With Maestro Sara and Grand Exile under his control, Luscinia demands an immediate end to the fighting. Millia ignores his threats and prepares to face the Exile and the First Fleet head-on in the Silvius. She sends Fam, Gisey, Dian, and Alvis to rescue Sara. A huge battle ensues, in which both an Anatoray fleet of reinforcements and the return of Sorush’s fleet help the Silvius draw nearer. After Grand Exile’s weapons blast holes in its own fuselage, the Silvius enters the ship itself and launches vanships. Fam, Gisey, Dian and Alvis negotiate the pipes and tunnels of the ship, and finally find Luscinia and anunconscious Sara at its core.
We were operating under the assumption the episode count exclued the two recaps, where 21-2=19. Then, we counted the recaps, making the total episode count 19+2=21. But there are 21 total non-recap episodes, so 21+2=23, with a final epilogue the week after next to technically make it 24. Okay; we’re all good now, this is the second-to-last episode. Whew. With that out of the way, we feel like this is Last Exile stoppage time. Obviously big, bag ol’ “cower to my power or die” Luscinia isn’t going to have his way when all’s said and done. It all comes down to whether he’ll have to be defeated and will die for his ideals, or if he’ll have a change of heart and stop trying to conquer everything.
As of this episode’s end, the odds are somewhat against him. Grand Exile isn’t nearly the indomitable ultraweapon he was making it out to be. Sure, it can destroy another Exile (Millia’s, courtesy of Dio) with one shot, but the cannon that fires it is also destroyed. The tentacles are scary fast and powerful, but they can’t seem to neutralize all the allied fleets that amass. The Exile itself isn’t even complete, and it seems to be deteriorating as the battle progresses. Fam, Gisey, and Dian are right up in his business, and Maestro Alvis is their ace in the hole. So, the question Luscinia needs to ask himself is: does he feel lucky?
Lilliana lies in state and Dian sits in prison. Luscinia considers the assassination and end to the truce, and after trying to pay his respects (he is blocked by Fam), he captures Augusta Sara, killing Vasant in the process, and returns to his flagship. He orders Sara’s standard raised so the Alliance will believe she’s aboard, while he spirits her away to Glacies in a high-speed vanship. There, he recites a poem to Sara, activating Grand Exile, which rises out of the snow. He fires its cannons on the battling fleets. General Orang cries out in horror…
This was a pretty thrilling build-up episode, where we were expecting a finale. Millia finally understands what her sister went through in the name of global peace. Luscinia makes his move towards making war irrelevant through total control. Fam even admitted perhaps she was being a little too idealistic in demanding a Grand Race above all other considerations and leading Millia down an untenable path. But we’ve still gotten the feeling Last Exile is toying with us. Take the ending theme this week. It cuts to black and plays new ending music. This is what the end of a series looks like, not an episode that doesn’t end anything (except Vasant’s life…poor Vasant!).
It had already done this when the ceasefire was first agreed to: happy music, proclamations that the war was all over (admittedly by Fam and Gisey), and an austere, unique end credits sequence. Everywhere we look, we see that there are 21 episodes of this series; this is the 21st, if you count the two recaps. If you don’t count the recaps, that means there are two episodes left, when one will probably suffice. We don’t know quite what’s going on here! The first Last Exile had ending problems too. Things started to…not make sense. They tried to do too much. We can only hope this series doesn’t repeat that mistake and give us a solid ending…which would have been easier if we knew how many episodes there are.
Boreas is in allied hands, Dio and Alvis have arrived, and things seem calm, until Admiral Sadri’s first fleet arrives. He takes advantage of the patchwork nature of his opponent by sending orders to Orang’s third fleet to initiate a pincer attack, something Orang has no intention of doing. Even so, the Glacies pilots take the bait, and it takes Fam intercepting them to end the infighting. The Silvius reappears to help win the day, but the first fleet is back that evening with a sneak attack. Sara sends Millia to Vasant and Fam to Sadri with her decree that all hostilities cease. Dian goes after Fam and Gisey, but they evade her and deliver the decree to Sadri, who agrees to abide by Sara’s wishes.
Fam makes herself surprisingly useful this week, preventing a continuation of friendly fire that would have torn the allied fleet apart, and even successfully delivers a call for a ceasefire that is accepted. As the oldest of the Adean admirals, Sadri knew Sara’s mother well, and knew her ideals. But perhaps more importantly, Fam herself reminds him of a girl named Raha with the same color hair and eyes. Who is this Laha, and is she indeed related to Fam? A mother? A sister? Intriguing. Finally, how could he say no to a couple of cute girls who risked their lives in the name of peace?
This week it was Millia’s turn to falter. She sent out a preemptive strike against a far more experienced opponent with a far more cohesive and disciplined fleet at his command. If it weren’t for Fam and the Silvius perhaps too magically appearing when all hope seemed lost, both Millia and Vasant would have been in real trouble. The alliance showed how shaky it is, though the key belligerents seem to be Dian and the Glacian sky goddesses, who have lost everything and won’t settle for this ceasefire. They want their enemies dead, period, and even Fam may not make them see reason.
Note on episode numbers: The recap was titled Episode 9.5, so we’ve corrected our review titles according to Fam’s official site.
The Federation launches a multi-pronged attack on Glacies, first sending a vanguard of provincial fleets first, which are utterly annihalated by the Wing Maidens, then sending the second, third, and fourth fleets in to overwhelm defenses and bomb Glacien ground targets. The Glacian elders resort to raising the “White Legacy”, a gargantuan protective wall rising high about the maximum altitude of the ships, and armed with golden arms that reach out and destroy others. Observing the battle from afar, Luscinia calls upon Lilliana to bring another Exile down upon Glacies. Fam, Gisey and Millia retreat to Spargel to find it in ruins, and suspect Kartoffel too may have been attacked.
Glacies is brought into a war kicking and screaming, while our heroines find themselves naught but spectators of the mass carnage. They warn Dian (with more interpreting by Millia; one wonders how she can be heard speaking so softly while racing through the sky), but the Glacian Wing Maidens swore to defend their country by any means, or die trying, so that’s what they do. Cut loose and low on fuel, Fam & Co. deicide to go to Kartoffel. Of course, we know something they don’t – which will only compound their misery. On top of it all (literally), yet another Exile has been summoned thanks to Lilliana, which will likely bring Glacies to their knees as it did Turan.
This episode’s pace was extremely brisk, almost uncomfortably so considering the scale of what went down – whole fleets and thousands of lives being lost and all. But a likely reason for that is that in war, things can get real back real fast – and they do exactly that this week. Knowing that their home is likely wrecked, we imagine Fam and Gisey will head to Anatoray. Mythical power will have to be met with mythical power, and that means Alvis Hamilton, or so we think.
Dio saves Alvis from Federation assassins as the grounded Urbanus is attacked. Ades means to hit Glacies with an enormous aerial strike. Meanwhile, Fam, Gisey and Millia are guests of Dian, a respected Glaciesian “wing maiden” paying them back for saving her comrades earlier. Millia, who speaks her tongue, interprets for her, and they repair the vanship. Fam tries to instill in her her own ideal of what the sky should be: fun, freedom, and peace, not an eternal battlefield. Dian is dubious, she was at the last Grand Race and doubts another will make any difference. After letting Dian try out their vanship, Fam, Gisey and Millia take off for home, but when Gisey spots the Ades fleets approaching Glacies, Fam turns around to warn Dian.
It’s far easier – and to some more satisfying – to wage war than it is to prevent it. Many philsophers argue that humans are always going to branch off into factions and fight each other about something; it’s just in our nature, and that of other animals. Glacies is a cold and remote land full of surprisingly warm people, but they’re extremely weary of outsiders, because they feel the best way to avoid war is to simply avoid contact of any kind with other factions. It’s worked so far for them, but at the cost of isolation. Aside from loving her sexy Russian accent, we really liked Dian’s character for her unique perspective on the world.
She cannot fathom why a vanship would lack weapons, any more than she can fathom why Fam would help people in need – even potential enemies. Fam would say it’s the right thing to do, but for Dian, the right thing to do is the thing that keeps you alive. While Dian may still be confused by such foreign ideas, a seed was definitely planted in her head: not all outsiders are out to get you. Some are cute girls who just want to be your friend. More takeaways: Fam may be a good pilot, but Dian demonstrates rather hilariously that she’s not much of a fighter; and when you crash in a foreign land, it always helps to have a princess who is fluent in the native language!