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Anime: Last Exile DVD #5 "Grand Stream"
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Age Rating: PG
Company: ADV Films UK
Genre: Fantasy
Running Time: 100 mins approx
DVD Region 2


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Anatory and Disith join forces in a hope to bring down the guild and Delphine..

Episode 17: Making Material

After a rather lacklustre (dire actually) fourth volume, I wasn't really expecting much when I put this fifth disc in the critical acclaimed Last Exile series in my DVD player. But I was soon proven wrong. Picking up where the last disc left off, the Disith fleet attacking the royal palace soon backs off honourably after being surrounded. Sophia is taken off in the Urbanus and protected by Vincent as the new empress. Meanwhile the damaged Silvana receives a message from Sophia that all is well, and Alex Rowe orders they dock at a cave complex used as a base for lots of shifty goings on. The cave complex is now being sponsored by Anatory's military and many van-ship pilots are being trained, as well as musketeers for an attack against the guild and Maestro Delphine herself.
There's a fair amount of drama in this volume between the characters, Claus eventually realising he is a van-ship pilot and Lavie's best freind to the core and the two tearfully reconcile over certain events. Tatiyana (the girl who's personality changes every 5 minutes) , was marginally less irritating this volume than the last, settling down into a more stable role and helping Claus realise he does want to be a vanship pilot. Dio is constantly on edge in this volume, far from his usually bizarre self, something evidently weighing on his mind. He looks wonderfully psychotic at times, and knowing his unpredictability its quite disturbing. We also get a few glimpses of the elusive Delphine who seems even more messed up than her younger brother, she is the model of a lead villain as she smirks to herself evily, delights in thoughts of death and laughs at the fish in her aquarium eating one-another.
Lots of character development and plot here as the story really enters its final arc.


Overall Episode Content: 8/10


Episode 18: Promotion Sophia

I gained a lot of respect for Sophia over this disc as a whole but particularly in this episode. I felt her change from "second in command of a ship of pirate/bounty hunters" , to "heir to the throne of Anatoray" went a bit too quickly before, but the plots slowed down a little again now and she is developing well. Sophia unites both Anatoray and Disith under a new treaty against the guild and all they stand for. Obviously Delphine isn't happy with this and decides its time to give the new Empress of Anatoray a "coronation present".
Meanwhile back in the cave, Disith forces join with Anatoray's in training for war, and Mollin decides to leave the Silvana to be a gunner again for the upcoming war, befriending a Disith girl (who we had previous glimpses of in earliar volumes) as he does so. The Silvana heads off to Sophia's coronation ceremony, with Claus and Tatiyana, and Dio and Luciolla going off ahead to take part in an aeriel display in their smaller ships. The coronation ceremony is interrupted by Delphine arriving in her huge warship and scattering rose petals through the sky as a symbolism that war is declared. We see Dio totally freak at the site of his sisters war ship and realise that he is scared as he knows Delphine is tracking him down and that's what is on his mind. Dio has come a big distance from spoilt brat, and actually feels part of the Silvana crew and does not want to return to his sisters world. Alex Rowe has to be restrained from attacking Delphine's ship on site as her ship flys off into the clouds after issuing the warning.

Overall Episode Content: 8/10

Episode 19: Sicilian Defence

The new Empress Sophia's first action is to return to her place as second in command on the Silvana, and draw up a plan with her captain Alex Rowe and the captain of the Urbanus (Vincent), to obtain something known as "Exile" from the Grand Stream. Much of this episode is spent welcoming Sophia back to the ship and preparation beginning for entering the huge windy and lethal area called the Grand Stream. Disith helps by providing a recording of what "Exile" sounds like, so they can track it down with greater ease. Dio is back to extreme brooding, terrified his sister will find him (its coming up to his birthday when he will be needed by her for a coming of age ritual), Alv takes it upon herself to back him a cake as the Silvana and Urbanus enter the Grand Stream.
Pretty much all that happens here is plot and character interaction without development, things are getting exciting and tense as the ships head towards this mysterious "Exile". Its gripping sutff, and you really can't wait to see what's going to happen. The level of urgency to find Exile is coupled with Delphine now sinking Disith and Anatory ships at random. This episode is a fine example in storytelling and tension building.

Overall Episode Content: 8/10


Episode 20: Grand Stream


Lots of spectacular eye-candy effects here as the Silvana and Urbanus close in on "Exile", I won't spoil for you just how thrilling this episode is and what happens as Dio (cheered up by a birthday cake from Alvis) and Claus capture Exile in a thrilling "Death Star" like moment but its one of the most well executed action sequences I have seen in an anime. The episode ends on a cliffhanger of course, as Delphine as finally tracked down her little brother, the Silvana... and Exile!


Overall Episode Content: 8/10


The plot flies by in these four episodes and with only six more to go the wheels are set in motion for the final sturugle against Delphine. This is pretty much non-stop thrills and action combined with some wonderful character development that puts the random awfulness of previous episodes to shame. Lets hope the series maintains this till its conclusion.

Overall Content Score: 8/10


Audio


Seeing as I have been following this series in English only (and it really is a good dub), I have to say the quality is as outstanding as ever. The voices are spot on (particularly Dio, Sophia and Alex Rowe) and are examples of some of the best English voice acting out there. The disc mantains a high quality of sound with no errors. While I'm not so keen on the music in this series (the opening is awful) its the effects that I really love, the roaring wind the sound of the ships whirling over the top of the screen, its breathtaking.

Overall Audio Score: 9/10


Video/Animation

Its GONZO, which says it all really, the only show that compares to this in my current viewing schedule is Burst Angel which is done by the same people. The swirling clouds and wind are so detailed, as are the ships themselves. This is a few years old now this show and I feel the CG and characters maybe don't blend together as-well as on the more recent Burst Angel. But its still top quality.

Overall Video/Animation Score: 8/10

Extras


The extras on offer here are an Art Gallery, an "alternate" clean opening, a guide to the Silvana and the usual ADV Films UK previews. None of it as truly spectacular but they are nice enough to look at and some people will probably find them interesting little features.


Overall Extras Score: 6/10


Packaging

Ugh! As is usual for most UK releases the packaging here is dire. Flimsy box, the DVD dosen't even fit the hole in the case properly, and no insert. The cover portrays Delphine looking rather sinister as always, and on the reverse side is a battle scene. Other than an extra bit of art on the rear side of the cover this is poor stuff.


Overall Packaging Score: 4/10

Score Round Up
Content: 8/10
Audio: 8/10
Video/Animation: 8/10
Extras: 6/10
Packaging: 4/10


posted by Mangaminx On Sunday, August 21, 2005  
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