Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Last Exile (Rasuto Eguzairu)

I have a bad tendency to buy things on a spur of the moment. Not necessarily because I lack the funds, but because I lack any coherent idea of what I want to buy. So I just sort of pretend I'm out searching for water in the woods with a dowser when I'm shopping and whatever takes my fancy is what I'll get. This method usually works, too. And my dowsing method led me to Last Exile

Last Exile is a pretty unique show (to me, at least) in that it is the first steampunk series I've ever watched. If you don't know what that is then I'll give a brief explanation. Steampunk is typically futuristic, but it is also very much a tribute to the past. Steam-powered vehicles generally play a large part in the stories. If the vehicles aren't exactly steam-powered then they are often largely inspired by steam-powered vehicles. Steampunk generally serves as a sort of love letter to the 1800's and the settings are generally Victorian or of the sort that comprise the early American Westerns. Insert futuristic technology into the old age setting and you basically have steampunk. The Wild Wild West is the most obvious form of steampunk although it could be argued whether or not that show really is steampunk. 

But Last Exile is most assuredly a steampunk series and it is inspired by Roland Emmerich's The Patriot to a certain degree. 

Here is the quote: 

"Relocating to Tokyo allowed Murata to become more involved with the production of Last Exile, which was inspired by Roland Emmerich's American Revolutionary War epic The Patriot. Then-president of Gonzo and series planner Showji Murahama was particularly taken by the movie's battle scenes, during which the blue- and red-coated soldiers lined up to shoot each other down, row by row. 'He wanted to know if we could do that in an anime,' Murata recalls. 'At that time the story was going to be about troops fighting in space.' Although the setting changed considerably during development, The Patriot's military motif carried through. 'That's basically where the designs for those anachronistically beautiful outfits [worn by the Anatoray and Disith troops] came from.'"―Newtype USA, September 2004

This show also relies a bit on 3D and that made it feel like I was actually watching a movie instead a TV show. The graphics are very good and it really brought the show to life. 

Each episode name is a play on a chess term and the game itself is mentioned heavily throughout the series. I literally had no idea what a zugzwang was before I watched this show and now I know. I also had no idea who or what an Immelmann was (it's not a chess term) and I dare say that this anime has taught be a bit of history that I would not have known otherwise. 

The story itself is pretty neat, too. Claus Valca and Lavie Head are two kids that grew up together as orphans and they have have one dream: They want to cross the Grand Stream. Naturally, the Grand Stream does not exist on earth so this story does not take place on earth. It actually takes place on a planet not specifically named in the show, but it is officially called "Prester" by the creators. Prester is a world at war and the warring warring factions are the Anatoray and the Disith. Through either sheer luck or fate, Claus and Lavie find themselves in the middle of this war and it seems they must put their dream on hold as the two sides fight and the Sylvana seemingly hold them captive. Overlooking the battle from the skies is the mysterious Guild. The Guild serves as referees of sorts and they make sure that certain codes of chivalry are enforced, but the Guild have a darker purpose at heart: They want the mysterious item known as Exile. 

What the Guild doesn't count on is a man named Alex Row and his "Kill-Em-All" ship Sylvana. Alex seems hellbent on bringing down the Guild and doesn't seem to care for the squabbles between the Anatoray or the Disith. Indeed, Row's ship earned its name by battling against both enemies and allies and coming out on top each time. With Claus and Lavie on board to watch it all, they soon learn that there is more to the Guild and to Alex Row than meets the eye. 

I highly recommend this show to those who love steampunk or those who just really want to watch a well done anime. Johnny Yong Bosch, Steve Blum, Crispin Freeman, and Beau Billingslea all perform voice overs on the English dubbed version of this show so I can think of no better reason to watch it than for that. 


  1. I had no idea what steampunk was but as I was reading your description, the first thing I thought of was Wild Wild West and then you mentioned it a sentence or two later.

    This sounds interesting. I just looked and saw it's on the streaming list with my Netflix account. I'll check it out. This sounds like something I may like.

    1. Well, I hope you enjoy it. I know anime typically isn't a very crossover type thing. Most people love it or they don't. I think this is one of the better anime shows I've seen so I'd say it should be great for a "first-timer." The character named Dio is a hoot and a half. His creepy "man-crush" on Claus is worth watching the show for alone. Oddly enough, I really liked the character Dio even if he was a little weird.