A vanship is a type of flying machine from the animated series Last Exile. It is often referred to as a "flying boat" in that it does not fly by means of aerodynamics like planes do, but rather by floating on the air and propelling itself through the use of a substance known as Claudia.
Vanships in general were couriers prior to the events of Last Exile, traveling long distances to deliver cargoes (usually messages). Some Vanships thus include tools for towing solid objects. Any Vanship intended to dock with a capital ship has a set of cables to act as anchors. All couriers receive their jobs from their local Vanship Union, which assigns each a difficulty rating: one or two stars for most jobs, three for transport into a battle zone, etc. The transport of Alvis E. Hamilton to the Silvana was set at seven stars due to the inevitable interference of the Guild, and the peace message intended for Disith had an unprecedented ten star rating, because it was considered impossible—it required a courier to cross the Grand Stream for the first time in Anatoray's history.
All vanships in the series were rendered as 3D images, a hallmark of Japanese animation studio Gonzo, makers of such series as Vandread and Blue Submarine No. 6.
The design of the Vanship is very similar to that of Hayao Miyazaki's gunship from "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind"]. The matches are really focused on the two seated open cockpit, and the navigator section which has matching interface panels of small glass cylinders.
The design of several vanships throughout the series, however, bear far greater resemblance to various famed 1930s racecars than any aircraft, most notably the Anatoray millitary vanships which bear great resemblance to the 1933 Napier Railton. The resemblance is found in the grill shape of the cowl vents and the shape of the tail cone, as well as the aerodynamic bulges on the car which cover the valve covers and exaust on the car, which are also found on the Anatoray vanships.
Another good example is Dio Eraclea's Vanship in "Last Exile - Fam, the Silver Wing", which bears a resemblance to the Stutz Blackhawk land speed record car, with the exception of the lack of the car's rear wheel covers and some small additions.
Types of Vanships
- Cargo Vanship
- Courier Vanship (also known as Racing Vanship)
- High-speed Vanship
- Military Vanship
- Old Federal Vanship
- Rocket Fighter
- Fast Assault Vanship
- Turan's Transport Vanship
- Long-range Utility Vanship
- Sky Pirate
- Over the course of Last Exile, Vanships were adapted for combat. The process resembles the evolving roles that aircraft held during WW1; originally developed for scouting and surveillance, but eventually equipped with bombs and machine guns to become potent fightercraft.