Science fiction fans got momentous news this past weekend with separate announcements that media for Japan’s Legend of the Galactic Heroes would be released in English during Anime Expo 2015. Sentai Filmworks announced that it had licensed home video rights for the long-running cartoon, while Viz Media will begin to publish the original books written by Japanese novelist Yoshiki Tanaka. Among other works Tanaka also authored the fantasy series The Heroic Legend of Arslan, which is receiving a modern retelling via Hiromu Arakawa’s manga published by Kodansha USA and an animated series based on it distributed by FUNimation Entertainment.
A winner of Japan’s prestigious Seiun Award for the best published science fiction in 1988, the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novel series tells the sweeping story of an ongoing intergalactic war between two factions of humanity in the 36th century: the aristocratic Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance. Amid its cast of dozens the story fixates in particular on two brilliant commanders on either side, along with their inner circle. Within the Galactic Empire Reinhard von Musel aspires to overturn the ruling dynasty he considers to be corrupt from within and eventually conquer the galaxy, while the alliance’s Yang Wenli is an aspiring historian turned soldier whose triumphs thrust him into leadership and ever greater responsibilities despite his personal distaste for the war.
In animated form the main storyline of Legend of the Galactic Heroes spans 110 episodes released direct to video in Japan from 1988 to 1997, which adapts the material from the ten novel series. Additionally, a second series of 52 episodes released from 1998 to 2000 adapts four books of side stories that Tanaka wrote. Also produced was the standalone OVA episode Golden Wings that covered the days of Reinhard’s youth, and two movies that recount events that take place before and during the beginning of the main series. Sentai Filmworks has not yet announced release details for this material.
As for the novels, Viz Media will publish the first book Dawn on March 8, 2016 physically and digitally via its Haikasoru imprint. The second and third books, Ambition and Endurance, will also be published in 2016. At this time these are the only novel releases scheduled, and future volumes will depend on the sales of the first three books.
This news comes following a February 2014 announcement in Japan that a new animated project for Legend of the Galactic Heroes would be produced as an original adaptation of material from Tanaka’s novels with new creative staff. Further details about the production and the timing of its release have not yet been revealed.