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.
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.
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.
As plans to attack Boreas are finalized and the day arrives, Fam is unsure of whether she can be a soldier. The Allied fleet meets the Third and Foruth fleets of Orang and Sorush, who are now faced with attacking their own Augusta, as Vasant brought Sara to the battle. Heavy losses occur on both sides, Fam can’t pull the trigger, tries to use harpoons on Orush’s ship, but fails. Unable to harm Sara, Orang switches sides, and Sorush is killed in a desperate final advance.
This was a weird episode, in which the enemy – Generals Orang and Sorush – got the most facetime, while Fam was shown barely four minutes and had little or no effect on the battle. When she said she’d be Millia’s wings, she really meant only her wings. Not her gun or sword or any other weapon, save a harpoon (and that’s for ships, not people). The way she is now, Fam cannot help win the war that needs to be won. She refuses to pilot a real vanship, choosing to go out in a lightly-armed vespa, and empties her clip at air after hesitating. Unlike Dian, Tatiana, and even Millia, there’s a line she won’t cross, and that’s spilling blood to achieve peace.
Of course despite her consciencious objection, there’s still a sizable battle on a very intriguing battleground. Boreas truly is a sight to behold, vast in scale and with battleship-swallowing hi-altitude crevasses. It’s a rousing battle, with relatively even odds. But let us not neglect the stars of theshow, the passionate, loyal Orang and the logical, opportunistic Sorush. Unlike Luscinia, neither are drunk on power or somewhat touched in the head, but merely bound by duty. But when it comes to choosing between his Premier and his Augusta, there’s no choice for Orang, and we have ourselves a nice ol’ turnin’ o’ tables. A triumphant end, but Sara does not approve of the means.
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.