It’s been awhile since I commented on some of the anime I’ve been watching. While some of it has been good, LAST EXILE blew me away. In fact, my brother called it his ‘crack addiction’ because he had to watch all episodes as fast as he could.
Last Exile follows our two heroes into a world of strife and struggle, as two empires attempt to rid themselves from the control of the mysterious Guild. Check the web site for more info on the story. As you may notice, only the first 4 episodes have been released on DVD in the US, but, once again, the Internet to the rescue! I was able to obtain all 26 episodes from one of the anime fansub groups. Wow, was it worth it.
First, the look of the show is exceptionally unique and visually stunning. Its a mix of 1930’s design with a liberall does of Industrial Age/Victorian Era thrown in. Most of the action takes place in the skies between the kingdoms, and in the Grand Stream, a super-jet stream seperating the two kingdoms. Vast airships dominate the fleets of each side and look like flying battleships from the turn of the 20th Century navies.
The technology used is an interesting mix of lower tech (air tubes used for communication in each ship, signal flares and semaphores between ships, muskets and flintlock weapons) and high tech (the Vanships and airships use a Claudia unit engine which produces an anti-gravity like effect). This results in the anachronistic visuals that are the hallmark of this series. You won’t mistake this for anything else you’ve seen. The animation itself is a mix of 2D and 3D CGI. Its exceptionally well integrated and reminds of Cowboy Bebop in how well done it is.
The story is basically about how two ordinary kids get swept up in the battles between the kingdoms and the Guild and the search for the Last Exile. I did find the story to be somewhat confusing to follow, especially at the end (although not anywhere near as dense as the ending of Evangelion), but I attribute some of that to the fansubbing. Once I hit a fansite about Last Exile, the last few episodes made much more sense. I expect a professionally done release to be more clear on what is going on.
All in all, I’d rate this waaay up there, and would put it on the ‘must see anime’ list!