With the second episode of Last Exile ~ Fam: The Silver Wing, Gonzo’s firmly shifted this anime into the winner’s column. They did this, in part, by embedding enough material that this life long SF fan can do one of his favorite activities – mental world building and guessing what’ll happen next. As long as Gonzo doesn’t screw this up, I believe this series of Last Exile could be even greater in scale than the first series and have a more epic story with better characters.
To see how I reach that conclusion, let’s start at the beginning.
(Be warned this post contains spoilers of the first season.)
The back story from the first Last Exile series wasn’t well enumerated in the anime itself but it was detailed elsewhere; so, since it helps flesh out Last Exile ~ Fam: The Silver Wing, I’ll condense it here. Sometime in the future, the inhabitants of Earth were facing a total collapse of the biosphere and the possible extinction of humanity. They decided to build a fleet of ships (the Exile Ships) to seed a string of colony habitats (the Prester worlds) to ensure humanity’s survival and to provide a reservoir population to repopulate Earth once it was made habitable.
Basically, it’s Wall-E without the cute robots. :)
In SF circles this set-up is known as a generational ship and many stories have been written about the difficulties and dangers of keeping such an arrangement going without something going terribly wrong. The events of the first Last Exile series followed one such Prester world 600 years after it’s founding and how it was in the process of imploding. The Guild had been charged with maintaining the habitat and then using the Exile ship when Earth was ready but over the centuries the purpose of their world was forgotten, Exile became a myth, and the knowledge was largely lost. They kept some advanced knowledge but one example of lost knowledge was that they could no longer fix the weather system and stop the desertification of one half and the freezing over of the other half of their world. Not only that, but once the Guild forgot it’s purpose there was nothing to keep the society of this Prester world together and all it took was the personal ambition of Delphine to send this world into a suicidal tailspin.
Luckily, a plucky band of heroes was there to stop Delphine, unlock Exile and reboot the weather controls. This is where the first season of Last Exile ended but the logical next step is to take Exile back to Earth, if possible, and so we have the starting point for the second season.
Last Exile ~ Fam: The Silver Wing almost certainly takes place on Earth and about three years after the end of the first season of Last Exile. My guess of three years is based on reading that it takes a year for Exile to travel between Earth and the Prester world from season 1 and guessing at the sequence of events since the end of season 1. (How it only takes one year isn’t explained; I’m guessing handwavium.) A round trip would take 2 years and the first trip of Exile was probably just a quick recon but at least one person stayed on Earth – Dio – and it was Dio that points out in episode 1 that Exile has just returned to Earth. From this it’s apparent we’re talking 3,5,7,etc. years in the future but the screenshot of Alvis in the opening song makes me think it’s only been 3 years which would make Alvis 14 years old. The exact number is probably not that important, though.
What is important was the reveal of the 6 “moons” really being other Exile ships. This fact alone can be used to guess at the political situation on Earth.
For each Exile ship there is probably a kingdom/group/ethnic enclave made up of people who came to Earth from a different colonial world and settled somewhere on it (assuming they didn’t get wiped out, more on that idea later). Since the signal was never given (or not shown in the first season), each of the other 6 Exiles plus the one we know from the first series probably returned to Earth at different times. For example, we know that the people of the Turan Kingdom have been living long enough on Earth to build a nice capital city and develop a sizable fleet of military ships (so at least a couple of generations) but Alvis’ Exile ship just recently returned.
This doesn’t sit well with the descendants of the people who stayed on Earth and survived through the natural calamities. They view the planet as their own and, frankly, I don’t really blame them too much in thinking that (unless there’s some sort of written agreement that was made back those 600 years before the colonial worlds were settled). However, the residents of Earth appear to have taken a very hard-line and formed the Ades Federation to wipe out the Turan Kingdom (and maybe others). The fervor shown by the leader of the Ades Federation in episode 2 had definite shades of ethnic or religious cleansing.
This left me wondering; why was the Turan Kingdom allowed to be founded in the first place? My guess is that the people of the Ades Federation couldn’t stop them as long as the threat of Turan Kingdom’s Exile ship could be used as a bargaining chip.
Seeing two Exile ships in action it appears that two things are required to command an Exile ship. The first is a special sequence of words that is unique to each ship and the second is some sort of genetic marker which is probably unique to the population of that Exile ship and also unique to running each ship. So, even though, the returning settlers would have easily been overwhelmed by the native Earthians they were protected by a superior weapon that is a single Exile ship and there was little chance for the natives to ever get control of an Exile ship to even the odds.
Of course, in episode 2 we see the leader of the Ades Federation gaining control of an Exile ship. He probably got the required verse from his assassin henchman, who was probably a guild member from the same world as the people of the Turan Kingdom. And this entire war was probably a ruse so he could capture one of the princesses who has the needed genetic marker to run their Exile ship. I find it interesting that the younger princess is not aware of their worth in relation to their Exile ship; this might be explained merely by the younger princess not being told yet due to her age or is it possible that she does not have needed marker and didn’t need to know?
Does this give the Ades Federation control of their first Exile ship or have they gained control of the other 5 Exile ships in the past? I don’t know, we’ll have to see :) .
To recap, the first Last Exile series took place on one of the colony worlds that Earth founded and Last Exile ~ Fam: The Silver Wing takes place on Earth several years in the future after the end of the first series. The political situation on Earth is tense between those inhabitants that have never left (the Ades Federation) and those that returned from the colony worlds (the Turan Kingdom, other groups we haven’t met and assuredly the people from the first season that have just recently returned to Earth). A long-standing war between the natives and the Turan Kingdom ended with the Ades Federation gaining control of an Exile ship.
Like I said earlier, there’s enough here to start imagining how the series could go. It’s probably a very safe bet to guess that Fam, the pirates, the younger princess, Alvis and the crew of the Exile ship from the first season will combine their efforts to save the princess and defeat the Ades Federation. If that’s the case, there’s a real chance of a MAD Situation if Exile ships start fighting each other. Definitely a cool visual but can Earth withstand such a war?
Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s revealed that Fam or her navigator, Giselle, happened to be descendants from one of the other Exile ships and can control the ship if they knew the needed verse.
Defeating the Ades Federation might be as simple as taking out it’s current leader but the second episode showed how difficult this is going to be. Though there might be elements in the Federation more sympathetic towards the returning colonists (or at least adverse to what a war could do the Earth) and could provide help in overthrowing him.
Dio, as a former Guild member, will have to play a big role in helping the rebels/pirates/ etc. since it looks like the natives have gotten help from other Guild members. Or maybe that’s just me wishing because Dio was my favorite character from the first season.
And finally, I think Gonzo is actually going to pull this off and save their company. Where they go next is too much of an unknown that I wouldn’t even hazard a guess but I’m hoping for more quality anime.