We’re dropped right in the middle of a fantastic new world as Kal-El (Carl?) Albus and his loudmouthed sister Ariel man a cool-looking tiltrotor and head for a floating island Isla, where they’ll attend flight school as the island flies to parts unknown in what could be a one-way journey. It’s a day filled with ceremony, pomp, and excitement, and the world appears heavily inspired by Last Exile, et al.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that comparisons will be inevitable, and if the series hews too close to the themes and structure of something we’ve already seen, it will be hard to justify watching it in a Winter season that looks stuffed. It’s encouraging, then, that once the big flashy airship-y introduction is finished and Kal-El is settled in his dorm, the show switches gears to romance, something Last Exile never had in spades.
Kal-El is clearly the victim of some past injustice that has led him to his present situation in life, and he resents the fact that nobles are all over the place, waving their nobility all over the place. When a silver-haired classmate gives him one too many stink-eyes, Kal-El runs out to the nearby river, where he meets Claire Cruz, who makes him feel better. Yuki Aoi proves again she’s as adept at playing shy characters as Taketatsu Ayana is at playing irritating ones.
The colors of Kal-El and Claire’s surroundings grow warmer and deeper as he bikes her home. He wasn’t happy about coming to Isla, but things are immediately looking up, thanks to Claire, even if she turns out to be a noble. It’s a simple but sweet little romance in the making, but the show makes it clear it’s also ephemeral, as Kal-El warns in his narration that the world will soon show them how cruel it can be. That’s fine, but considering how mirthfully the show portrays them, we wouldn’t mind seeing a few more good times first!
Rating:7 (Very Good)
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.
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.
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.
Dio and Alvis, still on the run from persuers, take a breather in an abandoned town, and reminisce on the past, in the form of a recap of the original Last Exile series.
First of all, it was nice to see Claus and Lavie and young Dio and Alvis. It was also pretty sweet to catch a glimpse of the older Claus and Lavie, still together. Priceless. Still, there was little new material here, so we won’t give it a rating.
We understand that some of the audience of Ginyoku no Fam may not have seen the first series, hence the need for this quick precis. Suffice it to say, the sequel has a job for Alvis to do, and Dio has sworn to protect her no matter the cost.
The Anti-Luscinian rebel movement is in full swing, as Vasant amasses a fleet to defend the fortress city of Boreas, which assures dominance of the entire region between Ades and Glacies. Without Boreas, the rebellion stands little chance of surviving. Sorush and Orang are ordered to attack it. Millia, Fam and Gisey meet Augusta Sara in the Adean capital of Morvarid. Fam chides the rebel forces for being so hungry for killing and revenge, while Millia sees how her actions have and will affect the common people, and is shunned by Dian for being Lily’s sister. Augusta is entertained by Fam’s stories of the Grand Race. Deep in Glacies, Luscinia unlocks a sleeping goddess.
So yeah, we’ve seen Luscinia’s past. We know he let his empress die, and he feels bad about that and really raw at the people who assassinated her. Still, what is it with this guy and his mythical superweapons? It’s kind of hard to sympathize with a guy whose idea of peace is the quiet achieved from every living thing on the planet being killed. That’s the only peace we can see superweapons achieving, frankly. Which is why, despite Sara’s misgivings about killing him, we’re firmly on the side of General Vasant. No matter who makes the global peace omelette, it will require a great many eggs.
That being said, they have an uphill battle to fight. Even without Luscinia’s goddess in play, there’s still Exiles up there in the sky, and two huge fleets headed for a key strategic asset in Boreas. Luscinia is going to make Vasant, Millia, and the rebels spill a lot of blood in an attempt rid of him. Maybe too much, muses Fam. Fam was a little out of her element this week; in the desperate situation the rebels are in – up against an utterly ruthless foe – they can’t really afford to “calm down.” Her idealism has limits. A Grand Race can’t solve all the world’s ills…the last Grand Race proved that, fer cryin’ out loud. And there can’t be any race as long as there are still baddies with superweapons and evil maniacal laughs like Luscinia loose.
Fam, Gisey and Millia return to Kartoffel to find it in ruins, but the people were unharmed, including Gisey’s family. But now that Lily has dropped two Exiles, Millia is resolved to stop her sister or die trying. To that end, she prepares to gather what strength Atamora has left and join it with Anatoray’s for a counterattack. Fam disagrees with her plan, and won’t believe Millia would kill her only sister; she gets upset and challenges Fritz to a vespa race. As Millia watches it, she changes her mind. When the race is over, a Federation transport delivers a message to the princess from Augusta Sara herself: by Vasant’s counsel and for the sake of peace, she will move against Luscinia.
Should Lily be opposed for her actions? Absolutely. Should Millia have to kill her own sister? Preferably no, but Millia at least acknowledges it may come to that, and starts to plan accordingly. But Fam won’t have it. As an orphan who was taken in and gained a family, she understands how important family is. She considers Millia a part of that family, and by extension Lily. She doesn’t want Millia to go down that same path as Lily did. Blood hasn’t solved anything up to this point, and Lily isn’t beyond redemption. There’s a flaw in Fam’s reasoning, though – several, actually – in the form of those Exiles that hang in the sky. Lily commands them and can still cause massive death and suffering with them if she isn’t stopped.
At the episode’s start, the Chaosian General Vasant makes contact with what’s left of Glacies’ defenses, including Dian. By the episode’s end, she’s back at the capital with Augusta Sara, whom she protected with her person back when Sara’s mother was assassinated. Like Fam, Vasant is tired of the bloodshed. Luscinia sees the people under his boot as nothing more than military assets or liabilites. Fam told Millia not to think of her allies like that, and clearly Vasant is done allowing of all the myriad peoples to be thus subjugated. Luscinia has proven he’s willing to pay far too much for his version of peace, and so she’ll oppose him. But he won’t go quietly.
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!
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?