About Alex and Sophia
Alex captains the legendary battleship Silvana (Sylvana), and his dangerous, renegade reputation is only enhanced by his "man of few words and even fewer smiles" demeanor. His past is shrouded in mystery and, of course, tragedy. One look at Captain Tall, Dark, and Grimly Handsome tells you that.
Not to be outdone by her captain, Sophia also has a few surprises up her oh-so-proper sleeves. Despite the reason for why she's on the Silvana to begin with, Alex and Sophia trust and respect each other. Since Alex isn't the trusting type, that says a lot about Sophia, and watching Sophia in action makes it easy to understand why Alex leaves the Silvana in her care whenever he's prowling about and pursuing his own agenda.
These two characters first caught my attention when the Silvana unexpectedly arrived during an air battle: Alex dispassionately orders Sophia to open fire and Sophia dryly responds, "On which fleet?"
I was drawn to their rapport, the various tensions between them, hints of a shared history of some sort, and, last but not least, that Sophia was in love with Alex. I also liked how his deliberate efforts in pretending not to notice -- and the occasional snarky comments that reveal he noticed more than he liked -- leaves his feelings for her open to speculation and interpretation.
For myself, I think actions speak louder than words where Alex is concerned, and his actions showed he cared for Sophia more than he let on. At the very least, the same bond of pilot/navigator existed between Alex and Sophia as it did between Claus and Lavie, Tatiana and Alister, Dio and Lucciola, and others from the past, such as Claus and Lavie's fathers and the younger Alex and his fiance, Euris (Yuris). Yes, I know the Silvana isn't a vanship, but it's close enough in all the ways that matter in the context of the story.
If you're a fan of the relationship between Alex and Sophia (romantic, friendship, comrades-in-arms, or any combination that appeals to you), I hope you'll add your name to the list.
About Last Exile
The flagship of Gonzo's 10th Anniversary celebration, Last Exile is an original 26-episode series that aired in Japan in 2003 and was released in the US/Canada by Geneon.
Last Exile tells a classic story of good vs. evil, where the good guys battle a corrupt empire in order to restore the balance of power. The action takes place on an Earth-like world called Prester (Prestale) and is set in the future, although that future looks a lot like a mix of 19th Century opulence, Pre-Industrial Age grittiness, and Art Deco sleekness (i.e, "steampunk.")
The all-powerful Guild, keepers of advanced technology, control the territorial battles that break out between Disith and Anatoray. War is played out as "chivalrous" matches with a time limit -- except people die, so it's not chivalrous at all. The battles are waged between air-borne fleets comprised of massive airships filled with troops of musketeers, and messages are delivered by speedy courier vanships, which is what main characters Claus Valca and Lavie Head do for a living.
Or at least that's what they do until they rescue a mysterious little girl named Alvis Hamilton and find themselves onboard the renegade airship Silvana, commanded by the enigmatic Alex Row and his elegant first officer, Sophia Forrester.
As it turns out, Alvis is the key to EXILE, a mysterious entity that Maestro Delphine Eraclea (Elaclaire), leader of the Guild, wishes to control in order to maintain her sovereignty over Disith and Anatoray. In the past, Delphine successfully pitted the people of Anatoray and Disith against each other, but now that conflict threatens to destroy both nations. In order to survive, Disith and Anatoray forge an alliance and initiate plans to force Delphine to surrender -- and possessing Exile is crucial to the success of their plan.
The fleets of Anatoray and Disith team up with the crews of the Silvana and its allied ship the Urbanus, commanded by the coffee-loving Vincent Alzey, to locate and capture EXILE. Also joining this force are two unexpected defectors from the Guild, Lord Dio Eraclea and his bodyguard, Lucciola (Lucciora).
In short, Last Exile is a war story about people from different backgrounds uniting to fight for a common cause, and somehow they nearly all end up on the Silvana or, in the case of Vince and the Urbanus, allied with the Silvana. During the course of the story, the main characters evolve and change as they discover what is truly important to them. They also face challenges and find themselves having to make sacrifices, some small and some large. This is a wonderfully imaginative and exciting series, and if you haven't already checked it out, please consider giving it a try.