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 Post subject: Last Exile
PostPosted: December 14th, 2008, 10:37 am 
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Synopsis

In a world resembling times of industrial revolution with steam engines and water ducts, but also where flying ships steer across the sky, people live amidst a hundred years old war between the empires of Anatoray and Desith. A war where chivalry presides and stunning air battleships travel through the Grand Stream and engage each other using musketeers and cannons. All while a mediator, the Guild, literally oversees the war from above with their superior technology.
Stuck in the middle are Claus and Lavie, two teenagers that grew up together as orphans in Anatoray, a society with a Victorian Brittain feeling and look. They repaired their fathers’ vanship and began working in the local messaging and parcel delivering service carried through these small flying ships.
Soon the pair find themselves in the center of chaos when they decide to take over the delivery of a parcel, a little girl, that is wanted by the Guild and its leader Maestro Delphine, and end up in a legendary ship, the Sylvana, known as the unsinkable ship or Sylvana of the Genocide, lead by Alex Row.
From this point an epic story develops little by little as the secrets of the mysterious Grand Stream are unveiled.
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Review

Last Exile was the major highlight of the year 2003; many consider it a masterpiece, I think is the best ever. Last Exile has it all, a brilliant story, outstanding character development, an unforgettable soundtrack and voice casting, and to top it all magnificent animation. It is worth mentioning that this series marked the culmination of ten years of success at animation studio Gonzo.
The world in Last Exile is just fascinating; it’s like traveling back in time to the 1800’s and the golden age of aviation, but adding futuristic concepts without ever losing the retro feeling that characterizes the series. The story starts building up little by little, absorbing the viewer into its plot, and at the end, although not all questions are answered, there is an excellent closure. A closure that I thought was touching, tear jerking, and after a surprise at the last scene, made me realize I had watched for the first time a perfect ending.

Now getting to the character development; there was an amazing and wide cast of characters, some very memorable and incredibly well developed, so much the they grow deep in you, that’s the case for characters like Mullin, a musketeer that seeks fame and glory in the Anatoray band, and Dio, a child from the royalty line of the Guild, being the latter definitely the best in the series. Many others left deep impressions in me as well. Tatiana Wisla, a fighting vanship pilot in the Sylvanna, beautifully drawn, and portrayed as a very strict, arrogant and mean commander (I love her). Alvis, the little girl that Claus and Lavie swore to protect, she is cuteness impersonated, very much like Pino from the most recent Ergo Proxy. She plays a very important role. Really, all characters were memorable and well depicted; this is one of the factors that made the series shine.

Everything in Last Exile is amazing, but probably the most admirable thing about it is the animation. It is just stunning visually and artistically. There were several people in charge of designing this mesmerizing world, including Range Murata, a fans’ favorite (he is certainly mine) when it comes to characters designs be it anime (he worked on blue submarine 7) or games. His illustrations bear some resemblance to those of Yoshitoshi Abe (of Haibane Renmei fame), he didn’t disappoint this time either, he did a marvelous job in the character designing and even helped in the creation of the vanship design, as well as many other things we see in the series. Last Exile looks superb, no matter where you look at, be it magnificent battleships, retro but very stylish vanships, the sleek guild starships, detailed buildings, the clothing, symbols, weapons, stunning scenarios, character designs, and not to mention the excellent blending of digital animation with CG and 3D models, which is already a characteristic trait of Gonzo, everything looks just perfect, you just can’t wish for more.

Well, after getting such a well thought out plot, great characters, superb animation, they just couldn’t let the music and audio disappoint. Sound effects were nicely done; they lived up to the production value, which was very high for the series. The Japanese voice actors did a terrific job portraying the characters, especially characters like Dio and Sophia, who I thought had some of the most complex roles. The English dub is excellent, the two things I’d point out are, first that Claus got a more masculine voice, and I think that was an improvement, and second, Dio’s voice actor was good but not as good as the Japanese one, I think it lacked a little emotion, that extra ingredient that made the Japanese Dio transparent, a character that could express his emotions very clearly.
The soundtrack is especial, beautiful, one of the best soundtracks out there, and definitely a fine addition to anyone’s music library. The music style varies from Celtic to techno lounge; it’s simply very harmonious and relaxing. Many fell in love with the aperture and ending themes of the series. Cloud Age Symphony is an inspiring song but when it’s played in the opening sequence it becomes nothing short of spectacular, I would say it’s one of the coolest openings ever, followed closely by the one seen in Planetes. The closing theme, Over the sky, is a beautiful and memorable melody, and it matches very well the nostalgic feeling of this series, it brings tears to my eyes every time I see it in the ending sequence.

The American release is done by Pionner/Geneon, offered as 7 volumes, well worth collecting and worth showing off. It is very nice, clear cases for the DVDs, and beautiful art. The collector’s edition comes with an Alvie figure, which is really nice, and a mouse pad. The DVDs also come with some extras, such as postcards with Murata’s Last Exile art, and even a carton vanship model, which even after four years I don’t dare to take out.

In conclusion, Last Exile is an extraordinary production; there is something for everyone, adventure, drama, action, some touches of romance, and even hints of mystery. The only thing I wish I could change about it is its length, no, I’m not saying is too long, exactly the opposite, it could have benefited from some more episodes, especially some that involved more the life aboard the Silvana, and also more Tatiana, I just couldn’t get enough of her.
Last Exile is definitely among the best anime series to date, simply a flawless title that I strongly recommend. RATING: 5/5

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Last edited by wolfwood on January 1st, 2009, 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Last Exile
PostPosted: December 15th, 2008, 3:38 am 
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Very nice review! :clap:

I cannot disagree about the designs or the animation or the memorable characters.
However, I was disappointed by the ending so I cannot recommend it as whole-heartedly as yourself.

Is it wrong for me to like your review better than the show? :?

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 Post subject: Re: Last Exile
PostPosted: December 15th, 2008, 7:29 pm 
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PunkDaddy wrote:
Very nice review! :clap:

I cannot disagree about the designs or the animation or the memorable characters.
However, I was disappointed by the ending so I cannot recommend it as whole-heartedly as yourself.

Is it wrong for me to like your review better than the show? :?


Thanks, you are too kind. :D
I always thought the ending was fitting, it was a chaotic closure with a bittersweet taste. I remember people from this forum claimed
Spoiler
that Dio deserved to live, and although it would have been nice since Luciola was dead it would also have been meaningless. Same goes for Alex Row, he was never able to overcome his loss.

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 Post subject: Re: Last Exile
PostPosted: December 18th, 2008, 3:15 am 
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wolfwood wrote:
I always thought the ending was fitting, it was a chaotic closure with a bittersweet taste. I remember people from this forum claimed
Spoiler
that Dio deserved to live, and although it would have been nice since Luciola was dead it would also have been meaningless. Same goes for Alex Row, he was never able to overcome his loss.


I suppose you are right. It is just that my reaction was more of a "huh?" than a "WOW!" It seemed a bit tacked on for my sensibilities. Meh, it's still very pretty. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Last Exile
PostPosted: December 18th, 2008, 5:32 pm 
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Good review. Definitely makes me wanna watch it.
I never had the chance, because in 2003 I was studying for exams and then I went to Japan, at the time when the Anime Club showed it. Bad luck I guess.

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 Post subject: Re: Last Exile
PostPosted: December 18th, 2008, 11:38 pm 
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I must say wolfwood that is one great review. Makes me want to see it too. Good pictures and excellent detail!

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