Japanese Title: Last Exile
Related: Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing (sequel)
Similar: Allison & Lillia
Watched in: 26 episodes
Length: 26 episodes
- Some interesting world and tech designs.
- Lacks a compelling hook.
- Quite boring really.
- Could use more exploration.
I only made it through a few episodes of Last Exile in 2003, the year of its release, and I have considered moving it to my drop list ever since, though always imagined I ought to give it another chance first, until reader’s request for review made the decision for me. Was I right in my initial impression all those years ago?
Last Exile is set in a steampunk world where flight is more common than driving thanks to Claudia crystals. ‘The Guild’ dominates the skies as the only mass producer of flight engines and as such, they play arbiters between two warring nations. Sky Couriers Claus and Lavie find themselves caught up in the war when they agree to take on the job of delivering a little girl, who has more to her than initially thought.
This is a difficult review to write. How do you write for anime that has nothing to talk about?
Last Exile is unremarkable. I had trouble figuring out why this was exactly. The world is nice, though largely unexplored despite all the flying, I like the design of the ships and technology – wish they had elaborated on them more – it’s a decent looking anime too, and the acting is fine. Sure, some of the music is weird but not an issue. And then I realised the problem: the characters.
The characters are boring. Not in the traditional sense, mind you. They are boring because they are safe, the base templates for characters, like picking the default appearance in an MMO. There is nothing bad about the default character. However, there is nothing good either. They have no charm, no flair. Even the weird characters from The Guild are your safe versions of weird characters! Everything about Last Exile is safe in execution, from the characters to the conflict to the world.
You may be thinking how it is possible to be safe with a fully invented world. Simply put? Not exploring it enough. When I read the blurb about the Claus and Lavie working as Sky Couriers, I assumed world exploration would be a core component of the series. Binding them to the war was a mistake, as it ties them down. The war should have been the backdrop to the story that creates conflict for the protagonists, not the driving force. At least they go podracing in a canyon that one episode. This world has just enough lore, just enough technology, just enough locations, and just enough society to create the impression of a larger world than what we see. Last Exile is right on that line between bad and good.
Lastly, what is the obsession with chivalry? In the first battle we witness, the commanders won’t shut up about chivalry. It’s “I’ll show him chivalry” this and “Time for some chivalry” that and “My chivalry’s bigger than yours.” It’s comically stupid. I am still not sure what the goal was. Are they meant to be funny? Is it to paint them as honourable? I have no idea!
Last Exile is an anime for those who want something simple and safe. It’s unlikely to disappoint. Won’t rock your world either, though.
Art – Medium
Last Exile looks good in the mechanical designs, but the CG ships stand out on occasion without filters and effects to mask them. Why do the kids have huge hands, by the way? Odd.
Sound – Medium
The acting is fine, as is the music, though warps your mind on occasion.
Story – Medium
Two flight couriers find themselves embroiled in a sky war between two factions when they take on a job to deliver a girl. An extra shot of adrenaline, another layer of complexity, and more dimension to the conflict would have gone a long way to lifting Last Exile from the forgettable slot in which it fell.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: Don’t bother. Last Exile is so middle of the road that it has nothing for or against it.
Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)