Last Exile (2003) Review

Synopsis

Since Claus and Lavie can remember, there has been war. The skies above are filled with constant battles between Anatoray and Disith. The two friends struggle to become excellent van-ship pilots so that they can fulfill their dream to cross the Grand Stream, but can they avoid the conflict that is raging all around them?

Review

Last Exile is a wonderfully imaginative series, combining elements of science fiction with aspects of the Industrial Revolution era to create a wonderfully eclectic atmosphere that somehow feels plausible and real. The world of Last Exile is consumed by war, with battles raging in the skies between the countries of Anatoray and Disith, overseen by the Guild

The story follows Claus Valka and Lavie Head, childhood friends who have been together since their fathers perished on a vitally important mission. They have become locally-renown van-ship pilots, but they share a longing to one day do what their fathers could not: cross the extremely volatile Grand Stream.

After accepting a mission to deliver a girl to the mysterious rogue ship known as the Silvana, our heroes meet the legendary captain Alex Row and are swept up into the midst of a battle between the Silvana and the powerful Guild.

There are a number of interesting characters in Last Exile, and although none are the most entertaining or colorful to be found, each provides a suitable amount of depth and complexity.

Of course, most of the action centers on Claus and Lavie, who must decide what role each of them should take in the mounting conflict. There are a number of interesting subplots surrounding other characters as well, however.

Alex Row, the dark, brooding Ahab-like figure, must fight his troubled past while seeking a way to exercise his vengeance against the Guild.

Mullin Shetland, a decorated musketeer, joins the crew of the Silvana as he struggles to define true bravery and find his own place in the war.

Dio is by far one of the most intriguing and amusing characters in the bunch. A member of the Guild, he seems to be infatuated with Claus and follows him aboard the Silvana on a whim, where he incorporates himself into the crew that is trying to overthrow the Guild.

Sophia Forrester, the vice-captain of the Silvana harbors strong feelings for Alex but must confront the responsibilities that come with her royal lineage.

The telling of the story is skillfully done, with each episode ending at the precise moment necessary to create the utmost anticipation. Very few series accomplish this feat as well as Last Exile. The action was almost non-stop, and the continuity was never broken by unnecessary filler or uneventful endings. There are clever twists throughout that leave the viewer eagerly awaiting the next installment. Unfortunately, the ending was not worthy of the show, as it deteriorated into a chaotic yet utterly predictable death and renewal scenario so characteristic of anime.

The tangible aspects of the show are expertly crafted with the dreamlike visuals and a subtly haunting soundtrack creating a surreal landscape of clouds and pastel imagery. The aesthetics are very comparable to Kino’s Journey, yet with a distinct flair. The CG and air combat battles are certainly among the best in anime. All of these disparate elements somehow manage to combine to form a fully-realized world.

Conclusion

Last Exile manages to capture the viewer’s attention with a ferocity that is uncommon among anime series. The combination of beautiful animation and music with skillful storytelling captivates from start to finish. While the characters are not the most compelling to be found, few shows can offer as much overall entertainment value. Last Exile is certain to become a new favorite.

  • Audio: Excellent soundtrack, good voiceover cast
  • Video: Brilliant air battles, dreamy visuals
  • Plot: Suspenseful, fairly deep plot
  • Style: Excellent neo-antique look
  • Characters: Several interesting, likable characters
  • Violence: Moderate
  • Language: Mild
  • Nudity: None
  • Genre: Scifi
  • Episodes: 24
  • Rating: 4.5 of 5

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