The Last Exile series and its sequel do their darndest to bring the intensity of 19th Century naval combat into a steampunk setting, which noticeably lacks such elements, regardless of their practicality. Last Exile: Fam of the Silver Wing has been pretty good thus far in that regard. There was nothing that felt particularly out of place for seven episodes, each of the elements blurring into a consistent yet engaging porridge. While I’ve denoted a weakness in the impact of the characters before, the setting is one of the best of the year, as lively as it is alien.
However, in Episode 8, they decided to throw caution to the wind and have the first straight battle between the Sylvius and the encroaching Aldes ships as the Sylvius makes a mad rush for the Federation border. Under the guise of heavy cloud cover, the Sylvius hides from the Federation fleet and makes a dash for the border. It’s a surprisingly well executed episode, playing well off the suspense of the last one… I just have one issue with the physics and the tactics therein.
Regardless of how thick a layer of clouds in, deploying the equivalent of depth charges against a metal airship below is incredibly stupid. Yet the Aldes Federation does this multiple times, missing the Sylvius several times over. The effectiveness of depth charges relies on the physics of water, where the shockwave has more impact than it does in the air. While using bombs against aircraft is a good idea, since the impact is the main source of damage, it’s not the case underwater where depth is a much more decisive factor. In short, the idea to utilize depth charges was a fucking stupid idea, and worth its own mini-post with how baffling it was.
I get that adopting naval strategies in the air is one of Last Exile’s gimmicks. The first episode of the first series wouldn’t have had rows of musketeers shooting at each other from the decks of opposing ships otherwise. It makes for quite the spectacle, even if it isn’t very practical. But what we see here is the pointless use of inappropriate explosives, when dogfighting capabilities have been shown before. If you’re in this for the sake of a spectacle, having two opposing vanship sorties battle it out with almost zero visibility would have been infinitely better and ratcheted up the suspense even more. Though really, if you’re watching anime for military practicality, you’re doing it wrong.
Again, Fam of the Silver Wing is a mostly functional series that has its moments. Aside from this little anachronism, the dogfighting’s riveting and the animation’s still absolutely gorgeous, bringing the other more tolerable anachronisms to life. The characters still fall a little flat, but I can give it some leeway for being as entertaining as it is. Also, what I’m pretty sure is Russian (Feel free to correct me on this) is utilized pretty damn well.