If my Fate/Zero and Persona 4 posts had to start off with a disclaimer about my lack of experience with each respective franchise, then it’s a given that I have to do likewise for a franchise where I do have previous experience. Make no mistake, what you are reading here are the impressions from a hopeless fanboy for the original Last Exile and shall spend most of this post comparing my sparkly yet fading memories of the original with this latest rendition.
There is a bit of a change of tone for this Last Exile. You know that one scene from the first episode of the original after the two sets of musketeers finished decimating each other (‘Disseth bullets will avoid Mullen Shetlends body’ and all that) and there was that shot of all the dead bodies, offering a rather stark contrast to the fancy pants chivalry commanders on board the ships? There’s none of that in Fam, the Silver Wing (just calling it Fam from now on). Not exactly that scene, but there’s a lack of the darker edge the original had. This version is definitely more upbeat and light-hearted, while still keeping the same adventurous tone the orignal had. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as I’m sure many of you will argue, but the characters are a bit too…how shall I put this…thick headed? They’re stock characters with a single motive that they stick to for every line of dialogue they spout. I guess it’s the first episode so they’re just setting the scene, but everything was very black and white.
They did keep the heart of Last Exile though. The one thing that Last Exile does, better than any other anime I’ve ever seen, is the sense of adventure. There’s a thrill in discovery and flight that Fam captured brilliantly, most notably in that opening sequence with them being pirates and capturing a ship. The music helps here, taking a note out of the original series soundtrack. I’m convinced the song playing during that scene was a remix off the original series opening song. Although, since I’m on the subject of the opening song, this new one just pales miserably in comparison to Cloud Age Symphony. But yeah, that’s just me being the insufferable fanboy for the original again. Not that I want everything to remain the same. As much as I loved Dio in the original, I can’t for the life of me see why he’s in this series, apparently not ageing a day between the two. Is this even the same world as the original, or did they create an entirely new world and just carted Dio over because he’s just that fabulous?
Fam does do one thing better than the orignal. The animation is absolutely fucking glorious. Not only that, but it’s glorious in the Last Exile style, so that all the ships are that highly detailed CGI style that somehow matches up with the character designs. There’s something about the flat faces of Range Murata’s character designs that blend in well with CGI. I always liked how Last Exile used its CGI, keeping only the ships in CGI and the characters hand-drawn, rather that flicking between the two depending on the whims of the animators at the time. There’s a beauty to the absolute classic steampunk design of Last Exile that, again, lends itself to the sense of adventure that the series is so good at.
So, verdict from a Last Exile fanboy? It’s pretty good. I don’t mind that they’re going for a lighter tone, so long as the characters gain depth (and preferably stop being moe, although the moe factor was thankfully lower than I initially feared). If that happens, then I’m on board with this season.