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DVD Review

DVD cover

Last Exile
Complete Season One


Starring (voice): Anna Shiraki, Chiwa Saito, Mayumi Asano, Eri Kitamura, Junko Noda and Kiyoyuki Yanada
Distributor: Manga Entertainment
RRP: £39.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 17 June 2013

On the distant world of Prester, the realms of Anatoray and Disith are engaged in an endless war, overseen by the Guild, who oversees the conflict. War is engaged solely in the air as the two nations are separated by an area of unstable turbulence, known as the Grand Stream. Their Vanships use anti-gravity and attack each other like ocean going vessels. Eking out an existence as couriers, Claus Valca and navigator Lavie Head spend their time delivering messages and racing their Vanship. When they are asked to deliver Alvis Hamilton, the two become involved in events which will change their world...

Last Exile (2003) is a twenty-six episode science fiction tale from Gonzo. The series was directed by Koichi Chigira.

The story has a very distinctive look, especially the Vanships, a kind of retro, mid European steam punk theme runs through the design, although this does bring up some strange anomalies in the show, where high technology sits side by side with steam driven muskets and gunpowder artillery.

When we meet the two adventurers they are hired to take a message to the leader of their countries fleet, which is engaged in aerial battle. This covers the first two episodes and introduces us to the world of Prester. At this stage much is left unanswered. Just who is the Guild? Why do the combatants defer to their wishes?

With introductions done the story kicks in properly when the two accept a seven star mission from Ralph, a courier who died trying to protect his human cargo. They have to deliver the baby to the intimidatingly mysterious aerial war ship, the Silvana. As the story unfolds we discover the Guild are being duplicitous fanning the fires of war for their own ends.

The story is fed to the audience very slowly, keeping your interest in the characters. Gonzo have created a rich and impressive world, full of action and engaging characters. As the story unfolds it transforms from an odd looking nineteenth century world to a full blown science fiction story.

I found the animation quality very high; reminiscent of the work of Studio Ghibli, but for some strange reason the makers have decided to use a much muted colour palette, with many scenes using variations of the same colour, using only a secondary colour as highlights.

The DVD picture quality is good, if a little soft, but that’s a problem of the DVD format and not the show. The series is presented on a seven disc DVD set. You get audio options for both an English and Japanese 2.0 track, with English subtitles; both the original vocal cast and the dub cat do a good job in pulling you into the story.

The first disc comes with a number of extras, including the Non-credit Opening (1 min, 33 sec), that’s the opening sequence with no credit displayed. The Original Japanese Opening (1 min, 33 sec) is only a little different to the final sequence. You also get the Promotional Trailer (1 min, 53 sec), which shows off the show's wonderful animation and a set of Character Profiles. There is also an art gallery with twenty-five pages of reference art.

As you go through the discs it looks as if many of the extras have been repeated, but whilst the titles repeat their contents do not. Together, over the seven discs, this builds to an impressive collection of extras.

It’s an impressive set and well worth picking up, I’m not so sure about using such a limited colour palette in any given scene, but it does give the show a very distinctive look.


Charles Packer

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