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.
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.
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?