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Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing – “Open File” Recap

by on October 20, 2011

In the skies above the sacred Grand Lake, the Ades Federation declares
war on the kingdom of Turan. Just when the Turan flagship’s destruction
seems inevitable, a Sky Pirate named Fam boldly states, “I’ve made up
my mind! I’m going to steal that ship!”

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing is best thought of as a spin-off and a cousin to 2003’s Last Exile,
but it’s a spiritual successor in the ways that matter. The entire thing revolves around flight and action in the sky, the steampunk
influence is there, and as before we have a starting premise of youths
getting involved in a war a whole lot bigger than themselves. 

In “Open File” we’re introduced to our young heroine Fam and the
group of sky pirates she works with as they capture a large “Skyfish”
vessel, to the chagrin of its buffoonish captain. Fam pilots a two-seat
vanship with her best friend Giselle, her navigator and the daughter of
the group’s leader. With their task complete they go home to relax and
discuss the big news of the day, the imminent signing of a non-aggression treaty between the militaristic Ades Federation and the
Kingdom of Turan. Events shift to the site of the treaty, the so-called
“Sacred Lake”, a place revered by both parties that is understood to be
neutral territory.
There Turan’s Princess Lilly prays for peace and success and
assuages the concerns of her younger sister, princess Millia. Unfortunately the Federation’s Premier Luscinia Hafez arrives not to fulfill peace talks, but to launch a sneak attack with the intent of capturing the princesses. The sky pirates hear the news of the betrayal and Fam decides to intervene; they manage to save
the Turan flagship Lasas and the Turan royalty through piloting skill and ingenuity. They employ smoke screens and bogus light signal communication, tricking the Ades ships into attacking one another. Meanwhile Fam’s
comrade Dio boards the Lasas and takes the helm, pulling off a
ruse that makes it appear as though the ship has crash landed. But this
is only the beginning. Premier Hafez expresses skepticism about about
the fate of the Lasas to his right hand man Alauda, while Princess Lilly intends to have the Lasas repaired and intercept the Ades forces before they reach Turan’s capital city.

“Open File” is a successful hook episode by virtue of its high-flying action and first class presentation, which blends 2D animation and CG as well as any animated series is going to today. The action stays believable also; Fam and the sky pirates don’t fight the Federation’s formidable military might, they succeed with cunning. What remains to be seen is whether substance will live up to the style. I’m not clear on why the sky pirates got involved in this conflict to begin with. Is it out of principle, an interest in soliciting a royal reward, what? I’m left wondering what makes Fam tick. The Federation seems stereotypically evil, attacking simply because it can. Premier Hafez has a villainous eyepatch, and just try to tell me the Federation uniforms don’t evoke a mental image of sky Nazis. Turan’s princesses have promise; Lilly exhibits dignified maturity and leadership while one gets the sense Millia is halfway between childhood and womanhood. Dio is a carefree fellow and a great pilot, though I hope he’s more than comic relief and fanservice for fans that remember his namesake. Fam herself is a precocious and lively pilot that’s full of energy, and the fact that Dio acted on her instructions suggests she’s far more clever than she looks. In contrast Giselle is a reserved & quiet non-presence so far; I hope she doesn’t prove to be a dull foil to Fam. Still, no one can say that this piloting pair are imitations of Claus and Lavie from the original Last Exile

All in all, this first episode suggests a show that will ultimately mark Gonzo’s creative comeback. Last Exile fans should absolutely see it, as should any viewer that’s open to something fresh. This isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it is the kind of thing you can turn to in response to sentiment that anime is too generic these days.

New episodes of Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing premiere on Mondays at funimation.com, Nico Nico and Hulu.

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