Armored Trooper Votoms Vol. #09 (of 16) (Mania.com)

Review Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2001



What They Say
What began in the darkness of asteroid base Lido now leads Chirico and Fyana to the cold depths of space. Awakening in the shuttle they used to escape from the burning jungles of Kummen, they find themselves trapped on a mysterious battleship hurtling through space toward an unknown destination.

The guidance and communications systems are locked, and the computer refuses to identify the owner of the vessel or how they got there. Now, for the first time ever, Chirico and Fyana are safe and alone with each other.

But even in this quiet setting, forces are once again gathering against them. The ship is flying into Balarant-controlled space and the Balarant know who is aboard. Melkian Intelligence officer Rochina is also hot on their trail.

And, even more disturbing, whoever is controlling the ship knows the truth about Chirico's past and is using his own memories to torture him!

Contains the beginning of Stage 3:
1: Destiny (Uoodo City flashback)
2: Two People
3: Phantasm

The Review!
Overall Rating: 3.7
(on a scale of 1-5)

-Technical Ratings-
Sound: 5
Picture: 5
Menu: 4
Presentation: 3
Goodies: 4
Overall: 4.2

-Content Ratings-
Animation: 3
Sound: 3
Plot: 3
Japanese Acting: 4
Music: 3
Entertainment: 3
Overall: 3.2

-Intro-

Well I had taken a bit a break from watching Votoms, but now I’m back with the start of the second half of this gritty mecha series. With this disc focusing mainly on Chirico and Fyana we could go the romance route, or we could start off with a bang (like the previous two story arcs). Instead this story line starts of with dark creepy mystery. I’ll say one thing about this series, it keeps surprising me just when I think I have it figured out.

-Technical Review-

The technical ratings stay the same. The sound and picture scores remain high. The menu’s got great style and works fine. The subs are hard matted onto the screen for this series. So you can’t get rid of them and watch this raw. The keepcase tells you everything except for running time and that it’s in Japanese with subs. The extras include a Gallery of stills and production art dealing with this set of stories. It’s different stuff from what we’ve seen before, so check it out. You also get some introductions to characters, mecha, vehicles, and weapons. These are comprised of text and design sketches. The last element called the "World Guide" gives you an in depth look into the bloody history of the Red Shoulder Battalion. This was mentioned back in the Udoo city section and comes up again in these episodes. As usual you might want to watch the whole disc before you do any reading, as some spoilers to episodes are given away in these extras.

-Content Review-

We start things off a bit differently in this disc of three episodes. First off, there is the recap episode. What is kinda strange is that it recaps the Udoo city storyline. And while there is important stuff in that storyline, there were also key story elements revealed in the Kumman Jungle saga: like Ypsilon. Anyway after you get past the recap episode the new plot takes off.

After escaping from Jean Paul of the Melkian army and the hell going on in Kumman, things should be easy for Chirico and Fyana, right? Well in a perfect anime world, yes. But this is Votoms. Our protagonists awake to find themselves floating on an abandoned space cruiser. It seems that the ship is on a predetermined course and is taking them into the territory of Balarant. As we remember, Chirico did battle against the Balarant during the civil war and I doubt he was happy to be returning. They do find that the ship has more than enough supplies and even has a bay full of ATs if they need them. So just as Chirico and Fyana are about to enjoy the trip, music starts playing. They head to the sensor room to find a huge screen replaying the atrocities committed by the Red Shoulder Unit during the civil war. Talk about war flashbacks! Chirico’s past walks up and slaps him in the face. At the moment the Balarant forces detect them, and Chirico goes to defend the ship and Fyana. But how will the Balarant react to an enemy vessel in a no-fire zone. And who put them in this ship in the first place? More questions are revealed in this disc of Armored Trooper Votoms.

The animation style stays the same in these episodes. The quality is still pretty average, but the design of the ships and mecha are very good. Again I’m not too crazy about the costume design for the series, some of it works great and other times it doesn’t seem very well thought out. The sound design is also well utilized. We’ve got some space battles now and that means new weapons and new devices. Not to mention new mecha when we get to see what the Balarant forces are using. It’s good solid animation and sound work all around in these episodes.

The plot went down a grade. The two episodes with actual new story content really seemed to drag. I think that the two episodes could have been condensed down into once. I did like the mood setting of the abandoned ship, but there were lots of moments of running around and glancing and general filling time. Votoms has been packed with plot elements up to this point. I don’t know if this was a bit of a breather before diving back in, but it wasn’t as tight as the former episodes have been.

The Japanese cast does a good job. Again these episodes do focus quite a bit on Fyana and Chirico and they both do a good job exploring some of the emotions the characters go through. We also get to hear quite a bit form Jean Paul, who also does a good job. But his voice seems a bit bass sounding to come out of his body... or maybe it’s just me.

The music remains the same. There seem to be a few new pieces of score used, or maybe I didn’t notice them before. I heard some instrumental versions of the opening and ending themes and they worked well in the scenes they were used. The rest was Charlie’s Angels anime style :-)

I took a break from Votoms to rest my brain from the plot dense story line, but found that these two episodes were a bit light in that area. As a result I found these episodes to drag a bit, but to be well done in the artistic department. I’m pretty sure we’re setting things up for a real mess in the upcoming episodes. This looks to be a recipe for disaster and I know Ypsilon hasn’t given up yet. We’ll see if he makes an appearance in the next disc.

Roman J. Martel
Tell me what you think! E-mail me at...
roman@animeondvd.com

Features
Japanese Language,English Language

Review Equipment
Phillips Flatscreen (27 Inch), Sony Playstation 2



Mania Grade: NA
Audio Rating: N/A
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: NuTech Digital, Inc.
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Votoms, Armor Trooper