This excellent anime release offers Judge Bryan Byun a welcome opportunity to jump up and down on the grave of the Phantom Menace pod race.
Our reviews of Last Exile: First Move (Volume 1) (published November 14th, 2003), Last Exile: Positional Play (Volume 2) (published April 29th, 2004), and Last Exile: The Complete Series (published June 11th, 2009) are also available.
"Let's have some fun."—Dio
Claus and Lavie are teenaged air couriers from Prester, a world dominated by massive steam-powered air-battleships battling each other in a neverending war of dominance, overseen by the enigmatic, all-powerful Guild. Piloting a run-down vanship (a cross between a biplane and a Star Wars pod racer), Claus and Lavie struggle to support themselves while pursuing their dream of flying across the Grand Stream, a dangerous jet stream that caused the deaths of their fathers.
The pair stumble across a mysterious young girl named Alvis, the "package" in a high-stakes delivery whose courier has been shot down. At the behest of the dying pilot, Claus and Lavi agree to take up the assignment and transport Alvis to the air-battleship Silvana, a decision that places them in the path of the Guild and into the most dangerous mission of their young lives.
Last Exile: Discovered Attack, the third volume of the popular anime series Last Exile, picks up where the previous volume left off, with Claus, Lavie, and Alvis on board the Silvana, the renegade battleship commanded by the mysterious Captain Alex Rowe. Claus and Lavie are given the chance to compete in the eight-hour Horizon Cave vanship race, along with chilly vanship pilot Tatiana, who seems determined to make Claus's life as difficult as possible. Also hounding Claus is the enigmatic, perpetually smirking Dio, a Guild pilot who latches onto Claus as a worthy adversary and a source of amusement. Meanwhile, we finally get a look (or do we?) at the Exile Gateway, when the artifact is put up for auction and a fierce bidding war erupts between Captain Rowe and the Guild.
The four episodes that make up Discovered Attack—"Calculate Alex," "Swindle," "Develop," and "Discovered Attack"—focus on the race and auction, neither of which turns out to be quite what it seems, and their immediate aftermath. After two volumes of episodes that tended to bounce around from one seemingly disconnected plot point to another, it's a relief to have the series stay in one place for a while and tell a complete story. Discovered Attack provides a good balance of character development and exciting action sequences, including a vanship race that is what the Phantom Menace pod race would have been if we gave a damn about any of the contestants. To reveal any more of the storyline would ruin the suspense, so suffice it to say that there are plenty of exciting twists and turns in this volume, which is the most enjoyable yet in the series.
The DVD of Last Exile: Discovered Attack is even lighter on features than the previous volume, including only an art gallery and Geneon trailers. Perhaps to make up for the lack of bonus materials, the DVD comes with a pair of interesting paper inserts. One is a "Limited Edition" paper model of Claus and Lavie's vanship with parts that can be cut out and assembled, and the other is a detailed description of the battleship Urbanus accompanying the episode and chapter listing.
Last Exile is one of the most beautifully animated anime series out there, and this volume maintains the quality transfer of previous discs, with a pristine anamorphic widescreen picture and clear, dynamic Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. Both Japanese and English language tracks are included, and the excellent English vocal performances will not disappoint.
I've become a big fan of Last Exile and its seamless blend of science fiction and old-fashioned high adventure. While the series is essentially a pastiche of familiar anime, SF, and historical epic themes, Last Exile expertly blends those themes into an engrossing story elevated by well-written and developed characters.
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