Claus and Lavie are teenagers well used to looking after themselves. Both their parents long dead, they rely on themselves, each other, and their fathers old vanship(airplane equivalent) to succeed as pilot and navigator as their fathers had. Earning enough money to buy a booster to let their old ship win the upcoming race is their present biggest concern. But the race is interrupted, and a dying pilot with a seven star mission changes everything. Alvis is a young girl not much more than five, but somehow she is important enough that all the most powerful people and organizations in the world seemed involved in her welfare, whether to protect it or endanger it. The most powerful single ship in the world, the Silvana, has taken personal responsibility for her safety, but this isn’t nearly enough to satisfy Claus. Whatever she is to the world, to him she’s a child he’s quickly learned a wish to protect, and he intends to do just that, whether it means being a member of the Silvana, flying a fighting vanship, or changing the course of the world itself….
Chiwa Saito as Lavie Head
Mayumi Asano as Claus Valca
Anna Shiraki as Alvis E. Hamilton
Junko Noda as Dio Eracles
Michiko Neya as Delphine Eracles(the Maestro)
Eri Kitamura as Tatiana Wisla
Alternate world, Sci-fi, Adventure, Drama.
Last Exile aired from April 7, 2003 until September 29, 2003
Last Exile is a twenty-six episode series. I am not aware of any specials or OVA’s.
Yes, in full, with nice extras, by Geneon.
A reviewer is a critical being. However much I may enjoy a show while I’m watching, ask me to evaluate it afterward, and I will usually find and mention some flaw, often recommending and criticizing in the same breath. Thanks to this, my family often refuses to allow me to give an opinion(oh, if only they knew I was actually publishing reviews here, hehe). So when I tell you that Last Exile is, in my opinion, as perfect a product as humanely possible, and that I’m reluctant to bring up what few things might be considered faults, this should tell you something. An unreserved five out of five is something you will rarely see from any objective reviewer, certainly me, but Last Exile makes it. Easily.
The main characters grow on you quickly. Claus is quite, kind, and seems a bit of a wimp, but his absolute competence in the air trumps all. When he is pushed, he usually gives the lie to his demeanor, without ever breaking it. Lavie is the spunk sort of female lead, but far from a stereotype: the ease with which she goes from depressed to banzai will quickly win smiles and no small bit of fondness. Alvis(Alue, when Japanese say it) is quiet at first, but blooms into a very endearing and true to life child of five. Few things are cuter than when a child of that age is done really right, and Last Exile does it right. I speak with authority: I have five younger brothers and two younger sisters. Of course, they do just about everything right, but all in their time. Dio-sama is a queer card, and it takes a while to realize what type he really is, not to mention whose side he’s on. But he, too, finds his place with the watcher, well in time for his role in the finale. The crew of the Silvana are all without question individuals, some more interestingly than others, and a few the focus of some very nice human subplots to the epic scale of the action. As for the arch-villain: ah, perfection. Sane and yet utterly twisted, a better antagonist for everyone to hate has never been found. Equal, maybe, but better, never. No matter what aspect you discuss, the word that comes to your head most to describe this series is masterpiece. I am a reviewer. I do not say ‘masterpiece’ lightly.
The ride is smooth and steady, though where it is all going comes in pieces. Who Alvis is, why she’s important, why the people who are involved are; the pieces come together slowly. People who are blood-and-adrenaline type watchers may well find the pace a bit frustrating. But whether they know why or not, action is present in plenty, as the Guild makes multiple attempts to get Alvis, and Captain Alex, on occasion, pulls operations of his own that are also somehow involved. The people are developed as smoothly; revelations, discussions, and climaxes occur naturally within lulls, even as real people, trying to find time to be human, would. Never does either the human stories or the action seem stifled or unnatural: they interweave around each other with a ease that is astonishing. It’s this kind of masterful presentation and delivery that make Last Exile such an extraordinary anime.
Action is more on a broad scale than in detailed one on one duels. Flotillas of ships, squadrons of vanships, flocks of the Guild’s starfish, this is the type of action that makes up most of Last Exile. Claus does occasionally have a dogfight, and once, seemingly outnumbered, we see exactly why the Silvana is known as the ‘kill ‘em all Silvana’, but in the end this not the kind of thing that makes the victory. Don’t underestimate them though. If you want pulse pounding against the odds fighting, tension and then the thrill of victory, you will find it here. In time. And there is, near the end, one astounding one on one fight whose execution was so intense, flawless, and innovative my jaw almost drops just remembering. It’s not very long, but with the job they did, it bears mentioning. Things do bog down a bit in the middle of the teens, but only for about two episodes, and most of what’s happening is still significant. In fact, whether ‘bogged down’ is the right term is debatable. I made the mistake of thinking Claus and Lavie were brother and sister until episode twelve or thirteen, and this left me kind of skewed for a while when it came to the character subplots involving them. In any case, it’s the calm before the storm; that part, even as things clear and everyone finds their way, leads straight into the climax, and climax it is. I will give no spoilers, of course, but I want to say this: Many anime try to make you feel, at some point, that you are seeing something wonderful. Last Exile, when the time comes, makes you feel as if you are watching a miracle.
Last Exile rates that rarest of ratings, a full five out of five, for being simply the greatest masterpiece of animated storytelling I have ever seen, standing eye to eye with anything Miyazaki has ever done. And I do know what I just said.
Final Rating: 5/5
This review was brought to you by Z.N. Singer
Info such as cast and airtime taken from ANN. All else is and always will be my origination.
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