Okay, so I finally managed to finish this series. I can now understand why when it first aired in 2003, it made quite an impact. It had this unique charm and excellent CG animation that actually still holds up today. It’s got a few problems, but overall it’s a unique adventure series.
The big strength of Last Exile is that it’s inspired and imaginative in just about every single way: it’s heavily influenced by the Miyazaki flying movies, but it managed to build its own original setting around that: there are original ideas behind just about every facet of this show, the designs too are just completely unique (with excellent CG to back this up). This is a wondrous journey from start to finish.
Now, beyond the ideas, this show also has the execution to back it up. I want to specifically praise the characters and the acting, who too feel unlike other shows of its kind. To best explain this: the dialogue feels much more natural and balanced than what you usually see in anime, making good use of pauses and nonverbal communication as well. The drama in particular is really well delivered thanks to this.
In terms of the story, this is a bit of a strange one, though. It’s the kind of series that really dislikes exposition, and keeps most of this as brief as possible. Because of this, a lot of the stuff in this series is left to the imagination as to “how and why” they happen.
Due to the acting, another interesting effect is that some characters go completely against their supposed archetypes. The one big exception is the main villain who really is an evil megalomaniac no matter how you cut it, but characters like Lavie, Mullin, and even Alex Rowe: they really know their characters and don’t try to be anything more for the sake of some extra forced drama. I really appreciate that, but because of that this series does have a few points where it drags because of that. It does come together wonderfully for the ending, though.
The strange thing with this series is that it may not be the most exciting series. And despite the solid acting, there are certain moments in the story that do feel forced. And yet, now that I’ve finished watching this show, it feels so complete. The end of this series really feels like the end of a long journey, and yet I can fully see a second season that focuses on a completely new cast work; the setting is more than rich enough for that. I wouldn’t call this amongst Gonzo’s best; they made too many classics for that, but it still makes the top 7 and it’s definitely a great show to watch.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Lots and lots of style. A bit one-sided at times, but never really drags.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Characters who fit the setting incredibly well. Very natural dialogue and voice acting.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – This show is eight years old and still looks unique and amazing. You don’t often get to say that about 3D CG in a tv-series.|
|Setting:||9/10 – The setting still stands on its own with great ideas and a detailed description. It leaves things unexplained, but gets a nine because it really speaks to the imagination.|