I appreciated the aesthetic of the original Last Exile, but I found it hard to get engaged with the plot and characters because of the haphazard way in which it was presented. There was only one character who was really memorable, and I really didn’t like the direction they took with him at the end. Ginyoku no Fam is a chance to take the aesthetic of the Last Exile setting and make a fresh start with the presentation of the plot and characters. Will Gonzo just screw it up again? It seems pretty likely, they’re not really a very good studio. Still, I’ll at least give episode 1 of Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam a shot.
…thirty minutes pass…
Let me tell you, it's not all it's cracked up to be.
That was mostly what I could have hoped for. There were steampunk airships with cool gears and vacuum tubes and stuff, and they flew through the sky and sometimes shot at each other. The aesthetic I enjoyed from the original Last Exile is still there! Hilariously, the character I enjoyed from the original Last Exile is still there, too. They don’t give any explanation for why he shows up, they are just like, “oh, yeah, Dio is back and he is a Sky Pirate now”. I don’t think it’s like, literally the same canon character transported to an alternate universe or anything, but I guess I can’t rule it out given how weird the ending of the original series got. Maybe he’s just a universal folk hero that shows up in every story, like the Harlequin of Italian theater.
So far the story seems pretty down-to-earth. There’s a war that suddenly started between the bad guy federation and the good guy monarchy, and the protagonists are Sky Pirates that got involved due to a sort of Han Solo scenario. The protagonists seem kind of interesting, too – they’re explicitly crazy pilots, so at home in the air they can sleepwalk off the deck of an airship. (It’s cool that they have set up a system to keep her safe when she goes sleepwalking now, but I kind of wonder how she managed to survive the first time.)
The actual air battle was a little underwhelming. The “tricks” the sky pirates used to rescue the monarchist flagship from the federation did not seem like the sort of thing that should trick a professional military. If you are going to be relying on easily-spoofed signal mirrors and flares to communicate messages during battle, you need to have some sort of identification codes that you change regularly! Otherwise you do not get to be surprised when Sky Pirates send messages pretending to be you. Also, if using smoke bombs is a common tactic in battle, as it seems to be because the monarchist flagship had a complement of smoke bombs on board, you really should have a plan for dealing with smoke other than “drive our ships into each other”. Heck, you don’t even need an enemy to be smoke bombing you – how does the federation fleet deal with fog, or clouds? Also, is it really so hard to confirm your kills? I understand that it was smoky at the time, but “the enemy ship was headed downward last we saw it” is not enough evidence to conclude “the enemy ship crash-landed and all aboard were killed”. Especially given that your orders were to take the prisoners alive, you would think that you would at least make a token effort to search for the crash site in case they survived the crash.