Anime DVD Review: Last Exile: First Move

Last Exile: First Move is a DVD with the first for episodes of the Last Exile television anime series that was released by Pioneer in 2003.

Last Exile: First Move
English Publisher: Geneon
Format: DVD
Release Date: November 18, 2003

Last Exile is set a fictional world known as Preseter; the world’s two nations, Anatoray and Disith are engaged in an eternal conflict that follows the code of chivalric warfare. A faction known as the Guild enforces these rules, and provides the two nations with technology. The setting has a retro-futuristic steampunk look to it, and it resembles nineteenth-century Europe at the height of the industrial revolution.

The main characters of Last Exile are a 15-year-old named Claus Valca and his navigator, Lavie Head. Together, they fly their vanship as sky couriers in Anatoray. Usually they take on missions that have a relatively low difficulty, but they are asked to complete the mission of a dying courier. His mission was to deliver a girl named Alvis Hamilton to the battleship Silvana.

Admittedly, the first couple of episodes on this disc are rather slow paced, and their purpose is to establish the characters and the world that they inhabit. This establishment is necessary for the viewer to learn about the characters and to understand what’s going on in the story, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, since the story doesn’t truly get going until the third episode, you just have to use patience in order to give Last Exile a fair shake. By the end of the fourth episode, there appears to be a lot of promise for Last Exile.

When it comes to the animation in Last Exile, it’s very obvious that this series was produced during the earlier days of anime utilizing computer graphics. While the computer graphics for the ships do look nice, they also tend to stand out like a sore thumb in comparison to the cel animation in the series. Also, there are times when it can be a bit jarring when a scene is going in and out of utilizing the computer graphics.

When it comes to the DVD itself, there were seven bonus features included. The first is a “promotional trailer”; this runs for about two minutes in length, and it’s random images set to the theme song for the show. There’s no narration and nothing to provide any context for what you’re seeing.

Next is an interview with Mahiro Maeda, one of the production designers for Last Exile. This feature runs for about 12 minutes, and it has Japanese audio with English subtitles. The interview is done in a way where the question appears on the screen as text, and is followed by seeing Maeda answer the question. This wasn’t too bad for an interview feature.

Next is “Noncredit Opening,” which is basically a textless version of the opening credits; the only text that appears during this is the title of the series. The “Japanese Opening” is the opening credits with the original Japanese credit text included.

The Art Gallery includes 25 pages of model sheets of both characters and mecha that the viewer can scroll through at their own pace. “Pioneer Previews” is six-and-a-half minutes of trailers that play as part of one continuous piece. The final extra on the disc is the DVD Credits.

Last Exile shows a lot of potential, and it might be worth watching or adding to your home video library if you enjoy steampunk anime. Unfortunately, this DVD by Pioneer is long out of print. However, FUNimation acquired the rights for the series after Geneon (formerly Pioneer) went out of business, and released a complete series box set for Last Exile in 2009. This box set might be worth tracking down if you want to own Last Exile on DVD.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Last Exile: First Move that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Additional post about Last Exile:

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