Last Exile Vol. #7 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Last Exile

Last Exile Vol. #7

By Chris Beveridge     November 24, 2004
Release Date: December 14, 2004


Last Exile Vol. #7
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
With Lucciola's help, Claus, Alvis and Dio escape the Guild ship while Delphine continues to hold Alex Row hostage and tortures him. Anatoray and Disith continue to wage an all-out war against the Guild and many sacrifice their lives in their attempt to deter complete control of the Exile by Delphine. Under Sophia's orders, Claus, Lavie and Alvis fly through the Grand Stream toward the Exile to complete their final mission in this heart-pounding conclusion!

The Review!
After racing through some powerful episodes, Last Exile ends with a bang that still sounds like a whimper.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
While some of the early covers in the series weren't quite the best, the last half of the series has had some beautiful pieces to it. Continuing to use the foil style paper to its advantage, this last volume has a great shot of Alvis in front of the Exile and it's a powerful looking piece. 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. 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 has a very good looking piece of art from the epilogue of the show with the cast. Be wary with this insert though, don't read the text included in the Exile spec that this opens up into as it'll spoil things. The back of the insert has the episodes chapter listings as well as some more shots from the show.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a lot of Gonzo series, and anime in general, you're never really sure how well a series is going to end. A lot of people, myself included, continue to look at series as the journey itself being the most important part as opposed to the ending, mostly to try and insulate themselves against the number of mediocre and simply bad endings that a lot of series are rife with. Last Exile's been moving forward with such a strong plot, particularly throughout the second half of the series, that it naturally ends up raising expectations.

The previous volume focused heavily both on the character and epic sized battles that were going on. You had the fleet sized battles going on in the Grand Stream that turns into one of the huge payoff sequences in the series, particularly when the Exile starts unleashing its ringworm like attacks. This was well balanced with the smaller struggles within the Maestro's ship as Claus, Alvis were dealing with the situation Dio was undergoing as well as the way Alex was being dealt with. With the presence that Delphine carries with herself and the epic level of the battle that was going on outside, the entire series of events I think ended up becoming the real high watermark of the series.

Which is a bit unfortunate considering there are three more episodes after that. With the way that volume ends, it picks up pretty much on pace here with Dio thrown to the winds and Claus and Alvis being rescued and finding their way back to Norkia eventually and to Claus' old home where this all started with him and Lavie. While they have a bit of a retrospective moment and touch upon the things that mean the most to them outside of other people, the combined fleets have decided that the time is right to try and free the planet from the Guild's grasp and their massive flying fortresses begin their entry into the Grand Stream to launch the final all out attack on the remaining Guild forces and go after the Maestro once and for all.

As everything starts to regroup, the show ends up turning into a very mellow mood as Claus and Alvis begin to work their way back to the Dragon's Fang so they can reunite with the Silvana. Once this happens, the show doesn't quite regain its speed and sense of urgency that it had prior to this. There are some really great moments along here, such as the way Alvis takes over as Claus' navi and some of the personal moments that they have in their journey with others along the waypoints. This section is important since it helps to solidify the way that the relationships have evolved over the course of the series but it's just so very relaxed and almost too quiet in a way that it takes out a lot of the energy of the show.

As the show comes to its conclusion, it's definitely an interesting way of bringing things to a resolution. In a way, it feels like you miss a lot of what they're trying to say and I have to wonder where they expect some of these leaps of logic to come from. In reading just a tiny paragraph from the insert, it ended up explaining more of what the concept of the Exile really is than the episode itself did I think. The visuals from that sequence are fantastic though and it brings about an interesting view of the planet and explains a lot of why it's set up the way it is. But the ending is almost like it's the start of a second chapter of the series that you'll get another twenty-six episodes of storyline and explanation. Of course, we aren't getting that and that's part of the reason that as big and epic as the ending is here, it feels like it's going out with a whimper as opposed to a bang.

In Summary:
Overall, Last Exile has been a great series and one we've enjoyed immensely. The world that was created here is a fascinating one, particularly since so many series avoid doing settings that are based around flying and a lot of aerial work in this manner. It's generally just much easier to keep it ground based or use the simple backdrop of space which lets them avoid a lot of things. But Last Exile hits strong with its visuals, it's creative design and its epic nature while still keeping a heavy focus on the characters that really drive things. The relationships, which thankfully don't become over the top in nature or become the entire focus of the story, are played out well and finely nuanced in a lot of regards, something that's even more apparent during the final episodes and the epilogue that shows just how it all plays out. Last Exile's been a great ride that's certainly going to be missed now that it's over.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 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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