Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Last Exile The Complete Series Box Set|
Actors: Johnny Yong Bosch, Kari Wahlgren, Crispin Freeman
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
It's the dawn of the Golden Age of Aviation on planet Prester, and retro-futuristic sky vehicles known as vanships dominate the horizon. Claus Valca - a flyboy born with the right stuff - and his fiery navigator Lavie are ... more »
A Benchmark of Modern Anime
ONENEO | Buffalo, NY | 05/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Last Exile is one of those anime series that's been floating around for a few years now that I repeatedly made mental notes of considering while shopping. With commercials and trailers that hinted to some kind of early-avionics days adventure, it looked interesting enough but always seemed to get passed by for some flashy-boxed mecha OVA or gritty, modern-day set series. Now that Funimation has picked up the Geneon property in its entirety, my days of putting off Last Exile have finally come to an end and let me just start by saying I should not have wasted so much time getting into this anime gem. But before I get too far ahead of myself, let's take a moment to discuss the packaging and physical presentation.
Last Exile the Complete Series consists of 26 episodes across 4 discs and comes packaged in a stylish cardboard slipcase containing a pair of thin packs. The artwork is stunningly appropriate, with a purposely-weathered look that includes the yellowing of the parchment and near-black & white quality to the portraits. Faded images of the pilots, decked out in their antiquated flight gear, standing proudly before their weathered open-cockpit aircraft have a look about them that just nails the look and feel of the early 1900s.
Coming in at a total runtime of 625 minutes, Last Exile wears a very conservative TV14 rating. This is nearly general audience material with a slight hint of adult undertones (war and aerial combat) but the show contains no real violence, suggestive content, or foul language worth parental concern. Like real wars, some characters (even beloved by the end) do lose their lives to the cause. However, Last Exile is never graphic in its portrayal of death nor does it glorify themes of violence.
Language options are solid with the original Japanese dialog perfectly preserved (English subtitle option) and an English dub that can truly be called worthy of the incredible scope presented within.
Last Exile is the product of the revered Gonzo Studios and made its broadcast debut over Japanese airwaves back in 2003. I mentioned earlier that the artwork (and show itself) go a long way to accurately portray what we consider the early days of humanity's aviation experience (think barnstormers from The Golden Age (1918-1939)), however the events presented take place entirely in a fictitious world called Prester and while the culture habiting this world appears nearly identical to that of our own early 1900s, there is more to the story than what initially appears.
The planet's surface-dwellers are basically divided into two factions: The Anatoray and the Disith. The Anatoray most closely resemble our definition of modern society (so much so in fact that our main two protagonists happen to be members of this group) while the Disith, though similar, are a bit more primitive in nature (think fighting with spears and shields).
However the two feuding nations quickly discover that they share a common bigger threat in the form of the vastly technologically superior elf-like alien race orbiting the planet known as the Guild. Separating the aliens' massive battleships from the people living below is a patch of never-ending nasty weather called the Grand Stream. I should also mention that it is this violent storm that keeps the surface-dwellers living in perpetual darkness with the minimal of natural resources (including clean water).
The core of the story is told from the perspective of a pair of orphaned teenagers who make a living as curriers from the cockpit of their deceased fathers' beat-up vanship (this would be the equivalent to our old biplanes). However gasoline engines and massive wings to create lift are foregone in this world in favor of a concept called the Claudia engine, which somehow operates on a system of pressurized blue-glowing fluid.
The story really picks up when our appropriately likable duo (Claus and Lavi) end up taking on a mission to deliver a little girl named Alvis to the captain of a warship called the Silvana.
Fans of my reviews may have noticed that I strive to not give away too much of the plot in my critiques because, after all, if you already know the entire story, what's the purpose of bothering with the show? Instead I like to draw comparisons to other works to establish a sense of what makes the series worth viewing. That said, Last Exile could best be described as a blend of Star Wars, a Tom Clancy novel, and maybe even a slight touch of cultural intricacy found in Star Trek. Now I realize that sounds like a lot of space-movie comparisons but make no mistake, Last Exile borrows only from the better traits of these titles. There are moments of vanship racing that really ring of the pod race sequence in Episode One, the Phantom Menace. There is no shortage of military strategizing on an absolute grand (and quite flawless) scope throughout. There's a bit of romance and comedy spread across an absolutely massive cast that is surprisingly easy to keep separate.
Pacing is just spectacular once you establish the slightly slow-going rhythm of the first few episodes. However the show's greatest strength lies in its presentation: Subtleties such as lighting and sounds are consistent and often subliminally establish mood more effectively than many big-budget Hollywood feature films.
Gonzo's reputation as being one of the premiere anime studios comes through in this work in the form of flawless shifting of scale throughout the story arc. In other words, the story starts out a small, personal tale of a pair of children struggling to find their place in the world, expands to portray an unthinkably massive war for survival between a planet and its invaders, then tightens to become a personal affair in the end. There is an air of confidence in Gonzo's pacing and presentation that simply invites viewers to let go and trust in their ability to tell their tale and in this case, that faith pays dividends.
Last Exile is a simply stunning anime work that starts to reveal its charm visually but continues to dazzle by doing nearly everything right; pacing, scope, sound work, story depth, science integration, nail biting action, lovable cast, it's all here and done to perfection as only a seasoned studio like Gonzo could pull off.
This is must-see anime in the purest sense of the concept and kudos to Funimation for refusing to allow such a well-constructed title to slip through the cracks."
One of the finest animes of the decade
Trey S. Perry | Baton Rouge, LA USA | 06/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gonzo is a studio that has had a very diverse range of shows that it has made but Last Exile is by far the best, and one of the best animes out there. It has a steampunk aesthetic which always adds a hint of mystery and romance to the setting, which is great considering the plot requires just that. It is an uplifting story with a lot of heart, sure to make new and old fans alike enjoy.
Warning: This anime actually has plot, character development, and depth. This is not for folks that want plenty of blood and guts fights, sword and sorcery, and/or fan service from unrealistically proportioned female characters. This is one of the classiest shows out there."
Just some old guy. | Wa State | 05/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can not tell you anything that the other reviewers have not. I had not picked this up because it looked like something more for a younger audience. Well while there is very little blood and there is no nudity or fan service to really speak of yet this is something that I was very surprised with.
Visually this is a thing of beauty because of the CGI, the animation itself is well done. Yet it is the blend of the two that makes it stand out in my mind. The story line moves ahead at a good pace and you get so many very well developed characters. Take for instance Dio, whom was my favorite sub character, although he did not have the biggest part he added so much more to the story.
This story is about a teenage boy and girl who have lost everything except each other and their Van Ship. They start out as air delivery messengers and are happy with that then they deliver a message that brings them into the problems of war. From that point on you are meeting new characters that bring new problems.
As I said...this took me by surprise. It has a rich story and is a beautiful thing to watch which also means replay value. When it is all said and done everything is wrapped up for a well done ending.
I would highly recommend this.....that is if anyone really cared...grin."
Plot Intensive with Good Ending
B. Baker | Tucson, AZ USA | 07/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As many avid anime watchers are aware, the Japanese have a fascination with making great series...and then destroying them with terrible endings that usually try to wrap up everything in five minutes. Animes with a truly satisfying ending are few and far between. Fortunately, Last Exile broke out of the mediocre ending mold.
The epilogue aside, this anime had a refreshing focus on character development - these were characters in which you could actually get attached to and had realistic reactions to events in the series. The voices (not talking about dubbed) fit their personality and each added an interesting perspective to the series.
Many series recently have focused primarily on action and explosions with little emphasis on plot...this trend did not stem from Last Exile. While there is action and battle scenes, there is a focus on plot and mystique which is enough to keep the viewer interested all the way through the whole series. Best of all...there are no filler episodes.
I would say that if you have no interest in the series by episode 5, then it's not an anime for you...but most people are hooked before 5.