In Review: Armored Trooper Votoms Pailsen Files

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Finally, a review post!  It’s been ages since I’ve done this–almost a year!  So today I blabber about yet another mecha show–this time it isn’t as flashy as Macross Frontier or Code Geass.  Now what made me and my lazy ass to write something?

This is the spin-off to the original VOTOMS series, one that I had read about but hadn’t been able to watch.  So when Pailsen Files came along, I decided to check it out.  (circa 2008)

Funny, I almost dropped this show because at first impression, the mechs were really ugly.  The show started with a D-Day-like battle, with hundreds of poor extras dying (almost always the case in grand mech battles).  Our hero, Chirico Cuvie, is the sole survivor of the amphibious landing team.  For someone who accomplished that feat, you’d think he’d get a medal and a vacation, right?  No, our poor hero gets sent off to frontline hell instead!  And this is where the really good part begins.  (Though from Chirico’s POV it probably isn’t.)  As Chirico eventually figures out (due to his past experiences), an ‘observer’ is actually testing him and his survival skills.  And wouldn’t the war’s frontline make the best location for the experiment?

Ugly mechs aside, I really like how the meaty plot progresses, from the mysterious assasination attempts on Chirico, to the increasinly dangerous missions that he and his fellow unfortunate squad members get sent to.  I like it how his squad is such a diverse collection of personalities.  It’s true that they may all be from the same military, but their backgrounds and experiences are unique enough that it actually enables each of them to make their own contribution towards the survival of the squad.  From a sly commanding officer in Barkov to the young but adept Zaki, each one is adequately equipped with survival skills.  Even the wimpy Kochak proves quite useful at the 2nd to the last battle the squad gets into. At the end of the series, with info from Chirico, they realize they are abnormal survivors.  However, I think this realization led to their undoing.  It was ironic, really.  They got over-confident and stopped acting like their real selves, when it was exactly their kind of personalities that enabled them to survive for so long.  Chirico is quite cool-headed throughout the show, and I think this is one main  trait that enables his survival too.

VOTOMS up?

Behind the scenes, the two figures who hold power over the fate of Chirico and his squadmates are locked in a battle of wills–and brains.  At the end of the show it is revealed who really had the upper hand, but I won’t spoil–it’s a nice twist that wraps up the show.  But somehow it is very chilling that in their world (or galaxy? hehehe), these two cold-hearted people wield such influence that results to the death of thousands.

Speaking of their galaxy, one thing troubled me:  there isn’t a female character!!  Where did all the girls go??!!  How do these guys replenish their ranks with children nowhere to be seen?  (Take note that I haven’t seen the original show, so I don’t know the full background of this.)

There are also other mysteries like the true nature of the Monad core that Chirico and his squad tried to take control of for their last mission, and the Balarant–who are the enemies anyway?  What are they fighting for?  Alas, these questions might never be answered.

Recommendation

Recommended for hard-core mecha fans.  There are no love triangles, teenage angst, or annoying moe characters to distract you here. 😉

  • Animation at 0.5/0.75.  Mechs are ugly.
  • Characters at 0.75/1.
  • Music at 0.5/0.75.
  • Story/Plot/Dialogue at 1/1.
  • Entertainment value at 1.25/1.5.
  • Total: 4/5

8 responses »

  1. I loved the Scopedog it is about as grunty as they get. Most of the things you have asked about were dealt with in the original series.

    But seriously how can you be so hard on the humble Scopedog?!

  2. I agree with you about the sense of progression and revelation in the plot as Chirico (and eventually the others) figure out what’s going on – and of course the grim irony of their fate.

    The original series has (to my memory) three romances, one of which is a love triangle, in it. Mind you, they’re not exactly the focus of the story.

  3. @Crusader

    Ah, thanks for the info. About the Scopedog, it might be that I watch too much Macross and Gundam–the aesthetic comparison might be harsh in retrospect.

    @TA

    >>The original series has (to my memory) three romances, one of which is a love triangle, in it. Mind you, they’re not exactly the focus of the story.

    Really? I’m surprised there’s a romance, I’d expected just guys battling it out all the way, just like this OVA.

  4. I think the romances in the original series were described elsewhere (I can’t remember where) as ‘pretty LOLTomino’, even though Tomino wasn’t involved. So they don’t take up much screentime . . .

  5. It is interesting that Mr. Takahashi (the director of VOTOMS) himself referred to the nonexistence of girls in his blog (or something, I forgot).
    As long as I remember, other staff asked him why there is no woman and how it could attract the recent amine fans. I think he answered something like “That’s the VOTOMS”.
    I love VOTOMS anyway. But I agree that the Pailsen’s mechs are a little ugly. 2D could be better. Shining Hersey’s mechs were better.

  6. @TA

    Is it as good as Pailsen Files then?

    @Hiroshi

    Finally, someone who agrees with me on the ugly mechs. Though I’ve read a fellow blogger (forgot though) describe them as just ‘gritty’.

    >>“That’s the VOTOMS”

    Definitely gives the franchise uniqueness.

    >>I love VOTOMS anyway.

    I like it too, despite the ugly mechs. Though I haven’t seen the original, I can say that I finally understand a little now the fascination for VOTOMS. 🙂

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