Ah, the pirates have returned to continue their piracy. Now’s about the best chance for me to ask a question that I’ve kept reserved since the first episode: how exactly does piracy work in this world?
Piracy in Last Exile: Fam can be reduced to a simple process judging by what we’ve seen but it still carries some questions with it. Being a pirate here means to partake in the mystifying activity ‘sky fishing’, which sees bandits capture airships, strip them of their parts, and sell everything for a profit. Sounds simple, right? The competition among a crew we’ve seen is fierce with the first harpoon being the one who claims the ship in their name and assumes the responsibility of distributing their new loot. Obviously, the pirates all cooperate with each other and they split the profits once the ship is successfully captured but being first means being in control. The pirates manage a lively market for the parts they pillage and reside in a small settlement hidden within the crater of an enormous mountain. That’s about all the anime has shown us. What exactly happens between these scenes is something we have to guess (at least for now), so let’s try to figure out what happens from start to finish.
The most pressing question I’ve always had whenever Fam or another pirate steals a ship is what happens to the crew? Assuming the pirates stall the airship, they still have to board it, take command of the vessel, and return it to port. Wouldn’t the crew onboard, especially those on Ades warships, defend their vessel with their arsenal? The crew can easily defend the ship from a few wandering pirates with their guns and the battleships should have weaponry to defend from any approaching vanships. But assuming the pirates take command of this ship, then what happens to the crew? They seem to just disappear and allow the pirates to fly back to their home port with no resistance. I think we have to assume they depart on ‘lifeboats’ back to their local base or capital but we have yet to see any scene like that (besides when Giselle tricked the captain and crew of that one ship). I doubt they take the crews prisoner since we saw the commander of one captured ship reappear, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to selectively decide who is a prisoner and who returns home. I have trouble accepting the fact that the crew of these captured ships, the military no less, do not fight the pirates with all they have. That and they supposedly withdraw without as much as a problem with anything that happened. Just imagine the catastrophe that’d await the pirates if a few soldiers remained hiding during the takeover and launched an assault on the few that remain in the ship? I’m surprised that hasn’t happened yet. If I could think of some other alternative I would write that now but I can’t think of anything else plausible. Unfortunately, this seems like the most probable event that happens to the crew of a captured warship and it’s something I find unfeasible.
Following the overpowering of the former crew, the next step involves piloting the warship back to port to begin scrapping and selling the cargo. This step doesn’t have as many faults as the previous or the next but it is something that I would like to see. Who pilots the ship? Fam is likely the best vanship pilot in her pirate guild but her Vespa model and an Ades warship are quite different in terms of size, speed, maneuverability, control, and probably a dozen other factors that you can think of but I’m too lazy to write. It’s possible that Fam is some wunderkind pilot who can easily master any vehicle she sees but it’s something unlikely. Giselle, with her encyclopedia of knowledge tucked in between those ears, certainly would help since she has everything memorized about every ship in the sky, so that helps. She’d likely be able to decipher the instruments, gauge the fuel remaining, and plan the navigation, too, that resourceful, little sidekick. But then you wonder about the lesser pilots in the pirate guild, all those guys that pair up in their Vespas and hunt with Fam and Giselle. I’m not sure what they would do in this situation and with Fam and Giselle gone hunting battleships for Millia, I’m guessing they’ve found some way to manage in the meantime. Still, it’s something I’d like to see, even if it’s something minor like Fam at the wheel and talking to Giselle who’s studying a map or something.
Finally, once the ship has arrived at the skyport, the plundering begins. We’ve seen a few scenes at how the pirates redistribute the booty and how their market functions but I do wonder what happens to most of the heavy materials and the weapons onboard. You’d figure the only market looking for giant airship engines and various cannonry and weaponry would be the most powerful militaries of the world. And even then, the engineering is likely different between each nation, so much so that these parts aren’t interchangeable. So the only market for these things is to the military they just stole them from. Can’t imagine that would go down well for the pirates. Of course, there are other options available for these specialty items. Melting these metals down and selling the material is one option or salvaging it for their own use is another. And what we’ve seen lately is that Fam is keeping the ships intact. It works for Fam, Millia, and Tatiana according to their agreement, but for piracy in general, it seems unlikely they’d do that. The market might be better for completed airships with more of a private industry interested in ready-to-use vessels but it’d be difficult to keep a ship of that nature safe in harbor. Plus the resources needed to run maintenance, outfit the ship properly, pay a crew and any potential docking or harbor fees makes it seem like a liability rather than an asset. Still, the market for these pirated parts is intriguing to me and I’d like to see more of it, especially if something important falls into the wrong hands.
I assume the series never intended us to explore this much into piracy in the anime, especially since the series has spent such little time focusing on them compared to the ongoing warfare between Ades and the rest of the world. Certainly their conquest and battles are more interesting and exciting to watch but you’d figure that with piracy being a critical component of the story and the setting we’d see more in-depth into their world. Seeing the pirates return in this episode reminded me of these questions and I thought it’d be an appropriate time to analyze these pieces of missing information, especially since they were hunting a fleet of warships rather than a single one. How they planned to go about the raiding would’ve been interesting to see. Likewise, I’d like to see more of the world and what stark differences separate each nation and each culture. The setting is still, and likely always will be, my favorite characteristic of Last Exile: Fam and the most time spent exploring its rich environment and discovering fascinating details, then the happier I’ll be with this anime.
I’m not gonna lie, Giselle is starting to grow on me as a character. I’ve never really like her type of personality in anime, that nervous, quiet, compassionate, intelligent, and supportive girl you see in every genre of anime. When I found out that Giselle displayed that personality, I virtually tuned her out in favor of more interesting and exciting characters like Fam or profound and ambitious characters like Millia. But recently she’s begun to have more screentime, so I’ve paid more attention to her character. She’s obviously dealing with ambivalence over her relationship with Fam, dealing with the conflicting feelings of telling Fam her mind and preserving her friendship as is. While many girls with this same personality (in anime) would choose to prolong the problem and not take action, Giselle has chosen to do something about it. She hasn’t taken that step immediately since she is fearful of the consequences and wants to make sure everything she does is for the best but it’s clear that eventually we’ll see Giselle confront Fam about what’s going on. It was about this time I found myself starting to agree with Giselle’s character. She can’t take the step now but she’s progressed from not wanting to deal with the problem to wanting to deal with it. Once she has the right opportunity, she’ll strike, that I am confident of. And once she does that, she’ll gain a lot more admiration and respect from me. But until then, Giselle is a distant third between my favorite new characters. For those who are curious, Millia is still in front by a good margin and Fam is a solid second.