Last Exile, Vol. 1: First Move DVD

Film:

Screenplay by Kouichi Chigira, Atsuhiro Tomioka, Syuichi Kouyama, and Tomohiro Yamashita
Directed by Kouichi Chigira
Music by Dolce Triade
Art Direction by Hiromasa Ogura

Features:

  • Non-credit opening
  • Original Japanese opening
  • Promotion trailer
  • Interview with Mahiro Maeda
  • Art gallery

Released by: Pioneer
Region: 1
Rating: 13+
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Do yourself a favor and get it.

Last Exile was created by some of the top names in anime, creators of such top-notch titles as Hellsing and Blue Submarine No. 6. As such, we may expect great things from this series, though all too often with these things bright promises are dashed…but not so here. A world of hunger and chivalry, beauty and hope, this is, from first to last, a marvel.

It tells the story of a world where airships rule the skies, and where two countries endlessly battle with cannon and armadas full of soldiers. On the ground and in the skies alike, class struggles rage in addition to the war for “chivalry” and “honor.” Into this great war come Lavie and Claus, a very young couple struggling to run a small airship van service and who just want to someday have enough to eat. They are hired to deliver a mysterious message to a battle ship, just after a massive battle and right before a mysterious new fleet joins the fray. What should be a relatively clear-cut, if dangerous, mission becomes something no one on either side expected. Interweaving the tale of individual soldiers, generals, nobility, and working folk, the storyline is ambitious, but handled deftly.

This title’s combined computerized and cel animation is simply gorgeous; from the detailed officer’s uniforms and other costumes to the flights of birds, every detail, even the seemingly unimportant things are drawn with care, aesthetic integrity, and skill. If you want something lush and wonderful, then this one is a good bet for you, and it’s in an anamorphic widescreen version to boot. Even the commercial break still shots have fine detail and interesting images. The overall look is cavalier/Revolutionary War period–or what in gaming terms would be called “steampunk” with less cyberpunk grittiness and more military dash and panache. Just wonderful.

A word should also be said for this title’s music and audio. The digital audio here makes good use of the show’s cinematic and splendid music; from the rocking open theme to the sound effects and the voices, every sound is clear and crisp, doing exactly what work it should be doing to enhance and perfect the visual aspects of the show. The review disc we were sent did not have the Japanese voice track, but the English cast was skilled and each character was nicely distinct and appropriate for their personalities.

The disc as released in the stores will have the features as listed at the beginning of the review, but as they were not available as of press time for me to take a look at, I can’t speak to them.

In short, both attractive and interesting, this first disc of Last Exile is a marvelous new entry into the home anime scene. If you don’t know what animation can do, if you don’t know how adult, engrossing, and just plain nice to look at that it can be, then do yourself a favor and pick this one up.