Last Exile Episode One: First Move

Maybe I’ve been looking in all the wrong places, but I’ve never heard much about the anime series “Last Exile”, and I think that’s a bit of a crime. This series deserves love. Heaps of it. Love and chocolate. With whipped cream and cherries on top, even. L-o-v-e.

The planet of Prester is a stunning world of extraordinary steam punk eye candy ruled by three main groups: the Anatoray, the Disith, and the Guild. For the most part, “Last Exile” focuses on the Anatoray, a culture of extremely poor commoners and fabulously wealthy nobility, who mostly only come together through the wonder of aviation.

There are a lot of characters in “Last Exile”, and they all have their moments in the sun. I think it could be quite easily argued that anybody in this story might potentially be the main character. It’s one of those sorts of anime series… You know, where you’re tossed right into the plot, and the creators expect you to hold on tight? …Luckily, in this instance, it works wonders.

Here’s the gist of episode one: “First Move”. It’s a bit scatterbrained, and, admittedly, so is my commentary on it…

Meet Claus and Lavie, the respective pilot and navigator of a vanship (which is like an old school roadster meets an old school airplane). They live the lives of the ordinary poor in the city of Norkia, looking to the skies for everything they have.

Pretty Norkia

Norkia! The city of steam punk!

Lavie's budgeting skills.

This is Lavie. She’s attacking the money jar with a big ol’ knife.

Steam punk dashboard.

There are images of steam punk goodness everywhere in this series, including the control panels of the vanships.

Claus and Lavie make their money by running errands with their vanship. People come up with tasks that need to be accomplished, and a certain number of stars are assigned to each job. More stars mean more risk, but more stars also mean more money.

On this fateful day, Lavie decides she and Claus will go on a three star mission.

I like that smell, myself.

In the English dubbed version, she’s yelling, “I smell money!!!”

“Last Exile” isn’t just some stunning eye candy laced daydream into the world of steam punk, though. It’s also got a rather involved military plot line. There are different groups, different ships, and different crews. But as far as the first episode is concerned, it’s all about the Third Minagith Naval Battle as agreed to by the Guild between the Disith and the Mad-thane Fleet of the Anatoray.

If what I just said was absolute gibberish, don’t worry: it’ll eventually make sense. Eventually.

The Mad-thane Fleet.

The Mad-thane Naval Fleet… which consists of a bunch of air ships flying in the sky. So… Totally naval, all the way.

Come to find out, the mission Lavie selected was to get a message to Duke Mad-thane from his wealthy family.

Who let the poor onto our front lawn...?

The water the nobleman’s family uses in their decorative fountain is cleaner than that which Claus and Lavie ordinarily drink.

This is Claus, by the way.

There’s a bit of a class contrast, here…

Meanwhile, up in the sky, quite unbeknown to Claus and Lavie, the Mad-thane Fleet, headed by the Duke himself, is about to begin its battle with the Disith. This consists of dudes in historical-looking uniforms flying in gigantic steam punk ships, yammering on a lot about chivalry. If you’re into, say, colonial history, you’re probably going to find yourself in a very happy place…

The captain and his crew.

Each ship has its own look, feel, and arrangement of the captain and his crew. This is one of the stuffier environments.

Part of the plot focuses on Mullin the Musketeer…

Mullin drops his bullet.

There are musketeers on these ships in the air. Their uniforms are an awfully familiar hodgepodge of what you’d see in reenactments and stuff, but their muskets are run by STEAM!

Beautiful steam punk technology.

There are all sorts of moments of steam punk brilliance throughout the series, like this shot of a computer.

Chivalry in the skies.

The Disith ships (left) line up alongside the Anatoray ships (right), then expose their decks. The musketeers line up on the decks and begin to fire.

You're gonna hear this a *lot* during this episode...

I’ve never even bothered to watch this series in Japanese because the English VA work is so fantastic. But what Mullin is chanting here gets repeated so often that it sort’ve gets permanently stuck in your skull.

Chivalry in the skies... again.

The musketeer work has no actual impact on the ships. Their body count after the battle is used as a point system to determine who’s ultimately won.

Poor Mullin.

Mullin, still alive in a scattered pile of his fellow musketeers, looks up in time to see Claus and Lavie zip by in their vanship.

Cleaning up the mess.

When the battle is fully over, the platforms go back up. Mullin and the wounded and the corpses all tumble back into the ships.

In a fit of perfect timing, Lavie and Claus close in on the Mad-thane Fleet just after the battle has concluded. Lavie’s a bit freaked out by the carnage, but Claus keeps her on track and has her contact the ship with Duke Mad-thane on it… By morse code via a blinking light.

…I love the feel of this show!!!

Morse Code 1

The most complicated naming system *ever*…

Morse Code 2

How’d they ever translate this all into English?!?

Morse Code 3

Claus (front/right) and Lavie (rear/left) in their vanship.

Claus and Lavie get permission to land on the ship, where their intention is to deliver the message to Duke Mad-thane from his family.

Whoops!

Lavie kinda falls out of the vanship and plows into Claus. A perfect first impression with the Claimh-Solais crew.

So what happens, then? Well… Then you have to stick around for the next episode!

Precisely!

I know, right???

So, by the end of “First Move”, almost nothing in this series makes any sense. Nothing really will for awhile, either. It’s kinda hard to follow at first, but it is so absolutely worth the wait. The animation? Fantastic. The voice acting? Delightful. The music? Beautiful.

Just go watch “Last Exile”. Do it. Do it.

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