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"Last Exile"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Last Exile" More at IMDbPro »

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Japanese Origami

Author: Chris Foo from Singapore
25 April 2005

The first thing that strikes you when watching this anime series is that the world of "Last Exile" is much like ours – yet very, very different. That, in essence, is the magic and appeal of the story.

Imagine this world structured like a chess game: two diametrically opposite races – each with its own territory separated by a gulf, both engaged in mortal combat overseen by a race of neutral arbitrators dictating the rules of the game.

Next throw in two teenage orphans, Claus and Lavie, who own a bi-plane sort of rickety flying contraption called a Vanship, and who run a courier service delivering mail. Here's the catch, the Vanship has no wings but uses a chemical called "Cloudia" for levitation and propulsion. In fact, even the flying battleships manned by both of the two races: the Anatoray (who resemble Victorian age West Europeans) and the Disith (dressed much like post revolution Russians), are propelled by the same mechanism. But while powerful, these lumbering behemoths are no match for the seemingly invincible Guild ships that are light years ahead in technology and whose overt purpose is to ensure that both parties play by the rules – or else.

The plot swings into full gear in the second episode when Claus and Lavie, during a Vanship race, pick up a little girl called Alvis from a Vanship crippled by a Guild "star" ship. They are entrusted by the dying Vanship pilot to deliver her safely to her destination and so begins their great adventure and rite of passage. In the process, they are swept up by the politics of this world and the players of this dangerous game of covert interests and hidden agendas.

Almost immediately, the viewer is posed with the following few questions: why are these two races fighting? What is this gulf called the "Grand Stream" that separates the lands of the Anatoray and Disith? Why is the Guild acting as judge and executioner? Why is Alvis so important that the Guild would have her captured – dead or alive? These are (almost too) slowly revealed, one cliffhanger episode at a time.

Produced by Japan's Gonzo animation studios (www.gonzo.co.jp), famous for such breakthrough anime series as "Hellsing" and "Blue Submarine No. 6", "Last Exile" brings together the best in anime storytelling, traditional as well as computer generated 3-D animation, unpredictable plot twists, likable characters, imaginative soundtrack (by Dolce Triade), comedy and tragedy, hope and despair … all in a symphony of flawless execution.

The attention to detail in this series is characteristically Japanese – simply amazing. One such example is that writers (Kouichi Chigira, Atsuhiro Tomioka, Shuichi Kamiyama and Tomohiro Yamashita) have intricately woven in the chess theme into the story: by naming each episode after a different chess move, scenes of intense discussion over chess matches, and a plot twist featuring the promotion of a pawn to a queen.

Like a piece of complex origami that starts out looking like a flower – "Last Exile" – with each plot unfolding reveals its hidden gems and slowly but surely wraps up into a form so unlike its beginning that the viewer is left to marvel at the inventiveness and dedication of its creators … while simply enjoying the ride.

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A Landmark in TV Anime has Arrived

Author: JWrider from Atchison, Kansas jwrider @lvnworth.com
27 January 2004

I recently finished watching this 26 episode TV series,twice,and I will be watching it again soon. Last Exile,is Gonzo Studio's 10 th anniversary Vanity project and their efforts to make it something special shows.Take an epic story,characters you can care about,a fantastic score by Dolce Triad,production design that could teach George Lucas and ILM lessons, and then add some of the finest integration of hand drawn and computer animation through Gonzo's patented Gonzo Digimation that is nothing short of amazing. This is a TV series with Movie Quality Work.Anime fans and critics have been raving about this series for good reason. Last Exile is an Action ,Adventure, Romance, Retro Sci-fi, Fantasy Epic that tells the story of Claus Valca and Lavie Head,two couriers, who are swept in events that change the fate of their world,Prestale.Prestale is a world where two great Kingdoms,Disith and Anatoray, are locked in war fought in the skies by the massive air battleships that are fantastic.The battles are supposed be fought by the rule of Chivalry as supervised by the "neutral" Guild.Clause and Lavie while delivering a message to the Flagship of the Commander of the Anatorey are witness to a change that shows something has changed and not for better.Shortly afterwards , they find themselves taking over a mission from a dying Van ship pilot to deliver a little girl,Alvis Hamilton, to the Rogue Battleship Silvana.Who is Alvis Hamilton, and why is it that people will kill to posess her? What is the Significance of the Interferrance of the Guild in the struggle between Disith and Anatoray? Why is Prestale Dying? Well,you'll just have to watch and find out by yourself.Take it from me this is a journey worth taking.

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Truly Worth Seeing

Author: dcsnowdog from United States
23 December 2004

Last Exile has to be one of the best anime series I have ever seen. It's imaginative and inspiring. It's truly worth seeing! Just when it seemed like anime series seemed to be coming from a cookie cutter type mold; Last Exile came and broke it. You can't help, but become involved in such a well written, well directed, and well animated story. The character development is superb. Each character's stories, their ambition's, their reason's being, for doing what they do, living or dying, are deep. It's happy, gloomy, funny, sad, touching, exciting, vengeful, and romantic. There's something for everyone, who watches this series. This series takes you for an adventure you'll never forget! And when you're done, you'll never look at the sky the same again. You'll wish you were flying in it.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

I am in utter AWE of this series!

Author: davidemartin (davidemartin@cs.com) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
14 March 2004

Tech TV performed an incredible service by running a marathon of this incredible series. I'm taping and watching the first tape as I type.

Words cannot express what an incredible find this show is! I haven't felt this entranced by Anime since the first time I saw Miyazaki's work.

I've never seen anything like the airship designs herein. Rather than airplanes and dirigibles, everything seems to be magnetic repulsion and steam engines. The aerial warships are a wonderful blend of aircraft carrier and battleship.

But all the great design wouldn't mean a thing if there was not an engaging tale. Even briefly seen characters demand our attention, like the musketeer and ship's captain in the first episode.

Well, back to watching more of the show. I've definitely got to get this on DVD!

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Instantly hooked

Author: scoopernicus@yahoo.com from Portland, ME
22 March 2004

My girlfriend and I caught this series on 'Tech TV' during a Sunday marathon. We were drawn to the compelling story line, Intelligent characters and fantastic visuals. We were so drawn that we went out and found it on DVD at a good video store so we could watch it again.

It does bear a passing resemblance to "Castle in the Clouds", but with a more 'grown-up' sensibility. It's a shame episodes 14 through 26 will not be available to be shown on TV until next year, it's going to be a long wait.

Tech TV has previews of the various episodes if you want to take a closer look.

Update: Saw the last 13 episodes, and the pace of the series grows more relentless until the tension is almost unbearable for the last four episodes. Excellent story arc, and some very affecting tragedy at the end. Strongly recommended to any interested in a good story, strong characters, and inheritable visuals should check this series out.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The most entertaining, engaging Anime I have ever seen.

10/10
Author: dekkar5 from United States
16 January 2008

Last Exile is a masterpiece through and through.

The most attention drawing aspect of this series is its incredible animation. It mixes 2d animation with 3d CGI almost perfectly and delivers an explosive, in-your-face presentation that can only be rivaled by feature anime films like Blood: The Last Vampire.

The story behind Last Exile is interesting and emotional. The characters are lovable and their interactions are genuinely enjoyable and surprisingly human. The setting is steampunk inspired and meticulously detailed.

Overall, one hell of a ride, and easily the best anime I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. This is a must see for not just fans of anime, but fans of excellent storytelling and entertainment in general.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Brilliant Series that Could Have been More

7/10
Author: brankoburcksen from San Francisco
27 December 2009

"Last Exile" was a series I yearned for for a long time, a story focused on characters and subtly engaged within a profound and fantastical world. However out of a need to finish the plot, the character development necessary to bring the story full circle falls short.

I loved this series for really taking the time to show who the characters are and really let them take hold of the story. The tone and pacing of most of the episodes reminded me of the HBO series "The Wire" which also let the story fall together one pebble at a time. The series is brilliant for capturing small moments between characters that hint at their growing bonds and frustrations like a scene in a crowded elevator at a casino, a soldier chanting before a battle and when one character puts on the clothes of another in the desert. The two leads Claus and Lavie's relationship portrays itself as a chameleon jumping from comrades to partners, childhood friends, surrogate siblings and repressed lovers. The central bond though lies with Claus and the shy, mysterious girl Alvis who hold and drive the characters and the story together throughout the series.

"Last Exile" seems quite conventional in terms of plot, but it is only when it supersedes the characters that the series falls flat. For most of the show's running time that does not happen though. It bears a unique sense of drama that I find hard to see in other forms. Nowhere but in anime or Greek tragedy could you a see a person fall in love and heart break in the same moment.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic animation held back by spotty plot and story

7/10
Author: trcky1 from United States
9 September 2011

This is a frustrating series because it had so much promise. The artwork and animation are superbly detailed. I couldn't believe I was watching an anime produced 8-9 years ago. The premise and story are pretty interesting as well, though somewhat disjointed. It felt like a love letter to the art and culture of air flight, but then that line clashes a bit with the whole sci-fi aspect of the series. The ending also feels abrupt and rushed. It felt like the story took an abrupt turn, the way that James Cameron's "The Abyss" did. But the ending wasn't built up the same way, leading to the rushed feeling at the end.

On the bright side, not only does the artwork shine, but there are a few bright dramatic moments where the director builds the scene to an impressive crescendo. And on the dark side, the dialogue also suffers from the same disjointedness that the plot does.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Very interesting and satisfying

8/10
Author: siderite from Romania
22 May 2006

I will skip the talk about how good the animation is. I am not an expert in animation, nor do I let it get in the way if the story is good. Enough said, it is very good. What pushed my buttons is the way the series constructs a world, adds interesting lead characters and then ends the story. Yes, this is not one of those animes that drag the story, no matter how nice, and then end the series with no closure because the ran out of steam before finishing the plot. This is a good all fashioned circular story with build-up and release.

Then there is the world, reminiscent of Frank Herbert's Pandora mixed with a little Dune, both in storyline and socio-ecological meaning. I would say that there are no great surprises in this anime. This is a bad thing, but also a good one. If you build things up too much they quickly become unmanageable. There is hope for a sequel, I guess, but no pressure for it. All the goals set in the beginning are met in the end, either in success or disaster.

It is a nice anime series. It is worth watching, but I've seen better. I guess what really is missing is a way to truly connect with the characters. Even in the most tensioned moments, the levels of emotion don't get too high. I would say the starting theme song (complete with worthless karaoke style translation) is also a bad thing. The rest, though, is just visual and comfortable beauty.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

GONZO's Masterpiece

Author: TheWorldofAnime from United States
13 December 2005

It is a rare anime series that requires 26 episodes to tell its story well. Most could do with half that number, as much of the time directors and writers stray too far from the plot line itself into meaningless subplots. However, Last Exile is one of the few, if one of the only, series I have watched that merits more than the allotted number. Last Exile does not find itself bogged down in side-stories - there are no side stories in Last Exile - everything matters, down to the very last second of the show. In a way, this is why the show needed 30 episodes rather the allotted 26. The last episode especially shows that the creative team had so much more to tell, but just didn't have the space. Because of this, the ending may seem rushed and unfulfilling, which it is. However, all of this fails to noticeably detract from GONZO's masterpiece.

As with the majority of anime series, the plot line of Last Exile is simple and, to say the least, predictable. What separates anime from traditional American shows is the level of emphasis put on characters and the emotional connections between them. With its fair share of tragedy, the characters in Last Exile do not disappoint, right down to the very last moment. From the strength of deep ties of friendship to the incredible power of revenge, Last Exile presents the emotions of each character so powerfully it compels the viewer to understand and accept them. These characters are what will, someday when the animation is dated and the audio considered choppy, tie to the viewer to the series and draw them back for more.

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