Mimi: Last Exile and I go way back to my high school years, when my only source of anime was from television. For a long long time, I had been watching repeats of Sailor Moon, Card Captors, and DBZ without so much of a breakthrough. It wasn’t until one glorious day after we got digital cable that I saw something truly groundbreaking. Airing almost a year before Ghost in the Shell came to the U.S., Last Exile really took people to the skies. There was nothing else like it. I was deeply drawn to its world of wonders and awe-inspiring visuals, forever changed.
Ask any of my friends from around that time, and they can tell you how obsessed I was. My every breath depended on the next episode. Lord knows how much I suffered when it suddenly stopped airing at the worst cliffhanger ever. Before I realized it, I had bonded deeply with the characters and memorized the dialogue after replaying my favorite scenes dozens of times. It goes without saying that Last Exile has been a personal favorite of mine ever since and continues to influence my preferences in anime today. After all, it is the very root of my love for science fiction, steampunk, and Crispin Freeman.
Upon re-watching Last Exile recently, the series really takes me back to that moment in time that changed my anime life. It evokes nostalgia, tears, and every bit of passion that I first felt. This cannot be said for any other anime, even the four that are placed higher in my favorites.
Even by today’s standards, Last Exile is exceptional in the visuals department. The CG animated airship battles, vanship races, and the intricate designs of the Guild ships are what won me over immediately. I had also taken a great liking to Range Murata’s unique character designs. Add to that some technology influenced by nineteenth century Europe, Greek text, space scifi elements, and a militaristic soundtrack. Gonzo has designed a highly captivating and complex world that is superior to that of many other anime in this genre. Personally, it is my favorite setting in anime of all time.
Don’t even get me started on the crew of the Silvana. My favorite character was the mysterious captain, Alex Rowe, who is reminiscent of a Byronic hero. He’s handsomely dark, intelligent, and quiet, suffers from a tragic past, wears a black cape, you name it. Yeah, I was his number one fangirl back in the day. My friend even drew a picture of him for my birthday present. Sometimes I glared darts at his first officer, Sophia, who has an obvious crush on him. I really like how his character is used in contrast to Vincent, the captain of the Urbanus. He looks like your handsome knight in white and is a much better fit for Sophia. The rest of the crew is incredibly diverse, but to say who they all are would make this review way too long. Let’s just say that they’re loveable, fun, and quite unforgettable.
As much as I want to keep on glorifying the show, I’m still a critic and have to admit that yeah, like everything else, it has flaws. For one thing, the story never fully explains everything, such as why Alvis is the key to Exile in the first place. Out of all the characters, she’s fleshed out the least, even though she is so important to the story. Some people might find the ending too rushed and confusing to understand. Admittedly, I had to read more about it online to make complete sense of it. I think the main reason why I have Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Monster, and The Rose of Versailles placed above of Last Exile is because their stories are better developed. Nevertheless, it truly feels like reaching the end of a long and amazing adventure. All that mattered to me were the characters, as I was overwhelmed with relief, happiness, and tears over those who had fallen.
Dreams must really do come true because there’s going to be a second season airing this Fall. It will have the same director, character designer, and music composer, so I have pretty high expectations. I can’t wait to see what else Gonzo will do with a premise that is already this great.
Mimi’s Score: 9 Meeps out of 10 (Great)
Alex’s Score: 8 Meeps out of 10 (Very Good)
Doofus’ Score: 9 Meeps out of 10 (Great)