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Review: Last Exile

The previous review was insufficient. It read as follows:

Postulate a world separated into halves: one half has the climate of siberia; the other, egypt. On the one side, there’s a chronic shortage of heat, on the other, of water. The technology is reminiscent of the late 1800s, but there are aircraft called vanships which sound like p-51s and fly like f-16s. The atmosphere re: the vanships is very similar to 1930s automobile racing:
it’s an exciting new field, complex and dangerous, but simple enough that individuals could reasonably compete against the world, and win. Oh, there are also giant flying battleships.

This story is about two vanship pilots. It’s got beautiful art, too.

Genre: adventure
emotion: romance

A common theme in excellent stories is the refusal to be constrained to any single genre, instead exploring whatever storytelling avenues best suit the overall theme at the moment. As a result, when attempting to review the highest classes of anime, it is often difficult to define the particular qualities which made a particular series so appealing. Was it the comedic moments, or the dramatic ones? The feeling of spontaneity, or the overarching plot? The detailed world with its own politics and struggles, or the incredible number of fully-realized, three-dimensional characters?

Last Exile possesses all of these things, and is one of the best series of anime I have as yet had the pleasure of watching. The sound and the art are superb, and compliment the story very nicely. It would be very difficult to overstate the sheer impressiveness of this series; in many ways it captures a feeling of authenticity which just draws you in.

The previous review said that the emotion was romance, and that’s true, in a way. There is romance in the series, just never between the male and female main characters. There’s evidence of deep love between the two, but they act more like siblings than anything else. The fact that they aren’t isn’t unambiguously resolved until at least a third of the series has passed, but once it is, I couldn’t help but wish that there would be romance between them. It has incredible potential: they’ve been best friends since before either one could talk, they are an incredible team, they’ve lived together for years. On the other hand, a romance between the two of them couldn’t get the attention it would deserve; every moment in this series is already used, so another thread in the story could only exist by weakening others.

I recommend this anime unconditionally. It’s a series that just doesn’t disappoint.

Genre: adventure
Emotion: love
BTFS: .97

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