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 What lies beyond the furthest reaches of the sky?


A 2003 anime series from GONZO.

Claus and Lavie are "vanship" pilots who work as air mail couriers using the vanship that their respective parents left to them. It's a hard, dangerous living, and they must risk their lives to earn enough to soup up their vanship enough to be a contender in the air races. One day, however, just as they're finally about to win a race, a crippled vanship crashes right in front of them. When they go to its aid, the dying pilot begs them to take over his delivery job: safely deliver a mysterious young girl to the legendary pirate ship Silvana.

Naturally, the same forces that were pursuing the girl now turn their sights on Claus and Lavie, who find themselves at the center of a conflict that threatens to tear their world apart.

A new series titled Last Exile Fam the Silver Wing aired in the Fall 2011 Anime.

A manga on the series was also recently serialized in Newtype Ace. Entitled Sunadokei no Tabibito (literally Travelers from the Hourglass), it serves as a bridge between Last Exile and its sequel, explaining what happened to the original cast and how they figure in the conflict engulfing the world in the new series.

Last Exile provides examples of:

  • The Abridged Series: Last Exile Abridged. One by Virus465, and by Unwardil, the latter of which has recently become one of the few completed abridged series out there.
  • Ace Custom: the Silvana. Equipped with the heaviest and strongest armor around, loaded for bear with highly destructive artillery, and with a spacious belly full of combat Vanships --a novel concept in aerial warfare-- and at the same time, smaller and more maneuverable than standard airships . And, unlike the Urbanus class, there is only one Silvana around, and it's under Alex Rowe's control.
    • Super Prototype: The Silvana is so powerful because it is essentially a testbed for a variety of experimental systems, several of which would later be integrated into the new Urbanus class vessels.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: the Silvana, among others
  • Airstrike Impossible: Basically, what any Vanship assault on a battlecruiser boils down to, but especially notable in the endgame battles.
  • All There in the Manual: Dio actually survives the final episode, as implied by his voice echoing through the Silvana's engine room, and by a lone page out of the Last Exile artbook that shows him reuniting with Claus, Lavie and Alvis on Earth. This is confirmed by the sequel series, Last Exile Fam the Silver Wing.
  • Almighty Janitor: Sophia. She's already the heir to the Anatoray throne while serving as the Silvana's executive officer. After her father dies and she becomes the Empress, she remains aboard the Silvana as its XO, and expects the crew to treat her only as their superior officer, not their sovereign.
  • Arc Words The questions and answers which are key to opening Exile.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: There are aversions, but is mostly played straight, especially with The Guild.
  • Auction
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Disith warships, looking very futuristic next to the Anatoray armada (and vaguely reminiscent of Exile's cocoon form, with batteries of revolving cannons on their bellies. Which means they can't target anything that isn't directly beneath them without tilting the whole ship on its side.
    • This is actually justified in the supplemental materials, which explained that the invading Disith expected to engage in combat primarily while descending from the Grand Stream, so their ships are designed with the expectation that their enemies will usually be at a lower altitude. For the same reason, Anatoray battleships are designed with the majority of their weapons on the topside of the ship with expectation of fighting Disith who would be descending from above.
    • There's also the little matter of making the middle of each ship thin with all that exposed framework. Word of God is that it's supposed to mimic a woman's body. A woman's body that is instantly torn apart by a single well-placed shot or bomb, while their enemies take a huge pounding to put down...
    • Musketeers on both sides are armed with cool-looking, but heinously impractical steam muskets as well as fancy uniforms wholy pointless given the use of Musketeers (uniforms traditionally are brightly colored to distinguish faction, something unneeded when everyone is vollying from ship to ship with no intention of boarding). Then again, everything about Musketeers is just cool-looking, cruel fluff dictated by the guild.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Sophia
  • Badass: Alex Rowe
  • Badass Longcoat: Alex's mantle.
  • Banging Pots and Pans: Lavie wakes Claus every morning by banging a hammer against a sheet of metal.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Lavie
  • Battle Butler: Lucciola to Dio, Cicada to Delphine.
  • Best Served Cold: Alex's motivation for captaining the Silvana and hunting down Exile.
  • BFG Pretty much any hand-held weapon in the series.
  • Big Bad: Delphine Eraclea
  • Bilingual Bonus: Sort of. All the text in the series is English written in the Greek alphabet. The real Greek alphabet mind you, none of that mucking about using capital sigmas for E's and the such.
    • It's not a proper transcription but uses the standard keyboard transliteration into the Greek alphabet, meaning that letters such as h, w and y (with no easy equivalent in Greek) get transcribed into η, ω and ψ which are actually the letters for é, ó and ps.
    • Then there's δικαίος, ᾱ, ον all over the side of a ship, as if it was all a word -- it's not, it's the dictionary entry. (To make this into a name in Greek, it would also be written with an article, as in `ο δικαίος, "the fair one".)
  • Bizarre World Shapes Prester is shaped like an hourglass, which also happens to be the Guild's emblem. It appears that it's also a hollow world and the events take place inside it - presumably "gravity" is produced by the hourglass spinning rapidly.
  • Bling of War: Mullin's medals.
  • Bob Haircut: Lavie.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Delphine seems a little too interested in Dio.
  • Butt Monkey: Mullin Shetland during his time on the Silvana; he didn't get ANY breaks.
  • Byronic Hero: Alex Rowe
  • The Caligula: Delphine
  • Captain Ersatz: Word of God says that Alex Row is based on Captain Harlock.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Urbanus class ships.
  • Chess Motifs: Alex talking about taking his enemy's queen to win the game in a chess match. And most if not all of the episodes are named after chess moves. e.g. (Sicilian Defense)
    • The creators missed an opportunity to use the "English" and "Dutch" Offenses/Openings as episode titles. Both require uncommon first moves for white (c4 and f4 respectively). Mastering both is a very good way to unsettle superior competition. Chances are, a grandmaster has never faced the Dutch Opening and very rarely faces the English one. Using either as white tells your opponent that you know the Sicilian Defense and all you need to you need to do to give them bad dreams is present them with a defense against d4 strong enough to manage a draw while playing black. Do that, and you've rendered almost everyting they are prepared for irrelevant.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dio
  • Cloning Blues: Travelers from the Hourglass reveals that the Earth Guild replenishes its numbers via cloning. However they've hit the limit of reproductive cloning due to degraded DNA telomeres.
  • Combat Tentacles: Exile's while in cocoon mode.
  • Conspicuous CG: GONZO style
  • Cool Airship
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Alex.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The Guild falls partly under this trope.
  • Dead Little Copilot: What broke Alex and sent him on his path of revenge.
  • Dance Battler: This seems to be a common fighting style among the Guild, at least if Lucciola and Cicada's battle is anything to go by. Also accompanied by very appropriate background music.
  • Dangerous Seventeenth Birthday: For Dio.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Tatiana.
  • Demoted to Extra: After being a major character for the first third of the series, Lavie starts to play an increasingly minor role compared to Claus. She starts to make it back up the ladder towards the end.
  • Distant Finale: The series ends with a glimpse of the main characters (Claus, Lavie, and Alvis) and some of their friends (Mullin, Dunya and her siblings) living peacefully on a farm on Earth for at least a year, with others (Tatiana and Alister) dropping by for a visit. However as Travelers from the Hourglass and Fam: The Silver Wing soon reveals that this peace never happens, as Claus and his friends are attacked by the Earth Guild less than a month after they arrived. Whats worse, Earth is apparently in the middle of a war that's already at least a decade old by the time the Prester immigrants return.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: The Immelmann turn among others.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Earth Guild has a very impressive and intensive one built inside a mountain range, as revealed by chapter 7 of the Hourglass manga.
  • The Empire: Both Anatoray and Disith qualify, though we see far more of the former.
  • Enforced Cold War
  • Establishing Character Moment: Alex saving Claus, Lavie, and Alvis from a Guild drone with a single, well-placed shot from his gun-cane. Especially since the entire maintenance crew could barely dent a drone's armor with their BFG.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Everyone wants Claus. Gale the mechanic admits it, and Dio is essentially walking, talking Ho Yay whenever Claus is around.
  • Evil Tastes Good: Maestro Delphine indulges gluttony on every level.
  • Evolving Credits: Minor, but after episode 18 there's a noticeable change.
  • Exact Time to Failure: When the Guild first attacks the Silvana, it's stated they can operate for 20 minutes at full power. After exactly twenty minutes, they all break off and leave (including Dio and Luciola, who entered the battle later on). Fridge Logic ensues because they were thrashing the Silvana -- since they still had enough fuel to fly back home, they couldn't have stayed the few extra minutes to finish? Or refueled and headed back out?
  • Expository Hairstyle Change
    • Sophia's hair-down-to-there upon taking the Imperial Throne.
    • Dio's braid is unwrapped, and his bangs re-brushed to show off his Mark of the Covenant, after being brainwashed for the Rite and turned into a remorseless killing machine..
    • Lavie's hair gets cut extremely short after she and Claus lose their parents, probably because it was easier to manage that way as a vanship pilot.
  • Extreme Doormat: Lucciola, but he eventually becomes an Extreme Badass.
    • And by extension, he is also Dio's Battle Butler.
    • Lucciola does have a mind of his own, however--and often uses it to keep Dio alive and out of trouble.
  • Facial Markings: All members of the Guild.
  • Finger-Lickin' Evil: See above.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Earth Guild will go extinct, if their lack of presence in Last Exile Fam the Silver Wing is anything to go by.
  • For the Evulz: Seems to be Delphine's motivation for some of her actions, such as not intervening when Dissith ships disregard the rules of engagement in the first fight, and sometimes she seems to enjoy watching people suffer and/or die.
  • The Glomp: Dio is exceedingly fond of this. Not only will he get touchy-feely with his faithful companion Lucciola, he also has a thing for glomping Claus, who is pretty freaked out by it.
  • God Save Us From the Queen: Delphine, just Delphine...
  • Green Rocks: The water-soluble, luminescent crystal Claudia is airship fuel as well as the basis of currency.
  • Happy Ending For most of the cast, if you take just this series into consideration. If you count the bridge manga Travelers from the Hourglass and Last Exile Fam the Silver Wing? Not so much.
  • Heroic BSOD: Tatiana experiences a brief one after the Silvana is presumed lost after taking down 4 Urbanus-class airships at the Dragon's Fangs, leaving her and Claus stranded with a broken down vanship.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lucciola does this to give Claus, Al, and Dio time to escape. Delphine "rewards" him with a ring that then disintegrates him even though he repeatedly asks to let Dio get freed from his mental state.
    • Potentially Alex as well, as he's busy choking Delphine to death so that she can't give any commands, and allowing the Silvana time to fire on her ship, while he's still aboard it.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Queen Delphine is Talho?!
    • And in the English dub: What is Alucard doing on the Sylvanna?
    • Alex Row has EXTREME LOYALTY to his crew and his dead copilot.
    • Listen to Dio and Lucciola, then go back and watch the first season of Digimon. You will never look at Tai and Izzy the same way again.
    • There's more than a few rather recognizable voices throughout the series. It does like to flaunt its production value with fancy animation and good voice actors.
    • In the new series, Fam is Yui.
  • Honor Before Reason: Mad-Thane's subordinate officer would rather fight to the death for honor rather than retreat sensibly.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most episodes are named after chess terms.
  • Idiot Ball: A few, but when Mullin starts getting wistful for his "glory days" as a cannon-fodder rifleman, every viewer is required by law to perform a Face Palm and quietly tell him to take his Darwin Award and get out of here...
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: The vanship pilot at the beginning.
  • Initiation Ceremony: The Rite of Covenant, of the horrific type.
  • Jabba Table Manners: The guild, enough to make Jabba himself look like a gentleman. Guild connoisseurs take pride at how a tiny morsel of succulent meat took the lives of dozens of men to acquire and how a slice of fish is washed with enough water to slake a family's thirst. After all, so they reason, the sacrifice makes the food all the more tasty.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
  • Light Is Not Good: The Guild. Aside from the customary white clothing, Guild ships are very bright and full of sunlight, particularly in contrast to the Silvana.
  • Live Action Adaptation: This may be happening for the series, but it's currently rotting somewhere in Development Hell.
  • Lost Colony: Prester is not a natural planet at all, but rather is an artificial colony overseen by the Guild. Travelers from the Hourglass and Last Exile Fam the Silver Wing later reveal that it's just one of at least seven others.
  • Lost Technology: Exile and Prester itself, where the latter is an artificial planet with an inhabitable interior surface, much like an hourglass, with the Grand Stream barring the way across the connection. Everything inside the closed system (weather, projections of the sun and moon) is monitored by Exile and the Guild.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The nations of Dissith and Anatore have to rent the anti-gravity engines of their Flying Aircraft Carrier fleets from the Guild.
  • Macross Missile Massacre
  • Magnetic Hero: Claus displays that uncanny ability to win people over to respect him with his sincerity and vanship skills, though falls a bit short on the all-loving personality that would push him over the line to be The Messiah.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Delphine, IN SPADES!
  • Meaningful Name: The eponymous Last Exile, though its significance will only come to the fore in the sequel Last Exile Fam the Silver Wing.
  • Meganekko: Sophia.
  • Military Mashup Machine: Battleship-Aircraftcarrier-Zeppelins.
  • Mind Rape: Dio's Rite of the Covenant sure qualifies.
  • Miracle Rally: More than one of them.
  • Mood Whiplash: Surprisingly enough it's NOT in the exact middle of the series as is common for Gonzo shows, but closer to the end.
  • More Dakka: The main weapon of most of the ships. The vanships can utilize this, or torpedoes in the second half of the series.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Hey Immelmann!
  • Mysterious Waif: Alvis.
  • Neck Snap: Alex uses this on Delphine at the end.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Dio with pretty much everyone, but especially Claus.
  • Odango Hair
  • Oh Crap: Dio has that look when his sister shows up at Sophia's crowning ceremony.
    • Delphine when Alex suddenly springs back to life and grabs her neck in the last episode.
  • Our Elves Are Better: The Guild, albeit much more like The Fair Folk than standard DnD elves. Aloof, fair-featured and pointy-eared, agile and graceful, with otherworldly technology, with an outlook of the entire world being their playthings? Definitely elf.
  • Parental Abandonment: Played straight, although we get to see what happened to Claus and Lavie's parents and why they aren't around when the story starts.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The upper class ladies.
  • Pretty in Mink: Alvis's cape with the white fur hood and puff balls.
  • "Previously On...": Cold openings with a recap of the previous episode are common.
  • The Quiet One: Alex. Sophia comments that he seems strangely talkative after he utters a single sentence that is not an order.
  • Ramming Always Works: In a surprising instance, where Claus uses his vanship to ram Aranea's starfish fighter.
  • Redshirt Army: In this case, a Red Shirt Navy.
  • The Remnant: The Earth Guild, as of Travelers from the Hourglass, is dying, and they know this. This seems to be the main motivating factor for them to kidnap Alvis, so they can gain new genetic material to keep on existing.
  • Retcon: See the Distant Finale entry above. Also Alex's last words, which in the sequel was changed to "To the skies!"
  • Retirony
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Alex Row.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Sophia. She refuses to abandon her position as the Silvana's first officer to assume her father's throne ... So she's crowned Empress anyway and is back on the bridge issuing order within five minutes.
  • Ruins for Ruins Sake: There's a vast and elaborate abandoned city deep beneath Claus and Lavie's hometown of Norkia, with vaults and arches large enough for Vanships to fly through. Even though Norkia is built on levels, the ruins make very little sense since Prester is an artificial world and abandoning such a large volume of its habitable space seems awfully wasteful.
    • Justified, since the Guild doesn't want anyone to know what Prester actually is. Creating ruins to convince the inhabitants of their home planet's authenticity isn't totally out of the question.
  • Rule of Cool: Flying battleships?
    • Not to mention the Vanships which are for all intents and purposes, planes without most of the wings.
  • Say It with Hearts: Lavie blows a heart kiss to Fat Chicken during the race.
  • Say My Name: Dio casually calls Claus by name - finally, after it had always been "Immelmann" - when they are searching a seemingly abandoned Silvana together - just before he is taken away by the Guild.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Shout-Out: The Guild? A powerful, self-indulgent, 'neutral' force with complete control over the main mode of transport? I wonder where I've seen that before?
  • The Sky Is an Ocean: To the point that shooting down a ship is referred to as "sinking" it, and getting a downed ship airborne again is referred to as "surfacing."
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The two countries in conflict, Anatoray and Disith in the dub, are named for the Greek "Anatolé" "Rising (Sun)" and "Dysis" "Setting (Sun)".
    • Also: Claus Valca/Balca/Valka/Barka; Lavi/Ravey/Lavie; Dio Eraclea/Elaclair/Elacrea; Lucciola/Luciola; Mullin/Moran Shetland.
      • But for the record, Word of God says it's Claus Valca, Lavie Head, Dio Eraclea, Lucciola, and Mullin Shetland.
      • It doesn't help that Lucciola's name is technically said incorrectly, going by the Word of God spelling. Lucciola is an Italian word meaning firefly; double C followed by i and o is said like "cho" (listen to [1] for an example of this sound). This was shifted to "shi" in the Japanese version, presumably because they were judging sound from spelling, making him "Rushiora." This change actually takes on the (Engrish) pronunciation of Lucciola's root word: luciola, which is Latin.
  • Spider Tank: A hideous bastardization of spider tanks at that. They fly.
  • Spoiler Title: Some of the chess metaphors used, such as in "Castling" Lucciola, are dead giveaways.
  • Stealth Pun: Vanships and airships use a fuel source named Claudia to go into the clouds.
  • Steampunk: With steam-powered muskets. Unusually, it's not portrayed as remotely practical.
  • Super Strength: While the series showcased how members of the Guild are much more graceful and faster than the normal baseline human, Travelers from the Hourglass's Earth Guild reveals how a Guildsman is supernaturally strong as well, after one picks up Lavie with one arm and throws her bodily several feet from where she was seated in Claus' vanship [2].
  • Supporting Leader: Vincent plays this, at separate times, to both his friend and colleague Alex and his Empress Sophia.
  • Surprisingly Good English: The narration on the episode title cards.
    • Except, oddly, that many of the character names are pronounced incorrectly or at least differently from how they're pronounced in the series. (For example, "Del-feen" rather than "Del-fee-neh.")
      • For Promotion Sophia, her name is said "So-FI-uh" with the I pronounced as it is in the word "lie."
      • "Kay-sling Lucciola."
  • Survival Mantra: "Disith bullets will avoid Mullin Shetland's body."
    • Averted in his last fight, although he survives.
  • Sword Cane: Henry Knowles has a sword cane and Alex Row uses a gun cane.
  • Theme Naming: Several instances, actually.
    • Guild bodyguards, both in the man series (Lucciola, Cicada) and the bridge manga (Uroctea, Aranea) are named after animals, with insects in the former, and arachnids in the latter.
    • All the Urbanus-class warships (Martinus, Julianus, Georgius, Sebastianus, Eustatius) are named after Roman Catholic popes.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Al.
  • Tomboyish Name: Alister and Alvis.
  • 2-D Space: Addressed in the first episode--while there is the entirety of the upper sky left empty during war, it's a breach of the chivalry which regulates war to use it.
  • Unwanted Harem: Many females on the ship, from the Shorttank to the Tsundere Bruiser, seem to have a thing for main man Claus.
  • Waif Prophet
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Think about it, the only reason ships carry Musketmen is to kill another ship's Musketmen. It's a meaningless duel of death.
    • On this world warfare has strict rules and regulations, and is supposed to be refereed by the Guild. (Fleets can only out number each other by a certain percentage, no surprise attacks, after the musket duel an enemy is allowed to withdraw with their honor intact, etc.) It could have been that the original idea was that if the conflict could not be resolved peacefully, then you would have a duel in the sky, and after the musket men duel the opposing fleet is allowed to withdraw to reduce further loss of life and equipment. Since the Guild is run by a corrupt hedonist who wants to see the little people fight each other in senseless wars for her own entertainment...
    • Truth in Television as warfare, particularly up to the 18th century or so, sometimes invoked this. Battles were somewhat methodical in their planning between sides before commencing. Since the generals and nobles were often hiding toward the back during such skirmishes, this left common conscripts facing one another head to head and causing both sides to lose large numbers as fodder.
    • Played straight in the second half of the series once the Dissith and Anatore form The Alliance in order to take out the Guild.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Mullin Shetland and, according to an interview with the creators in the supplemental artbook, Dio Eraclea.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Dio Eraclea, Lucciola... heck any male member of the Guild qualifies.
  • Wrench Wench: Quite a few, though Lavie certainly qualifies.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Performed by Lucciola in order to allow the protagonists to escape from Delphine's ship with Dio.