Legend of Galactic Heroes is a 110 episodes Space Opera often considered the greatest Space Opera made and frequently the greatest anime ever made.
Due to itís length itís hard to explain but Iíll give it a shot;
The Galactic Empire: Founded by a German fanboy and currently ruled by a disinterested Kaiser the Empire is a power house. Ruling over half the galaxy and with the largest population itís the greatest power there is. Unfortunately for most the people itís also a place where one is born into power and a citizen is born to serve the nobles. Luckily for most change is comingÖ
The Free Planets Alliance: Founded by a republican who defected from the Empire a few hundred years ago the FPA is a Republic. It has less territory and people than the Empire but itís more prosperous than their Imperial buddies. They are currently at a low point, with corruption in Politics causing plenty of unrest and an increasing anti-war sentiment.
Phezzan: The centre of the Galaxy is near impossible to navigate and the Empire and Alliance are divided with only two corridors making travel between them possible. In one of these corridors is Phezzan, an autonomous state ruled by a feudal lord. Due to there monopolization of trade they have the greatest economy by far.
Iserlohn Corridor: The second connection between the Empire and the FPA, it is currently under control of the Empire thanks to the gigantic Space fortress they built. The Fort has become a vital tactical asset and is said to be impregnable, having seen its way through 8 sieges undefeated.
Yang Wenli: A genius captain in the FPA navy who would rather be studying history than commanding troops. Due to lack of money he joined the Navy so they would pay for his education. He got screwed over and was forced to become an officer. No one believes in democracy more than him.
Count Reinhard von Lohengramm: A rising star in the Empires navy despite his remarkably young age (20 as the series begins.) His goal is to save his sister and win the Universe. Heís an ambitious guy.
Lady Annerose: Reinhards sister who was essentially sold to the Kaiser so her dad could get a title or some such. She is the reason Reinhard does what he does. If it werenít for her not one of these events the series covers would have happened.
These are three of over six hundred and sixty named characters.
LoGH is a long and at times complex series. Youíll see 4 years of war and scheming, youíll see heroes rise and fall, villains stab their victims in the back only to take a sword to the stomach, nations flicker out of existence and a spaceship covered in Tiger stripes.
Now that's a lot to take in so maybe just watch this in HQ.
Now, I've done the show very little justice with this post and really only hinted at the first arc, it really has to be seen to be understood. Luckily the good people over at Central Anime have covered the whole series and are [very] slowly working their way through the DVD editions. They also have all the spin off works which are likely worth checking out.
For further info we have The Wikpedia page and the TVTropes page. Beware of Spoilers.
Free Planets Alliance (top to bottom, left to right)
Job Turnich, some guy I canít ID for the best of me, Walter Von ScenKopp, Jessica Edwards, Alexander Buccok,
Edwin Fischer, Patorichev, Alex Cazellnu, Murai,
Yang Wenli, Julian Minci, Fredrica Greenhill, Dusty Attenborough.
A noble lady/Kaiserís ex, Commander of the Iserlohn Fleet, Ernst Mecklinger,
Fegel, Prince, the Kaiser, Willibald Joachim von Merkatz, Lady Annerose,
Oskar Von Reuental, Wolfgang Mittermyer, Paul Von Oberstein, Siegfried Kircheis, Reinhard Von Lohengramm
Both of these contain spoilers;
Sexy line art: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?55dtdvkgbmx
Super spoilerific* Laser disc covers: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?xywvbgbe5vn
Thanks to the kind anon I got these from.
*They really give everything away