Yang Wenli: Character Analysis

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Well, first lets let the man introduce himself.

Yang Wenli is a fictional character from the anime series “Legend Of Galactic Heroes”.

There is another short memorable speech by Wenli but it’s a bit spoilery so I didn’t embed it. You can watch it here if you want to: Link

Yang Wenli is easily one of the most likable characters I have ever encountered. He is a mass murderer and a racist, but is still a likable character.

His witty comments even at difficult times, generally sound principles to which he sticks to even when it’s inconvenient ,give him a very agreeable personality. The writing and his dialogue are very good, and even if there are many dialogues in this show involving him, I never felt like skipping any of them in case I missed any of his witty remarks.

The only problem that I can think of about this character (and about all the characters of this show) is that at times it feels as though the only reason he exists is so that he can show us his point of view. This however from my perspective is not a bad thing, because I find his perspective quite interesting and agreeable too. If you want to know what his flaws are then scroll down on this page and read some of his quotes. His respect of democracy (both in words and action) and his ability to at the same time see the flaws of democracy make his point of view rational and idealistic too.

But as I said even if you don’t agree with him, you will find someone that you agree with in this show because many characters of this show are just there to expose the viewer to a different point of view and there are many characters and so so many points of view.

What I also like about this show is that they didn’t have to make the other characters a pack of morons in order to show us how great, honourable and noble the main characters are. I hate those anti establishment shows full of self-fulfilling characters and with the least complex and most stereotypical villains.

Yang Wenli may be nothing more than a fictional but some of his political views and ideas are both interesting and respectful and in my case I also find them very agreeable.I like it how they made some of his flaws harsh but at the same time plausible and believable. His racism is an example of this.

In some ways he is also a tragic hero but I won’t go into details because that would spoil the show for you. Now go and watch Legend Of Galactic Heroes.

Quotes by Yang Wenli:

“It is a known historical fact that when the state starts using its reinforced military forces and armaments to suppress its own populace and invade the nearby nations, neglecting to right the social injustices within itself, it is on its way to unpreventable downfall.”

“Perhaps in this universe, there exists a solitary, absolute truth. Perhaps it clarifies every question. But that’s beyond the reach of these short hands.”

“Political corruption isn’t just politicians taking bribes. That’s just the corruption of individual politicians. Political corruption means the people aren’t free to criticize politicians for taking bribes. You banned free speech. For that alone, you aren’t fit to criticize the despotic Imperial government or Alliance politics.”

“People need societies, but they don’t necessarily need nations.”

“There certainly are things that cannot be told in words, but that can only be said by people who have exhausted their use of words. Words are like icebergs that are floating on the ocean called ‘heart.’ The parts that show above the sea surface are small, but they still let us perceive of sense the larger parts that are hidden below the water. Use words deliberately. If you do, you’ll be able to convey more things more accurately than if you were to keep silent. Right judgement can only be made with right information and right analysis.”

“There are few wars between good and evil: most are between one good and another good.”

“The nation that neglects social inequality, mischievously increases military budgets, and then uses its power internally to suppress the citizens on the pretext of invasion by an external enemy is on the road to extinction.”

“The greatest freedom is the freedom not to get involved”

“A nation doesn’t create individuals by cellular division. Instead, it is individuals with autonomous intent who gather to establish a nation. In a democratic society, it is axiomatic as to which one is the master and which the servant.”

“What is the most cowardly and shameful thing in human conduct? It’s when people with power, and those who flatter them, hide in safe places and extol war — who force patriotism and self-sacrifice on others, sending them to the battlefield to die. For the sake of peace in the universe, before we continue this fruitless war with the Empire, mustn’t we first start by exterminating such evil parasites?”

“An army is a tool for violence, and there are two kinds of violence… Violence to control and oppress, and violence as a means of liberation. You know, what we call a national army, is fundamentally the former example. It’s a pity, but history doesn’t lie. When those in power confront popular opposition, there aren’t many examples of the army siding with the people. Far from it. In the past, in country after country, the army itself evolved into a power structure, and came to control the people with violence.”


“Humans were drinking alcohol five-thousand years ago, and we’re still drinking it now. Alcohol is humanity’s friend. Can I abandon a friend?”

“The pen is mightier than the sword! In human affairs, the truth is hard to find, which is why that expression is true. We couldn’t topple Rudolf the Great [Space Hitler, pretty much] with the sword, but we exposed his crimes against human society. That is the power of the pen. The pen can impeach the dictator of a hundred years ago or the tyrant of a thousand years ago.”

“In the long flow of time, living things know nothing of their ancestors, except for the genes they’ve inherited. Only mankind has history. Having a history differentiates mankind from all other living species. That’s why I wanted to be a historian.”

“Julian, people tend to make the common mistake of believing that a situation will last forever. Try and think about it. The Galactic Empire didn’t exist five hundred years ago. The history of the Free Planets Alliance is half that length. And Phezzan has reached an age of no more than a century. Anything that hasn’t existed since the genesis of the universe needn’t survive until the end. Change is sure to come…”

“Even if you look at a mountain, if you only look at it from one direction, you can’t grasp the whole…Embodiments of evil don’t exist other than in television dramas…Maybe history will classify us not as good but as the evil camp…people aren’t strong enough to endure the recognition that they’re evil. Therefore, believing in their own righteousness, they fight to force their views on other people.”

“Constitutional government against totalitarianism, progressive democracy against intolerant despotism. Well, advocating such things, because they came to be put into practice as well, and if the Rudolf-like things are denied and buried by Prince Lohengramm, there’ll be no special reason why the Alliance should continue. Look, Julian. Just as people sometimes die, nations aren’t eternally indestructible things, either. The entities called nations are no more than simple tools. If you remember just that fact, maybe you can maintain your perspective.”

“You’re free to think what you like, but sovereign self-confidence need not lead to objective results.”

“Neither terrorism nor occultism have ever impacted history in any constructive way.”

“The sin of dictatorship is that the people can push off the failures of government onto one man.”

“I despise those who hide in safety while they glorify war and patriotism and send other people to the battlefield while they relax behind the lines. It is a difficult thing to live with those people under the same flag.”

“If we don’t plant seeds just because they’ll wither someday, there’s no chance that the grass will grow. Also, we can’t go without eating meals just because we’ll eventually get hungry anyway…Once the roots of republican democracy get pulled out, it’ll be more difficult for them to grow again. Even if it might take several centuries, I want to lighten the burden of the next generation somewhat.”

“The gist of democracy lies in the coexistence of diverse political values.”

“In the end, conspiracies or terrorism cannot reverse the flow of history. But they can make it stagnant.”

“On the other hand, democracy is a roundabout thing. And people who are disenchanted with such roundabout-ness will always say: “Let’s give power to a great politician and have him spearhead revolutionary changes.” I wonder if the masses have always wanted an autocrat. And they might just be getting the ideal autocratic ruler right now. Compared to that brilliant golden idol, democracy is nothing but a faded bronze idol. No, no! Julian, we’re soldiers. And republican democratic structure is often born from the muzzle of guns. But the military, despite engendering democracy, should never boast of its accomplishment. And it’s not an unfair thing! Because the gist of democracy lies in control by the people, who have the power. Democracy institutionalizes the control of the power-holders by law and structure. And the military needs this control the most. They fight for the political structure that fundamentally denies them. The military of a democracy must accept that contradictory structure. The only things the military can demand from its government are a retirement pension and paid leave; that’s about it. In other words, the rights of the workers–they cannot demand for more than that.”

“I could live with it if you said “fate,” but “predetermination is really an unpleasant word. It insults human beings in two ways. First, it stymies the thought process that analyzes situations. And secondly, it belittles the free will of human beings as something of little value. Julian, there is no such thing as a predetermined battle. No matter what the circumstances are, in the end it’s something that we choose to do…When you have a convenient word like “predetermination,” you get tempted to shift blame to it to justify your decision. I don’t think I’m always right. But even if I end up making a mistake, I want to make that mistake on my own responsibility.”

“It’s the most powerful words in the world. No just argument or eloquence can stand a chance against it. It’s…”So what?””

“To become an adult means to know one’s drinking capacity.”

“At least so far, there’s no doubt that the Kaiser is one of the highest grade autocratic rulers in human history. So we’re forced to face the ultimate contradiction…in other words, when the absolute majority of the people affirm and accept autocracy, we who advocate for the sovereignty of the people become the enemy of the people…If we have to bring down a virtuous ruler to preserve the institution of democracy, democracy becomes the enemy of good governance. We have no choice but to laugh at such a paradox.”

“There have been all kinds of people in the past who justified bloodshed in the present by citing potential danger in the future. For political persecution, that logic is usually used as a rationale. I want to secure a seedbed of democracy where we can lie low while things are governed wisely and break out when misgovernment occurs…If there are such things as absolute good and absolute evil like there are in TV dramas, I wonder how simple human lives would be.”

“People follow people, but not necessarily ideals or institutions. Then I wonder if Julian, in the end, is fighting for me. But that’s not the way it should be. His reason for fighting shouldn’t be loyalty to one individual, but rather to the ideal and institution of democracy.”

“Good people, remarkable people are killed meaninglessly. That’s war, and that’s terrorism. The sin of wars and terrorism, in the end, comes down to that.”

“In the end, democracy has to rely on an individual’s fame, doesn’t it?”

“Someone who cannot hate something cannot love something, either.”