DVD Review: Last Exile: Fam – Part 1

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The original Last Exile series was an interesting, but entertaining series, so how will this sequel – which takes place several years after the original series – preform and is the DVD Quality up to scratch? Find out in our DVD Review of Last Exile: Fam – Part 1.

Synopsis:

Years ago, humanity abandoned the ruined Earth. Generations later, with the planet again capable of sustaining life, mankind returned. In the skies above the reborn world, rebellious young Fam and her best friend Giselle make their living as Sky Pirates. Atop sleek Vespa Vanships, the girls dart fearlessly through the clouds, capturing and selling airborne battleships for profit. It’s a life of care-free swashbuckling – until the Ades Federation attacks.

The only nation to remain on Earth during humanity’s exile, The Ades Federation wages war against those who returned only after the planet’s darkest days had passed. When Fam and Giselle rescue a princess from the clutches of the rampaging Ades armada, they join the young royal’s battle to save her Kingdom from destruction – and undertake the impossible mission of uniting humanity in peace.

Our View:

Last Exile: Fam is the continuation to the 2003 Anime series, Last Exile, however unlike most sequels the story takes in a brand new location and follows a new set of protagonists, namely Fam Fan Fan and her navigator Giselle Collette. Despite being set in a new location, this time earth instead of a fictional location, the airships and character designs all remain familiar and since the series follows a new set of characters, along with a new storyline, viewers will not need to have seen the original to understand what is taking place, though it does help a little.

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It’s not fully explained in the series, especially at the start, but several decades ago humans left earth to live elsewhere and in recent times they have returned to earth and have started to build up their own civilisations. These people are known as Exiles and within each nation is an Exile that can control a moon shape object of destructive power, in this case Lillana of Turan, and its this ability that the Federation of Ades (or at least one of its commanding officers) wants to control, as it is a power than can be used to control the entire world.

Of course the viewer isn’t aware of this at the start of the show, and it is a storyline that slowly gets told over the progression of the series. The series starts by introducing the main protagonists, namely Sky Pirates Fam and Giselle as well as the princess, Millia. You see just before Turan was destroyed by the Exile, Millia was saved by Fam and the Sky Pirates, and now all three embark on a mission to return Turan to its once former glory as well as rescue her older sister, who has been taken prisoner by the Federation of Ades. This mission starts off big, with Fam deciding to capture the mysterious Silvius for use as Millia’s flagship, however the capture goes incredibly wrong and as such Fam (along with Millia and Giselle) end up working with the crew in order to capture even more Federation ships, which ultimately leads the whole group uncovering the true motives of the Federation, much to the shock of everyone on board.

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The first half of Last Exile: Fam offers a variety of different stories from different perspectives, but they all seem to naturally mix together. For instance the series starts by introducing the daily activities of the main cast (in a rather comical way of Fam sleepwalking out of a Vanship) but then the series swiftly moves onto a variety of serious notes, such as the conflict between nations and its destruction. The series has a natural mix of comical entertainment, serious storylines and personal dreams and unlike the original series is a lot more entertaining to watch, even if it does not make much sense due to the unique character names and locations.

Extras:

Continuing the trend left off by the previous series Last Exile – Fam contains a variety of unique extra features, including an interview with the Director and Producer of the series, as well as the usual list of extra features.

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As mentioned highlights of extra features included with this release is the interview with the director and the producer of the series, however other noticeable additions include the Spinoff Anime series (with 7 episodes included) as well as English Cast Commentaries.

Disc 1:

  • Episode 1 English Cast Commentary with christropher Bevins (Line Producer),  Leah Clark (Giselle) Carrie Savage (Milla)

Disc 2:

  • Episode 11 English Cast Commentary – Jad Saxton (Fam), Jamie Marchi (Lillana), Duncan Brannan (Luscinnia)
  • Anime Expo 2011: Part 1 (7 Minutes)
  • Spinoff Anime CM Series “Friday Night” Episode 1 – 7 (4 Minutes)
  • FAM Event Opening Movie (2 Minutes)
  • Commerical Collection (1 Minute)
  • Textless Songs

The first installment of the Anime Expo 2011 is a seven minute interview with Koichi Chigira (Director) and Hiroyuki Birukawa (Producer), whereby they both  provide details on how Last Exile: Fam was produced as well as their opinion on what they tried to achieve. It’s a nice extra that usually isn’t included with TV Anime series, but luckily it survives the transfer from US (to Australian) to UK DVD (and Blu-ray).

The English Cast Commentary are also worth taking a dive into, as it shares the voice actors thoughts on the series and how they portrayed that character on screen – more interestingly is the comical debate regarding how the voices for Millia, Lilliana and Teddy were created. To round out the extra features is the addition of original Japanese Promo adverts and the inclusion of the usual Text less opening and closing songs, so overall it’s a nice round package of extra features – which isn’t something you see often on TV Anime releases, especially within the UK.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time:  2:21:00 (Disc 1), 2:20:31 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448Kbps (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Last Exile: Fam, just like its original series, is confusing and entertaining at the same time – however unlike the original the story is a lot more easier to follow and progresses at a steady pace not to mention the progression in technology, artwork and CGI has really improved the series visually – as all of the CGI scenes blend in with traditional 2D anime series. Storywise this first half, which contains 11 episodes (1 of which is a re-cap episode) manages to kick-start the story and gain the viewer’s interest, but as you’d expect just as things start to get “really good” it ends and leaves it open until the next instalment.

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DVD Wise the Series is presented as you would expect it to be, with 5.1 Surround Sound for the English Dub and traditional 2.0 Stereo for the Japanese Audio track with “optional” (and removable) Yellow English Subtitles. It’s also worth mentioning that the subtitles are translated from the original Japanese audio, meaning it differs from the English dub. In regards to the English Audio its mixed opinions from me, some character voices seem realistic while others seem just plain strange (Teddy for instance), but even then the Japanese Audio language track has its own flaws. It’s not the dubbing quality I’m referring to, just some character voices do not seem suited to the character that they are portraying, but this is more of a personal (nit-picking) taste rather than anything.

Visually the DVD is better than expected, with no distortion or pixel-loss during fast moving scene. Unfortunately we were not able to view the Blu-ray version, as we did not receive it, so I can only assume the Blu-ray version will impressively better – so I’d recommend getting that for the overall better visual experience. As mentioned in the “extras” section there is a variety of extra content all of which offer something unique and interesting, with the main highlights being the interviews and spinoff episodes. The only real issue I have with the DVD contents is the menu layout for episode listings, as just like old-school DVD releases it lists one episode per screen rather than a list of all the episodes on a disc. This means that time is spent navigating (i.e. pressing the next arrow) in order to reach the episode of your choice. Obviously this isn’t down to Manga, it’s the person who authored the disc, and while it may look nice(with episode artwork) I do find it slightly annoying.

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Last Exile: Fam is a nice continuation of the “Last Exile” saga and while it provides a variety of entertainment and a steadily progressive story there are still bits I don’t like with the series itself. Nothing is really explained to the viewer, it just arrives at your doorstep and the complicated names or characters and locations (not to mention the resembling uniforms) makes it difficult to sometimes keep track of whose who and whats going on. Despite all of this Last Exile: Fam is an entertaining series and for those who enjoyed the original it is a must watch as its everything Last Exile was, but better in more ways than one (even if it is still a bit complicated).

Score: review-stars-4

Last Exile: Fam – Part 1 will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from the 2nd December 2013.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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