Posted on 21 January 2012 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam

And then.. this show suddenly comes with one of its best episodes so far. Talk about a pleasant surprise here.

The battle against Gracies turned out to be really well portrayed here. Heck, at this point it’s pretty clear than when Gonzo was forced to let go most of its staff, the one department that was not compromised was the 3D department. In terms of CG, these guys still are amongst the best of the industry. This episode didn’t just look absolutely gorgeous. The 3D animation was just stunning. It’s bizarre how rushed the 2D animation looks in comparison. And yet, at the same time I’m also really glad that they didn’t turn this into a full 3D series, and this series really knows what parts should be CG, and what parts should be normally drawn.

That giant wall that appeared in front of Gracies also was a neat idea. Oh, and this episode also explained why all pilots of Gracies are females: it has to do with their religion and culture. That’s also why people looked up to that girl last episode: she wasn’t only popular, but it was more like her position of being able to fly in the sky is a core part of the theology for these people.

I also liked how Fam&co were kept out of the picture here. Last episode seemed to suggest that again Fam held the key to getting out of this mess, but instead she just gave them a temporary advantage. Afterwards, the contrast between the huge battles, and Fam trying to get back to the Space Pirates’ home worked really well in this show’s favor. Next episode we should go back to that flying brick of an Exile, which could prove to be even more interesting.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 January 2012 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam

Now this was a pleasant surprise, to see such a solid build-up episode from this show. These kinds of episodes are often in danger of just becoming boring for the sake of build-up, but they solved it really neatly with a great atmosphere, a small look into Gracies’ culture, and some good characterization. Plus I also really like how consistently the Russian was used here. The creators really put a lot of detail in this episode.

The characterization also really worked well here. The characters in this show are simple, but the acting for these guys is still quite genuine. Milia in particular stood out. It’s a nice touch that she can speak the language of Gracies (being a princess and all), and I think that this episode also showed off that she grew nicely.

Overall, after 13 episodes I do believe that this show is the worst out of the Range Murata Trilogy (Last Exile, Shangri-La, Ginyoku no Fam). It’s not so simple that one is just better than the others in every way, though. Last Exile had by far the best and most mature characterization. Shangri-La on the other hand had a really great plot that dwarfs the other two. At the same time I believe that Ginyoku no Fam is the best at describing its setting. This episode again showed that (also look at the detail that went into the various Gracien dishes, or how the people live there). The other two though, also had very good settings and to be honest, it does have the least interesting plot and characters of the bunch. Adding these together and it ends up as the worst, but even then I still quite like what this show has turned into. It’s just a series of franchises with a very high standard.

Just one thing… where are the men in Gracies…?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 7 January 2012 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam

Now here is a surprise: Last Exile returns with a flashback episode. This episode is actually entirely dedicated to showing one moment in the past of the main cast: the point the fathers of Fam and Giselda participated in a vanship race, which seemed to be a national holiday, and the point at which they died. I did not expect that, but it definitely was a welcome addition.

What I especially liked was how the creators found a way to show everyone’s past at the same time. By making this a national event they tied a lot of those backstories together, because everyone had his or her own reason to be there, plus it would also make sense for, if you’re planning to assassinate a queen, the best point is where she’s out in the open (this actually also happened once in the Netherlands, although the attempt failed there).

It’s a shame that the animators were clearly forced to rush though this episode, because there was a lot of heart put into it. And heck, we already had seen Fam’s younger versions, but there were so many characters here who also showed off who they were when they were younger, ranging from Milia, to all of the villains, to even the Gracies girls. It’s a huge amount of character development here, and even though it’s a bit dramatic, it did give quite a few hints to how they would grow up, and why they made the decisions they made. Plus, the small Fam, Milia and Giselda were really adorable together.

And yeah, the animation. What’s interesting though, is the way in which Gonzo decided to compromise. This episode forcefully borrowed some animation from the OP directly, even though it didn’t fit at all, there were a ton of distorted faces. There also wasn’t much fluidity in the animation. And yet the one thing that wasn’t compromsied on is the attention to detail. There still were a ton of character designs in all sorts of different shapes, colours and styles. There still were a ton of screens with a ton of different people on it at the same time. The backgrounds still are gorgeous. And yeah, that’s gorgeous: they’re really bad at one thing, and yet really good at the other.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 24 December 2011 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam

Interestingly, in this episode the Sylvius is victim to the same weakness that Fam&co have been taking advantage of: the way in which it’s actually quite easy to shut down a huge battleship if you know where to look. Thankfully this episode included this: it shows that Fam isn’t special, and things get a lot more believable when it’s not just the good guys who came up with this idea.

In any case, this episode did get one of the shorter straws on the animation budget, even though what happened here was quite important to the overall story here. First of all Alvis returns, but Lilliane, Milia’s sister, turning out to be alive, and a sudden ally to the evil empire marks a large turning point for this series. Combine that with the fall of the sylvius here, it makes this episode even more of a turning point. Next week will be the infamous new year break in which absolutely nothing airs, so this should have been a great way to close off the first half of this series. So why the budget wasn’t bigger here is beyond me.

The first half overall wasn’t as good as the first half of the first Last Exile, but it still had a lot to like. So far we’ve seen great characters that despite their young ages are quite likable, and the show already got some good drama out of them. The big weakness so far is the large amount of inconsistencies and weak points. Shangri-La had those too, but to make up for it it just had a crazy plot that just kept moving. Ginyoku no Fam’s story though is much slower, allowing these things to stand out more. I’m definitely curious about the second half though. That will be the point for this show to really evolve. If it can do that, it will get pretty memorable here.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 17 December 2011 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam


Um… a recap.

Yeah, this had a bit of a context, with Giselda writing to home and all, But damn, watching this reminded of how long ago it has been since one of these appeared. I think the last was with with the Armed Librarians and Phantom. That obviously says that recaps in no way make shows bad, but still…

I will say this at least: it really seems like Gonzo is struggling to put this out. Although this episode fit in the context of the story, this was obviously meant to give them a bit of a breather. But still: the most important thing here is that they still haven’t lost their ambition. I mean, despite the production issues, they are putting down an incredibly solid production here with a lot to like. Just look at how AIC is currently trying to handle the same thing with Persona: that too has major production issues, but at times it just looks like the creators aren’t even trying. Seeing all of the gorgeous and well acted parts of this episode definitely showed how hard the creators of this show are trying, despite the obvious shortcomings of this series.
Rating: — (Lacking;It remains a recap, after all)

Posted on 10 December 2011 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam

Now this is a quiet episode that I can get behind. It had some flaws, but overall it was very heart-warming. Also, another old face appears!

The characters in this series may not be as well portrayed as with the first season of Last Exile, but this episode showed that they’re still really good when it comes to the light-hearted scenes as well. Giselda’s arc of the past number of episodes concludes here, with some very neat shots about how the two of them grew up. It worked. The team building hockey match? It worked. The birthday subplot? It worked.

Now though, this still is Gonzo. And this episode unfortunately got the short stick of the animation budget. The backgrounds still looked fantastic (Seriously, nine episodes and these still are consistently gorgeous), but there were more still frames in this episode than you can shake a stick at. The hockey match was a bit over the top, but that was to be expected, though I feel that this especially does disservice to the crew members of the Silbius: these guys both do not have good animators behind them, and their voice actors are also pretty bad. Only the superiors do not suffer from this and they indeed were great (I loved the head mechanic as he wondered where everyone went). This was actually something that the first Last Exile was very good at: even the random soldiers were very well acted.

Also, regarding the plot, I still don’t really get it: last episode, the enemy massively abandoned a sinking ship. They withdrew everyone from it… and just left it there without actually blowing it up, or making sure that it didn’t fall into the hands of the enemies. Why? I get that they can’t salvage the remains due to the proximity to the border of Gracies, but they pretty much handed the enemy a really good warship there.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 3 December 2011 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam



Whoa. they actually gave the people from Gracies the Russian language. And while I know nothing about that language, it actually sounded pretty authentic
there. This episode once again rocked, with some very solid dogfights and tactics. This episode did both justice to the Sylvius who had to escape against overwhelming odds, and Fam, who actually felt very responsible for guiding the enemy last week.

I’m still a big bugged about this whole “skyfish hunting”, though. This episode explained perfectly fine how this is done: destroying the Claudia tank of this huge warship eliminates the thing that keeps it afloat. It does leave me to wonder though: if it really is so easy, then why aren’t more people following Fam’s tactic? Or are Vanships really so hard to control that only the top pilots can really get a good shot before being shot down? That’s the thing that’s really bothering me about this series: why are there so little precautions made against Vanship attacks, even though it has been shown quite a few times that they can give the large warships quite a difficult time? Or did the enemies blow their entire budget on the huge imposing warships, hoping to win by intimidation?

So, eight episodes in and about a third of the way through, the execution has been a bit wonky, but the pacing has been surprisingly solid, albeit slow. This show was a bit clunky on the character introductions, but the past episodes have allowed us to get a good feel of the characters, and they’re beginning to stand out more. By far the best part though, is how much colour it brought into its world. This is the part at which I actually believe it’s getting better than the first Last Exile. The first Last Exile still stands miles above this one in terms of characters, though.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 26 November 2011 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam




And then there are these kinds of episodes, which are completely awesome, go against the childish nature of this series, are full of eye candy and are the full proof that Gonzo haven’t lost their touch. I mean like whoa, Gonzo. How much eye candy can you put into one episode anyway?

I know that I said at the beginning of this season that there would be no other series that would beat Guilty Crown in terms of graphics, but I’m going to have to retract that. The only thing at which Guilty crown is clearly superior is its character animation. Last Exile however just completely blew it out of the water in terms of background art and CG. Where Guilty Crown can’t get further than a bunch of sparkles here and there and futuristic backgrounds that all look like each other, the creators here stuffed a ton of different designs together. The vanship animation was just utterly gorgeous as well.

Also, Giselda. I’m not sure what it is about her, but she is wonderful in her role as supporting character, and this episode made her even better. She makes mistakes, but that’s the great thing about her: she’s not perfect, but the way in which she’s trying her best is just wonderful. With Fam being who she is, she needs someone grounded in reality. She actually realizes very much that Fam is very childish, but she accepts it and does the best she can to support her.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 20 November 2011 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam



And as if nothing happened last week, this episode just continues building further upon the excellent setting and atmosphere that this show already had. While last week was just too silly, this episode had a much better balance between light hearted stuff and dark material.

This episode also introduces this noblewoman, and I really like how smug her acting was. The creators really nailed that air of importance around her. Milia had to get dressed up for her again, but this time it at least makes more sense. This time it fits into the setting, rather than having Millia just pull a maid costume out of her ass.

In terms of building up, Fam’s past was nice, and Milia’s home country also got thrown into an interesting direction here. I did however spot a number of recycled cells here and there. In particular the CG overviews of the past episodes were used again here. That’s good of course, since they are gorgeous. Even Porfy no Nagai Tabi, which stood out for some of the best background art out there, reused its backgrounds. But this show looks so damn pretty that I really wish that the characters would visit some more different sites.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 11 November 2011 with categories: Last Exile - Ginyoku no Fam



This episode was a bit of a step back, mostly due to how it got a bit too silly at times. There is in particular the point in which Fam stood in front of the idiot commander, and the point at which Millia decided to dress up as a maid. That does not fit this setting at all. We’ve got enough moe shows doing that already. Why do so many shows insist in adding a maid, just for the sake of adding a maid?

Then there is the way in which the characters were rather off-model. This unfortunately is typical Gonzo, but thankfully they have shown many times in the past that even after dips like these, they can still deliver excellent action scenes. The best example of that was Shangri-La, which on one hand had horrible off-character models on one hand, and absolutely gorgeous and ground-breaking 3D effects on the other. In any case, the worst were the mechanics in this area, as while Fam just looked off-model, they just looked silly.

This episode meant to introduce the crew of the Silvius. Overall the problem was that there were too many carbon-copies of the same characters. The creators did pick a number of distinct character designs to portray the crew, and characters like the cook, the navigator, the head engineer: there are still plenty of characters who stand on their own. What clever writing should have done is to create just enough mechanics for the setting to feel alive, without making any two of them like a carbon-copy of another. The first season actually did this.

The interesting thing though, was that just as this show looked like it was getting too silly for its own sake… it recovered. the final quarter of this episode was strong character-building and it also added quite a bit of intrigue with Millia’s sister’s whereabouts revealed. The acting in this series is very peculiar. I mean, most of the characters do know how to act, and there are a lot of very solid performances, and then once in a while they slip out into these silly stupid moments, or meet very badly acted side-characters who only appear for a minute. The acting of this series ranges from near the best of the season to near the worst of the season.
Rating: * (Good)

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 12:04 PM)
    Ah, I definitely see where Bam is coming from with the its easy to trade one addiction for another, that happened with my aunt, although I fundamentally believe that the smoking has kept her away from abusing alcohol.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 10:01 AM)
    Well, accidentally deleted my next comment. Basically just ranting about the geniuses at the VA suddenly cutting off veterans from oxycodone after they’d been dependant on it for decades.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 09:26 AM)
    @Bam I had a mild dependence on ritalin during my first year at ucla, and I just went cold turkey after spring. While I didn’t have it nearly as bad as my meth-addicted friends, I tried to distract myself in those first few weeks by working part time as much as I could to get my mind off that shit along with a joint at night.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 06:27 AM)
    Also I wholeheartedly agree that marijuana immensely helps with quitting other harder drugs. Benzodiazepines like Xanax are a powerful tool as well, especially against the anxiety they’ll be going thru, but they are also very easy to get hooked on. Don’t want to trade one addiction for another.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 06:25 AM)
    @K-off: I’ve helped a couple of people lay off the needle, so I’m not too shabby at supporting. There is a willpower component to it that is essential and falls completely on the individual themself. It’s so frustrating to deal with an addict, one of the main reasons of my recent stress, but my stupid conscience kicks in at most inopportune moments.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 04:57 AM)
    and they couldn’t physically wean off it without the inevitable torture. They just went through lots of isolation, sleep, and weed (which happened to work for them personally but isn’t the case for everyone) so it’s hard to say without coming off as authoritative.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 04:52 AM)
    Now weaning off meth is different for everybody, and without personally knowing your friend I’d be hesitant to make any flippant recommendations like “take this, do this,” etc. But if it helps my close group of friends often dealt with it as well,
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 04:49 AM)
    @Bam It’s one of those strongest games I’ve played this year, and I also played the hell out of the original. But I can’t speak for the console port so you’ll have to read up on that at least. Otherwise I recommend you buy it, it’s worth the price.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 04:38 AM)
    Also I’m helpin this girl get off meth. Do you know of any medication that alleviates the withdrawal symptoms? Somewhat like how Methadone and Suboxone help Opiate users.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jun 28. 2016 04:35 AM)
    @K-off: would you say Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is worth a full-price purchase for someone who already played the original? I’m thinking of getting it on the PS4. The remaster looks stunning on the big screen.

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