Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 21 (Fin)

Fam and Gisey confront Luscinia as the Grand Exile continues to deteriorate and the fleets within it do battle. Luscinia cites the failure of the last Grand Race to refute Fam’s insistence a second one will succeed, but Fam vows to “keep flying” and believing in her dream no matter what. Moved, Luscinia hands Sara over to them and goes down with te Exile. The Silvius and most of the other ships manage to escape, while the Exile crashes to the earth after clearing the sky. A new era of peace is then ushered in by a second Grand Race.

Luscinia tells Fam he’s glad she’s come, as she’s ultimately able to get Sara to safety. It would seem that in the end, his motivations to use Maestro Sara and the Grand Exile were more nuanced than he led on. Bringing the world to heel wasn’t his sole intention: he wanted to change the world, and apparently, the Grand Exile’s destruction did the trick. Satisfied with how things turned out, Luscinia was content to check out. Did he plan this all along, or was it a sudden change of course, necessitated by his being cornered? Whatever the case, the Last Exile sequel comes to a close with a very happy, almost ideal ending (with a few gratuitous cameos for the fans).

Of the franchise we can say this: when we first saw it, the first series provided some of the best visuals we had seen in anime.This wasn’t quite the equal of the first series in some areas (neither series is perfect), but it was still a visual feast that was great fun to tune in to every week. We can argue about the impracticalities of airship battles or the tremendous luck required for Fam and Gisey’s vespa to dodge every single bullet fired at them, but at the end of the day, it’s good clean fun with a simple message of peace. Overthinking is to be discouraged.


Rating: 3.5

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 19

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.


Rating: 3.5

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 18

When Luscinia and Lilliana arrive to formalize the cease fire, it creates rancor amongst both the Ades brass and between the Turan sisters, but with Fam’s help, a tearful Augusta Sara demands an immediate end to the bickering and calls for peace. Chastened, everyone agrees. In a ball that preceeds the signing ceremony, Millia is spirited away by Turanian officers led by Major Geeth who want her to usurp her sister by striking her down and taking her crown. Luscinia’s men have them all arrested, and Millia is brought before Luscinia, then meets with her sister, but doesn’t kill her, but is given her crown. At the signing ceremony the next day, Dian takes a shot at Luscinia, but Lilliana takes the bullet and dies. Millia inherits her power.

Augusta Sara makes it look easy to bring peace to the world: just turn on the waterworks and make sure Fam’s in the room to add her two cents! But of course, it isn’t that easy at all. The guns may be silent for now, but there’s still a lot of bad blood stirring in that hall. Dian warns Fam when she returns from her delivery: peace is naught but a “fleeting dream” as long as there’s hatred in people’s hearts – and there’s plenty of that. These aren’t odd words coming from a hardened soldier whose homeland was cruelly decimated. She and her fellow sky goddesses won’t settle for peace, period, and it’s Dian herself who makes an attempt on Luscinia’s life, and unfortunately botches it.

It’s the second-to-last episode, so things moved very quickly this week, and a lot happened, but there was still time for a ball, and all we can say is Fam and Gisey (and Tatiana!) have never looked so, well, dolled-up. We somehow doubt such an overindulgent party would precede rather than follow the all-important official signing – especially since Luscinia and Lilliana are convinced it’s the Federation’s job to preserve the world’s limited resources (for the record, Ades hasn’t demonstrated they’re very good at that at all) but no matter. Most importantly, barely hours after Millia considered killing her own sister for the good of Turan, Dian forced the issue, and now Lilliana burden is now MIllia’s to bear, along with her crown. What will she do with this new power? How will Luscinia proceed? Where does Alvis fit in the equation? We’ll find out soon.


Rating: 4

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 11

The show goes back ten years to the time of the Grand Race, organized by Queen Augusta Farahanaz to celebrate a sprawling peace treaty amongst all the nations of the world. A young Giselle and Fam are on hand to watch Giselle’s father race, as is the king of Turan and the princesses Lilliana and Millia. Fam even meets Millia as the two wander off. Gisey’s father wins the race, but as he and his copilot Kaiser are being awarde, assassins attack the queen and kill her. One of her bodyguards, Lukia, cannot protect her, and she is killed.

The second half of Ginyoku no Fam takes place not in Glacies, where Fam & Co. must crash land, but with a flashback. But this is a good flashback, one that is formative (almost too conveniently so) for most of the cast and indeed the world itself. If there’s anyone who can achieve world peace through her power and influence, it’s Queen Farahanaz. With her infant Princess Sara in hand, she is also a mother and caretaker to her people, warm and kind. But as she fiddles with her prayer beads, we’re conscious that the peace she’s about to achieve was not gained entirely without bloodshed. If you want to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs, after all.

Her bodyguard Lukia – who will later become Luscinia – always shared her ideal, but was always conscious that it may lead to her death. Back in the present, he and other more aggressive and bitter elements of Ades are in control, as Queen Sara is too young to fully exercise her power, which led to war with Turan and so many other conquests. But on the other end of the spectrum, people like Fam is so inspired by the race (up until the traumatic assassination), that she’s dedicated her life ever since to becoming a pilot worthy of flying in the next Grand Race; a race that will bring the people of the world back together. But like the old queen, is she simply a naive idealist?


Rating: 3.5

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 09

With 15 Ades battleships captured, Fam has fulfilled her contract with the Silvius and is free to go. Gisey intends to return to Kartoffel, ashamed of her failure and in bad spirits. She snaps at Fam, but realizes the error of her ways when she sees Millia making food for her and Fam out of gratitude. Gisey remembers it’s Fam’s birthday, so while Fam’s busy retrieving the last battleship and playing hockey on the deck, she and Millia prepare a surprise party for her. There, Fam decides to stay aboard until Turan is free. The party is crashed by Tatiana’s superior officer, Vincent Alzey, of Anatoray-Disith.

Alas, not every episode can be epic sky battles, so this one slows the action down and takes a breather. It’s not bad, as slice-of-life respites go; allowing for a pretty excellent impromptu game of broom hockey atop the ship in which even the captain and first mate participate. It also allows for some character work, mostly focused on Gisey, her long-standing, sister-like bond with Fam, and her recent crisis of confidence. We were expecting this character conflict to result in their split up and an extended break apart, but it didn’t. It’s cleared up pretty nicely in this episode.

Basically, Gisey sucks it up and stops berating herself. She is amazing, neither pathetic or incompetent. Fam has a nice scene with Dio in which they share their long-held belief their respective Navis were always on the same wavelength, and their feelings were always reaching them. Just as Fam can’t fly without a ship, she can’t fly without Gisey. Yes, Millia took her place on one sortie, but Millia could never truly replace Gisey, either in the navi’s seat or in Fam’s heart. So rather than returning to Kartoffel, Fam will continue to be Millia’s wings…and Gisey Fam’s navi.


Rating: 3.5

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 07

As Ades prepares to attack the isolationist stronghold of Gracies, Fam plans to swoop in and steal eight ships being transferred to the Federation from surrendered nations, thus completing her contract with Captain Wisla. When they approach the ships, the fleet from Kartoffel is there as well. Both parties took the Ades bait, as a huge fleet descends upon them and lays waste. Fam and Gisey manage to guide the remains of the fleet out of danger by making use of the shockwaves caused by ice falling into the sea, but the damage is done and the mission is a failure. Fam and Gisey return to the Sylvius, only to have been tailed by the first fleet, who demand they hand over Princess Millia or be sunk.

Hmm…something tells us “Your Princess Is In Another Castle” won’t work on these guys. Also, with all the Ades traps being sprung this week, we was looking for a certain Mon Calamari admiral to pop out of the woodwork and yell “It’s a TRAP!” (Wrong franchises; we know). Most importantly, it was about time things stopped being so easy for Fam and the sky pirates, and here they finally run into some serious trouble. The surprise attack on the pirates meant we were treated to a ginormous, epic sky battle in which the bad guys got to let out some of their frustrations. Fam and Gisey don’t crash, but they come about as close as you possibly can. And that water looked cold.

This whole episode, Gisey was down in the dumps and just…weary that they were about to five Ades just one too many pokes. Fam rushed into battle full of optimism like she usually does, and was totally blind to the possibility things wouldn’t all come up Fam Fan Fan. We wish Gisey learned to speak up for once, but as Fam’s Navi, she feels obligated to do whatever Fam wants, regardless of what she wants. She’ll probably blame herself for not sniffing out the trap, but the fact of the matter is she had A Bad Feeling about the operation before it even got started. Ah, no matter. We got to see absolutely fantastic sky combat…and birds! Grand Birds!


Rating: 4

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 06

Having captured half of the fifteen battleships Captain Wisla ordered her to, Fam’s next target is at the pleasure city of Elidarada. She challenges the pilot of Federation aristocrat Dabar to a vanship race. If Fam wins, she gets Dabar’s battleship, the Naheed. If Dabar wins, she gets Millia. Dabar’s pilot is a Grand Race finalist, but with some out-of-the-box tactics, Fam and Gisey score another win. Meanwhile, news of Millia’s government-in-exile leads Lucinia to purge Federation allies who let their ships get stolen.

Setting aside the question of who is crewing her growing fleet of huge battleships, Fam and Gisey have clearly been on a roll. We’re surprised the series skipped seven ship capers, but it makes up for it with a race episode, which really had us thinking back to the original series. Last Exile does vanship races well, and this one was run on an awesome subterranean curcuit in near-darkness. Fam and Gisey are the underdogs all the way, but Fam is on it, making use of the harpoon and purging her fuel in order to speed to victory.

During the race, Millia is the guest of Baroness Dabar, one of many women who used to lead people as Millia, but sold out their honor and their peoples in exchange for cushy lives. We like how Dabar recognizes Millia. It would seem she’ll regret not taking her into custody considering Luscinia’s actions throughout the episode. The Federation sought to strike fear into its enemies by utterly wiping out Turan, and Luscinia is not happy the job’s not done.


Rating: 3.5

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 02

Lillia raises the Lasas and the Turan fleet regroups to intercept the Ades fleet, while she sends Millia ahead to Iglasia, care of Fam and Gisey. The city is evacuated of civilians, but the ailing king is staying. Lillia attempts to ram Luscinia’s flagship, the Impetuous, but fails when Lukea steals aboard, kills her crew, and captures her. Dio is aboard his vanship at the time, and informs Fam of the situation. Millia orders Fam to rescue her siter, so they join the battle and fly into the Impetuous from a gap in her hull and travel the ventilation shafts to emerge right on the bridge. After a brief standoff, Luscinia utters a spell that puts Lillia in a trance and send an immense shard of Exile careening into Iglesia. Fam, Gisey and Millia are forced to retreat.

Any concerns about whether the eye candy would be ratcheted back in this, the second episode, after the feast-for-the-eyes first episode, were quickly dismissed. If anything, there was even more cinematic majesty this week, including a phenomenal scene of Fam flying into and through the big bad Impetuous. The sheer visual complexity and intricate detail presented at such a breakneck speed makes for a most engrossing experience. And even things like light and sky are just so incredibly gorgeous. On looks and production values alone, this series is quickly running away from the Fall pack.

But with all the airship battles and cresent moons falling on cities, the show doesn’t forget about the little humans. Fam and Gisey are once again game, valiant, fearless, and adorable at the same time. We are fully invested in these go-getters as they find themselves in the middle of a conflict much bigger than they might’ve imagined. Even Dio, who was a little too comic-reliefy last week, settled down and got serious when shit started hitting the van. Luscinia is still a bit stiff, and his right hand man is downright scary. On top of that, Turan is in serious trouble; it’s king is dead, the crown princess is who knows what, Iglasia is a ruin, and the fleet is in tatters. But hey, their luck can only improve from here, right?


Rating: 4

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 01

Young, fiery, and talented vanship pilot Fam and her copilot Giselle are members of a band of sky pirates who race to the aid of the two princesses of Turan, Lillia and Millia, who have been ambushed by the treacherous Ades Federation led by Premier Luscinia. In exchange for their rescue from the battlefield, Fam demands the Turan flagship, the Lasas, in return. Her colleague Dio Eraclea boards and feints a scuttling in order to escape the battle, but as Turan’s capital is vulnerable to Ades attack, the ship will have to be quickly mended.

It’s been eight years and a month since Last Exile concluded, and even as the Fall 2011 Season started, we had to wait a little longer. The first series wasn’t perfect, but it was (and still is) one of the best-looking we’ve ever seen, had a lot of ingredients that really got out juices flowing, and indeed stoked our passion for anime that strives to transcend its medium. If ever a universe deserved a sequel, it was Last Exile…and here we are. Studio GONZO returns in force, Koichi Chigira is back to direct, as is our favorite character designer, Range Murata, and Hitomi Kuroishi, who composes a haunting and exciting score. The voice cast is excellent, with Aki Toyosaki (Railgin’s Uiharu, Hanasaku Iroha’s Nako) providing the voice of Fam, who kicks ass every which way, and her more tranquil partner Giselle is voiced by Aoi Yuki (Shiki’s Sunako, Puella’s Madoka). The princesses are Ai Kayano (AnoHana’s Menma, Memo-cho’s Ayaka) and one of our favorites, Miyuki Sawashiro.

This opening episode quickly re-establishes the crazy steampunk world of floating armadas, sky pirates, and gorgeous cities. It’s attention to detail is impeccable. Last Exile’s CGI was ahead of its time, but Fam manages (unsurprisingly) to surpass it, fully utilizing the widescreen HD environment and all the other new tech. From the quiet nighttime opening to the fantastic aerial battle on a clear blue day, this episode has all the scale and epic-ness of a full-length, big budget film combining all the best elements of Miyazaki and Final Fantasy. With everything that went on, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to get into the myriad characters, who occupy three distinct factions so far (warlike Ades, peaceful Turan, and opportunistic pirates), but we like the Fam/Giselle duo so far, and their blue-collar tomboy lives should clash nicely with the pair of princesses. We’ve looked forward to this series for a long time, and all it took was the opening episode to propel it to the best of the season so far.


Rating: 4

Fall 2011 Season Preview

The first season RABUJOI reviewed in full gear was Fall 2010. We perhaps chose too many series to watch; some would not pass muster this time. By the time our one-year anniversary rolls around, it looks like we’ll be in store for another sizable batch of series.

There are many promising series coming, none we’re looking more forward to than GONZO’s first anime since the pretty but ultimately ho-hum Shangri-La. This time, they appropriately went with a past strength in the Last Exile franchise. We urge anyone interested in awesome steampunk to take a gander at its 2004 predecessor, it’s one of our all-time favorites.

Other sequels of note: Bakuman, which we enjoyed thoroughly and couldn’t possibly pass up; and the restaurant slice-of-life Working!!. There’s also a new Gundam – and this one may mark some changes to the classic formula – we’ll see. We saw a six-minute preview of Mirai Nikki back in December – this fall we’ll see what it’s all about.

The only summer carryover will be the excellent Mawaru Penguindrum, which means other than that one series, our schedule will be wiped clean when October comes around. We still believe one or two series below will be sacrificed so that we may have time to sleep, eat, and socialize. To that end, titles marked with an *asterisk  constitute our “maybe” pile.

Bakuman 2 – J.C. Staff – Autumn – NHK-E
Ben-To* – David Production – Autumn – TBA
C³ – CubexCursedxCurious* – SILVER LINK – Autumn – TBA
Chihayafuru* – Madhouse – October 4, Nihon TV
Guilty Crown – Production I.G. – October – Fuji TV/noitaminA
Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – GONZO – October – TBA
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE* – Sunrise – October 9, MBS/TBS
Mirai Nikki – asread – Autumn – TBA
Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle* – Sunrise – Autumn – NHK-E
Tamayura ~hitotose~ – Hal Film Maker – October – TBA
UN-GO – Bones – October – Fuji TV/noitaminA
WORKING’!! – A-1 – October – Yomiuri TV

Summer 2011 Carryover:

Mawaru Penguindrum – Brains Base – AT/X