Region: 2 - UK
Volume: 1 of 7
Length: 100 minutes
English 5.1 Surround
Claus and Lavie are freelance pilots, delivering messages and cargo to anyone who will pay the price. Instructed by the Vanship Union, a coalition of pilots, they perform a service, in between racing their Vanship for cash on the side. However, around them a war is rageing, a war that has been fought for decades between two countries, Dysith and Anantory, a war fought between huge airships using cannons and musketeers regulated by the mysterious Guild, a technologically superior and aloof race that mediates battles and keeps the status quo. But now Claus and Lavie have been entrused with a human cargo, and a mysterious force seeks to upset the equilibrium between the two warring nations, and threatens to destroy both civilisations entirely.
Last Exile exists in a strange and almost alien world that is not entirely dissimilar from our own, resembling in it's own way some of the worlds created by acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki in such works as Kiki's Delivery Service or Castle in the Sky, creating a beautiful world of intricate architecture that resembles some of the more impressive works of many European cities. While visually stunning and well paced, Last Exile leaves the viewer begging for more, leaving many mysteries unsolved and creating a sense of an overall conspiracy waiting in the wings for Claus and Lavie to uncover.
The characters themselves are entirely believable, and at many points in the series it can be difficult to tell weather they regard themselves as partners, a couple, or siblings, only leading to a air of uneasiness in their relationship when they become close. Other characters come across, mostly in passing, as normal people making the best of their situation, and come across as human despite their rank or position.
The graphics in Last Exile are stunning, a mix of traditional animation for the characters and slick computer graphics for the ships and mechanical backdrops, integrated so well that the viewer would be hard pushed to imagine this series realised in any other way. The mechanical designs are distinctly art-deco, leaving many of the smaller aircraft resembling vintage Rolls Royce cars, complete with ornate hood ornaments.
The music that accompanies the series is a strange mix of styles that ends up mixing everything and resembling nothing, only adding to the feeling of 'otherness' that follows every episode like an over-friendly puppy, it ends up feeling like an epic at every stage, I'll even forgive it the use of bagpipes in the intro to the theme song (a sound not totally unlike that of someone attempting to squash a cat to death with an industrial fly-press).
Overall, I think that Last Exile has a bright future ahead of it in future volumes, however, the overall pace is set to such a degree that the viewer will be made to wait for any form of gratification over the mysteries that it has laid before them until much later in the series. If you enjoy the sensation of carefully unravelling the secrets of a series, then Last Exile may hold countless hours of viewing pleasure, just don't expect instant gratification or you may be disappointed.