Before I begin my review, I should mention that I met Wil Wheaton at SuperCon on Sunday and told him about Brass Goggles. When I asked him what he thought of Steampunk, he told me to pass on to all of you that he loves it, especially the Steampunk aesthetic and the Victorian feel of it. This just proves once again that Wil Wheaton is awesome. Now, on to the review…

Having noticed that our fearless leader had previously mentioned Last Exile but hadn’t had time to view the whole series, I took it upon myself to sit and observe so that I could provide a concise review to you, my fellow Brass Gogglers.

As the heavenly bodies shift in their spheres, making their eternal music, they occasionally come into alignment, and that alignment can have a major effect on our lives. Recently, the spheres aligned so that I spent my evenings in front of my computational engine, watching a programme until I had exhausted its line entirely. The elements brought into alignment were:

  • Consecutive image magic lantern shows from the mysterious Orient, also known as “Anime series;”
  • Steampunk, which you, my esteemed colleagues, are all familiar with;
  • Dr. Cornelius Netflix’s “Watch It Now” device

When these three things came together, they formed a phenomenon known as “Last Exile.” Add to it a projected rating of over four stars on Dr. Netflix’s “Rate-O-Scale” and I really had no choice but to watch the show.

First, my initial reaction: fans of some of the more well-known aspects of Steampunk will be disappointed to know that there are no lighter-than-air craft in Last Exile. No balloons, no dirigibles, no zeppelins to be found. Nor are there ornithopters, autogyros, or even those ingenious fixed-wing aircraft that seem to be all the rage. Instead, we have heavy airships that clearly owe more to World War II-era battleships than to anything from the Age of Steam. There are also the so-called “vanships,” smaller two-man vehicles that look like bobsleds with lightbulb filaments attached underneath.

Readers who are familiar with typical anime plotlines will not be surprised to discover that the hero of the story is a plucky, courageous, but occasionally lazy and emotional young man. This one goes by the name of Claus Valka. He is joined by Lavie, the spunky redhead who has been his friend since they were tiny children and who serves as his mechanic. If I have to inform you that she is harboring romantic feelings toward Claus, you really are not paying enough attention.

During the course of the story, these two come across an adorable little orphan named Alvis (called “Al” throughout the show). She was being rushed via vanship on a top-secret mission when the vanship got shot down. Our heroes take it upon themselves to complete the dying pilot’s mission and deliver her to Alex Row, the brooding captain of the notorious independent ship known as the “Kill ‘Em All” Silvana.

It turns out that Alvis is the key to something called Exile, which explains why everyone is after her. Like any good anime Macguffin, Exile is mysterious and powerful and nobody is quite sure what it is. What they do know is that they want it.

The show delivers on some Steampunk elements, while completely lacking others. Goggles, you will be happy to hear, are found in abundance, as are gauges and clockwork. Connoisseurs of engines will be disappointed to learn that the show’s main power source is Claudia, a mystical blue liquid, rather than steam or electricity. We get precious little shots of engines in action, gears grinding, piston stamping, etc. We do get 19th-Century-inspired uniforms, which is nice.

So, in the end, it’s an entertaining show, and well worth looking into if goggles and flying machines are your cup of tea. I will continue to keep an eye out for interesting Steampunk shows and movies, and bring you my thoughts on them as I get to them! Cheerio!

(If you would like to read my full review, including images from the show, you are invited to do so by following this link.)