I’m almost halfway through the series. I recall Shamus has blogged about Last Exile a while back and found the ending disappointing. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Still, I’m in now, and committed to see what happens.
One of the things I have really enjoyed about the series thus far, which Shamus and others have also mentioned, is how cool the aerial combat scenes are. In fact, it goes beyond that – Last Exile combines Podracing (a la Star Wars Episode One), 3D dogfighting (a la Star Wars X-Wings vs Ties) and capital ship combat (a la Star Trek II).
I mentioned in my last post that the world made little sense thus far, but given the events in the last episode I just watched, I think I can make some speculations. Below the fold, of course…
The mystery “Claudia” units that keep everything aloft are refered to as being based in some kind of magnetism. The basic idea is that there are these naturally occurring crystals which have inherent magnetic properties. Of course, they glow eerie blue. Also, we see a lot of huge rocky promontories up in the sky, like the Dragon’s Fangs, but such vast structures clearly have no base connecting them to the earth, because when Claus and Tatiana crash to the desert below, there is no sign of the vast mountain range needed to support such colossal structures penetrating the clouds above. Here are some screenshots.
(incidentally, I had suspected that the “ground” was a desert, given how precious and scarce water seems to be).
In the first episode we also get a view of Claus and Lavie’s village. From far away, their home village is in a vast crater the top of another huge mountain range peeking above the clouds:
However as we zoom in we can see that the village is built on levels, with topmost level being farmland, and below that the residential. Vast structures support the entire village above some deeper substrate we can’t quite see.
and there’s also a mysterious Grand Stream that apparently exists above everything else. Here is a shot of the Silvana descending out of it, note that it’s essentially invisible from below. There are ripples above the Silvana indicating where it just exited.
So, given all the evidence, I think we have a (deliberate) homage to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Instead of a single flying isle of Laputa, we have a landscape dotted with them, all floating across a vast desert below. The isles stay aloft via a magnetic force generated by the Claudia crystals, which occur naturally and which are extracted for use in powering the vanships and major vessels. The perpetual cloud layer that envelops the floating islands seems to be a side effect of the magnetic field. I’ve no explanation for the “Grand Stream” but as I progress further I am sure we will get a better look at it.