It's a steampunk setting, with flying battleships and 'vanships' (small aeroplanes), nations that are still firmly stuck in a Victorian mindset (and at war with eachother) and an all-powerful Guild that controls the access to high technology. In this world we find Claus and Lavi, two young vanship pilots who earn their living as couriers, shipping messages to and fro.
Two of the world's nations, Dusis and Anatore, are at war, and Lavi and Claus get stuck in between, which pulls them into a maelstrom of global politics and personal drama.
The series is gorgeously animated, and the CG blends in perfectly with the cell-animation. The story is (mostly) engaging and gradually opens up to reveal a really unique world.
The one thing I didn't really like much is how the focus of the story meanders: first it's Claus and Lavi, then we get the whole Sophia-becomes-empress thing, then it's the battle against the Guild, and then it's back to Claus and Lavi. I understand why the decision was made to tell the story this way, but it still feels a bit unfocused.
Also, it's very "military light": OK, so the Sylvana is a military ship, but they don't have too many problems with a few young kids snooping around on board. Heck, they don't even have any problems with taking the heir apparent to the hated Guild on board, and letting him go about the ship unsupervised!
And is it just me, or are the Guild members transhumanists? I mean, they do have the pointy ears and the superhuman reflexes... It wouldn't surprise me if they were actually vat-grown or something.
The whole series reminded us strongly of Laputa: Castle in the Sky.
Take, for instance, the scene where we meet Claus and Lavi: we see a flock of pigeons flying along a cliff. Below is a city, up on the hill are a few small huts. Sound familiar?
There are more similarities:
- The whole sociery based on flying ships, complete with immense battlecruisers (compare the Urbanus to the Goliath);
- A fearsome weapon floating in the sky
- Various fractions who wish to control that weapon
- The weapon can only be activated by one specific person, who has to recite a secret poem
- In the end, the weapon floats off into space, leaving the tattered remains of the fleet to pick up their lives again
But this is all set into a really unique world, so it's more like a tribute rather than a rip-off.
- Slightly unfocused story-telling;
- Too short!
- Steampunk! (We even get to see a Difference Engine doing artillery calculations in the first episode!)
- Interesting setting.
I'll give it a 9.5.
I hear my audience ask: "That high!?" Yes kids, that high. It's really something else, really a cut above the rest!