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Claus Valca (aka Barca) and his friend Lavie, are orphans whose only asset, apart from determination and courage, is Hamilcar--Claus's inheritance from his late father--a small two-man flier called a vanship.  Hamilcar allows Claus and Lavie to make ends meet as couriers in their homeworld, Prester, while being comfortably out of the gutter.  However, the friends dream of taking their lives further.  There are two warring countries on Prester located on either side of a permanently raging storm, the Grand Stream.  Interestingly, the war has been carried out with honor and has been overseen by the Guild for many years.  Therefore, the lives of ordinary citizens are not affected significantly by the persistence of the war.  One day, Claus and Lavie rescue a sweet-faced little girl named Alvis Hamilton from a killing machine.  They are then asked to deliver her to the legendary warship, Silvana.  The friends are shocked by the demeanor of Alex Row, a commander, who simply treats the girl as just another piece of cargo.  Claus and Lavie returns to rescue her.  As a result, they are drawn into the war, thus changing their lives forever. 

Like Chobits, LE is a fascinating example of the anime business in the early 21st century.  It is literally state of the art, both in the good and the bad.   The design is superb, in particular the washed-out and drained colors of the characters.  It seems as if the creators have gotten their inspiration from Ghost in the Shell.  The series is made to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Gonzo studio.  However, having a longer running television series is a mixed blessing.  It takes half the series of careful viewing before any of the actions of the characters start to make sense.  The series's use of Georgian and Victorian influenced costumes, along with Morse code mirrors, Napoleonic riflemen, and Nazi uniform chic (that resembles Legend of Galactic Heroes), does disorient the viewers to a certain extent.  
To muddle the waters even more, although the designers are credited for efforts ranging from computer graphics to color keys, the opening credits clearly identifies the main creator(s) of the series to an anonymous committee.  In addition, the series alludes to Leo Tolstoy's Napoleonic conflict in War and Peace (1865) and the battle over limited resources, such as those exemplified in Frank Herbert's Dune (1965), drawing a similarity between Last Exile and Dune a group of authority who controls the means of transport.  As the series progresses towards the final episodes, it  continues to be influenced by Herbert's ecological concerns, introducing environmental subplots regarding climate changes and population movements as the sources of the conflict.  In addition, the results of the conflict resolution often resemble those in Nausicaä, where the heroine tries to communicate and appease the Phantom Menance Pod Race.  However, director Maeda claims Miyazaki's other film, Castle in the Sky, as his main influence. 
Although successful, the series is not immune to mistakes that are made by many ill-thought out fantasies.   For instance, it introduces oddities of impressive technology, while refusing to apply it to actual use when the occasion arrives.  In addition, the series relies heavily on computer graphics for grandiose scenes.  However, such efforts are undermined by the lack of maturity, as are belied by their childish behaviors and demeanor.  The producers have mistakenly believed that anime fans would expect anime characters, especially Lavie, to be infantile ingenues.  Such as frettin over weight issues
(for plot-related reasons, of course; anime wouldn't dream of clichés), and enthusing inanely over how clear the fountain water is: "You can see right through it!"  Meanwhile, Alvis is the archetypal anime "mysterious girl," who can provide changes of messianic proportions to the world of the series.  Thus  making her a vital commodity to all sides of the conflict.

Despite onscreen homages to Victoriana, such as through the style of Steam Boy, the creators of Last Exile find innovative ways to cut corners by delegating to digital processes.  It is common sense that the quality of the artwork is vital to any anime's success.  As the studio released still images of the series before its preview to attract fans ahead of time, it is not clear if such tactics have backfired.  This is not to say that the series is poorly animated.  However, the studio's arguable overuse of computer graphics questions the ethics of good animation.  Once rendered in the computer, images can be easily retrieved and used over and over again.  As is evidenced in the overlong shots of the ships in battle are modern anime's parallels of the cost-cutting "static pan" of old. Although Last Exile has a love of battles and pilots to rival Porco Rosso, its fighters are unfortunately, not subject to the laws of aerodynamics.  As is evidenced by their darting and wingless lumps in the sky.  Therefore, ignoring the laws of physics while saving lots of money in the production process.
Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Koichi Chigira
Range Murata
Tokuyuki Matsutake

To edit the cast, go to an episode page.

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Last Exile
Name: ラストエグザイル
Romaji: Rasuto Eguzairu
Publisher Gonzo
Start Year 2003
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