Armored Trooper VOTOMS
Armored Trooper VOTOMS
Director: Ryosuke Takahashi
If you love anime for the stunning animation, beautiful art, and the most sophisticated mecha around, then you probably won't like VOTOMS. The series was made in the early days of anime, and it shows. Don't let the dated art and giant punch-card computers fool you though, VOTOMS is a thoroughly satisfying sci-fi action series.
The story takes place in a distant galaxy, shortly after the end of a century long war between the two superpowers, the Gilgamesh and the Balarant. In the closing days of the war, renegades working for a mysterious "Secret Society" stage a raid on a military research facility, kidnaping a mysterious woman in a suspended animation tank. With them is a Gilgamesh special forces trooper named Chirico Cuvie, who's unaware of what's going on. Not wanting to leave any witnesses, the Society tries to kill Chirico and leaves him for dead. He's soon picked up by a Gilgamesh battleship and interrogated as a member of the Society. Chirico soon escapes and makes his way to war-torn Uoodo City.
The first few discs are the hardest to get through, mainly because the art is so unappealing. Chirico's complete lack of emotion and machine-like fighting ability offer an odd contrast to the overdone emotions of his companions, but they are one of the main reasons the series grows on you. Chirico's inner torment that drives the series can be a little hard to get from the subtitles, but stick with the series and you will be rewarded. The other three parts of the series follow Chirico and the friends he makes as he attempts to reconcile his past as part of the "Red Shoulders", the most ruthless unit in the Gilgamesh army. He also attempts to find love with Fyana, the prototype "Perfect Soldier" he saw in the suspended animation tank at the beginning of the series. Standing in his way are bandits, revolutionaries, the Balarant and Gilgamesh armies, the Secret Society, and quite possibly God.
The art and animation are crude by today's standards, but good at the time it was first released. A lot of shots are used more than once, especially in combat, but there's so much action and combat that it's not a big problem. The most annoying thing is possibly the character designs, with their odd cloths and hair. But this too, can be forgiven. There are on going plots with in plots from the very start, some of which are not revealed to the last stage, "God Planet Quent". The end was touching, and I felt it to be totally appropriate to the series.
The series is only available in Japanese with English subtitles, and has been recently released in a 16 DVD set, with all 52 episodes. The disks were nicely done, with bonus material on every disc revealing more about the enormous VOTOMS universe that has been created over the years, as well as episode guides and cover art from the orginal VHS release. There is an enormous amount of VOTOMS material out there, including several games, an RPG, and tons of manga. The series is worth seeing if you are a serious anime fan, or have been a fan since the 80s and can forgive the dated animation. Still, paying almost $400 for the entire series might be a little hard to justify and I recommend renting it from a place like Netflix.com.