Last Exile Vol. #5 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Jacques
Review Date: Monday, February 20, 2006
Release Date: Monday, August 15, 2005



What They Say
Claus and Lavie's fathers died attempting to cross the Grand Stream to deliver a message from Anatoray to Disith. Empress Sophia obtains a copy of the original message and discovers it suggested the two empires join forces to defeat the Guild and obtain peace in the skies!

However, to defeat the Guild, one must take possession of the Exile, so Empress Sophia plans to command the Silvana to cross the turbulent Grand Stream to locate the Exile. Can they accomplish this dangerous feat within the critical six days?

The Review!
It’s taken over 6 months to get this volume, so let’s see if the old Last Exile magic is still there….

Audio:
I listened in Japanese and English 2.0 and both are good to go. Not a whole lot of directional sound though, which is odd, as this series just screams opportunities for left & right directional movement, what with all the aerial combat and gunfire. So it’s mostly front only sound, still, at least it’s crystal clear (224Kbps) with decent bass. As ever, I alternated sound tracks between episodes, no problems detected.

The open theme song Cloud Age Symphony is a modern techno beat (thank heavens it's not 120 bpm), that'll get your toe tapping immediately. The closing song is called Over the sky and is a nice and soothing ballad, the kind that reminds me of the ending theme to Z.O.E: Dolores, I.

Video:
You know how I always harp on about the lack of 16:9 titles? Well it looks like someone has been listening ^_^ Colours are beautiful (a tad pastel though), and you may well find yourself going O-M-G in the aerial scenes. The characters are drawn with pencil sharp lines, with very little artistic skimping, even on the static scenes. Not a hint of transfer loss through the NTSC to PAL transfer process. You may just need to invest in a new wide screen TV to really appreciate the visage.

Packaging:
We have a clear box, with reversible covers. On the front cover we see Maestro Delphine in all her evil (hiss, hiss, boo). On the back we have some scene stills from the enclosed episodes, plus the usual DVD information. The reverse cover side is a mini poster.

No insert or booklet, but I'm not a great fan of "frosting on the cake" – I want the meat & potato of the film - so I'm not exactly all broken up about this ;-) And the disc is printed with a graphic of a Vanship’s fuselage, which is nothing to get excited about.

Menu:
The menu looks like the fuselage of a vanship, with the menu options in the lower half and some repeated actions scenes of the Coronation, across the centre to keep you occupied. All links worked well, and no dead ends were encountered.

Extras:
For extras we get; a quick write-up about the Silvana; 12 art sketches of the newly introduced characters; Textless opening style No2; ADV previews of Divergence Eve and DNAngel.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain some spoilers)
Episode 17 Finds the City Anatoray a blazing ruin as the Disith press home their attack. The home guard continue to fight bravely, but news that both the Prime Minister and Emperor’s death leaves everyone a little lost as to what they are now fighting for. Out of the smoke and battle comes the silhouette of the mighty warship Urbanus- friend or foe? In a bizarre twist of logic, the Commander of the City decides to fire on the Urbanus, despite it carrying the Princess Sophia (now Empress).

Into the fight comes Duke Mad-Thane and his fleet, this gives the Disith a very good incentive to stop hostilities (Duke is with the Princess).

Meanwhile back on the Silvana, the mammoth task of repairing the ship goes at break-neck speed, time being of the essence. Then a courier arrives with a message from Walker, and Alex orders a course change to Horizon Cave, possibly to learn the last part of the Mysterion (control phrases for the Last Exile), certainly to pick up a few additional armaments.

At Horizon Cave Claus runs into the brother of the Ralph – Ralph was the guy who entrusted Alvie and the mission that got them into this mess to start with – and so they discuss his death and what everyone is planning at Horizon Cave. Even better, Claus and Lavie run into the flyers from their home town, and so a little R&R in the company of good friends helps ease the tension between our young duo, but also brings a new sadness into their lives as they realise than vanships pilots can no longer just sit by and watch the approaching war impassively.

The next episode Empress Sophia meets with the Disith, and explains that rather than being enemies, they have a much greater enemy. As such they agree to be allies. Even better, we finally find out what it was that Claus and Lavie’s fathers were trying to deliver, all those years ago, when they went and Alex’s partner went down in the Grand Stream.

With the Silvana repaired and re-equipment she leaves Horizon Cave and heads out into wide blue yonder. Alex sends Claus on ahead to see the Sophia, and wish her well at her Coronation as the new Empress.

And all this time, the common foe Maestro Delphine is well aware of what everyone is up to, and so she makes her plans as well. And just to confirm that Lord Dio isn’t the only fruit-cake in the family, so she gate crashes the ceremony in grand and exotic style.

At her appearance Lord Dio flips out (big time) and he flies away screaming. Alex is also extremely unhappy to see Maestro Delphine, and orders the Silvana to attack, regardless of the cost in human life. Friend, foe or family, Maestro Delphine seems to have an undesirable effect on those around her.

Episode 19 finds the Urbanus and Silvana meet and finally the plan to capture the only ship capable of really threatening the Guild, Exile, is revealed. Both ships must enter the Grand Stream and echo locate the Exile within 6 days if the grand plan is to have any chance of succeeding.

Lord Dio already has his own plans, which coincide with the plan to find the Exile. Although he’s brother to Maestro Delphine, he both hates and fears her, but then he has good reason, as Maestro Delphine has icky plans of her own for him.

The final episode finds the two ships in Grand Stream, looking for Exile. And at long last they do find it. Only finding a way to get a line onto this mysterious ship poses several problem aeronautical problems, as the Exile has formidable defensive capabilities.

Alvie takes pity on Lord Dio and throws a birthday party for him, and the whole hangar crew join in, in order to make it something special. In return Dio helps Claus fly a vanship to the Exile and secure a line to it.

In the final scenes an ecstatic Dio sings his triumph at helping Claus, but what he doesn’t know is that Guild Starships have landed, and are there to take him back to Maestro Delphine, whether he wants to or not.

NB. It may be just me, but it looks like some of the characters have been drawn by someone else, as there is a drop in the quality of the pencilling in some of the episodes.

In summary-
Although this volume is fairly quiet from an action perspective, we do begin to see what drives everyone to reject the Guild’s rule. What’s even better is that Dio’s character develops from a “nasty piece of work”, to a character of pity. This series is now entering it’s final phase, and soon the beginning of the end will come into sight- roll on volume 6.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
JVC 28" Pure Flat Wide Screen TV, Pioneer 454 Progressive Scan code free DVD player, Logitech Z-680 THX DD/DTS receiver & Speakers. Secondary equipment, 21” Sony Trinitron monitor, ATI 9700pro & PowerDVD v4, Creative Audigy 2ZS & headphones.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Last Exile