So I was quite fortunate to be able to attend Anime Expo 2011. Particularly, I managed to get a half-decent spot to view both the World Premiere of the first episode of Last Exile -Fam, the Silver Wing- (shortened as Last Exile Fam from here on) and the Gonzo panel that proceeded it. As the second entry into Last Exile, Fam will be one of Gonzo’s first projects since they stopped doing anime after Saki and Shangri-la in 2009¹. Hopefully, I can be of service to people while they are forced to wait for the public premiere. This will be the first post of three; the other two posts will be a detailed summary of the first episode with significant amounts of spoilers and notes on the Gonzo panel that happened afterwards, where much discussion on the production details of Last Exile Fam were gleaned and dropped.
Now, I’m hardly the largest supporter of Gonzo nor can I say that Last Exile is actually in the realm of my favourite shows (that is, I cannot say it’s 10/10 or even 9/10), but I can say with confidence that this first episode was a solid showing for Gonzo’s first anime in quite a few seasons. The normal airing of show will not start until October, and the director and producers noted the episode was barely done in time for the AX2011 premiere, so they’re working on about 3 months of buffer. Let’s hope this will help them maintain decent production values.
I anticipate the opening sequence will rub a lot of more serious fans in the wrong way, and while the staff is almost identical to Last Exile‘s, I can also see a lot of people may already be leery of the show, considering its twin heroines for protagonists and their few but very calculated moe traits. The first episode I cannot say dismisses all of those fears, but I think the writing has been sober enough that I don’t believe it to be anything to be concerned about.
Admittedly, my last viewing of Last Exile was a very long time ago. However, service for the old fans I assure is not lacking. Additionally, I believe they’ve even improved the attention to detail accorded to the military tech and situations, which is as per usual for Suzuki Takaaki (Last Exile, Strike Witches, Strike Witches 2)². On the visual front, the colour palette seems to have broadened from Last Exile‘s paler, starker palette, and lends itself to giving many things a richer feeling. The vehicles the characters use are still rendered using 3D CGi, and how can I say this? While Gonzo has improved a bit with using CGi, it’s only as integrated as say, Infinite Stratos‘s was, to pick a recent example. Additionally, characters in the vehicles are rendered in 3D CGi too, unlike in Last Exile where they had to be drawn in due to technical limitations on CGi back in 2003. Considering the fast-paced cuts and exciting pace of the combat, however, this isn’t a huge issue, but I would be lying if I denied that the CGi use is not easy to notice with some scrutiny.
To say simply, the first episode of Last Exile Fam was a great and very promising first episode for the new series. Please check it out without concern when it airs! I am confident that it will be able to satisfy at least as wide an audience as the first did, if not capture more. If you’d rather not take my word for it though, and don’t mind spoilers, please look forward to my next post on the subject, where I’ll forgo my usual distaste for sharing plot details to give you all the nitty gritty details I was able to fit into my notes while still actually watching. Hopefully, I’ll give a working representation of just how the first episode was like. Please look forward to it.
They did do the short animated cutscenes for Blazblue Calamity Trigger in 2010, however. They were also contracted to cooperate in animation for anime like most companies are. They just did not produce any anime of their own in that time.
Anime Expo also credits him with GUNxSWORD, but I can’t actually find another place that corroborates that information.