Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing follows the adventures of a young girl, Fam Fan Fan, who was adopted as an infant by a band of sky pirates. Raised as a part of the family, Fam now pilots a “vanship” with reckless expertise. While Fam is on a mission with her co-pilot Giselle, the duo crosses paths with two princesses in peril. Liliana and her younger sister Milia are royals of Turan, a kingdom being pressed to unite under the tyrannical government of the Ades Federation—or else.
Frighteningly, it seems that Princess Liliana might be the key to an Exile, a mystical ship that hangs in the sky waiting for its master to activate its power. Although the people of Fam’s world seem unfamiliar with the exact capabilities and purposes of Exiles, the same is not true of Luscinia Hafez, the regent leader of the Ades Federation. Liliana is kidnapped by Hafez, but Fam and Giselle rescue Milia, who vows to restore her kingdom and save her sister.
The original Last Exile series wrapped production in Japan over ten years ago—so long ago that it might be news to many that Fam is a sequel, whose events take place several years after the first series. Last Exile had quite a few fans, myself included, and one might wonder if Fam will bring them back on board after this long hiatus.
There are many factors that Fam shares with its predecessor which will delight fans—specifically, the character designs of Range Murata. Murata’s use of muted earthy colors adds to the steampunk feel of the world of Exile. The appearance of each character is meticulously rendered, from their hairstyles to their clothing. And of course, it wouldn’t be an Exile series without sleek aircraft designs influenced by machinery used during and after WWI. Vanships are still strange wingless prop planes that engage in exciting dog fights, but the carrier ships are the real stars, beautifully modeled as a cross between a zeppelin and an aircraft carrier.
In contrast, the large cast of Last Exile included many rich characters with distinct personalities, and this is where Fam falls flat. Fam herself is certainly difficult to hate; she is cheerful, brave, and energetic. Her co-pilot, Giselle, counters Fam’s gung-ho attitude with a more gentle temperament, and Princess Milia’s demeanor effectively overlaps where the other two fail to meet. Sadly, very few supporting characters in Fam are particularly memorable. Many potentially-interesting characters are introduced so late in the action that their screen time seems wasted. The bridge between the two series is the enigmatic Dio Eraclea, who has taken up residence with the pirates for mysterious reasons. As the story progresses, other characters from the first series are reintroduced, yet their appearances only serve to complicate an already-bloated plot.
The real mess begins when Fam introduces numerous nations that are in conflict with the Ades Federation. This is too bad, because each new region includes a rich landscape with traditions drawn from countries in our own world, particularly the Russian-influenced “Glacies.” At this point, there are already too many players, which leads to confusion between allies and enemies. Even worse, there are two recap episodes: one to rehash Fam’s story thus far, and the other to remind the audience of events that took place in the original series. It would have been a better choice to use those episodes to clarify Fam’s plot and further its character development. Several plot points that could evoke emotional reactions unfold rapidly, only to be haphazardly resolved.
Fam’s greatest failure is too much potential without enough time to follow through on its promise. This is not to say the show is completely without merit, but its problems noticeably outweigh its good points. With so many young characters, Fam could attract a younger crowd than the first series, but a lack of familiarity with the original plotline would likely leave them confused.
Dub/Sub: The dub captures the characters decently, but the subtitles can become confusing when the Glacies enter the mix. People from this region speak Russian, and trying to read their dialogue alongside the Japanese dialogue can be difficult. In order to help the viewer, the subtitles from each dialect are presented in different colors.
Extras: This set includes the usual interviews, commentaries, and textless opening and closing credits. It also comes with an art book.
Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing
directed by Koichi Chigira
300 minutes, Number of Discs: 8, DVD/Blu-ray Combo Set
Company Age Rating: TV14
Related to: Last Exile by Gonzo