I know, I’m surprised, too. A new Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam post?
Well, it’s been over a month since I posted anything about Last Exile and this episode is probably long forgotten by now. Oh well. Hopefully the topic is still interesting albeit it now being out of date by the most current episode but I planned to cover this series episodically (minus the recaps, though I must interject and say episode 17 was absolutely amazing seeing the entire original Last Exile in one wondrous episode) and dammit, I’ll do just that.
This post will cover the facelessness of war, the fact that neither we nor the characters truly experience all the human lives that are involved in these wars.
The wars in Last Exile: Fam are fought exclusively between airship, usually with massive battleships equipped with powerful cannons and smaller powerful cannons and vanships which swiftly maneuver through the skies and exploit the weaknesses of these battle fleets. And that’s it. Never do you see soldiers armed with rifles or artillery fend off armies from invading their lands. Instead, all the battles take place in the skies between massive ships of metal that spew hellfire on its kind. The soldiers who fight onboard these floating behemoths are rarely shown except when shots of the general or other important figures briefly capture them in the background. Yes, there are soldiers and commanders aboard every ship, not to mention engineers, mechanics, chefs, and a host of other personnel. No, in Last Exile: Fam, we never see the people who fight in these wars, only the vessels which carry their souls.
That is to say the wars in Last Exile: Fam are faceless; we never see the people fight one another. When a battleship is bombarded and descends from the skies, the people aboard can only await their fiery and unpleasant fate. Most, if not all, end up dying. But the way the anime portrays these fights and how the characters react to these hundreds of deaths is simply no reaction or acknowledgement. Unless relevant to a specific character’s development or warranted to progress the plot, no one seems to care about all those who die in these battles. Furthermore, we never see the faces of these people who lose their life on the battlefield. Instead, we only see a metal structure fall from the sky and explode. It really takes the humanity out of the war and only makes it easier to kill. Never seeing the face of the enemy prevents the fighters from the other side from developing more guilt, remorse, and conflict when they’re on the battlefield. The way the battles are fought in Last Exile: Fam is by the number of ships sunk, not the number of people killed.
Furthermore, the civilians of the world never experience this fate, too. All the battles are fought in remote and decollate regions of the globe where no human is able to witness the brutality of the war. And when the battles are close to home, a majority has already evacuated or failed to stay long enough to see the approaching armies. And those who return to the battlefield see nothing more than a twisted wasteland of metal and fire. Though grim, it is nothing compared to a flatland stained red and dotted with bleeding soldiers and motionless bodies. Without seeing the atrocities of war, the civilians have no idea the magnitude of what’s occurring around the world. The people of Ades, who’ve not experienced even the tiniest bit of war, support the endless manslaughter for no true gain. Really, no one in the world of Last Exile: Fam experiences the horror of war except for the many who experience is moments before their casualty.
Really, the style of war in Last Exile: Fam are perfect for the military and Luscinia’s objectives. Without truly experiencing war, safely within these metallic shells, the military can continue to go on killing without any conflicting morals or conflicting pain. Because of the facelessness of war, Luscinia is able to cajole the Ades military into world conquest without the military, its nation, or even its leader raising moral concerns. It’s an imperative feature of Last Exile: Fam’s story that perhaps is overlooked due to the nature of the setting or the fact that we see so many anime show war in a similar way. No matter the reason, having wars fought solely between battleships and other airships removes some of the worst experiences of war and prevents the people in this world from facing significant ethical questions. Though I may have written this post in a negative way, I feel its an important aspect of how the wars have progressed in Last Exile: Fam and why the series has remained more lighthearted despite the constant presence of death and destruction.
I don’t ever recall seeing Sara’s personal maid, Marira before, but I can’t help but feel she’s a wonderful person. Sara really has no true friends; everyone who visits her visits her for her title and position, never for the little girl that she is. It’s true that the generals play with her and interact with her like she’s still a child, such as putting her on their shoulder and carrying her around, but they’re there on business and not merely to play around or chit-chat. The only person who seems to interact with Sara on an intimate level, and well beyond that of Vasant, is Marira. She seems to enjoy playing with Sara and wants to nurture her happiness. She wants to keep Sara safe and is there for her when she needs a friend. The fact that she represented Sara at the end of the episode, telling Vasant to stay away, shows that she’s the closest to Sara when she’s all alone in the cruel world. I can’t help but like a character who fulfills that role. Though Marira will never do anything in Last Exile: Fam besides say a few lines and stand in the background in a handful of scenes, she’ll be one of my favorite characters for her role and her personality.