"I've made up my mind! I'm going to steal that ship!"
All source of life originates from the Grand Lake.
At this very sacred lake, the battle between the Ades Federation and the Turan Kingdom has just begun. The Ades Federation, armed with massive battleships and its sights set on conquering the world, declares war on the Turan Kingdom. With the Federation's troops encroaching on their beloved country, Turan now lies on the brink of collapse. As this is happening, the princesses of Turan look on as a small vanship named Vespa cruises above their heads.
"We shall now commandeer your flagship and take her from this battlefield. The choice is yours. Die here, or survive with us Sky Pirates!"
The Vespa continues to weave through the barrage of bombs, while the fleets of the Federation close in on Turan.
What are the motives of Luscinia, the man leading the Ades Federation into the war? And what is the secret behind "Exile"?
There's something dignified and respectable about a show like Last Exile that tells a great, unique story and quietly leaves you to praise it. Its sequel, Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, destroys every bit of that uniqueness and dignity. It's content to merely hover where its predecessor soared, and feels like a desperate, cheap cash-in rather than any sort of real sequel. This review wouldn't be necessary if people judged it merely on the rating, but with so many unwarranted 8's and higher misleading people (including myself), fans of the first Last Exile need a better frame of reference.
The story is where this show immediately falls apart. Without giving too much away (there isn't much to give away), A big nasty empire comes and destroys a smaller nation, and of course, it's up to a small resistance to stand against them and find out what they're really up to. Our protagonists, a few very young girl sky pirates, commandeer enemy ships for the resistance and the princess of the small nation. Gone is the first episode with a full-on sky battle between two puppet nations, with rows of musketeers firing from the decks. Gone are the two interesting protagonists, who may or may not have a relationship, scraping by with just their fathers' van-ship, caught up unwillingly into something big, something they were destined for. Gone is the mysterious "Guild" from the first show, too.
The story's only merit being that it's entirely standard, we must continue on the story's flaws: it's filled with childish and completely unbelievable scenarios. Last Exile had some of this, but it never strayed away from showing the horrors of the politics and wars at hand. In this sequel it isn't uncommon for a tiny ship to fly through a fleet unscathed simply because protagonists are on it. Actually, it happens in nearly every episode. Twelve episodes in, you will only know the three things you knew in episode two: Empire bad, little girls are good, and moons are magic space-ships. It does nothng new, and it does everything old extremely poorly. Storytellers should understand the basics of nature, warfare, the human condition, and conquest before writing about it. This show throws a big empire at you, makes them do bad things, and they're just automatically the villain. Past 12 episodes this may change, but after that duration most stories have fully developed political backgrounds. Last Exile had reasons for why the nations were at war, and made it clear resources were scare. This sequel, like it's cast, is childishly written.
On to the aforementioned cast. Characters in Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing, are among the most forgettable, uninteresting, motive-less husks of human beings and not-human beings ever put into an animated production. They even insult past beloved, central characters of the first series by shoving them into side roles where they barely appear in favor of these far less interesting newcomers. This is particularly infuriating, as Dio, Tatiana, or Vincent would have all made incredible main characters. Fam is your typical happy-go-lucky, fearless-by-stupidity, loli protagonist who just likes capturing ships, it seems. She's committing theft, why should I be rooting for her? Is smiling and doing random reckless acts identifiable to anyone at all? Her navigator is Giselle, a much better character who is at least smart, but spends most of her time, like Fam, just being cute for the camera. Neither of them show empathy, struggle, or reveal anything other than vague cuteness and plot-defiant heroism. These characters never make an attempt to rationalize the war, which is understandable, considering that there really isn't anything to understand about it. How many children do you know that would just casually accept being involved in a war with a huge empire, still smiling at every instant?
Are ships characters? Because in the original Last Exile they were. The Silvana was one of the coolest ships ever, with a bad-to-the-core, funny, and enigmatic crew. This show's substitute, the Silvius, is a perfect reflection of the show: it pales by comparison in every way. It's boring, with a largely nameless, skinny, short-haired male archetype crew. Why do they blindly follow this princess (who is no longer a princess, of course) to re-build her nation? It is never explained why, it's just accepted. Where is this show's Alex Row, the tortured captain with secret ties to his crew? Where is this show's battleship-with-chainsaws moment? Most of all, where is the personal, human element? The entire atmosphere of Last Exile came from it being a colonial steam punk style, but there's no musketeers or soldiers, just commanders and little girls who can do anything.
The artwork is still admirable for the most part, comparable to the first series, but with a markedly lazier and less creative design for the mechanical side of things. It still has that special aesthetic that demands merit. The colors in some scenes are beautiful, the architecture of cities is breathtaking. Costumes and character designs are also easy to admire, if only they had as much care put into their insides. The art can't be faulted, its integration of CG modeling even more seamless and enjoyable.
Sound, like the art, is good, using a lot of the same songs and sounds of the first Last Exile. It's nostalgic, almost like it's trying very hard to say "This IS a sequel, remember, see?". The intro is artistically valuable, too, though cant compare to Last Exile's Cloud Age Symphony. Gun-battles between metal sky-behemoths sound chaotic, you know, like battles, and that's all one can really ask for. The voice cast does it's job, nothing spectacular, as there really wasn't one emotional scene in 12 episodes.
Overall, Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing, is a cash-in of the worst kind, capturing none of the essence of the first show by slapping a boring, over-used plot on an original series. It then proceeds to tease old fans with returning characters, shadows of their former selves, to play background while loli's giggle in the forefront. As a fan of the original, and as a fan of many of Gonzo's works when many are not, this is a highly disappointing venture on their part. A little wisdom and care would have gone a long way. The awareness that someone will say "you only watched barely over half the series, how dare you criticize it!" haunts me, so let me rebut: a good show is good throughout its majority, a good sequel is comparable to the quality of the former in all respects. Last exile was, indeed, called LAST Exile for a reason.
When a sequel to Last Exile was announced, it had a real air of desperation to it. It felt like Gonzo were desperately rummaging through their back catalogue to find an IP with recognisable quality that they could rehash for some extra dough. The original Last Exile was great, but it was also complete, and ended in a way that solved all the characters issues and wrapped everything up in a perfect package. It by no stretch needed a sequel. But they did so anyway, setting it with new characters and on a completely different planet, with only very loose connections to what happened in the original. That all said, Gonzo put an extraordinary amount of effort into this, pumping out something that I would say could stand proud alongside the original. That is, if it wasn't for Fam.
Let's talk about the good first though. Last Exile was a standard-bearer for how to integrate CGI into hand-drawn animation well, keeping only the machinery CGI. Last Exile Fam is that except bigger, better and with more intricate detail. The scale of the CGI models for the battleships is phenomenal. They really give the sense of these giant clunky machines that were built by real people, with insignias and rivets and everything. Asides from simply looking impressive, this also helps flesh out the world by designing everything so well. The variations between the bad guys factory produced fancy ships and the pirates less conventional looking weapons to the Russian women's pointy fighter jets. There's a real sense of different cultures conveyed through the designs. It feels like a proper world. There's a great sense of epic scale to these battles too, because you can feel how immense these ships are. Compared to something like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, where the space battles may as well have been some kid on his playroom floor going "pew pew pew", when a ship explodes in Last Exile Fam, it really gives the sense that a monster has been taken down. The pitched battle sequences here are probably the best in any anime I've ever seen.
The way the different cultures are portrayed ties into the other big area I feel Last Exile Fam excels at: The politics. Each nation has a reason for fighting and reasons for wanting peace, but what it does really well is how it is portrayed. It's not done through some boring narration over a shot of people fighting. When you just throw names of nations and political ideals at you, it just goes in one ear and out the other. You have no reason to care. Last Exile Fam does this well by having the politics centre around a small group of characters that are central to the conflict and it's their ideals and personalities that shape the direction. On one side we have the two Princesses of Turan and on the other we have the military one-eyed general and his teeny tiny Augusta. It all works because it explains why these people are fighting through character development, which is how politics in a story should be conveyed. OK, it's a little too keen on making the military general start massacring people, but his reasoning are logical and human. You understand why he's doing it.
The problem starts when the person they use to watch this conflict through the eyes of is a complete brainless twat. As far as I'm concerned, Princess Millia is the main character in this story, or at least she should be. She's the character with flaws and the one with the real human investment in this conflict, both for political and personal reasons. She is the one who is developing slowly through her encounters with different nations and people. However the person she chose to ride around with is Fam. Fucking. Fam. The most brainless moronic single-minded simpleton to ever grace the skies. A character who mindlessly blunders her way through anything and everything, not having the mental capacity to doubt herself or justify her actions beyond her witless adherence to the genki philosophy. This character archetype has slowly but surely become one of my most hated, up there alongside the Yuji Everylead the Bland. The problem here is that genki juvenile idiotic energy is treated like A Good Thing. Her justification to just jump into things because it feels right should not be something that constantly rewards her. It's not that I can't enjoy a stupid character. Yuki in Future Diary is an idiot, but he gets punished for his idiocy, and is therefore incredibly entertaining to watch. People just conform to Fam's way of thinking, degrading the intelligence of the conversation around her.
Possibly my favourite episode of the series so far was the flashback one to the Grand Race where Fam is only 6 years old, part of the reason being because her idealistic energy flying in the face of actual facts fitted someone who was only 6 years old. Every single other character from the flashback had since developed. But not Fam. Oh no. She remains exactly the fucking same. The next episode had a scene where Fam said she wanted to return to the times like the one where the Grand Race took place, only for the Russian chick to point out that there was an assassination there that highlighted that there was unrest beneath this seemingly happy scene and it was merely a mask for the problems in the world. But such a complex issue couldn't fit into Fam's tiny brain, so she just blunders on saying she wants to recreate that day anyway. What's worse is the other characters agree with her. They get sucked in by her stupidity, their own brains abandoning their skulls in the face of this black hole of intelligent writing.
I like this new rendition of Last Exile. I love the scale and intensity of the battles, the development of characters such as Millia and the military commander, and how well realised the world is. But Fam is a giant gormless genki wart on this otherwise great series, degrading everything she comes into contact with. Fuck you Fam, you suck.
::Update upon finishing the anime::
In the end, I had to hike the score up from a 7 to an 8 for Fam finally admitting around about the 4th last episode that she had been a naive twat the entire time. Too little too late perhaps, but it gave the character some much needed development.read more
Roughly eight years have passed since the final episode of Last Exile. We all remember how it concluded: after defeating the antagonist and ending a war that was raging for eternity, good guys laid their hands on a sleeper ship and went to another world to live in peace and harmony. But what they actually arrived at turned out to be the twisted, corrupted world of unnecessary sequels.
Truly, Gonzo was having a tough time and needed a strong comeback that will allow it to stay in business, so they chose to milk one of their old successful and popular titles. Was it a wise decision? Probably, it was. Does the new show turn out to be good? Well, let’s find out.
The story is pretty simple. A young sky pirate girl named Fam Fan Fan is accidentally caught in a war unleashed by bad, bad Ades Empi— I mean, Federation. (But hell, it is ruled by an empress!) Fam along with her friend, Giselle Collette, saves life of a Turanian princess named Millia who asks the sky pirates for help in the noble quest of liberating her country.
And here we come across the most obvious and fatal flaw of Gin’yoku no Fam — the protagonist and title character, Fam herself. Firstly, she is the worst kind of a pacifist who honestly believes that all people in the world can easily throw away their differences, lay down weapons and then just fly in the vast blue sky, full of joy and happiness. Fam never questions her ideals while on war where, big surprise, people are dying because somebody isn’t able to just give up on his goals, be it revenge, greed, survival of relatives, or anything else. To be fair, this naïve faith is not a bad trait, but the fact that she always holds to it no matter what is really stupid and irritating. Well, Fam receives some character development near the end of the series but it was too damn late for me to like her. Secondly, the way plot revolves around her is unbearable. Her Noble Phantasm is Deus Ex Machina: The Slayer of Suspension of Disbelief. Fam can fly in the middle of the battle and never be harmed, she can infiltrate enemy’s flagship with ease, hell, she can probably go back in time and save John Lennon or something. I get that she is a genius pilot but there are limits to how far the writer can stretch it. Thirdly, she is voiced by Toyosaki Aki-shi. It’s just personal and very subjective but I can’t stand Toyosaki-shi as a seiyū of protagonist in this kind of show. Her voice is hammered into my mind with air-headed clumsy girls, so no way I can take her as a world saviour seriously.
That’s it with Fam, now I want to say two words about other characters. Giselle seems like a pretty generic sidekick to me, but that’s okay because she rarely steals the spotlight. On the other hand we have Millia and she is one of the better parts of the series. Millia receives a lot of character development from start to finish, she can be irritating at first but she gets better little by little and progresses a lot throughout the show becoming one of the small number of Gin’yoku no Fam characters I feel little sympathy for. Another interesting character is the main antagonist, Luscinia Hāfez, the Premier of Ades Federation. Yes, his actions seem unreasonable and more I think of them less sense they make, but most of the time watching the series I spent on figuring out how far he can and will go, how much of him believe that his way is the only possible solution for the crisis. That was some kind of pleasure.
One thing people complained a lot about Gin’yoku no Fam was fanservice. Their point was this series seems like a sequel to Strike Witches not to Last Exile. To be fair, there is not much fanservice here and what is present is not really annoying. The only thing got on my nerves was Millia trying to take over the ship with her maid uniform. Yeah, it was played for laughs but this scene stood out too much and was too damn stupid, so I just cannot let it slip by. On the other hand, cameos of Last Exile’s characters (kinda fanservice too) were utterly pointless. They were lazily written into the new series for appearance’s sake only. For example, Dio’s overall impact on the plot is exactly zero, so I get this sticky feeling that Gonzo here is just trying to draw attention of the original series fan base.
And one more thing before I call it a day. Let me bring up the philosophy, the basic idea of both series. It’s pretty simple: the war is bad. We can see it through both the original series and Gin’yoku no Fam. The problem with the latter is how that idea was integrated into the plot. In Last Exile we have the Guild. It enforces strict rules of combat resulting in a lot of casualties, casualties that can be avoided if you break the rules. But if you do it, you will be punished by the Guild because it has superior technology and can easily crush you. And even if you follow the rules, a member of the Guild can call off the engine of your ship on a whim, just because he thinks it’s fun. So you’re screwed no matter what you do. This is unfair and cruel. This is war, guys, and this is why it’s bad. And what can Gin’yoku no Fam offer? We have our protagonists flying here and there and talking about friendship. We have loli Empress crying because fighting is making her sad. Oversimplification and child’s play. The war is bad. The oranges are orange. Care to explain why Gin’yoku no Fam is about war and not about oranges, Gonzo?
So, overall, is this series a powerful comeback? Hell no. I won’t cry if Gonzo returns to animation studio asylum. Gin’yoku no Fam is certainly a nice try but its shell is sadly empty. The setting is cool, but the plot while having a good build-up is too much of a cliché and the characters are either annoying or just simply not memorable. To be fair, this series has some good scenes and nice background music but that’s not enough. I rate it 7 points. Too high, maybe, but at least it’s not as bad as war.read more
I have heard great things about the first installment of Last Exile and it appears many people are expecting much or at least the same from this one. I have never seen the first Last Exile, so I can't say for sure they'd be disappointed or happy.
For one I am not disappointed in this first episode. Here's why:
I'm the kind of guy that doesn't read synopsis' or summaries, etc when animes first come out. I feel the best way to get a sense of how good an anime is going to be is to just jump right in and see where it takes you. In this instance you are taken for a big ride in the first episode. Right from the start you are given action and lots of it, but at the same time you get to understand where the main characters (it appears to be Fam and the Princesses) come from and their stories. Fam is a pirate who pretty much steals ships along with her comrades. You can tell she's just a no nonsense kind of girl who is fearless when flying which leads you to think of her as a tomboy. Lilliana (the older "wiser" sister) and Milla (the younger more pessimistic one) are the two princesses of Turan who seek peace with the Ades Federation, who agreed to sign a peace treaty over the sacred Grand Lake. Unfortunately Lilliana's good nature and humility leads her to be betrayed by the Ades federation, something Millia suspected might have happened. In comes Fam to the rescue (for a price of course, she's a pirate!) who with her small vanship (and her fellow vanships) causes the Ades Federation Fleet of ships to fall in confusion. At the meantime the supposed two main characters Liliana and Fam meet each other face to face...and that's where we are left off.
I have to say I really enjoyed the first episode. Lots of action, the story progresses well enough for a first episode and you get to know the characters a little bit or just enough to enjoy it. You are given subtle hints of the past from a couple of the characters in the show that I didn't describe, but that probably is best left for the viewer to watch and understand. I give the story so far an 8. It was somewhat fast paced and action packed the first episode, but that didn't really take anything away from understanding it.
Are you kidding me? It's great. Probably one of the best I've seen so far this year. Yes they use CGI, but man did they do a great job mixing it in with the drawings. I mean really good. I was impressed. Interesting character designs, ships, etc you name it. I give it a 9.
I liked the music. It felt like it belonged or was made for this show. I don't know how to really describe it, but most of the music had a very nostalgic feeling to it and when the action came, it really let you know it. I give it a solid 9.
You are introduced to them and given a little background info. I wasn't expecting much character development since this was the first episode ( I say it usually takes two to three episodes for that). You are given however, a glimpse of Fam and the two princesses along with the Prime Minister of Ades (who's name escapes me for the moment). Not much of anyone else other than those four. To me it doesn't really take much away from the first episode though. So I have it a high 7.
I enjoyed it very much. Kept me watching and on my toes. It was a great opening to what seems will be a great show. Though you are not given much story or character development (just enough in my opnion), the show did what it was suppose to, which was keep you watching and waiting to see what will happen in the next episode. I give the the show overall an 8.5. I recommend it.read more
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