I think it's fair to say that I'm not the only person with fond memories of Last Exile, arguably the pinnacle of Studio Gonzo's career before things all went a little bit pear-shaped. Now, Gonzo have returned from near-death, and even better they've brought the Last Exile franchise back with it.
Rather than simply carry on from where the original left off, Fam the Silver Wing introduces us to a bunch of new characters as we take to the skies once again, primarily via a pair of female Sky Pirates who go by the name of Fam (of the show's title) and Giselle (or Gise for short). This rather accomplished partnership seems to love nothing better than leading the way in allowing their group of pirates to snatch their usually wealthy prey, aiming to be first to unleash their harpoons upon their unsuspecting victims.
All of this is set against an unstable backdrop, with the rival Kingdom of Turan and Ades Federation seeking to sign a peace treaty above the Great Lake which they both revere - at least, that's what the Kingdom of Turan believe is about to happen, but what actually transpires is the first act in a war instigated by Ades using their massed forces against what little resistance Turan's princesses have available to them. While the result of this particular battle seems to be a foregone conclusion, the Ades forces have reckoned without the reckless Fam and her Sky Pirate comrades, as they offer their assistance to Turan's princesses before setting about the business of leaving the Ades fleet in disarray, largely thanks to the abilities of Fam... oh, and a certain someone named Dio who might be familiar to fans of the original series.
All in all, this makes for a thoroughly entertaining first episode which draws you in via its wonderful setting (as per the original Last Exile) coupled with plenty of airborne action. This focus on the exciting stuff does mean that some of the moments of exposition and explanation are a little rushed or almost arbitrary in their delivery, but that can be forgiven in the midst of an otherwise well-realised opener that leaves us gasping for more. Last Exile is back, and from these first impressions it doesn't look as though it's going to disappoint - its largely well-animated, sports a great soundtrack (even if it threatened to be slightly over-bearing in places), and looks set to have plenty to offer in terms of its story and characters. What's not to like?