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

Review Date: Friday, March 15, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2001



What They Say
The surface of Quent explodes in battle as the Gilgamesh and Balarant forces lay siege to the planet. Facing the combined might of their ground forces, Chirico races for Wiseman's stronghold. Hopelessly outnumbered, he will need a miracle to survive.

Even if he has to take on the entire galaxy, Chirico will see his destiny through. What awaits him at the end of his long journey? Final retribution for those who have wronged him? Dominion over all creation? Deification? Or a glory beyond even that? At last, the truth is revealed in the final chapter of the VOTOMS saga!

Contains:
11: Storm Clouds
12: Carnage
13: Shooting Star

The Review!
Overall Rating: 3.9
(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: 4
Acting: 4
Music: 3
Entertainment: 4
Overall: 3.5

-Intro-

Have you been enjoying Votoms? Are you wanting to know how it all ends? Are you just waiting to see what I think about it to watch that final disc? Of course not! You’d be watching it right now instead of reading this review. I know I would :-) But if you’ve been teetering back and forth on this because of the ending. I’ll tell you one thing, this series ends just as it should, nice and satisfing.

-Technical Review-

The Votoms discs have all had the same technical score, but lets go over it one last time. 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 the same one that appeared on volume thirteen. 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 Overmen of Quent. This feature focuses on the ancient history of the planet Quent and gives some in depth knowledge into the Overmen, as well the secret behind Wiseman. You also get a timeline of events that happen in the world of Votoms. 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. With that said, this series has gotten a pretty solid release for region one. I’m not crazy about the hard matted subtitles, but the interesting extras that are included make up for that. Good Job!

-Content Review-

I’ll cover the final disc in the first part of my review (spoiler free) and then review the entire series (spoiler filled). So if you don’t want to know the secrets of Votoms don’t read past the asterisks!

The final three episodes are just about filled with spoilers and so a recap is going to be hard in this case. What this whole show comes down to is Chirico’s final meeting with Wiseman. Along the way we get a huge mecha battle in the middle episode as well as a wrap up for all the surviving characters that have played a part in this drama. Yes, there is a conclusion for Shako, Gotho, Coconna and Vanilla. And if you were wondering if the “Wonder Twins” and Jean Paul have a part to play yet, wonder no more. They have a couple of aces to play yet. Things come to a fiery conclusion both on a galactic and personal level in this final disc of Armored Trooper Votoms.

The animation and sound keep their previous scores. I’m still a bit disappointed that the animation couldn’t have been a bit better in this finale, especially in the mecha war that happens in the second episode. It’s not bad, but in a way the tension was lessened because blowing up mecha looks so easy. Some of the gritty realism that was in the first two arcs is gone, and instead it takes one or two shots to down an AT. But beyond that the visual impact of the final works fine. I still got some the feeling that the director watched 2001: A Space Odyssey right before creating the finale. At least he picked a good move to be inspired by.

The ending and the final twist in the plot were all handled relatively well. I was hoping that maybe the ending would be a bit more... I don’t know... less neat maybe. But in a way I’m also happy that the creators concluded it the way they did. It of course leaves things open for an exciting sequel (and now I know how all those side stories can be created).

In the music and acting departments, nothing changed. The Japanese cast has done a great job bringing the story to live and in some cases helped the story move further than it might have otherwise. I really got to like this cast. The music started out a bit too dated for my tastes, but quickly grew on me. I don’t think I’ll forget those opening or ending themes (and not because I saw them so many times). The score was done well. It seemed a bit strange at times, but since there was a set of music written, some of the pieces seemed to be used for scenes that didn’t quite fit.

This disc was probably the best of this cycle and maybe the best of the series. I enjoyed the way the threads from all three arcs were woven together and how everything came down to the final meeting between Chirico and Wiseman. The eyecatches kept surprising me when they popped up and that’s a good thing.

So if you are looking for a good gritty anime series, with plenty of mecha action as well as a plot driven story this is perfect. The animation and music are a bit dated, but they work well together and do well to pull you into the story. With the exception of the weak third arc, this series was well written and executed. I can completely recommend this for any fan of more realistic mecha shows.

*** Series Review***

This has to be the longest series I have reviewed for this website (and maybe the longest one I’ve watched all the way through). At times it was a bit of a chore to watch, but at other times it was hard to not simply pop in the next disc and see what happened next. If you’ve read all the reviews either as they came out or are just trying to find out more about the series, thanks for putting up with this extended review schedule. I’ll try not to let a series get the better of me again.

Now on to my reflections on the series. One of the most fascinating things about this series is watching how it has been imitated by other anime, and how it has influenced other anime. I’m not sure where this stands in the whole evolution of mecha anime, but this is definitely a classic. For it’s time I’m sure it was very involving and a blast to watch.

But lots of us have seen similar series and seen how things first shown in Votoms have been improved. It makes it hard to watch and not feel that we’ve seen this happen before. But I think the mixing of the hard core realistic mecha action (showcased in the Kummen cycle) and the spiritual search for god (showcased in the Quent cycle) was very well done. It probably paved the way for the more intense mix in shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion.

But can this series be watched as more than a lesson is classic mecha anime. Sure. It’s surprisingly entertaining. Why was I surprised? Well, I’m biased. I’ve got this mentality that tells me that mecha anime are a waste of time. And then I end up enjoying every single one of them! I guess I need to come out of the closet and accept it.

I’m a fan of mecha. There I said it and it’s the first step.

I think that Votoms helped me realize that I had this addiction and that I need to accept it as a real condition. Yes, I enjoyed Votoms! I enjoyed Gundam Wing! I enjoyed EVA! I enjoyed Nadesico!

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting I’ll leave you with another thought. I also enjoyed watching Votoms for one other reason. It was great to see how many of the seeds and ideas and style that were started here would develop into another series. Gasaraki. In a way this can be seen as a testing ground for that series. Some of the things in Gasaraki didn’t work quite so well, but for the most part I think the creators learned much of what would work by being a part of this classic. So I think that Votoms does a great job of showing that big robots doesn’t just mean big robots. It can also involve personal drama and of course a more spiritual side of things. I’m glad I had a chance to watch this.

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

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Phillips Flatscreen (27 Inch), Sony DVP-NS300



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