To quote the Continental (as portrayed by the funktastic Christopher Walken), "Wow! Wowwie wow wow wow!"
Last Exile is sweeeeeeeet. It pretty much grabbed me by the nutz at the beginning of the first episode and squeezed until I submitted myself to its demands of allegiance for the entirety of its 26 episode run. But in the end I was glad it did.
Studio Gonzo has gone and completely made up for their previous crapfest, She the Ultimate Weapon. Last Exile, is a work of art. The setting, the characters, the grandness of the plot... All almost perfect. Almost. I mean, what in this world truly is perfect other than Nicole Kidman?.. Her gorgeous eyes. Luscious lips. Firm ass.......... Last Exile has a few flaws, true, but they are forgivable. The main characters (two 15 year old kids) act a little idealistically annoying in the first few episodes (you know, "Stop fighting because it's wrong and only naughty people fight!" kind of moronicness), but soon they join the war effort out of their own free will. The only other slight imperfection I can really think of is the fact that there were no major plot twists that really shook the entire story's foundation (like what RahXephon and Scrapped Princess had both previously accomplished). It was just a simple adventure story... Not that that's a bad thing, just a different way of telling a story. Last Exile feels more like we're watching an all out war, and I guess that wars usually don't hold many plot twists that make you rethink the whole campaign. I mean, honestly, it would have totally sucked if just as the tide was turning for the Allies in WWII, Hitler suddenly made the grand announcement that half the Allied forces were really loyal to him because he was from another dimension and the Nazi Salute was really a hypnotizing brain-controlling motion that allowed him to capture the minds of whomever saw him do it.... Really. Wars are better left to non-bizarre storytelling.
Now, you ask, what is Last Exile all about? Well you should be asking that. It's a very valid question. LE is all about a world on the brink of world war. The two major super powers of the land (Dusis and Anatore) are just starting to throw off the gloves and go all 1930s boxing on eachother's ass. During all this, Claus and Lavi (the two main protagonists and 15 year old lifelong friends) are trying to make a living for themselves in the same way that their fathers did, as vanship pilot and navigator... Okay, before I go too much further, I've got to explain to you the setting of this whole show. The world that Last Exile takes place in is similar to the 1880s of our time (i.e. an industrial revolutionized, steamy and gritty world where everything is tinted brown [look at any old photo from that era to see if I'm lying]), but with one major exception: The ships of LE all fly. Instead of ocean-going steel-plated behemoths, there are giant slow-flying battleships, and lots of smaller vanships. Vanships are like Messerschmitts and Zeros with VTOL capabilities but without wings. They seat two, a pilot and a mechanic/navigator. And they are pretty fucking sweet. Man, I think it'd be pretty spiffy to fly one of those fuckers around giant maze-like caves and through Grand Streams and whatnot. Booyah!
Anyway, Claus and Lavi rescue a little girl, Alvis Hamilton, from a Guild star-shaped fighter and take it upon themselves to deliver her to the free-lance battleship that she was meant to go to, the Sylvana, run by Captain Alex Rowe. Alex hates the Guild (the supposedly superior beings that supposedly watch over the world) and is trying to gain control of the Exile, for which he needs Alvis' help. I'm not going to tell you what the Exile is or why Alvis is needed mostly because it took me a while to figure it all out, and that's obviously how the hippy-drugsters on the writing staff wanted it to be. Believe me, it's quite interesting.
From this point on we meet a boatload of new characters aboard the Sylvana, and fly around the world as Alex and his first mate (wink wink nudge nudge, know what I mean, know what I mean) Sophia Forrester (who's not actually Alex's mate... I just thought that was funny) gather information and objects to help them in their quest. The vastness of the whole show and just how much actually happens to everybody is absolutely amazingly pants-pissingly cool. Everybody is his or her own unique character (not only in this show, but they're almost all different than any character in any movie or show I've ever seen), and they all have unique reasons for being where they are and doing what they do. Much more unique than my ununiqueness of using "unique" twice above to describe how unique they are.
The tale of Claus and Lavi is grand and well told, but what I liked the most about this show was the feel of the world that their venture took place in. The mix of steam-punk with futuristic technologies. The fact that you had these giant, flying destroyers that could fly miles above the ground, but they didn't have wireless communications equipment. Fleets had to talk to eachother with morse-code on flashlights. The way in which battles were fought was a sight to see too. They used the giant flying ships to pass by the enemy and they had riflemen blast the living shit out of eachother, and then used mega-cannons to finish the rest of the enemy off. Like sea-battles of the 1st - 19th centuries... except high above the ground... and played out like giant chess games.
The bestest part about Last Exile though is the ending. The whole last act is like 6 episodes long and it never lags. Some characters die, some live on and make the best of their lives after everything is done and over, and over and done. The way in which two specific characters die in the last episode is just so intense and matter of factly thrown in your face it's incredible. And the lie that Winna told to her superior was so perfect. Oh man! Just go out and watch it all now! It's all good, and everybody's doing it.
Shit my grits and call me Flow! There ain't no way in hell that Ah'd want to live in the godforsaken world that this here Last Exile thingy took place in. Ah mean, the navy fuckin' docks in ports that hang 3 somethin' miles above the goddamn ground! How the fuck is a lady supposed to get up there in order to greet the manly sailor boys when they's come to town for a little R&R (a little "rollin 'round" if you know whut Ah mean).
Those aeroplanes that they's was flyin' around in were pretty kinky though. Ah kin just imagine mahself ridin' on a pilot as he flies that durn thang upside down, then backwards, then maybe some fast forward to a full stop... Then up, then down... Then up, down, UP, DOWN, UUUUUP!!!!!! SUNOVABITCH WHO'S YOUR DADDY???!!!! YESSSS!!!!!!!
On second thought... That, er, I wouldn't mind stowin' away on that Sylvania boat myself. It, uh, could be educational and all.
My brother sold me into watching this show by telling me that it was all about World War One. I'm kind of embarrassed to say, but I bought into it all the way until those star-shaped aliens showed up and started blowing the poop out of everything. Those Victorian Era-styled wingless planes were pretty snazzy, but I didn't like how over the top everybody acted. I swear, everybody on that Sylvia ship was a world-class drama queen!.. Er, or king. They'd bitch bitch bitch about the war or their feelings or something, then moan moan moan when they couldn't do anything about it. It got a bit annoying after a while. Like cheerleading tryouts.
I did like that little Alvin girl. She was cute and actually acted like a little girl. I am sick to death of those shows that have kids as characters and then write them like adults. That goes for American crap too. I mean, jeez, have you ever seen Gilmore Girls? Like a 15 year old girl is going to quote Albert Camus or e e cummings in every day conversation with her mother or her best friend. Give me a break! And like why did Rori dump that cute football playing Dean for that annoying and shaggy asshole that NOBODY liked. I mean, Jess pissed off everybody in town, even his cool Uncle Luke. I'm glad he moved to California for a spin-off, and I'm especially glad that his spin-off died a horrible death :).