Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing

Alt title: Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam

TV (21 eps)
2011 - 2012
Fall 2011
3.54 out of 5 from 2,242 votes
Rank #5,130

Years ago, humanity abandoned the ruined Blue World. Generations later, with the planet again capable of sustaining life, mankind returned. In the skies above the reborn world, rebellious young Fam and her best friend Giselle make their living as Sky Pirates. Atop sleek Vespa Vanships, the girls dart fearlessly through the clouds, capturing and selling airborne battleships for profit. It’s a life of care-free swashbuckling – until the Ades Federation attacks. The only nation to remain on Blue World during humanity’s exile, The Ades Federation wages war against those who returned only after the planet’s darkest days had passed. When Fam and Giselle rescue a princess from the clutches of the rampaging Ades armada, they join the young royal’s battle to save her Kingdom from destruction – and undertake the impossible mission of uniting humanity in peace.

Source: Funimation

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In 2003, Gonzo made “Last Exile”: a neat adventure story with gorgeous visuals set in a fascinating world inhabited with some intriguing characters and, most importantly, a genuine sense of adventure and wonder. That said, it had its problems: the main characters were bland, the story pace was uneven and the ending was a rushed mess. Fast forward to 2011, Gonzo is diving into the world of Last Exile yet again with “Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam” (TL: Fam, the Silver Wing). A sequel that's only loosely tied to the original, both in story and, sadly, in quality. Set an unspecified number of years after the original, “Ginyoku no Fam” is an adventure story starring Fam, a spunky young pilot who dreams of a free and peaceful sky. Said wish is brutally shattered when the powerful Ades Federation declares a war of global conquest. Fam gets involved in the conflict when she rescues a runaway princess from Ades' one of Ades' first conquests and vows to help her get back her kingdom and end the war. Sounds familiar? That's because it is. It's the same basic story that you've seen in a hundred fantasy books, children's cartoons and role-playing games. Being derivative is not a dealbreaker in and of itself seeing as even the most formulaic story can become riveting when injected with interesting concepts or explored from a fresh new angle. While “Ginyoku no Fam” makes a few decent attempts at the former, but it's undone by haphazard storytelling that focuses on all the wrong things.  The titular character herself is actually one of the shows biggest problems: Fam is obnoxious, naïve, pushy and prone to get herself involved in affair that she knows nothing about. It wouldn't be bad if the narrative actually acknowledged these qualities as a bad thing or tried to somewhat realistically depict the downsides of having such a personality but it's all too obvious that the makers of this show wanted the audience to be charmed by Fam's unyielding optimism. Worse yet is that the creators' infatuation with her extends to the way she manages to charm and influence every character she comes across. Hell, at one point the main villain even expresses his admiration for her even though they never had any meaningful interaction up to that point. The problems created by the constant focus on Fam actually seep into and corrupt the overall story. Part of what actually made the original series so captivating was that the main characters were part of a much bigger world. Their presence and influence on the grand scheme of things was minimal, as one would expect from a bunch of adventure seeking kids. This hint of realism made for an adventure story with a fresh twist. “Ginyoku no Fam”, however, is very clear about how we're supposed to see Fam: a messiah whose energetic demeanor is the solution to all the world's problems. It's a real shame seeing as the story had elements that could have made for a great watch. The Ades Federation initially seems like the typical evil empire but are quickly revealed to largely consist of sympathetic individuals whose firm conviction is borne from desperation more than anything. Other bits of world building such as the tensions between Exiles and Natives, both of whom are convinced that they are the world's “rightful people” (allegory, anyone?) are similarly intriguing, as is the brief glimps we get of the seemingly theocratic and secluded nation of Glacies. But hey, who cares about things like that when you can watch girls walk around in maid outfits or lecture about how people should just “get over” feelings of mutual resentment that have existed for decades? The production values are all over the place. The visuals in particular range from spectacular to absolutely awful. Anyone who's a bit knowledgeable about animation will tell you that anime series are no stranger to saving their budget for lavishly animated sequences while other scenes have considerably less effort put into them. “Ginyoku no Fam” is no exception, but I can't recall another series where the quality of the visuals fluctuated so massively. And that's not even the worst part: the series renders the airships in CG and it looks terrible. Which is all the more shocking when you realize that the original series looks fantastic despite being one of the first series to rely heavily on 3D computer animation and CG. The final visual insult, however, is that many of the big battles that are fought over the course of the story look absolutely terrible. All of them are absolute clusterfucks that are devoid of any sense of urgency seeing as the main characters always find a way to turn the tides no matter how badly the odds are against them. Ultimately, the only conclusion I can reach is that this series is a failure both as a standalone adventure story and as a sequel. Correction: it fails especially as a sequel. Very few of the original series' characters show up and the ones that do just get completely sidelined in favor of the “fun” adventures of Fam and girlfriends. The only character from the original series whose role comes close to anything substantial is Dio and he flat-out disappears for large chunks of time. There's also very little connection to the original series in terms of themes, atmosphere or world building. A cynic might even suspect that Gonzo simply took a tried-and-true storyline, mixed it with currently popular character archetypes and slapped the label of one of their older and best received series on it. It would certainly explain the creative bankruptcy on display in this mess of a series. “Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam” is a huge disappointment. I can reach no other conclusion.


Allright. It's been a while since I've done something like this so bear with me as I try to find my way again. I did quite a lot of them in the past on a different website which you can find here: ....They probably aren't very good though but please do stop by if you have the time and inclination. Originally the site was for writers, mostly original but also fanfiction. Also I'm Dutch so there will be spelling errors. If you find them annoying give me a shout and I'll try to fix them. Oh, I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but there will be some. Usually the worse I rate an anime the more spoilers this will contain. You have been warned So, you have probably already read what the animation is about in the discription given by Anime-Planet, which is the same as on the box. I will therefore try not go into the story that much unless I'm ranting about something (spoilers). For this review I'm going to forgo my usual method of reviewing and lay into this piece of crap from the start. Know that my hatred for this garbage knows no bounds and I will be going into heavy spoiler territory for this one. Unfortunately I can't do that without mentioning the first series, the original Last Exile, and use that as a reference. There will therefore also be spoilers for the first series as well. Please, if you have not seen the first series stop reading here and go and watch it first. Last Exile is one of the best series I have seen and well worth your time. Read on if you have seen it and want to know how they fucked up a sequal to one of my most beloved anime series of all time. ART: Yeah, I gave the original series a 10/10 but this one gets a 7/10. The reason for this is the truly attrocious CGI used. It's bad, very bad. They try their best to cover it up and in quite a few scenes they get away with it but in many scenes they do not. Essentially every sequence that has fast vanship action is pure 100% CGI and it shows. I have seen better CGI in Final Fantasy X and that was on PS2. What truly annoyed me is that the normal animation is simply gorgious and pure heroin for the eyes. You want more only to get a CGI spike to the skull instead. SOUND: This was one of the few things where I had no complaints but like everything else it suffered from my rage. I can't get myself to give a higher rating although it probably does deserve it. CHARACTERS: Yep, I gave it a 1 and it is one of the very few anime's that came close to making me rage quit watching. Let me explain here. The original Last Exile series had some of the best characters that I had ever seen in an anime. When a character did something they did it for a reason. A reason you understood and related to because you knew the character. Claus joins the Silvana to join the fight because he wants the war to end and help Alvis. Lavie is horrified by the war and does not want the vanships to be used as weapons yet she helps Claus because he is her partner and she cares for him. Alex went rogue with the Silvana because the Guild murdered his fiancee and he wants revenge Sophia was the sister of the fiancee and supports Alex as his first officer because of it. She also is in love with him but does not act upon it because he loved her sister and is still in love with her. Dio is focused on Claus because he is fascinated by him and his piloting skills. He yearns for a rival and a friend because he is alone. He is even willing to defy the Guild to some point because of this. Lucciola is Dio's bodyguard and only Guild friend. When Dio gets brainwashed he sacrifices himself to get Dio released. Mullin is a low ranking soldier on a Anatory battleship. He does not want to be a soldier but has no choice in the matter. He fights because he has no choice and he later finds out that the other side is the same. Disith is not just attacking Anatory because they want to but because they have to. Their country is suffering major food shortages and they have nowhere else to go. The Guild is pictured as the major bad guys of the story but then you see Dio get brainwashed as a right of passage. This is something that many members go through and it changes Dio from a kindhearted boy into a vicious psychotic killer. This brings new light to the Delphine, who leads the Guild and is Dios' sister. What was she like before she went into the machine and became the monster she is now? So with this in mind, how do the characters of the new series come off? Well, badly. Main characters Fam and Giselle are fine and so is Millie. Their characters get established in the beginning and they stay true to their characters. Fam is a vanship pilot who wants nothing more than to have a Grand Race with all nations participating because that was the last time everyone had geniune smiles. Giselle is her navigator and supports her through thick and thin although she is not happy with all the fighting. Neither is Fam for that matter. Millie is the youngest member of the Turan royal family and all she wants is to end the fighting, save her people and get her sister back. The Augusta is the leader of Ades, a powerful nation bent on conquering the world. She is 11 years old and wants nothing more than that her people are happy. So far so good but here shit starts to go wrong. We get introduced to 2 important characters in the first episode. One is Liliana, Millie's older sister, and the other is Luscinia, the prime minister of Ades. Luscinia is the driving force behind the Ades war and his reason is to create the world that the previous Augusta wanted. A world of peace where people lived beside each other. How does Luscinia accomplish this? By mass genocide. Yep, you read that right people. Mass genocide. He makes it his mission in life to kill as many people as he can by blowing them the fuck up. He does this many times and he gives 3 reasons for soing so. The first is that it was the wish of the former Augusta to bring peace to the world. The second is to bring lasting peace and the third is that there are to many people on the world for there to be enough food. In other words: Lebensraum. (<--- oh, look. One of the reasons Hitler used to start WWII but I'm sure that he was a nice dude who had nothing but the best of intentions as well) They later try to pose him as this tragic figure who only tries to do the things that needed to be done for the good of humanity but..... seriously?! We get to see him wipe cities of the map with many people still in it and we are supposed to care about this motherfucker?! Really?! Are you insane? The only thing I feel is utter contempt and I wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire. Not to mention that it goes against EVERYTHING that the former Augusta wanted. Sure, her hands weren't clean either but she tried hard to bring everyone together peacefully. Her future dream world had a lot more people in it so Luscinia is the greatest douchebag on the planet. How does Liliana fare against this? Roughly the same. In the first episode she is shown as a caring woman who wants what is best for her people and is well liked for her kind and gentle nature. She is abducted by Luscinia who then uses her to summon an Exile, as she is a key able to summon it. As she is completely helpless, Luscinia, uses her to destroy the capital city of Turan, killing her father and many innocent people. Next time we see her she is not only fine but actively helps Luscinia in his effort. Even going to far to willingly summon the Exile to wipe another city off the map. The reason she gave to Luscinia for this was this: "My hands are already sullied." How? How are your hands sullied? You were helpless as Luscinia pulled your strings and you had NO CHOICE in the matter. She literally had no choice as the Exile completely overruled her mind and she was menatlly unable to refuse Luscinia's orders. So to compare here. If I were to kidnap someone like Mother Teresa. Tie her to a chair. Put a gun in her hand in such a way that she is unable to let go or aim at anything else but what I chose to put in front of her. Put someone in front of her. Then all I have to do now is shock her arm so that her muscles spasm, thus allowing the gun to go off and kill the person in front of her and I've now succesfully created someone willing to wipe a city off the face of the Earth because 'her hands are now sullied'? Huh.... who knew. STORY: Aaaaand here is another problem of mine. The world. It will not surprise you that it takes place in the same universe as the first series. The setting is on the same planet just a different section of it. This is no problem at all and can be used to further expand the world and its people. The fact that the previous characters are not in it should be no problem as their stories were completed but they are in it. Both Dio and Alves appear in the anime as major side characters, especially Dio. This is where the trouble starts because now we have a timeline and proximity to the places where the previous events from the first series took place. And it falls apart. First up is Anatory who again plays a major role in the new universe in the form of the battleship Sylvius. Current location is centered around the Grand Lake and all nations are clustered around it. Here is where all the story telling takes place while Anatory is mentioned as being far to the east. It even shows up on the map that the Ades' military uses but there has been no contact between the Grand Lake nations and Anatory. This is bullcrap. People travel, they explore, there would have been contact long before and since it is on a map there has been. This is a problem since in Anatory the Guild ran everything. Even the engines used in the war ships were Guild supplied AND operated. This was a major plotpoint in the first series as it was the Guild who decided to abondon ship and not its captain. The captain crew would be fighting to save the ship and someone in the engine would decide "Nope, fuck that noice. We're out of here!" The engine would disengage from the ship and fly off while the captain and crew plummet to certain death. Major plotpoint. None of that is mentioned around the Grand Lake. In fact there is NO Guild presence at the Grand Lake area. This despite the fact that Luscinia is clearly of Guild descent and a Guild trained assassin/bodyguard. He even recognizes Dio for what he is, a Guild member. Yet while Anatory and Disith were completely at the mercy of the Guild none such thing is present at the Grand Lake. Looking back on the first series and Meastro Delphine I do not buy this one bit. She would have known about the Grand Lake and put it into her stranglehold the same as with Anatory and Disith. So putting the timeline so close to that of the first series is a bad mistake as it simply does not add up. So what would have worked? This is surprisingly simple and I'm surprised that they didn't go with this in the first place. As mentioned several times in the new series there was a massive cataclism that almost destroyed the world. Those who could left on the Exiles, massive ships capable of space flight. Those left behind struggled on untill things finally died down again. Slowly the world became habitable again and they spread out around the Grand Lake. Then, 100 years ago, the Exiles returned with many people on board. The people already living around the Grand Lake were displaced by the returnees and taken in by Ades. This was the cause of all the wars in the past century untill the Augusta tried to stop the fighting. Unfortunately she was assassinated after the Grand Race a decade before current events. This is the current timeline of the two series. The events of the first series and about 5 years after the death of the former Augusta and as I said this is to soon. If the first series had taken place after the return of the Exiles, say 2 to 3 decades, then it would fit much better. Current Dio and Alves are grandchildren of the characters of the first series and you can tie the Sylvana crew into it as well with descendends of the first series characters. It would explain Dio and Alves being there and even them having the same names, It would also explain why there is no Guild presence at the Grand Lake because they were destroyed many decades before. It won't save everything as you still have Luscinia and Liliana but it would have made me give a higher rating. You wouldn't believe how happy I was when I learned that a new series was being made. The first series was from 2003 while the new series was made in 2011. That is 8 years! Yet this was the best they could do? There are 5 year olds who can write a better story than this. It would have been better if they had cut all ties with the first series and created a whole new world but even that is not possible because they gave in to a cardinal sin. They referenced the first series in the new one. Worse is that they had one entire recap episode about the first series! Yes, they recapped the entire first series in one spisode near the end of the anime. "Never show a better movie in your own movie" That is a rule you must never break and they did it. It drove home just how bad this was and what it could have been.


Story- The plot of Fam was for me much the same as the original Last Exile: I was deeply confused in the beginning, but became quite attached to the characters in the end. As with the first season, there are a number of different factions vying for power through the use of various airships with a 19th Century feel. Thrown into this conflict are the semi-mystical giant ships called Exiles which have star-traveling capabilities. Basically, in the past the world descended into chaos and the various nations inhabiting it constructed these Exiles to flee to other planets. But now things have settled down back on Earth and these same nations are returning, much to the displeasure of the Ades Federation--the only nation to have remained. The main characters from the original Last Exile are one of the groups returning. I found this dynamic between Ades (basically the antagonistic nation throughout the series) and the nations that "abandoned" Earth to be interesting. There are a great number of airship battles throughout the show, but just as important are the political maneuvers behind the scenes. The large cast of characters and their various motives combine to create some good conflict. Wound into this is the quest of the idealistic main character, Fam, whose adventures I will admit drag at some points. I also abhor the two recap episodes, one which inexplicably covers the original Last Exile and one which recaps the events of Fam up to that point. The 21-episode length is atypical, but I think it was a good choice on the part of the writers. They wrapped up the action nicely during that time without dragging out the climax.  Animation- Gonzo always has superb animation, and Fam is no exception. The admittedly large number of juvenile characters have simple, round faces and relatively large eyes. Proportions are otherwise relatively realistic. I particularly admired the use of colors in some characters, such as Vasant (purple) and Admiral Sadri (green).  For the high number of ships present in the series, they have surprisingly poor design. The battles make good use of CGI, but it just doesn't have the same punch as hand-drawn material. Sound- I particularly liked the OP, "Buddy," as it has some strong instrumentals to back up the singing. The soft ending song produced little effect on me. Voice actors are all fine, except for that of Augusta Sara--she started to get on my nerves. I tip my hat to Takaya Hashi, who voiced Admiral Sadri. Characters- The three main characters--Fam, Giselle, and Millia--are all teenage girls, which irked me immensely at first. I was afraid that the three of them would blur together and ultimately end up as one bland mess. Thankfully, their personalities and actions differ enough through the series to make them at least slightly memorable. There were some characters, like Millia's sisted Liliana, whom I terribly wanted to smack. How can someone be so stupid? The villain, Luscinia, has a somewhat bland personality but he does his job. Overall- It's a good series. Perhaps not quite as good as the original Last Exile, but still well worth watching. 

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