There’s a sense of adventure in Last Exile Fam and this episode is a clear display of it. Flying through the skies in an imposing pirate ship, stalking an armada of an active military, and all together with your best friend, Last Exile sure knows how to set up a grand adventure. But sometime doesn’t feel right; something is off. Even though we have an ideal set up for an adventure in this anime, it just doesn’t feel that adventurous.
We’re getting into some substantial episodes now in Last Exile Fam. Fam and Giselle are on a mission to steal fifteen Ades warships. Millia and Teddy are trying to restore their defeated nation aboard the Silvius, and Dio, Tatiana, and Alister are discussing the recent appearance of Exile in Turan. Everything is starting to heat up, even the Ades military which is beginning to annex the charred lands of Turan and continuing their aggressive push into foreign lands. All the story elements are in place for Fam and Giselle to be in the middle of an unforgettable adventure. But it doesn’t feel very thrilling, courageous, or above all, adventurous. There’s something missing from this episode of Last Exile.
Perhaps it’s the lack of tension present in this episode? Sure, there was some anxiety over the mission before it began but there were never any tense or frightening moments during the entire operation. Considering the mission required Fam, Giselle, and the mechanics to board an enemy battleship in disguise (which I thought looked awesome, just throwing that out there) and subdue the Captain and his men into leaving the ship for them to boldly take from them. A clever plan that required absolute execution and even the slightest of mistakes would’ve spelled disaster for the girls.
But did you ever think for a moment they were in peril when boarding this warship? Or was there any reason to think their mission wouldn’t work, despite the best efforts of Fam to reveal their true allegiance? No, the only time they even hinted at the possibility of failure was when Giselle pleaded to Fam to behavior normally otherwise they’d attract suspicion. But then again, Giselle is always timid, so that’s nothing new on her part and after that scene, she played the part perfectly tricking the Captain and securing the ship for themselves. There never was any tension throughout the entire mission. Without a sense of tension, the whole event felt lackluster and harmless. Sure, the mission was an adventure, boarding an enemy warship and stealing it from under their noses, but it felt as adventurous as Fam and Giselle eating a meal together. There needs to be a sense of endangerment and a sense of excitement needed to draw the audience in. Perhaps some resistance by the grunts around the ship, some disbelief from the crew, some warning shots toward their vanship upon arrival, or Fam screwing things up would’ve added some adventure to this mission.
Without that stimulus, this episode of Last Exile felt peaceful and boring. There’s no denying what happened was an adventure the girls went out on but without tension or danger, it never felt like an adventure. These scenes lacked enthusiasm by the characters and was scripted in such a way to provide screentime for the other members, especially Millia dressing as a maid (which I thought was dumb, just throwing that out there). Perhaps this mission was supposed to be an easy one to contrast later missions but even then, there still should’ve been something there to make the episode feel more adventurous and exciting. Maybe some aerial combat will cheer me up in the next episode since that seems to be my favorite part of Last Exile so far (besides Dio, Tatiana, and Alister together again).
Perhaps the lack of tension in this episode was due to some other factors not mentioned above. There was also a lack of focus for this episode, splitting the time between Fam and Millia that may have hindered the emotion of this mission. I don’t hate Millia but I felt that her story could have waited for another time and that this episode should’ve belonged solely to Fam and Giselle hunting skyfish. It may not have helped with the tension in the scenes themselves but it would’ve helped with the focus and keeping the mood of the scenes constant. It didn’t help that we were subject to seeing the leader of a proud nation dress up as a maid in between scenes of Fam seizing an airship. The insertion of fanservice scenes did not help the more serious mood during the mission, especially early on before they had their meeting with the Captain. It seems like the anime is trying to tell three separate stories with three separate styles now. Between Fam, Millia, and Tatiana, Last Exile has to split time between each as they are all pursuing separate but related goals. Maybe soon Last Exile will sort out its priorities and focus on one story each episode, providing clarity and simplicity toward its story, storytelling, and character development each time.