Shoji Kawamori's Last Hope has finally come to an end on Netflix, leaving lots of crazy questions in its wake. This week, Nick and Micchy share what they loved about the show and what left them scratching their heads.
Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Not Safe For Work warning for language.
Nick Hey Micchy, you were with me last time we talked about Last Hope, right?
Micchy Who else would be down for watching way too much Shoji Kawamori at once?
Okay, so maybe you can help me figure out how we went from whatever happened in that first cour to hacking robots with paganism.
I don't know what else you expected from the show that posited that Schrodinger's Cat is actually a panda.
So yeah, the second half of Last Hope goes some places.
For one thing, apparently pandas wield swords now. What is this show?
Well you see the pandas are just a metaphor, they're not really--
Okay never mind, they are in fact actual pandas. Anyway, we're getting ahead of ourselves. There is some context to some of this. Sort of.
There sure is a ton of pseudoscience mumbo-jumbo to explain why pandas are relevant to these skull-faced avatars of destruction, but I'm still not sure how it all fits together. Luckily, Last Hope doesn't demand a thorough understanding of its science. It's more the kind of show where progress means putting more guns on your giant robots.
Who among us, when presented with the power of all possible futures, wouldn't use that to just make more pew pew noises with our cool robots?
The guy who uses that power to try to get back together with his dopey ex instead, that's who.
For real, Last Hope's first half was a mostly straightforward affair: a crazy science reactor made all animal life turn into giant organic robots, so our team of plucky weirdos had to use their own science powers to protect their city.
Then the second half takes all that and turns it into a metaphor for coping with the looming event horizon of climate change and the vast hazards that presents to humanity's existence on Earth.
So it's essentially the second coming of Earth Girl Arjuna, but with a lot more nuance and a lot less water birth trutherism. The second half of Last Hope escalates in true Kawamori fashion. It's a hell of a mess, but it remains interesting despite its many flaws.
Kawamori's no stranger to environmental themes or big messy plots that don't make sense if you think about them too long. But his best shows ground those idiosyncrasies with lovable characters and a charming sense of humor, and for all its faults, I think Last Hope delivers there.
So speaking of big messy plots, what even happened in the end? Our heroes defeat the wannabe terminator threatening their city, and then everything goes off the rails into alternate dimension quantum bullshit.
Well, first we find out that the evil DJ isn't exactly Leon's ex-boyfriend, but rather the cosmic singular convergence of every possible future version of Leon's ex-boyfriend, and also he's kinda the personification of nihilism in the face of disaster. And like any bad ex, he still wants to get back together.
This dude uses a giant robot falcon for a booty call ffs.
Sieg's big plan might be to force humanity to evolve as a species to survive in a world at the brink of destruction, but to me it mostly sounded like he couldn't stand the idea of Leon having a life of his own. Oh, and I guess he deliberately wreaks destruction on humanity's surviving settlements, killing thousands of innocents just to advance his goals for the species as a whole. In short, he's kind of a dick.
In general, the story is about moving on from all the shit holding you down. Leon has to move past his guilt over Lon. Humanity has to give up the idea of being ruler of the planet and find a new way to adapt to a changing environment. Doug has to move on from his girlfriend's computer ghost.
It's about pushing forward in life both individually and collectively. Lon is dead, and one of Leon's biggest hurdles is accepting that and focusing on making the world better for the people still alive. That's the thing that separates the heroes from the villain of this story. While Sieg's willing to take lives for his grand goal, Leon eventually realizes that sacrificing innocents for a slight advantage is worthless. What's truly important and defines humanity in this show isn't superior intellect, but the capacity for empathetic connections. That's what sets humans apart from other life forms.
Yeah, I really appreciate that it understands the importance of human compassion at the heart of scientific discovery. Especially for a Kawamori joint. Like, could you imagine something like this coming from the same person who brought us The Crying Cheeseburger?
Kawamori's definitely mellowed out since Arjuna! Back then, he was all about "science bad, nature good" but now it's more "science can be applied in good and bad ways, so what really matters is being conscious of that". You pointed that out when we discussed Last Hope last time, but this second half really drives that home.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that I like how the show handles Queenie in the second half. While the guys get these big melodramatic stories about having to move on from their past sins, her story is decidedly quieter, despite featuring a giant robot kung fu fight on the moon.
Specifically I like that what Queenie has to move on from is the idea that she's alone and unnecessary. She's still a fighter, but now she's doing so out of a sense of protecting her loved ones rather than vengeance, and growing into that means re-evaluating what strength means to her.
I'll admit it's kind of cheesy, but I'd also be lying if I said I didn't smile when Queenie made a point of coming over to Chloe's to look after her when Leon was in the hospital. They even practice kung-fu together! It's the best.
Oh right, she also totally steals Leon's imouto from him. God bless.
So much for that family contract!
To be fair, Queenie is everyone's onee-chan.
But speaking of that family contract, it did end up saving everyone's ass in the final hour.
Yeah, Last Hope had one hell of a finale, didn't it? As if it wasn't obvious enough that this show is about forging interpersonal connections and protecting those you love, the big turning point in the ultimate conflict happens when Chloe brings up her "family contract" with Leon and everyone else starts quoting it.
In true Kawamori fashion, the fate of the universe is saved thanks to a pinky promise.
This all culminates in shaming the villain for being naked in Naked Mecha Space.
Look, this show started with Leon running around ass-naked and now he's telling other people not to go commando. If that's not character growth, I don't know what is.
I'm just not over the entire climax being decided by a brick joke about Leon's dick. It's not quite as wonderfully goofy as Aquarion Evol's finale, but it's definitely up there, and frankly I couldn't be happier with how it all works out. Maybe I'm just an easy sell, but despite all its rough edges and glaring faults, I can't help but love Last Hope for what it wants to say and how it goes about saying it. In times when it feels like the world is slowly burning to the ground, it's nice to find a show that wholeheartedly believes there's hope for a future.
And that hope is robots holding hands.
Even if Last Hope kinda drags in its middle act, it manages to make up for that with an absolutely ridiculous finale and a whole lotta heart. It's not my favorite Kawamori show by a long shot, but I want to keep encouraging that man to make as many cartoons about hand-holding robots as possible. More robots in general, really.
Be careful what you wish for.
Oh yo, I love 2001 a space odyssey.
I'm just saying, we should all keep an eye on Hatsune Miku.
...Should I be concerned about the future of Kizuna Ai?
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