Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 13

Continuing along with my senseless nomenclature for this anime, this week’s episode is hereby dubbed ‘Lost Exile’ which appropriately describes how Millia, Fam, and Giselle were marooned in the barren tundra of Glacies.  The whole episode revolves around our trio of heroes interacting with Rocket Fighter pilot and native to Glacies, Dian, and repairing their wrecked vanship before departing to the home base, the Silvus.  But before going from point A to point B, the episode exposed a vast schism in cultures, customs, and philosophies between Glacies and the rest of nations neighboring the Grand Lake.  Thought the episode did minimal to advance the plot, its exposition on world building was exceptional and it enriched the setting in a way I admire: thought character action rather than narration or guesstimation.

What continues to impress me through each episode of Last Exile is the diligence of the elaborate setting, not only through its tireless details in every scene but through the way the characters use the setting to tell themselves and tell the story.  This episode was all about the setting and specifically on a subsection we knew little about and seen ever less of.  We knew Glacies was a faraway landscape eternally blanketed in snow, below unhappy gray skies, and home to spiffy-looking airships that would patrol their boarders like an attentive guard dog housed in junkyard.  Oh, and they speak Russian, so there are subtitles translating their tongue into something the subbers understand.  But that was it.  They always felt like a foreboding and intimidating country that the characters dreaded.  We were even reminded of this soon after the episode began when Fam likened Dian to some sort of ogre that would club them and eat their bones.  But in reality, we saw something completely different.

Dian is our ambassador to Glacies, representing her entire nation’s cultures, traditions, and beliefs throughout the episode.  That’s not to say Dian is the embodiment of Glacies through and through, she does have some individual qualities that separate her from the rest of the Rocket Fighters and elevates her to this role, but for the purpose of the episode Dian is a living, breathing representative of Glacies to our heroic trinity and to us, the audience.  Through Dian’s interactions with Millia and the others, we can begin to learn about the last relevant nation in the world.

Aside from the language barrier which was the most obvious dissimilarity, perhaps the most significant between the two were their airships and their philosophies about flying in the skies.  The airships of Glacies completely encapsulate the pilots in their cockpits and show various screens brimming with data and information.  Because of this engineering design, Dian has never felt the wind until she piloted Fam’s vanship after it finished being repaired.  Just imagine how this new sensation and new perspective influenced her view of flying, feeling the freezing air against her face and seeing the world through her own eyes rather than various computerized screens.  Must’ve been something else for her.  Probably gave Dian something else to think about when she criticized Fam and Giselle’s flying philosophies earlier in the episode.  Dian had trouble understanding why someone would fly without weapons and assist others in the sky when all she is familiar with, and the isolated nation of Glacies too, is patrolling her boarders, protecting her people, and killing those who threaten her sovereignty.  Certainly flying in Fam’s vanship helped give her some idea on why Fam does what she does and loves what she loves.

And for Millia, Fam, and Giselle, they were able to experience Glacies, meet its people, and survive through their efforts.  Through Dian and the others that helped them during their stay, they began to realize that Glacies was not as intimidating and threatening as they first imagined, despite the image from all the patrols and battles they must see or hear about.  And Fam’s fear of imprisonment and death were quickly dispelled when Dian showed them her compassion and warmth.  Likewise with Dian’s philosophy of flying disturbed by Fam’s line of thinking, the others were exposed to a side of flying without love for others or itself, that it was special but not special.  While it doesn’t seem like much was gained for the story or the characters themselves though these exchanges, it did create a new and comprehensive image of Glacies for us.

What really impressed me with this episode was not what Glacies was developed into but how we saw the development of the setting take place.  That is, we saw it though Dian’s actions instead of through a myriad of other, lesser options.  The two languages really created a divide among the cast as they attempted to work together to repair the vanship and was effective, not only in creating hardships to overcome, but to show how different Glacies and the rest of the world is.  It’s not often you see something like this done in anime.  Usually the two different cultures will speak Japanese and rely on lesser devices to show the difference in culture (clothes, food, body language), so showing us the two languages and the characters finding difficulties communicating made the difference in cultures much more effective and significant.  Seeing the two sides learn about each other’s aircrafts through dialogue and later, thorough experience, really drove home the fact that these two nations have vastly different approaches to aviation and the purpose behind flying.  Had the two just discussed it back and forth (not questioning each other) it simply would not have been enough.  By doing it the way they did it, we were able to visualize the differences and see the reactions of Dian and Fam to the new knowledge.  Through these and other actions, we were able to understand the world of Last Exile even further and experience this new knowledge along with the characters of these lands.  The setting has always been a favorite aspect of mine in Last Exile largely due to its appeal but through developments like these, I appreciate it that much further and enjoy it that much more.

Since when did the Ades Military branch join up with the Department of Infinite Money to build all those airships?  At one point, I counted around 240 on screen during one shot this episode.  That’s absolutely absurd and unbelievable.  Seriously, these airships all must cost a fortune, not only to construct, outfit and maintain, but to pay for the crew that operates them, the military onboard, the food and supplies for everyone, and ultimately upgrade.  And they have thousands of these.  This war must be incredibly costly for the people of Ades and for what gain?  They’re not doing much with the ruins of Turan now after decimating the capital to rubble.  But it doesn’t appear they know or care what’s going on, they just cheer wildly because someone somewhere established a link of this war to Augusta and, like the blind and uneducated masses they are, they go wild and give it their full support.  I don’t understand how this war is finaced or how its backed by its people but whatever, I could make this argument in any anime and still get the same answer every time: shrugged shoulders.

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  1. #1 by Myssa on January 18, 2012 - 10:27 PM

    Fam’s Harem diary: Tatiana-analogue get!

    I don’t think we’ll ever get an explanation for the absurd amount of ships in Fam (we’ll have to again wait for supplements for that), but from what I understood, fully 3/6th of the ships there weren’t even from Ades to begin with, but from annexed territories like Keios (the fact that they had the older designs were a dead giveaway). And the others are literally major elements of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fleets. Even if we can consider the provincial fleets as a protective screen for the named Ades fleets, that’s still a considerable amount of force, which means either of two things: Luscinia sees Glacies as a real threat, and is willing to throw most of what was in his disposal against them to see them neutralized (take note that it only took Kayvan’s 2nd Fleet to attack Turan)… Or he REALLY wanted to get rid of some people.

    A few of us thought that it was awfully convenient that the provincials (non-Ades people) were sent in as both a vanguard and a decoy. I smell a more subtler purge already in motion, and this time the casualties can be handwaved as casualties of war…

    • #2 by avvesione on January 19, 2012 - 12:48 AM

      Yeah, I noticed the forces deployed to Glacies, probably the only nation in the world with a military that can contend with Ades, were from its annexed lands. I’m guessing this will allow Luscinia to unleash Exile on the battlefield to decimate Glacies and not lose too many of its Ades forces allowing the true Ades army to conquer without causalities. Would be interesting to see if Glacies has a plan to evade this fight or avoid Exile or if they have something else planned to allow them to survive if that’s the case.

      • #3 by Myssa on January 19, 2012 - 1:18 AM

        My prediction? The forces from Glacies will cut through the provincial fleets like hot knife through butter, then will be pushed back (with heavy losses) by the new weapons installed in the newer ships (which were used against the Sky Pirates several episodes before). Then Fam comes in with the information about the weapons, which gives some measure of parity… After that who knows.

        I know some folk who would like to see the forces of the United Kingdom of Anatoray-Disith to make its grand entrance as the cavalry, and give another reason for Glacies to throw its lot in with the resistance. Realistically though? I suspect while Glacies might be thankful to Fam and her friends, in the end only Dian, her navi, and their wingwomen will tag along, at least for the near future.

        • #4 by avvesione on January 19, 2012 - 1:02 PM

          Sounds realistic, within the perimeters of the story, and within expectations given what’s happened. Should be fun to see what happens in the next episode and see how the battle plays out.

  2. #5 by Thegoodblob on February 10, 2014 - 5:54 PM

    “That’s absolutely absurd and unbelievable.Seriously, these airships all must cost a fortune, not only to construct, outfit and maintain, but to pay for the crew that operates them, the military onboard, the food and supplies for everyone, and ultimately upgrade. And they have thousands of these. This war must be incredibly costly for the people of Ades…”
    No, you an myssa are both isnt absurd and unbelievable, or too costly. The ships may not even cost a fortune. If the resources to make them within capitalist terms were aplenty, then the costs would be cheap in capitalist terms. First, the economy is not that weak, there probably is a large population, with large resources, thus a large amount of money, with taxes, and using government owned-land resources harvested by robots, ships manned mostly by robots possibly or just that there is a large population and thus a large workforce that can harvest the resources and mann the ships, without causing dents in the economy like Soviets. Like others have said, there are ships from annexed countries, so this has to be considered as well. The more ships, the more powerful, grey skies are not unhappy, the border patrols are not dreaded by everyone and the country is not pure evil/foreboding. Now, if the country did annex” different cultural countries”, then that is wrong, and they should be let go. That is eventually inevitable. Even if not on-screen.

    “…and for what gain? They’re not doing much with the ruins of Turan now after decimating the capital to rubble…”
    They are doing much, by patrolling their lands, they may not instantly any people wanting to cross the borders instantly who are friendly, if not, then they should just block them, and redirect them to the proper facilities/direction to visit the country.

    “. But it doesn’t appear they know or care what’s going on,…”
    Wrong again, they do know and care about what is going on, they are not stupid.
    “…they just cheer wildly because someone somewhere established a link of this war to Augusta and, like the blind and uneducated masses they are, they go wild and give it their full support….”
    No. They dont just cheer wildly because someone established a link of the war to Augusta, they are not blind and uneducated, they can see and they are educated. They go wild and give support as patriotism and love for their country, but I imagine that if they are waging an unnecessary invasive war, or annexing other peoples cultural lands, then they are wrong.

    “…I don’t understand how this war is financed or how its backed by its people but whatever,…”
    Then why bother talking about it, think about that before you start writing. You need improvement.
    Do you really think that fictional worlds are the same in our world? Of course not, they could have a massive economy, a economy that isnt a weak-sh#t joke of an economy like ours, not based on debt, but based on something like gold, or possibly other products. The fact is they could have a national treasure, with continual mining discoveries of gold, reaping in more profit for the government every month, a government with no debt, a government that is very strong, a economy that has high-paying jobs, and plenty of money left-over.
    ” I could make this argument in any anime and still get the same answer every time: shrugged shoulders.”
    No, you cant make your argument apply to every anime, and you will not always get the same answer of shrugged shoulders. Im not clueless with shrugged shoulders, I know how this can be done, just because something is unexplained in a piece of fiction does not equate to absurdity, something was done behind the scenes in the past to achieve such a feat.
    Also, don’t try clumping every other anime your nonsensical argument, that is totally unfair.
    Overall, your analysis was ok, but your unnecessary attacks on the country were irrelevant and groundless. Not every anime is like this, they are different, they are not the same.
    Other anime can handle big budgets, for example imagine Gundam, if they had robots that could harvest tons of materials , low human-workforce oversights, which can include construction of those machines by automated (underground maybe) factories, and the inventions in those worlds of long-shelf-life, durable,small-size power systems, then it can be done in those worlds, even without robots, other things can be done, it isnt impossible, nothing is impossible, there is always a way.

    “The forces from Glacies will cut through the provincial fleets like hot knife through butter,”
    Wrong. They arent going to cut through like that, its more rougher.
    ” handwaved as casualties of war”
    Not hand-waved, they are not genocidal purges of their own units.

    • #6 by Kaellian on February 10, 2014 - 10:29 PM

      A fantasy world does not have to mimic our, but common sense and logic still apply to these universes. In term of scale, every nations were much smaller than anything you see on Earth in the 21th century, yet, the size of their military surpasses anything we have by a significant margin.

      Let’s play a simple game. The first one to count the number of ships in that fleet win.

      Okay, I’m not counting that, but a quick multiplication reveals there is well over 10000-20000 ships in that single shot alone, and they weren’t even done zooming out. Every single one of these ships contain a battalion, and a small crew (~20 mechanics).

      Now, think about how many “airships” Fam stole in that first hangar. It was actually a huge deal at the time, and they only access to 10. Where did the rest come from? Are the military seriously operating such a large fleet? Why do the biggest port can only hold an handful when they have millions of them out there?

      And building that fleet? You say it might have been robots, but if you actually look at how their mechanics works, it’s very unlikely that they had an automated process. It’s much more likely that these ships are handcrafted, like everything else in their universe that isn’t “ancient tech”.

      Now, it wouldn’t be such a big deal if they had ridiculous number from the start, but the first Last Exile only had like four airships in the whole series, and they were kind of a huge deal. A single kid wouldn’t have been able to do anything against them, they were unstoppable flying behemoth, and one of the highlight of the show was a 3vs1 battle . Every ships actually meant something.

      In Last Exile Fam, these war-fleet lost their significance when a slightly retarded space pirate was able to survive fighting one by pulling some of the most dangerous stunts you could imagine. It took away from the seriousness of the situation and made all these fights ridiculous right from the beginning. The size of their fleet simply added to silliness of the situation.

  3. #7 by Thegoodblob on February 10, 2014 - 6:08 PM

    Different fictional worlds are not clones of our worlds, they are different.they could have larger continents,larger sized planet, larger resources, faster regeneration of resources(think Red Alert 2 with gold),etc.
    “Also, don’t try clumping every other anime your nonsensical argument, that is totally unfair.”
    I meant to actually say this:
    “Also, don’t try clumping every other anime with your nonsensical argument, that is totally unfair.”

  4. #8 by Thegoodblob on February 10, 2014 - 6:12 PM

    “Not every anime is like this, they are different, they are not the same.”
    I mean to to say that not every anime is like the faction you are talking about, they are not the same, but they are different. Even if unexplained by the author, for example, many robots like in Gudnam, there is an explanation, large resources, and thus large amounts of money, also a large population, or a advanced automation process to manufacture the products. All anime is not absurd,unbelievable.

  5. #9 by Thegoodblob on February 10, 2014 - 6:15 PM

    All anime is not unbelievable. All anime is not absurd.
    Sorry that I couldnt clump my comments into one piece, I just didnt want to have any loose ends, so dont ban me.

  6. #10 by Thegoodblob2 (@Thegoodblob2) on February 15, 2014 - 6:23 PM

    ” but common sense and logic still apply to these universes.”
    But anime universes still have common sense and logic nevertheless. Even if they have a lot of units, the more units the better. There is nothing wrong with that. Its not like there seems to be a under-balance in the population, they appear to have a large enough population to handle the circumstances.
    All anime have common sense and logic, just because they have different situations than ours does not equate it to illogical. Their circumstances makes sense because they have different developments and technologies in their own world.
    Having a large amount of units, strikes fear in the hear of an enemy who is possibly thinking/planning/going to try to invade the territory, having a couple of ships, even strong, may not ward off interested invaders/intruders. Like a house with anti-burglar technology, just having a lock on a door and a sign that says, “do not enter” may not be enough to ward off interested burglars, but having a lot of anti-burglar equipment is going to absolutely reduce the mathematical probability of a burglar hugely. With logic, it does make sense.
    For example, imagine we were both playing Tiberium wars 3, would you attack my base if I had a ton of units? No , otherwise you would be quickly destroyed easily. Your not going to attack because you there is a high probability of failure if you do so, and thus you will back-off any quick ideas to try to invade because it so heavily-guarded, it would be different if there were a few units, even if they were powerful, you could try to sneak in or make a diversion and easily invade the base, there is a higher probability of failure with a few units defending, especially if they are defending a large area/perimeter and their line of sight and attack-range does not cover such an area, even with patrolling, there will be gaps, and these gaps have no defense,thus making it an easy win for invaders to slip through. The principle is applied to the military strategy in similar ways.
    However, they could have different breakthroughs in their academic and scientific fields in their history, and they still have logic, its just different breakthroughs and unique inventions that lead to them their own unique rise in their own unique technology. Their available current and new technologies(some that have not happened in our world) thus makes them have a different sense of what can be done and not can be done, which is thus different for us humans in our own world.

  7. #11 by Thegoodblob2 (@Thegoodblob2) on February 15, 2014 - 7:37 PM

    The rest of my comment response to Kaellian on Avvesiones #13 blog post is here:
    Yes, I am thegoodbob as we well.
    “strikes fear in the hear of an enemy”
    I meant to say,”strikes fear in the heart of an enemy”

  8. #12 by Thegoodblob2 (@Thegoodblob2) on February 15, 2014 - 7:39 PM

    “Yes, I am thegoodbob as we well.”
    I meant,to actually say” Yes, I am thegoodbob as well.”

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