Last Exile (2003 IMDb)

Categorization

SF war, adventure.

Subject

A pair of young delivery pilots get pulled into an old war on a harsh world. A constant storm separates two nations, whose “chivalrous” aerial engagements are watched over by a powerful Guild. Great airships hover without wings, employing the mysterious Guild-given element of Claudia to stay off the ground. Down there, even water is scarce.

Commentary

A modern and serious full-length series with many strong parallels to the glorious Castle in the Sky (1986). It would be hard to screw up such a concept, and Last Exile doesn't. The cuteness and comedy are well done and appropriately controlled (i.e. scarce), it looks great—apart from a few poor designs executed in too-obvious 3D CGI rendering—and it plays much like a very long movie.

References here: Planetes (2003).

Japanese production animation series

Sequel:

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing (2011 IMDb)

Viewing

Seen in 2014.

Categorization

Similar. Shorter at 21 episodes.

Subject

Sky pirates use light, unarmed vanships to hijack larger ships from numerous nations on the world the Exiles came from. War brews between once-exiled “returner” nations and the federation of peoples who never left.

Commentary

Injected with moe. There are three (3!) major princess or young empress characters, and pretty much all the protagonists are cute young women who just want everyone to get along, despite large cultural and religious differences and the overpopulation problem.

I like the quasi-Russian faction of Glacies: it's fanatically religious, isolationist, lives in a cold post-apocalyptic wasteland, uses rocket-powered flight and actually speaks Russian. Even this faction is represented primarily by girls, like the way Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse (2012) represents a long-lived Soviet Union with girls.

A lot of the apparel is designed to look a bit like animal ears to further emphasize cuteness, while the machinery looks like 1920s German industrial design gone mad. Science fiction is clearly in the back seat here. Characters and story are generally less engaging than in the original.

Japanese production animation series