This blog is not intended for anime reviews and I have no intention of turning it into one (for one thing, I don’t watch enough anime). But, having watched Last Exile this past summer and having just finished Last Exile – Fam the Silver Wing (which I frequently refer to as “Last Exile 2”), I’d like now to give my commentary and provide critique and comparison of the Last Exile stories. But first, the summaries, since that’s what people are most interested in:
Last Exile: 9/10 stars
Last Exile – Fam the Silver Wing: 7/10 stars
In other words, I liked the original more but didn’t find even that to be perfect (what anime is?)
Synopsis (of both)
Genre: action, adventure, sci-fi, mystery, and “historical”
In both stories, the environment is your standard earth, having lots of water, clouds, and mountains, though our Earth isn’t actually in this. Everyone flies ships of various sorts. It’s almost like World War 2 if people could make battleships float (the ships look much different though). Somehow, this fuel known as “claudia” is what powers everything and causes it to float. Weaponry? – Standard cannons, which defy Conservation of Momentum in most instances.
The first season is a story about Clause Vulca and Lavie Head, two naive children who inherit a flying ’60s race car without wheels the writer calls a “vanship”. To make a living, these two children deliver messages and such – a type of job that eventually gets them involved in the current war between the nations of Anatoray and Disith. This war is being overseen by the Guild, a nation of advanced technology. Clause and Lavie, being peace-loving individuals, seek to end the war, but they end up finding an ally in a mysterious Captain Alex Rowe, commander of what is currently known to be the most powerful ship in the skies: the Sylvana. The rest of the story is a search for this mysterious thing called “Exile” that is supposedly the most powerful weapon in existence.
Last Exile – Fam the Silver Wing
The second season is a story about Famu Fan Fan (known in English as “Fam”), her navigator Gisellu (“Giselle”), and the princess-in-exile, Millia. Fam and Giselle belong to a group of “sky pirates” who go around stealing other people’s ships to make a living and at the same time consider it an honorable trade (What?!). Fam and Giselle are two naive children who want peace in the world and happen to stumble into a war between two nations (sound familiar?), Ades Federation and Turan. Ades dominates over other nations with their military airships, so its no surprise that princess Millia must escape with the sky pirates with whom she will be whisked away on a wonderful adventure doing what you might call “ship hopping” since few, it seems, can avoid being captured in this show. There is a great deal of fighting in ships, no one knowing who to trust but everyone seeking a common goal.
Last Exile and its sequel are rated for ages 14 and up. There was a noticeable amount of death and blood in the former and significantly more than the latter. Still, both tend to keep it shown at a minimum considering there is war going on and some of these deaths are very significant to the plots.
There is some religious content sparsely spaced in the second season: a quick practice at the beginning in Turan, some references to some goddess in a nation called Glacies, and references to a person as a “witch” (according to the translation), but we never see anything become of it.
Be forewarned, though this is not by any stretch a hentai anime, some skin is shown! (Everyone looks at me funny) I’m referring to immodesty, of course. In the first season, the most I recall seeing is the chest of Lavie (because her shirt is too small). In the second season, the opening clips show upper half of the main characters without clothes on but mostly hidden by flying birds. The animators zoomed in abit and hid things more for the openings after the first few. Still, there is a scene early on in the season where… you get the idea.
Commentary (POSSIBLE VAGUE SPOILER ALERT)
The first season was excellent. It was a classic adventure story that places you in a unique world. The Japanese seem to like their flying ships (as you may have noticed from anime like Laputa: Castle in the Sky or video games like Skies of Arcadia), but the idea hasn’t grown old yet. I like the first season for the aura, something that was established not only by the world itself but by the music. The theme song, “Cloud Symphony”, is a rather peculiar tune for an anime opening, but it helps the opening do something to your perception of the rest of the show. By the end of the last episode, I was craving to hear the ending theme (despite having skipped for every episode prior to that). It was an adventure, a voyage, but one of significance and meaning. In the end, the major plot mysteries were all wrapped up. The main characters, Clause and Lavie, were naive but not to an annoying extent as were their counterparts Fam and Millia in the second season, or as annoying as the fact that everyone becomes naive near the end of the second season. I particularly enjoyed Dio. Having watched the first season in the English dubbed version, I’m glad his Japanese voice is manly in the second season.
The second season, for the most part, could be summarized in one word: predictable. After about six or so episodes, I knew almost every major plot point up to the end. The last third of the season surprised me, but the show was over not much longer after that. What set this anime apart from its predecessor was its battle scenes: there were lots of them. Militarily, they were silly, especially when everyone has the same battle cry and every officer, the same command. Overall, though, each battle was significant in the plot, though rather silly.
Annoying feature of both anime: capture. I never liked the overused plot device of having some key characters being captured in order to raise suspense. It doesn’t raise suspense for me anymore – it merely makes me wonder how the writer intends to get his or her characters out of the mess they are in, but unfortunately they end up doing that by some convenient route (like disappearing for awhile and then returning or another convenient plot device) – it’s never creative.
The opening theme for season two was “Buddy” by Maaya Sakamoto, an tasteful jpop tune that didn’t fit the anime at all and, in my opinion, dented the aura that I so enjoyed with the first, but at least the ending song sounds like it was done by the same people. As much as I harp on the story for season 2, there were alot creative aspects to it. It didn’t reveal much of the background established by season 1, despite its occasional efforts, and thus mystery remains.
Commentary on the animation: The directing was good, not super, but not subpar either. It had its shining moments. The animation took advantage of computers – 3D models mixed in with hand-drawn characters and backgrounds. While it definitely looks pretty cool in some respects, I don’t particularly like the 3D as much because it makes me feel like I’m sitting in my room instead of in another world. The 3D graphics were required more in season 2, but I’d rather have that and preserve the continuity of the anime than try for what one lone blogger considers the perfect appearance.
Unanswered Questions (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT)
A small handful of those nagging silly questions you come up with while watching the show…
For those of you who have watched both seasons, this section is directed at you. Let’s start with a few curve balls from the first season:
First bugging question: Where did Al come from? Although some effort is made to explain what I imagine is a very complicated background behind the exiles, there are questions that could have been answered that weren’t. Case in point: where did Al come from? I’m talking about the fact that somehow Anatoray gets ahold of her and sends her with one of its vanship pilots on a seven-star mission to a former Anatoray captain, Alex Rowe. How did they get her? Does that matter? Not in the actual story, but in the grand scheme of things, yes.
Second question: Why do only the Guild have the advanced tech? It’s not like Russia didn’t keep up with the U.S. in the Cold War – you’d think at least one other nation would have advanced alongside the other. It made for a more interesting story (as in, how are the little guys going to overcome Goliath… again).
What ever happened to everyone on the starting planet in Last Exile (first season)? The cloud went away, I know that. Were there people who stayed behind? Did everyone fly away on the last exile? What happened to the exile of Anatoray? Sure, it lost all its military defenses. (Incidentally, I need to refresh my memory on why the ancients put defenses on the exile in the first place.) Why were all the land-dwellers without the super awesome technology that the Guild had?
If you’ve seen Fam the Silver Wing, what was Luscinia’s goal? Did I miss that somehow? He wanted to carry everyone away in an incomplete space ship? To where? I guess maybe even he was naive.
Who created the exiles? The Guild. That’s a simple answer. The big question is “Why?” – and though we see that with the sneak peek of Augusta Farahnaz at the end, I still wonder at why the Grand Exile project was canceled (probably ’cause Farahnez died) and why the Ares Federation didn’t have the technology that the Guild had.
Random question: Why were their guild ships inside the Grand Exile? Surprise! Where did these pilots come from and why were they sitting their all this time? Or are they robot-guided?
Odd question: I know I’m supposed to overlook this, but how is it that everyone has this limited but unending supply of ships? If you lose a third of your ships, why am I still seeing a ton of them? The first season wasn’t quite as bad as the second, but I could tell someone didn’t want to keep track of their vessel count.
The really big question for both anime is this: Was the last one a success? This usually determines if there will be a third one. Frankly, I hope it ends here. I actually still wish it ended with the first one because then I could still dream about what the home world would be like. Oh well. I suppose I could pretend the latter season was non-canonical, but people just roll their eyes when you say that, especially when the sequel didn’t turn out to be as bad as what might have been expected.
I realize I’ll have to go digging through the wikis again, hoping some crazed fan has read manga or found something about the background (or future) of Last Exile and posted online for me to read. Until then, I can only wonder about this strange and interesting world.
Appended: Some Fan Art
Thought I might add some fan to this page rather than creating a new page for it.
Also check out ソルーシュ by yunk.
ファムな、唯 by でーぜる (“de-zeru”):
Note on the above pic: I saw the line-art elsewhere (but on what I’d call a ripper’s account), and while this artist seems capable from what they’ve posted, I’m not sure if they took the lineart from elsewhere and simply colored it in.
One other thing: the character in the picture is not in Last Exile from what I recall.
Some others that might be of interest: