Last Exile Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Last Exile

Last Exile Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     August 18, 2004
Release Date: August 10, 2004

Last Exile Vol. #5
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

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!
While the current battle rages, the real threats become clearer and the world changes to deal with it head on.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. There's a very active stereo mix going on throughout this show with a lot of very distinct throws to the left and right as ships whiz past or gun turrets from one side shoot across to the other. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout it and the music comes across beautifully in filling the entire soundstage, especially the opening sequence. There's some great use of depth and sound design in these episodes that's particularly noticeable once you're on board the ships as characters move about.

Airing throughout the spring and summer of 2003, Last Exile is the latest shiniest show from Gonzo and the first time they've truly warmed my heart. While they've dabbled in widescreen shows for a while now and have used the extra canvas to great effect in giving series a much deeper feel, this is the first time they've gone and made one enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer for this series looks nothing short of amazing here with rich, crisp colors, lots of depth to them and very solid darks. Cross coloration is non-existent as far as I can see. The only actual video issue is one that's simply inherent in the show and that's with the digital animation; during some panning sequences where the camera follows the length of a shot, some mid-range ships will almost look like they stutter in the air at various points. It has nothing to do with the transfer but with the actual original work on the computers. Beyond that, this is a transfer that'll just please a lot.

Though the covers have been a bit of a mixed bag, this one is one of my fvorites with the simple look of it. The imagery of Claus climbing into his Vanship while a pair and some birds soar in the cloudy sky above just fits so well, particularly his expression. And any cover that gets Alvis on the cover with her stuffed animal is a good one. The back cover continues with the shiny look to it with a series of images of various ships that are shown in these episodes while on top of it you have the usual materials. The summary gives a brief idea of some of the concepts while there's a good block listing all the basic features and extras. The discs episodes are listed with episode numbers and titles and there are a few shots from the show as well. Being a clear keepcase, the reverse side has something on it, though not much but it works well; it's a two-panel piece of fluffy white clouds in a very blue sky. The insert uses the cover art from one of the Japanese DVD releases with Alister and Tatiana together in their uniforms and opens to a detailed piece on the ships of the Disith fleet. The back of the insert has the episodes chapter listings as well as some more shots from the show. A rather interesting inclusion for an extra this time around is the pieces and assembly guide for making your very own paper Vanship. It's been years since I made paper airplanes and this brought back a lot of memories and is definitely a neat extra.

One of the reasons I think I continually come back and praise Nightjar menus is because they simply don't look like every other anime menu on the block. Last Exile is no different, particularly in their ability to take animation and make it look so much more realistic and earthy. Taking the Vanship concept, making selections takes you to other sections on the body of the Vanship where you can do things like setup or extras. The transitional animations are brief and they flow very smoothly from one area to the other. The main menu is nicely done with a backdrop of fast racing clouds across a deep blue sky while you have some of the mechanical aspects laid over it with animation playing in a center scope. The disc also does things right by playing its language settings according to our players presets.

The extras for this series continue to be fairly minimal with this volume only offering up the clean version of the new opening sequence and another set of production artwork in a gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the previous volume, Last Exile continued to do a nice small shift from the smaller tales with the characters and the Vanships into something a bit bigger and more worldly, something that's been part of this series since the start really. This volume picks up with a lot of that and provides something you don't get in a lot of series these days since they're more focused on characters and modern day pieces. Fleets of ships squaring off in the sky against each other while cities lay in ruins, people fighting for what they believe and action done on a more grand scale.

This doesn't go on for too long through and the show changes its focus back onto the characters so that it can move forward to the final arc of the series, the tracking down of the Exile and acquiring it before Delphine even knows what's going on. To achieve this though, there are a lot of things that have to be done on a personal level, things that some simply don't want to do. Alliances that need to be made and understandings between rivals over what's really at stake. For someone like Alex this is initially very tough to handle but it's due to Sophia's ability to smooth things that he's able to go along with the plan to take both the Silvana and Urbanas into the Grand Stream so that they can hunt down the Exile and retrieve it. The way it plays out over the first couple of episodes as everyone is trying to maneuver for advantage is a lot of fun to watch, especially when you consider the stakes for the various sides. Disith after all is basically a country on the run and trying to find some kind of salvation while Sophia has underwent a sizeable number of losses just in the days preceding everything.

Since things move away from direct action to character interaction, there are some really good emotional areas that get touched upon as the fleets change up their goals and some members of the Silvana go new ways. Mullin in particular gets some nice time as his shift from a musketeer to mechanic has actually endeared him to those around him more than they realized but his true calling is something that still gets to him even though he wishes it wasn't. His new arc as he works alongside the young Disith musketeer and the two move on is really interesting, particularly in how he's actually fairly well taken in by the girl so quickly and ends up making the same kind of advances he did in the past but with somewhat different results. Mullin is truly the everyman in this show, something that I think was more intended for Claus, and scenes like he gets in this volume really emphasize that.

I think it's this volume that also got me to start liking Dio a lot more and actually becoming interested in his own arc. His presence up until now has been interesting but I haven't been able to really peg where it's going. Through the time here we start to get a bit more of the personal side of him and understand some of his fears of Delphine and what his life is going to be like. In particular, I liked the way he picked up on a new phrase later in the show here is just beautiful and reminded me of a two year old learning a new word. The way he continued to use it throughout the episode just had us laughing each time. I don't think it worked nearly as well in English as it did in Japanese though but that's just my own tastes and preferences for the cast. Between this bit and the way he and Claus seem to work so well together in mastering the Grand Stream winds, I'm starting to find the character a lot more interesting and really have no idea how his role will play out.

In Summary:
Last Exile continues to be a series that pleases on numerous levels, giving me the epic feel that a show like this demands be shown at least a few times with the aerial battlers, while it also provides a lot of interesting and complicated character interactions and growth. The new alliances that are created drives new tangents for people to follow and really shifts the direction of the show into something very tangible for its ending arc. The next six episodes can't get here fast enough.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening 2,Production Art

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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