I’ve made no attempt to hide my love for Last Exile on this site — simply put, I think it’s one of the best and most enjoyable anime series to come down the pipe in a long time. It’s full of grand adventure, great characters, amazing action sequences, and what might be Gonzo’s best animation to date (which makes you wonder what in the world happened with Gantz).
Likewise, the Dolce Triad’s work on this volume of the OST is quite engaging and lively. One thing that’s readily apparent, however, is just how similar the music sounds at times to Joe Hisaishi’s compositions. However, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise; there’s a fairly detectable Castle in the Sky influence on Last Exile to begin with.
Many of the songs on the CD consist of soaring string arrangements, quite appropriate for a series that’s all about flying and freedom in the skies. And it’s easy to tell which songs play during the action/battle sequences, as they have a much more insistent, often militant tone, either in the brass arrangements or martial rhythms. On slower tracks like the ethereal “Ground Stream,” the Hisaishi shadow is quite visible, such that you might be tempted to see if you somehow slipped in the Castle in the Sky soundtrack by mistake.
One thing that has really impressed me about Last Exile is its attention to detail, to creating a fully-realized world for its characters to roam. The result is a world with a very Jules Verne-esque look and feel to it, as amazing aircraft soar above cities that wouldn’t look out of place in Victorian-era England. Like the Haibane Renmei soundtrack, various European flourishes and melodies are strewn throughout the CD, often giving the music an Old World feel.
My one disappointment is that this, being the 2nd volume, doesn’t have “Cloud Age Symphony,” the series’ amazing theme song. However, it does have the driving “Head in the Clouds,” which features Shuntaro Okino on vocals and almost sounds like a Verve track at times. And “Over The Sky (Angel Feather Version)” is an extremely gorgeous track, even with its blatant Hisaishi-isms. Its string arrangements and rhythms blend with Hitomi Kuroishi’s lovely vocals, lifting the listener up to a very satisfying climax. Unfortunately, it’s immediately followed by the disc’s one misstep, the Whitney Houston-esque “A New World Has Come,” but that’s a very slight misstep given the rest of the CD’s quality.