Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam…. Oh GONZO I missed you so much…
GONZO heralds their return to animation in the sequel to the 2003 classic, Last Exile, with a scene which is typical of their level of fanservice within seconds of the episode, an up-skirt shot of all things.
I have been a GONZO fan for ages, watching almost all their shows starting from their first series Vandread till they went on hiatus for some restructuring a few years ago. Their animation throughout those years has been very consistent and of the utmost quality even for that time, giving some well established studios a run for their money. And of all the series they have produced, Last Exile serves to be one of the most memorable ones, giving a dose of steam punk into a very unique universe created by them. With the announcement of this sequel and a few guest productions by GONZO on a few animes last season such as Nyanpire, I could not wait for it to premiere as it has been such a long time since they have made an animation and this show really did not disappoint.
Story wise, it seems that the events in this series occur in a point of time a few months/years after the events in the previous outing. This time lapse cannot be confirmed as of yet as nothing about the time skip was said in this first episode. It seems that Claus and Lavie, the protagonists of the first series, are not featured in this series as of yet and they introduced two new main characters in their place, Fam Fan Fan and Giselle Collete Vingt. Two female leads for me is quite a boon as I just love female leads and they are quite interesting characters which further increase their appeal. Some old characters do make appearances in this sequel, with Dio Eraclea playing a prominent role in this episode and it seems that Tatiana Wisla would be in it, judging from the character/casting list.
Judging from this episode, I would like to see how would GONZO continue the story which they left off almost eight years ago and this premiere episode has already got me hooked.
Animation and art wise, this series really shows that GONZO has kept up with the times and has produced a show with such quality that it really makes the other shows this season look quite inferior, save Fate/Zero and maybe Guilty Crown. The action sequences are superbly choreographed and animated, with the CG blending perfectly with the animated characters. From the fight scenes in the OP and the battle scene in the last 1/3 of the episode, it really shows that a lot of work has been put into the animation.
The character design is impeccable as always, with Murata Range providing the original character design with his unique style and with Horiuchi Osamu doing a great job adapting Range’s art into the animation as the characters still have that Range vibe and design. This series art adaptation is by far one of the better ones recently and especially from the art by Murata Range as compared to another series which also used the character design by him, Shangri-La, where the characters did not feel that much like the original art.
Music wise, superb background score and OP and ED. Sakamoto Maaya is singing the OP lending her superb voice to the series. The background score and ED is done by Kuroishi Hitomi, marking her return from a slight disappearance after her work on both seasons of Code Geass and the prequel to this series. Her superb vocals really compliment the visuals giving a slight feeling of awe to it and tons of uniqueness that is hard to pin down with her many vocal layers. Her enchanting voice is really hard to forget and with her performance, this series OST has jumped up to my must buy set of CDs along side Fate/Zero and Guilty Crown.
Seiyuu wise, it seems that they have gone with using two rising stars to voice the new main characters in this series.
First is everyone’s favourite Toyosaki Aki as Fam Fan Fan.
And this year’s rising star Aoi Yuki
Safe to say their voices really do suit their characters quite well with Aki’s energetic voice giving the spunk needed for Fam’s boisterous character and Yuki giving Giselle the quiet, good girl attitude needed. For the rest of the characters, it seems that they have quite an experienced cast to help support them. Noda Junko reprises her role as Dio and so does Kitamura Eri as Tatiana. Sawashiro Miyuki lends her experience with a new character in the series in the first episode as Liliana il Velch Curtrettola supporting Kayano Ai as her character’s younger sister Milia il Velch Curtrettola.(Hell…Kayano Ai is all over the place this season, like she is hottest stuff for casting this season, or maybe she just has a good manager, so watch her as she may be the next big thing but sadly to me her voice does not stand out that much yet). Judging from the casting, it seems that more veteran seiyuu are being involved, such as Fukuyama Jun, Nakamura Yuuichi, Konishi Katsuyuki, Orikasa Fumiko and Kuwatani Natsuko to name a few. And who knows, as the series progresses maybe some of the older characters may appear again and hopefully with their same seiyuus.
Overall Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam is a must watch this season as it is set in a very interesting universe and hopefully the story is as good as it predecessor. Animation wise, it is top notch and of superb quality,jumping to second in my own personal ranking taking the place of Guilty Crown, which did not even last a day there, and dropping it to third but it is quite close to Fate/Zero which has already set the bar very high. Same can be said for the music as Hitomi is really that good. Hopefully this series would prove to be a gem in this flood of anime in the autumn season as they cannot be so evil as to destroy such a beloved series.
And to end off, WELCOME BACK GONZO!!!