Heigar is one of the Ryvius‘s consequentialists, and certainly the least emotional one. I’m not sure I’ve ever quite grasped his motivation, but perhaps he has a passion for efficiency. As someone who is sometimes too keen to keep things simple (blame Horace), I can sympathise.
Heigar serves a series of captains, but achieves his greatest influence under the story’s last captain, Ikumi. Ikumi, for reasons which I won’t spoil, sees protecting (certain) others as an absolute duty, a preoccupation which Heigar neatly manipulates to his own ends. Near the end of the story I think we see Heigar make a (very nasty) decision which appears have no proper justification, apart from his own antipathy towards certain other characters: I think he loses his integrity (which is a significant thing) here. Ultimately, his plans have to be defeated to bring about a (reasonably) happy ending.
Oberstein is one of Reinhard von Lohengramm’s admirals. He has a vendetta against the Empire’s ruling Goldenbaum dynasty, who not so long ago would have euthanised people with his congenital blindness. His hatred for the Goldenbaums might seem irrational, but with that as his end he sets about treating everything else as a means.
Oberstein’s thought-processes, as mechanical as his cybernetic eyes, seem completely alien to the attractive world of honour and emotion that Reinhard’s other admirals inhabit. True, Oberstein does have one emotional attachment, to a pet dog, but I don’t remember it ever affecting his decisions — indeed, judging from one of his lines in the last episode, he had to ignore his concern for it to do (snip! — spoilers) what he did. Ultimately, Oberstein’s plans had to succeed to bring about the resolution that Legend of the Galactic Heroes has, though whether or not that resolution counts as a happy ending is an open question.
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Heigar serves his purpose within Infinite Ryvius‘s story, and serves it well, but I’ve always been convinced that he was wrong, and that the show itself agreed with me. Oberstein, on the other hand . . . I’d be boasting if I said the emotional, honourable world of Reinhard’s other admirals resonates with my own. It would be more accurate to say that I wish it did. It attracts me, anyway, and Oberstein repels me — but I’ve never quite been able to persuade myself that he was wrong. Thus the contrast that is really the point of this post: both characters are presented partly as representatives of a certain kind of ethical thought, but while one is condemned, the other is rather unsettling. (I should note that I’ve no problem with the condemnation of Heigar: I do not think that moral ambiguity is always a good thing in a story.)
Incidentally, the contrast between my attempts to sum up these two characters’ motivations interests me. Heigar is not nearly as significant a character as Oberstein, and Infinite Ryvius has less than a quarter of the Legend‘s length, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m not sure what drives him. If I didn’t feel like I needed evidence from the story itself, I’d suggest that he was (most of the time) doing what he honestly believed would create the best (by which he probably meant ‘efficient’) society possible on the Ryvius.
In Oberstein’s case, I’m struck by my own choice of the word ‘irrational’ to describe his ultimate motivation (I’m relying on some of the scenes in which he’s introduced, and I could be wrong). I think of him as a consequentialist, because he sees ethics as a matter of outcomes, but I wouldn’t call him a utilitarian, because he doesn’t aim for the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Actually, hatred and revenge are concepts straight from the world the other admirals inhabit. Am I using the word ‘consequentialism’ properly? If you believe that the ends justify the means, are you allowed to have some pretty irrational ends? I don’t know enough about meta-ethics to pursue this any further.