ANIME MINOR JEWELS SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
Last Exile is considered by most as the best anime made by GONZO for its very interesting world-building and aircraft designs. I on the other hand say that machinery and GONZO means lots of horrible CGI and thus NOT a good series. On paper the show is indeed pure win because it has an interesting cast, very distinctive setting, very detailed flying ships, a mysterious story, as well as some thought-provoking concepts around war and freedom. In practice though the cons simply outnumber the good parts since the pacing is very slow, the resolutions to any major issue are far-fetched, the finale is rushed, and the whole show is heavy on GONZO CGI so it can’t be good. In fact, most of the fans of the series simply like the backdrop story and very few the plot or the presentation.
The artwork is the easiest part to feel attracted to. It has a steampunk feeling to it that makes it captivating, while the flying aircrafts have bizarre shapes and become easily eye-catchy. Unfortunately the bonehead animators tried to make even the human models as 3D as possible and the result was characters who look like plastic dolls. Not too fake but the experienced eye is not fooled. NOTHING BEATS HAND-DRAWN!
The soundtrack is fine in building the proper mood and voice acting is fitting the roles of its characters. There are no memorable songs or voices though; it all felt depressing and dull to pay attention to for long.
The story is amazing in its core themes. While it was about the exposition of the history of the world, the interactions of the two warring nations, or the relationships of the main characters, I can easily say it is brilliant. Too bad the above take up only a small part of the whole since all the rest appear to be some random crap that are either boring, or useless to the plot, or plain horribly presented to bother paying attention to it. What is going on here, did BONES highjack the script or something? Whatever the reason, the overall plot is mostly uneventful, slow, rushed and generally WRONGLY DONE. So as much as I like to give this one a good score, I just can’t because I am a strong fan of proper screenplay. While it begins nicely with two kids having to participate in a global-scale war, it soon turns to some boring slice-of-life full of events that feel very minor and eventually useless to the main conflict. And when it finally moves to the war itself, the way they fight is plain ridiculous. There is absolutely no actual strategy used and the few attempts at it are child’s play obvious. Makes you wonder why they even use armadas full of huge battles ships when a single tiny vanship can infiltrate any enemy facility and inflict fifty times more damage.
The characters are fine. Really, they are all great as personalities. They all have interesting backdrops to easily become likable as well as interesting openings for development to keep you yearning for more. Unfortunately the bad screenplay eventually makes most of their development to feel unexcused, out of character, or plain NOT BELIEVABLE causing you to eventually lose interest in them and forget them fast. What’s with the Star Wars’ pod race rip off? What’s with the crazy plan the villains have? Why am I watching 10 episodes where nothing happens? What does all that have to do with the war? This is no longer considered to be time invested on getting to like the characters but plain dead time.
The show has value for being considered one of GONZO’s best works (which doesn’t say much since most of what they made is shit) and because it still has a strong fanbase, which was somewhat rekindled with the sequel of the series some years later. Speaking of the sequal, it turns the whole interesting feeling of the first season into sleazy lolicon bullcrap, so in case you liked this one DO NOT WATCH THE SECOND SEASON! You will be greatly disappointed and you will probably hate the first one as well.
All I can say is that in order to enjoy Last Exile you need to be someone who doesn’t care if something has proper pace or makes sense in the longrun. You need to be someone who just likes the cool airships, the funky music, and the weird concepts. All that are presented very superficially but they are otherwise very interesting on paper and can easily fool the low tier audience to like the show entirely because of that alone.
If you are not though, don’t waste your time with it. Neither with Bounen no Xamdou; same shit there as well. There has been only one good fantasy anime regarding airships and fantasy, and that is the Nausicaa movie (the manga is of course ten times better). And if you want something with JUST airships, the far more realistic Area 88 OVAs kick ass as war drama and definitely have far better screenplay.