Saturday, October 26, 2013

Anime DVD Review: Last Exile: Positional Play

Last Exile: Positional Play is a DVD with four episodes of the Last Exile television anime series that was released by Geneon in 2003.

The first episode in this set begins with Claus, Lavie, and Alvis being approached by a group of men after the vanship crashes. The men have come to take Alvis, because they have been told that she is their cargo. Even though Claus and Lavie try to keep them from taking Alvis, the men are still able to succeed. The men, along with their leader, Alex Row, take Alvis to the Silvana and leave. Claus and Lavie, not wanting to leave Alvis alone, work at repairing their vanship and getting fuel from a downed fighter, so they can pursue the Silvana.

When Claus and Lavie's vanship catches up with the Silvana, they are shot at as they attempt to board the ship. Claus ends up having to crash land the vanship on the lower deck of the ship after it stops firing. When the two of them make it to the hangar, they find the red vanship they encountered at Minagith. They also meet Tatiana Wisla, the pilot of the red vanship.

We also see two characters named Dio Eraclea and Lucciola finding the downed fighter that Claus took the fuel from. As they look through the fighter's video records, Dio takes an interest in Claus. I suspect this will become an important plot point later in the series, and I'm trying to figure out at this point why Dio would be so interested in Claus.

Alvis is reunited with Claus and Lavie, but before they can truly enjoy their reunion, the Silvana is attacked by Guild fighters. Claus and Lavie find themselves joining the fight with a spare fighter vanship in the Silvana. It turns out Dio is part of this battle.

The last episode in the set sees the Silvana going to the Casino Royale for repairs, and the crew is given "shore leave." Lavie has a reunion with Mullin, a young man they had met during the episodes on the first DVD released for Last Exile. For the most part, this one feels like a "filler" episode, although I think there is one piece of information that comes out during this episode that will become important during the series; apparently, an object related to Exile will be auctioned in the black market under the guise of a vanship race.

Compared to most of the episodes on the first disc, the episodes on this disc keep the story moving. Now that the characters, world, and story have been firmly established, the plot is free to progress. The main thing I'm not entirely sure right now concerns Dio and Lucciola, and what exactly it is about Claus that grabs Dio's attention. I'm hoping that we'll get a satisfactory answer to this question at some point during the remaining episodes of the series. It was also interesting to see Mullin pop back up again. I wonder if this is the last we'll see of him, or if he'll make another appearance later on.

So far, the episodes on this disc continue to display the potential for Last Exile that I had started seeing for the series during the last couple of episodes on the first disc.I'm looking forward to watching more of the series to see if this potential continues to manifest itself or not.

Even though the animation for the mecha in this show looks rough in Last Exile, due to the technology that was available at the time the series was produced, I have to say that the actual designs of the mecha are very well done.

When it comes to the DVD itself, there are six bonus features included. The first is "Noncredit Ending," which is basically a textless version of the ending credits. The "Japanese Ending" is the ending credits with the original Japanese credit text included.

Next is "Commercial Collections," which runs for two-and-a-half minutes. The commercials in this feature are for the CD single released for the opening theme song, the soundtrack album, the second soundtrack album, and two commercials for the first DVD that was released in Japan for Last Exile. There were no subtitles on these commercials, but there wasn't any need for them, since there's no narration. From what was on the screen, it was easy to determine what each commercial was for. This was a decent bonus feature.

The Art Gallery contains 25 pages of model sheets of both characters and mecha that the viewer can scroll through at their own pace. "Geneon Previews" contains trailers for the properties the company was promoting at the time this DVD was released. The final extra on the disc is the DVD Credits.

If you enjoy Last Exile, then it's a series that you should add to your home video collection. Unfortunately, this DVD by Pioneer is long out of print. However, FUNimation acquired the rights for the series after Geneon (formerly Pioneer) went out of business, and released a complete series box set for Last Exile in 2009. This box set might be worth tracking down if you want to own Last Exile on DVD.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Last Exile: Positional Play that I checked out through the King County Library System.
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