That was actually much better than what I expected it to be. As the penultimate episode (not counting that epilogue that seems to be scheduled for this series in two weeks), this episode was meant to take down the giant doomsday machine. This machine is this giant flying monster with impossible fire-power, being controlled by just two people who are hiding in the center of it. The episode finally ends up boiling down to trying to get inside, reach those two and stopping them. And yeah, that’s something that Fam is really good at. I really feared that when they pulled the princess card a few episodes ago, they would do something similar here, but really: it’s been established that she is a very good vanship pilot. It makes sense for her to be the first to reach Luscinia when you take this build-up into account.
Also, Koichi Chigira really did it: he really made the battle against this giant flying monster work. The Grand Exile really feels HUGE. Even when Fam gets inside, it takes ages for them to get from one side to the other, while in a flying plane, of all things. The build-up to this also was great. They made the Grand Exile a really formidable foe, while also giving it its weaknesses that come with being so big.
When looking at the big picture though, Ginyoku no Fam in the end did not live up to the original Last Exile. I still like it, but nowhere near as much as with its predecessors. Let’s take Luscinia, the main villain. In the end, he is pretty poor, and I can only hope that the final episode at least redeems him. There’s very little to set him apart, and as for being a threat… he seems more like this angsty guy who can’t get over one death and therefore upholds a plan that just can’t be sustained in the long run, and he just pales in comparison to the villains of Shangri-La and the first Last Exile, who had much more confident and smug personalities that actually made them feel a threat.
Also, I do think that the first half of Ginyoku no Fam is better than the second half. It’s because there, it was doing something that it was actually really good at: world building. The second half put much more focus on the war and politics, and to be honest it doesn’t really stand out. It’s solid, don’t get me wrong, but beyond the gorgeous graphics I’m missing something to set itself apart. The Gracies idea was nice and probably the part that stands out the most, but the grand scheme of things still seems a bit… simple.
I mean, it’s essential for a show to change over the course of its time, but the change itself needs to be good. The second half of a series, especially of the 2-cour format, is something where the creators can really go all out, but Ginoku no Fam missed the mark a bit in trying to be too epic, while ignoring the parts that they also should have paid attention to: the characters and setting. things were added to them, but I feel that this was not enough.
Rating: *+ (Great)
Yeah, this is a new rating, between 8 (Good) and ** (Excellent). I found myself more and more in the need of one. While running this blog I got to spend a lot on various kinds of ratings. Tkae my reviews for example: I started out with using numbers as 82/100, 74/100, etc. At one point I simplified those ratings to 80/100, 82,5/100, 85/100, etc because I found myself unable to explain the difference between a show that I’d rank 85/100 and 86/100. Afterwards I started to use the same kind of philosophy for rating episodes.
I’ve often been criticized for not having an evenly distributed rating scale, but honestly, I don’t care about that at all. I just want something that I’m comfortable with, and the current rating scale mostly evolved from rating countless of series and episodes. However, now that I’ve used this system for a few years, I’ve noticed that I run into more and more episodes or series that belong inbetween two ratings (like this episode for example: it was better than the episodes that I usually label as “Good”, but at the same time I didn’t consider it to be “Excellent”). I’m going to try and refine these ratings at the points where they need to now.