is a Japanese animated television series created by Gonzo. Directed by Koichi Chigira, with character designs by Range Murata and production design by Mahiro Maeda, the series first premiered on TV Tokyo on April 7, 2003 and ran for twenty-six episodes until its conclusion on September 29, 2003.
The series was licensed for English language broadcast and distribution in North America by Geneon Entertainment. Geneon premiered their English dubbed version of the series in TechTV's Anime Unleashed programming block in March 2004. The series ran until December 2004, when it ended with a full season marathon on Christmas Day. Geneon also aired the series on G4TechTV Canada, starting on July 22, 2007. The series is also licensed for English releases in the United Kingdom by ADV Films and in Australia by Madman Entertainment.
As the series starts, it is difficult to understand how the two lands of Anatoray and Disith can only be traveled between by flying high into the sky, entering the Grand Stream, and flying through a bottle-like hurricane out to the other side. In the last episode, when the great vessel Exile is finally found and used to dissipate the Grand Stream, we see that the planet itself is actually two smaller planets joined together into an hourglass shape, with each world facing the other. Once the skies are clear, anyone standing on the surface of either land can look up and faintly see the landscape of the other.
This is what the phrase written on the book at the beginning of every episode means:
λαστ εξιλε ιν τηε βοττλεThe phrase is written in Greek letters, like all other text in the series, and refers to the fact that Prester is a world shaped like a bottle, or an hourglass. It has a narrow portion in the very middle, which is filled with the Grand Stream until the last episode, and it widens out at either end, and these ends contain the miniature planets that come to be called Anatoray and Disith.
"last exile in the bottle"
The only time Prester is truly shown in this form is on the last episode when the cast looks out from the deck of Exile and sees Prester from outer space. Up until that point, the writers and art directors of the series had been playfully toying with revealing that fact by spreading the hourglass shape all over the series on various maps, icons, artwork, and royal emblems.
In the series, during the 11th episode, the character Alister uses a sextant to plot her position according to the stars. This is when she utters the phrase, "The stars have become unreliable." She is referring to the slow, spinning motion that the enormous hourglass-shaped world of Prester is making in the heavens, giving the stars an erratic pattern across the sky when viewed from Anatoray.
Claudia is also the primary currency of Prester. A frugal person will spend less than 80 Claudia on room and board in a week. It is also potent—in its refined state, several billion Claudia is only a fist-sized stone.
Vanships in general prior to the events of Last Exile were couriers, traveling long distances to deliver cargoes (usually messages). Some Vanships thus include tools for towing solid objects. Any Vanship intended to dock with a capital ship has a set of cables to act as anchors. All couriers receive their jobs from their local "Vanship union", which assigns each a difficulty rating: one or two stars for most jobs, three for transport into a battle zone, etc. The transport of Alvis Hamiliton to the Silvana was set at seven stars due to the inevitable interference of the Guild, and the peace message intended for Disith had an unprecedented ten star rating, because it was considered impossible—it required a courier to cross the Grand Stream for the first time in Anatoray's history.
When not earning their keep as couriers, Vanship pilots often keep their skills sharp by racing. Many of these are rallies, taking place in towns, underground waterways and canyons. Racing Vanships are small and narrow with a single, high-powered thruster. Like any Vanship intended to achieve high speeds, they have stub wings, far too small themselves to provide lift. They simply act as mounts for ailerons to provide better steering, as pivoting the thruster would put undue stress on the assembly at high speeds. Racing Vanships are permitted to utilize "boosters" (akin to a supercharger in a race car).
Passenger or cargo Vanships are the largest that can be built by any save the Guild, and are approximately the size of a bus. As these are intended for efficiency instead of speed they have multiple thrusters and no ailerons, as sufficient control is achieved merely by pivoting their thrusters. The Silvana's transport Vanships have thrusters that fold onto the side for easier stowage.
Over the course of Last Exile, Vanships are adapted for combat. The process resembles the evolving roles that aircraft held during WW1; originally developed for scouting and surveillance, but eventually equipped with bombs and machine guns to become potent fightercraft.
The Vanship fighters of Anatoray have overpowered dual thrusters for acceleration and maneuvering. They are the only Vanships equipped with onboard weapons: a pair of 600 rpm machine guns with 200-round ammunition boxes, underside racks for carrying bombs, drop-pods, and external tanks to compensate for the lower fuel efficiency of the overpowered thrusters.
Claus and Lavie's Vanship is different from all the others in the series; light and fast with exceptional acceleration like a racer, but also equipped with a unique hardened, ribbed hull. At the beginning of the series, Claus and Lavie lack the funds to fit their Vanship with a true racing engine. Instead, they have lightened it by drilling holes in its frame. Though this grants a great amount of maneuverability, it sacrifices so much mass that their top speed is lowered, meaning they cannot outrun more powerful models in the straightaways. Lavie thus acquires a booster for their Vanship as part of their preparation for the Norkia Cup. Its initial purpose, however, makes it truly unique. It was specifically designed by their parents for what many would consider a fool's errand – an attempt to withstand the torrential winds of the Grand Stream and travel from Anatoray to Disith. Even though Disith makes the crossing regularly in huge capital ships, it is not uncommon for them to be destroyed in the attempt despite their size and power. Most believe that crossing the Stream (from Anatoray to Disith) in a Vanship to be impossible - but Claus and Lavie achieve this in the final episode, making their Vanship the only one to do so.
It is known to many in the Anatoray military as the "Kill-Em-All Silvana", and an object of superstition and rumor – many say that no one ever sees it and lives to tell of it. It has an impressive degree of firepower, enough to throw an entire fleet into disarray. It is well-armored, enough to withstand the metal shearing winds of the Grand Stream. It is the first ship to carry fighter Vanships.
This ship played a vital role throughout the series. It prevented the destruction of the Mad-Thane fleet during the battle of Minagese, attacking the Disith ships that were attempting to prevent its retreat. This also signaled the rise of Vanship warfare as Claus and Lavie's actions(although meant to help out) ultimately inspired Duke Mad-Thane to use Vanships in combat. While the Guild continued its attempts to capture Alvis Hamilton, she was kept safely aboard while the Mysteria were collected, and was one of two ships that embarked upon the mission to capture Exile (Last Exile). After Alex Row's capture, the ship was commanded by Sophia Forrester in the final battle.
The series was licensed for English language broadcast and distribution in North America by Geneon Entertainment (then Pioneer Entertainment). Geneon premiered their English dubbed version of the series in TechTV's Anime Unleashed programming block on March 8, 2004. The first thirteen episodes aired nightly until March 13, 2004. The remaining thirteen episodes premiered on December 4, 2004, with new episodes airing each weeknight until the series concluded on December 22, 2004. Last Exile also aired on G4TechTV Canada, starting on July 22, 2007.
ADV Films owns the license for the series' English release in the United Kingdom while distribution rights in Australia and New Zealand are owned by Madman Entertainment. Last Exile is licensed for regional language release and broadcast in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, Poland, Portugal, and the Philippines.
Two CD soundtracks for Last Exile were produced by Dolce Triade and released by Victor Entertainment. The first, , was released in Japan on June 21, 2003. It contains 19 tracks, including the series opening and ending themes, and is 58 minutes in length. , released on September 3, 2003, spans 67 minutes and features 20 tracks, including a different version of the series ending.
Geneon Entertainment licensed both CD soundtracks for release in North America. OST 1 was released on February 14, 2004, and OST 2 was released on April 13, 2004. Geneon included translated liner notes with both CD released. Due to Geneon now being out of business, both CD soundtracks are out of print in North America.