, Brahms' First, and many other works.
  • Puss in Boots: Reinhard has Kircheis, extremely talented and utterly loyal to his Reinhard-sama. Reinhard trusts him so much that he goes as far as saying that talking to Kircheis is the same as talking to him. Later, Hilda becomes Reinhard's Puss in Boots and she manages to beat Yang at his own game, saving Reinhard in the nick of time, and demonstrating that she is the smartest Chessmaster in a series full of them, way to go, Fräulein.
    • Yang is also at heart a Puss in Boots: he could become the Alliance chairman: his popularity is so high that he would probably be elected in a landslide, and he would make a better leader for the Alliance, (simply because, he actually listens to those beneath him), but nope, he chooses to not be in charge.
  • Putting on the Reich: Slight subversion: while the fashion of the Imperial army is quite based on German fashion(specifically Prussian), the story's refusal to take sides actually means that the superficial similarity is exactly that, superficial. It would have DEFINITELY applied when Rudolf von Goldenbaum was emperor, though.
  • The Quisling: Seen amongst the less honorable on both sides when the opposing side invades.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The 13th Fleet, which was hastily scrambled together from new recruits and survivors from the Battle of Astate, along with a helping of Imperial expatriates that serve as special task forces, an enemy defector, a demoted Chief of Staff, and a turncloak.
  • Rape, Pillage and Burn:
    • The Alliance, of all people, resort to it to resupply after Reinhard von Lohengramm destroys their supply ships during their "liberation" of the frontier territories.
    • Reinhard makes it a point to make this unquestionably verboten. Mittermeyer in particular even goes so far as to have one of his own men executed for partaking in said rape, pillage and burn.
  • Rapid Aging: Downplayed, but when Alexander Bucock returns from retirement after a few months, he's noticeably weaker and more frail to the point of relying on a cane to get around. It's implied that decades' worth of stress and fatigue had finally caught up with him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Alexander Bucock, Sidney Sitolet
    • In the Empire, aside from Reinhard himself and some of his comrades there is the (relative) minority of reformist and otherwise sensible elements of the nobility who actually uphold the tradition of Noblesse Oblige, like the Mariendorfs. Tellingly, said nobles become the only ones who manage to retain their titles, power and wealth after Reinhard crushes the corrupt and decadent aristocracy once and for all in the Lippstadt Rebellion.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: In the 2015 manga, a freshly graduated Reinhard and Kircheis are sent to a remote ice world contested with the Alliance at the Iselohn corridor. It's strongly implied that this was at the behest of some corrupt nobles in league with Susanna von Benemünde, who even tried to have the two assassinated. Suffice to say, they didn't stay on that world for long.
  • Reality Ensues: Throughout the series, many of the characters are forced to confront the consequences of their actions as well as how the realities on the ground don't always match their expectations. Sometimes with tragic results.
    • In general, the Alliance's attempted "liberation" of the Empire following Yang's successes with Iserlohn is a testament to its leadership's utter lack of grasp with reality.
  • Recycled in Space: Just from the description this anime sounds like War and Peace IN SPACE! Which really just makes it all the more great.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Reuenthal and Mittermeyer; they even get matching capes!
  • Redshirt Army: Anyone who fights the Rosenritters. (Except for Reuenthal, possibly the only person whose fight with Schönkopf ends in a draw.) Also the common Terraist cultists.
  • Reluctant Hero: While Yang Wen-Li is a good and honorable man, he would rather be anywhere but the battlefield, let alone in a position of power. It's only later on that he grudgingly considers taking the reins of leadership over what's left of the Alliance against the Empire though he's killed before anything really comes of it.
  • Relationship Voice Actor: There are a few of them though throughout the series, in Golden Wings, Hikaru Midorikawa is Reinhard and Takehito Koyasu is Kircheis.
  • The Remnant: many of the old nobility continue to plot and act against Reinhard von Lohengramm's new empire, even if it's a hopelessly lost cause. A few of these, though, kidnap the 7 year-old Kaiser and seek asylum with the Alliance, causing the then Cold War between the Empire and the Alliance to REALLY heat up.
    • Later, the Iserlohn Republic becomes this compared to the defunct FPA.
  • Retcon: This first flashback to the suicide of Reuenthal's mother shows her slumped over a table with an emptied glass of poisoned wine next to her. The second shows her lying in bed with a half-empty jar of pills in her hand.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The Alliance officers who murder Lebello in an attempt to curry favour with the Empire. Something similar happens with Grillparzer.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The PKC, a militant group within the Alliance affiliated with Job Trünicht give this impression. It's later on revealed however that the PKC are a front for the Terraists, with Trünicht using both to forward his own ends.
  • The Rival: Mostly the two main characters, to each other, but rivalry exists between other characters as well.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The Empire (Romanticism) vs. The Alliance (Enlightenment).
  • Rousing Speech: Happens every now and then, with varying levels of cynism, demagogy and good old stupidity. The undisputed king is Yang Wen-li, whose first Rousing Speech goes something like this:

"Er... Giving our life for the fatherland... and stuff... um, I guess it's just that we can only drink good tea while we're alive so let's fight and not die!"

  • Rousseau Was Right: Most of the main characters on both sides are inherently noble people who want what's best for their nations.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Just because many characters die doesn't mean some of them aren't remembered more than others. Kircheis is a good example.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: In regard to population growth and migration rates, at least. 269 years before the battle of Astate the FPA was founded by the remainder of a group of 400,000 prisoners who had escaped the Empire. 113 years later they had sufficient population and industrial capacity to field a starfleet that could defeat the first Imperial fleet sent to subjugate them and hold their own afterwards. It is stated that after the Empire becomes aware of them large numbers of dissidents emigrate to the Alliance, swelling their numbers. By the time of the main series, the Empire's population is stated to be around 25 billion people and the Alliance's around 15 billion. Not completely impossible, but very unlikely considering the circumstances.[2]
  • Schizo-Tech: Quill pens and bulky computers exist alongside cybernetic replacement limbs and powered armour-wearing soldiers wielding axes. Using ultrasound to examine the development of fetuses seems to be Lost Technology, given that the doctor who watches over the delivery of Prince Alex feels the need to announce "It's a boy!".
    • No wonder, since the novels were written in the '80s.
    • The 2015 manga retains this in spirit, albeit with the '80s bits updated to 2010s standards. It's also lampshaded at points, with a young Julian Mintz even telling Yang how he likes writing his thoughts on paper and Yang himself having whole stacks of hard-copy books, which are mentioned as being hard to come by.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: How Yang Wen-li became the "Hero of El Facil" in the first place.
  • Secret Police: In what appears to be a borrowing from Militaristic Japan, the Military Police doubles as a political police, having the authority to intervene against civilians on suspicion of sedition.
  • Secret Test of Character: Schönkopf's occassional questioning of Yang's leadership can be interpreted as this.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Dominique likes to wear back-revealing dresses.
  • Shirtless Scene: A brief still of Reuenthal in bed with Elfriede. A Modesty Bedsheet covers them below the waist, and Elfriede is pressing herself against his very muscular chest.
  • Shower Scene: Hildegard has one in episode 89, complete with full rear nudity.
    • The manga has scenes of Shower of Angst with Reuenthal (full rear nudity) and Mittermeyer (frontal but he's sitting and there were strategically placed shadows).
  • Shown Their Work: Though their grasp of English and German is shaky, the creators obviously did good work when it came to researching general history and the cultures the Empire was based on. Not only do they do a fair job of depicting the retro architecture and fashions, they also show customs and characters using mannerisms (for example curtseys) that would likely be unfamiliar to the Japanese audience.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Invoked with Yang Wenli, who proves himself time and time again to be one of the smartest and deadliest men alive and occasionally is seen playing chess. Inverted in that he kind of sucks at it.
  • Smug Snake: Job Truenicht, oh god Job Truenicht. Not to mention nearly everyone in charge on Fezzan.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Seriously, what are the chances that one of the smartest politicians and military leaders in the galaxy would die of a "rare mutative connective tissue disease" at the age of 25, two years after becoming Emperor?
    • And Tanaka Yoshiki could just have opened a medical book and given Multiple Sclerosis to Reinhard even if rare, in some cases the illness HAS killed people in their middle 20's.
      • Well yes, but arguably realism was never really the point. The mystery illness was just a device to give Reinhard a "proper" death that rounds out his legend. Hilda even tells people that Reinhard didn't "die," he "let go of his life" or something to that effect.
      • There is a fairly severe taboo about using real conditions and diseases in media in Japan -- it would be highly unlikely that Yoshiki's publisher's legal team would allow him to reference an actual disease in fear of offending someone with the actual diseases. Generic, unexplained space illnesses would be acceptable, however.
  • Sobriquet: Many characters have them, but the one most commonly referred to by his nick name is "Gale Wolf" Mittermeyer.
    • Yang Wen-Li has a few: "Miracle" Yang, Genius Yang, The Hero of El Facil, etc.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Felix, Reuenthal's son by Elfriede. Reuenthal even comments on the Dramatic Irony before he dies. Slightly subverted in that the real mother wants nothing to do with the child, but at least this way he gets to have the best possible adopted parents.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: After the Empire defeats the Alliance, many of the military characters on the winning side (talented men who have made their living through war) suddenly find themselves with very little to do. Tragedy ensues.
  • The Sound of Martial Music: In addition to the heavy Prussian influence, the Empire also incorporates elements of the Habsburg Austrian monarchy. Tellingly, there's a more pronounced 19th Century Austrian flavor to the Empire once Reinhard takes more direct control.
  • Spacebattles.com
  • Space Elevator: Fezzan has one of these.
  • Space Is an Ocean
  • Space Is Noisy: Lasers go pew pew, causing ships to explode in earth shattering kabooms. In at least one battle, opposing commanders even seem to yell at each other over loudspeakers (as normal communications would ostensibly be jammed).
  • Space Mines: Used by both factions a couple of times during the series, and they are deployed in the millions.
  • Space Navy
  • Space Opera: The quintessential anime example.
    • It is also a subversion: one usual characteristic of space operas is not taking into consideration the impact technology and the colonization of space have on human civilization. This series REVOLVES around how advancing technology and the colonization of space have changed human society, and it takes pains to make sure this is explained in loving detail.
  • Space Pirates: In the history of this particular universe, they are one of the primary reasons the Galactic Empire was founded in the first place, but they are mentioned only infrequently.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": despite most of the names being perfectly valid, often existing Western names.
    • The most egregious examples are probably "Joanne Lebello" for Joao Rebelo and "Guen Van Hugh" for Nguyen Van Thieu. Even main characters aren't immune (Julian Minci / Mintz). The official website rectifies some of this ... but then gives us new mistakes like Dusty Attemborough.
    • An interesting thing to note: Truenicht's name seems to come from the pro-apartheid politician Andries Treurnicht, and France have two far-right politicians called Karl Lang and Philippe de Villiers: real life SmugSnakes sharing the name of their fictional counterparts.
  • Squishy Wizard: Even though there is no magic in this series, if high intellegence and knowlege but low physical abilities are traits of the squishy wizard then Yang would be one. However, it is never stated whether Yang is actually bad at physical activities or if he is just bad at directly hurting a person in front of him (which is understandable since he prefers pacifism if he can help it). He has been shown to possibly have some pretty nice reflexes, dodging a laer gun shot from within a few meters, even if he did dodge it a bit clumsily.
  • Standardized Space Views: All the time.
  • Starship Luxurious: Every Imperial flagship and space fortress apparently has space for mahogany and ivory detailing and expensive artwork. The Alliance ships are, however, clearly more utilitarian. Trope usage is probably intentional.
    • It probably has to do with the Empire spending more money on its ships. Aside from looking fancier, Imperial ships are also more developed than Alliance ships, for example they're able to actually land on planets (even in water), etc.
    • In a similar vein, one of the side stories features a space station in orbit around an uninhabited planet that functions solely as a luxury resort. One of the more decadent features is a huge waterfall which exotic birds perch around. Why they took the trouble to create this environment aboard a space station that can only be reached via starship from an inhabited planet instead of creating a resort planetside where logistics would be much easier and you wouldn't have to worry about life support is never explained.
  • State Sec: The Empire, unsurprisingly, does this better than the Alliance.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Kircheis and Annerose.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Merkatz finds himself in this predicament during the Lippstadt war, given how the rebelling nobles constantly work behind his back or otherwise make his attempts to give said rebelling nobles a fighting chance against Reinhard that much harder. Tellingly, he finds the Alliance forces under Yang Wen-Li far more preferable.
  • The Stoic: Oberstein, Merkatz and Eisenach.
  • The Stool Pigeon: An Imperial soldier who broke protocol through an inappropriate comment was snitched on by another. Reinhard von Lohengramm asked Fräulein Mariendorf to use her judgment on how to handle the situation. Hildegard did punish the soldier that broke protocol, but she punished the snitch even worse by demoting him. Lohengramm was pleased, saying that it was wise of her to prove the point that no soldier can expect reward from him for duplicity and betraying his comrades. Classy attitude from both of them.
  • Storming the Castle: The taking of Iserlohn. Also, the Imperial assault on the Terraists.
  • The Strategist: Yang, celebrated as Hero of El Facile, finds himself in this role as the story progresses.
  • Suicide Mission: The first time Yang Wen-Li is sent to capture Iselhorn, it was in fact a suicide mission given by superiors who wanted to get rid of him.
  • Survivor Guilt: Most characters face this at some moment or another, since many people they care for die during war, but in case of some characters it's truly heart-wrenching.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Both sides use this extensively, especially if one of the more humane and prudent officers is in charge at the time.

Yang: "All right! It's time! All ships... RUN!!"

  • Taking You With Me: The Terraists, realizing that the Empire has hunted them down to their main underground temple, decide to take as many Imperial soldiers down with them.
  • Talking to the Dead: Reinhard von Lohengramm does this constantly when facing a moral quandary. And he's not the only one.
  • Teen Genius: Julian Mintz and Reinhard (in the OVAs, prior to the main series - he's around 19-20 when the main story starts).
  • Tempting Fate: In My Conquest is the Sea of Stars, Yang explains that since the atmosphere of the planet is composed of hydrogen and helium, it would take only a match to wipe out their entire fleet. However, he doubts that anyone in the enemy fleet would ever think of it. What happens next?
  • Terraform: Apparently very easy in this universe, given the very earthlike nature of Odin, Heinessen and Fezzan at the very least - plus the fact that Earth has been almost completely abandoned even though it should in all likelihood remain the most hospitable planet for humans unless the ecosystem was completely messed up, and that does not appear to be the case.
  • The Theme Park Version: The Galactic Empire is a mashup of the late 18th century Kingdom of Prussia, the Austrian and German empires and National Socialist Germany. People typically wear outfits reminiscent of the 18th and 19th centuries and whenever foodstuffs are mentioned by name it is usually stereotypically German fare like black beer, black bread, white sausages and Frankfurterkranz. And it has apparently remained like this for almost 500 years before the beginning of the main narrative.
    • Further lampshaded in the 2015 manga. It's mentioned that the Imperial capital world of Odin not only has stringent building restrictions but also intentionally keeps much of its high-tech facilities like spaceports hidden away to maintain the old world facade.
  • This Loser Is You: Job Trünicht serves as this to the Alliance and to republican democracy in general. Trünicht isn't even afraid to admit that him getting into positions of power at all despite his antics is a testament to the people's ineptitude.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Julian Mintz, just... Julian Mintz: goes from Cute Shotaro Boy to the Mario of the Yang team and also their leader.
  • Took a Level In Jerkass: Frederica Greenhill eventually becomes more bitter and vengeful, though she never loses her caring and amiable side. Given that this is due to Yang's death, her anger is more than justified..
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Hildegard (short hair, wears pants, takes an active role in politics) compared to Annerose (long hair, frilly dresses, makes handicrafts). Hildegard becomes girlier during her pregnancy by wearing dresses and growing her hair longer. Frederica Greenhill and Hortense Cazerne probably also qualify.
  • Toplessness From the Back: Elfriede shows this when Reuenthal rudely wakes her up while she is sleeping in the nude.
  • Tragic Bromance: Reinhard and Kircheis, Mittermeyer and Reuenthal.
  • Tragic Hero: Reuenthal is brilliantly talented and has every trait necessary for becoming a great ruler, but he's outshone by Reinhard's sheer genius. Although he respects and admires Reinhard, his conflicting feelings of loyalty, admiration, ambition and jealousy cause his fall in the end.
    • Not to mention how traumatizing his childhood was. Being condemned as a bastard and not worthy of being born since you've had a sense of self is brutal, no matter how rich and lavish his surroundings were.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Reinhard von Lohengramm's medallion.
    • Arguably the body of Yang Wen-li, kept in stasis aboard Iserlohn until they can bury him on Heinessen.
  • Translation Convention: Despite the show obviously being in Japanese, when considering the culture, it's safe to assume that the members of the Empire are actually speaking German. Occasionally suspended to allow the actors to deliver some heavily accented Poirot Speak, like "Mein Kaiser" or "Sieg...sterben" or sing the Alliance national anthem ("Riberti sutands foh furidom...").
    • Judging from in-universe writing, the Empire speaks German and the Alliance English. Despite this, there is no evidence of any language barriers when characters from the different sides interact. Of course, given that the Alliance was founded relatively recently by escaped prisoners from the Empire they should probably speak the same language in any case.
  • True Companions: The "Yang Fleet," both before and after the Alliance's defeat. In fact, the sense of companionship becomes all the firmer as the Yang Fleet and Iserlohn become the focal point of anti-Imperial resistance.
  • 2-D Space (Although there are some exceptions.)
    • Really, it's both played straight and subverted at the same time. On one hand, the ships tend to always move 2-dimensionally. On the other hand, their fleets are so freaking huge that in order to pack them into such small areas (since long-range communication is now impossible due to how advanced EM jamming has become), there are ships flying above and below others, so obviously they CAN move 3-dimensionally.
    • There was a battle early on in the series where the Alliance, who were lower in space than the Empire fleet, took advantage of the 3rd dimension in space and attacked the Empire at a 45 degree angle, obliterating the Empire's ships that had only forward-facing guns.
    • Author tried to justify it by complicated explanations about how their ships are designed, controlled and managed, but it didn't sound very convincing, really.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Possibly Third Line, Some Waiting.
  • Ubermensch: Reinhard is a military and political genius who wants to reform The Empire from the inside by taking power.
    • Subverted in the later seasons when it's revealed that he's not very good at anything else other than being a military and political leader - economy, etc. is beyond the scope of his talents and interests. Fortunately he's aware of this and surrounds himself with talented people.
    • Rudolf von Goldenbaum seems to fit the bill as well, given that he was able to transform the old Galactic Republic into an autocracy ruled over by his descendants that lasted almost 500 years.
  • United Space of America: The Free Planets Alliance are pretty much this, its overall aesthetic reminiscent of 20th Century America.
  • Unfriendly Fire: The Empire's Admiral Littenheim actually opens fire on his own men to cover a retreat. He gets killed like the rat he is.
  • Unknown Rival: Fork to Yang. Yang was so clueless as to why the other man was so uptight that someone else had to explain it to him.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Played with, especially in the historical documentary Julian watches, which while detailed and straining to be neutral comes across at times as biased if not pro-Alliance/anti-Imperial. Given the issues brought up regarding history itself, it's perhaps justified. Further highlighted by how Yang himself points out to Julian the inconsistencies and hypocrisies in his own views, wondering whether he's really doing the right thing.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Discussed in the form of "What would happen if Iserlohn's unblockable Wave Motion Gun would fire at Geiersburg's unpenetrable shield?"
  • Vestigial Empire: At the end of the series the Empire makes peace with the Republicans, who relinquish control of Iserlohn in exchange for being allowed to control the Baalat starzone containing Heinessen. In effect, a rump state controlling little more than the capital planet of the old Free Planets Alliance is allowed to coexist with the Empire and retain a democratic republican constitution.
  • Victory Is Boring: A major theme in the latter part of the series. In fact, the entire fourth season explores this trope in detail, as the last possible obstacle to Reinhard's influence is done away with by the end of the third.
  • Villain by Default: the Terran Cult.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Many in the Alliance's government seem to view the war against the Empire as a means to keep winning votes and staying in power. While Fezzan is more than willing to exploit the conflict to fill its merchants' pockets.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: In the backstory, United Earth found itself in this situation as it waged a brutal and ultimately losing war against the colonial worlds. The end result was a defeat so crushing that several centuries later, the planet is still little more than a backwater at the fringes of the Empire. Albeit a position that the Terraists exploit to their advantage.
  • War Is Hell: This series does not shy away from showing the senselessness of war and the misery it causes.
    • Episode 51 in particular is VERY jarring. The series has shown how bad war is up to this point, but in this particular episode, casualties are shown VERY graphically, as in amputated limbs and disembowelment. No other episode drives this trope home as powerfully.
  • Wave Motion Gun: Both Iserlohn and Geiersburg Fortresses have them. As does Fahrenheit's flagship, the Ahsgrimm, though you only see it fired once.
    • Also, in a definite CMOA, Yang Wen-li actually IMPROVISES one by having all the ships in his fleet fire at the exact same point in space, causing the beams to fuse into a bigass beam that cuts through the enemy fleet like a knife. WOW.
    • Reinhard does the same during the third battle of Tiamat, effectively obliterating the attacking Alliance fleet.
  • We Can Rule Together: Reinhard to Kircheis. Inverted in that Kircheis actually accepts, subverted in that the scene is a portrayal of the Power of Friendship.
    • Reuenthal later plays this trope straight with his best friend, Mittermeyer - who of course turns him down.
      • One has to wonder how straight that was, cosidering at hearing the response he smiles and says "Take care of the Kaiser." He probably thought it would worth a shot but knew fully well that Mittermeyer would refuse.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Yang and Lebello are initially presented as good allies, given how both of them share similar views and hopes for the Alliance. Circumstances however force them apart. Especially as the burden and desperation of keeping the crumbling Alliance together against Reinhard imminent invasion later on forces Lebello to turn on Yang. With Yang sorrowfully rebuking how much Lebello has become the very type of politician he once abhorred.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Paul von Oberstein is an example of a "protagonist" with no apparent conscience, whose role is to essentially do the dirty work that Reinhard simply won't. Particularly when he intentionally fails to stop a planet from getting nuked to oblivion, in order to get propaganda photos to benefit Reinhard's fight against the high nobles. Possibly a case of Utopia Justifies the Means.
    • Near the series's end, Reinhard remarks to Hildegard that Oberstein might well turn on him if he felt it necessary for the Empire's well-being. And he says it with an approving smile on his face.
  • We Will Wear Armor in the Future: Some soldiers wear complete suits of armour that are quite effective at resisting blasts from hand-held laser weapons (unless they hit a weak spot), yet are strangely weak against plain old axes.
  • Wham! Episode: The Imperial conquest of Fezzan, the death of Kircheis, and several others.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Said by multiple characters on numerous occasions, at least in spirit.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Reinhard's decision to allow the nuclear bombardment of Westerland to happen without Kircheis' guidance haunts him later on.
  • With Due Respect: Happens often on both sides. Officers who're willing to listen to their subordinates generally are better off than those who don't. The most extreme case is Reinhard von Lohengramm: if Siegfried Kircheis has any doubts about any course of action Lohengramm wants to take, Lohengramm WILL listen to him, even after Kircheis's death.
  • Woman Scorned: Susanna von Benemünde. Her attempt to bring down Reinhard backfires.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace
  • World War III: happens in 2039, over 1500 years before the series actually begins.
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne: Reinhard von Lohengramm deposes the last Kaiser of the Goldenbaum dynasty, an 8-month old baby.
  • You Are in Command Now: The first instance of Yang Wen-li taking command of a fleet is through invocation of this trope. Good thing, too.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Admiral Bucock comes out of retirement to lead the few remaining Alliance ships to deter Reinhard's march to fully annex them. He manages to hold off 100,000 ships under the direct command of a tactical genius with nothing but a hodgepodge fleet of 20,000 ships cobbled from whatever the Alliance could scrounge and a brilliant defensive strategy.
  • Zeerust: Julian Mintz is actually seen firing up DOS to load a history program on his 39th-century desktop computer. Other things of note: handheld phones do not exist, and people still use answering machines, albeit with video functions. The novels were written in the late '70s and '80s; the anime, made in the late '80s to '90s didn't even try to update the technology.
    • That computer is shown to have 566198844 megabits of RAM (539 terabits), though.
    • Subverted in the 2015 manga, which makes a conscious, deliberate effort to update the futuristic aspects to be more in line with contemporary works (holograms, touch-screen panels, etc.). At the same time however, it retains many of the Days of Future Past elements seen in the books and OVAs.
  • Zerg Rush: The Alliance actually relies on this tactic to win the very first battle of the series (Astarte). Predictably, they don't.
    • The Empire also used the same attack in the same battle, to a greater effect.
  1. The narrative of the main series takes place between January 3596 and July 3601
  2. Considering the limits of natural population growth, the fact that Alliance territory can only be reached through a couple of narrow space corridors no doubt guarded by Imperial fleets with orders not to allow passage to the rebel territories, the fact that it would likely be difficult for fleeing dissidents to bring along everything you need for colonising new planets thus placing a burden on existing Alliance infrastructure, the social and political implications of admitting large numbers of new citizens whose ideas of how the government should be run might be at odds with those of the original founders and so on makes it difficult to see how this could work.