October 31, 2011
Last Exile – Fam The Silver Wing – Ep3: Prayer For The Departed
War is hell, war never changes. During the lull between battles one will realize that the bigger the war, the more dead lie in the streets. Who will bury the? Who has the time to? Would even care to give a proper one for the dead of your enemies? Perhaps one single piece of humanity that still exists in the middle of a bloody war is the way we treat our dead. Behind the front lines, between the battles when everyone is supposed to rest, it is characteristic of humans to pay respects to the dead, any dead for that matter, even of your enemies. We give the time of day to bury them even if they were just shooting at us minutes ago. No matter the circumstance, humanity honors the dead and departed no matter the reason.
It’s almost ironic that this episode comes out mere days before November 1 and 2.
The generals report to the child empress that the war is going in their favor despite mounting casualties. They apologize for for letting so many sons and fathers of Ades die, but the empress Sara forgives them saying it must be done. Here we learn that the people of Ades are themselves exiles from their own lands, as the original inhabitants of the planet that were driven away by the people brought back by the Exiles. This is their war of retaking the land they believed is rightfully theirs, taken away by these foreigners.
We too learn of the Turan and the Sky Pirates as the crew return to their base. As Princess Milia broods and pities herself for the loss of her homeland and her family, Fam reveals her own losses as an orphan who lost her parents when Ades began it’s war of reclamation years ago. They return to witness the blessings to the fallen that their culture does at times like this, offering balloons to the sky as a form of respect and remembrance to those of died in the skies above, regardless of nationality. They all agree on it: The dead, all of them, deserve their final respects. As the balloons float away Fam gets her new target: to capture the Silvana.
The beauty that made Last Exile shine wasn’t the great aerial battles, the grand armies clashing or the majestic races between Vanship pilots. The beauty was that which lied in between. It’s so easy to get lost in all the epic grandeur the show is/was capable of but fail to see the humanity at the sidelines, in between the fights, when exhausted men and women return to their respective places to reflect and sometimes brood about the days events. It was during these quiet times, the lulls between each storm, where the characters take mind of the gravities of their situations, that Last Exile brings forth the humanity of the humans that wages the wars.
Fam in particular sits in her room taking time to digest and absorb the events of days past, to try and make sense out of everything that has happened so blazingly fast that she has had only but a moment to make sense of it all. She has been thrust into the middle of a war that has been raging on and off for nearly a decade, and now she is placed with a critical assignment. Everyone’s worlds have been flipped upside down. Millia could barely cope with the stress before herself breaking a few times, and only then could she find the strength to carry on the burdens placed on her despite all that she had lost.
In the midst of it all Fam still manages to give a straight face to everyone and muster the courage to do something when opportunity and problems alike arise. Fam comes off as a very strong and determined individual even as the world descends into war. Whether it be dodging flak, infiltrating battleships, retrieving old trinkets or taking on the planets most infamous vessel, she does it with a gusto that puts people like Millia in awe. Even then, there is a difference between having the strength and courage to face life as it happens and simply being unable to grasp the gravity of the situation. Fam is clearly the former. She is both spontaneous but calculating, speaks her mind but is thoughtful, gung-ho when she wants and takes time to reflect when she can. Again, reminds me of the far fewer types of female leads who have such contradicting yet believably human qualities.
She seems to behave with more bravado than anything else, but that scene in her room of a few seconds of quiet contemplation proves that she is not simply one of those brash and thoughtless characters running on impulse, unmindful and unaffected of the world around them. She cares, she thinks, she takes her time when she must. That moment in her room is her time to think and to analyze. The dramatic events of the past episode demanded quick thinking and even quicker action, and now that she has time, she seems to posses the wisdom to know that she needs to think things through more throughly when time allows. That is something I rarely see in characters these days.
The amount of respect the Sky Pirates shows that there are aspects of humanity that isn’t lost even in times of war. To die is to lose ones life, it is the same for everyone regardless of nationality, and everyone deserves a decent send off. The Sky Pirates make no distinction whether you were friend or foe, and accept belief that everyone returns to the same blue sky above, whether you are Turan or Ades, original inhabitant or a returned exile. We all die someday, and these are the moments to pay respects to those lost in a terrible war that is being fought whether you like it or not. There is humanity to be found in the most inhuman of conflicts.
Similarly there is perhaps some justification to the war being waged by Ades. They are, in essence, exiles on their own planet. Original inhabitants of this blue earth, they were driven off and away from their lands by the “foreigners” who abandoned the planet long ago, returning only now to take over that which they had left. It is a war to take back what was once theirs, to themselves recover the homeland that was once theirs. It is perhaps symbolic that the originals and the exiles are both fighting over the land they deem was theres, if only to find a place to call home. Such things happen in the real world right now as we speak.
It is now time for the part that every Last Exile fan has been giddy at the prospect of: The return of the Silvana and it’s (presumably complete) crew. This is the brave new world they’ve come home to after leaving Prester, the place from which their ancestors were exiled from. Perhaps the ship and it’s crew will play a major role in this story, but I think we’re all in agreement that this is Fam’s story, not Claus, and I hope it will remain as such.