Votoms, Armor Trooper Stage 1 Screener - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: N/A
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: N/A
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 34.95
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Votoms, Armor Trooper

Votoms, Armor Trooper Stage 1 Screener

By Jarred Pine     February 21, 2006
Release Date: March 07, 2006


Votoms, Armor Trooper Stage 1 Screener
© Central Park Media


What They Say
Led into an illegal mission against a military ally, Armored Trooper Chirico Cuvie stumbles upon a secret his government would do anything to hide: the body of a beautiful woman suspended in a capsule of energy. For this discovery, Chirico’s superiors leave him to die in the hands of enemy troops. He escapes with his life, but is forced to flee to the criminal haven of Uoodo City. Here, amid the outlaws and beggars, Chirico begins his galactic quest for justice!

This set features the first 13 episodes of this fan-favorite series on 2 DVDs.

The Review!
Audio:
This review is for the check disc preview version only, so no audio grade will be assigned. The audio is pretty much 2-channel mono, which is expected given the age of this series.

Video:
This review is for the check disc preview version only, so no video grade will be assigned. As was explained before by CPM, this is not the re-mastered video from the original R2J release. There is some dirt and dust on the print, with the film mostly looking its age with some pretty vibrant colors.

Extras:
The nice extra here are 3 episodes worth of commentary from Ryosuke Takahashi, scriptwriter, original story concept, and director of VOTOMS. The commentary is quite nice as he explain the influences on his story, from Vietnam to Blade Runner, as well as how everything from the concept to music to voice actors came to be. There are also trailers for each of the 4 stages, some info about a contest going on, and a DVD-ROM extra that is a 170+ page fanzine by Tim Eldred that has lots of info on the world of this series.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
For quite a while now I’ve read a lot of internet chatter about Armored Trooper VOTOMS from a lot of old school mecha fans who claim that the anime is a classic. I admit that I am not a fan of the mecha/robot genre in anime, but the gritty premise and backdrop of war caught my interest.

VOTOMS begins at the tail-end of the Hundred Years War between two galactic empires, Gilgamesh and Balarant, in the Astragius Galaxy. Our main protagonist, Chirico Cuvie, finds himself on a Gilgamesh ship on its way to a secret base with no inclination of what his orders are. During the mission, Cuvie realizes that they are attacking their allies and he soon discovers a naked woman floating in a tube--a discovery that will forever change his fate. His own outfit tries to kill him off, his own army tortures him for information about what he saw, and soon almost an entire city will have Chirico on their radar. All because of some top secret military secret, the Prototype, which he was not supposed to see.

Much of the storyline in this first set of episodes revolves around a “man on the run” type of theme as Chirico finds himself up against a revolving door of people after his hide. After the covert mission and the first attempt on his life, he is captured by his own army and tortured for information. The ship flies to his homeland of Melkia, where he makes an escape and hides within the civilian population in the devastated ghettos of Uoodo City. What Chirico does not know is that the Melkian Army has implanted a tracking device on Chirico, meaning that the army will be secretly watching his every move from the shadows.

Six months later after Chirico’s escape, the war has ended and Melkia finds itself ravaged by the spoils of war. Acid rain constantly falls from the skies, making it almost impossible to breathe without special masks while it is falling. Discarded weapons and Armored Troopers fill the junkyards and underground battling arenas, where war vets who know nothing else but how to fight and no place to call home battle it out for money. The city of Uoodo itself is overrun by a biker gang called the Boone Family, running the jijirium mines--a precious alloy that has multiple uses on the planet. The police force is about as crooked as the gangs, ignoring their kidnappings of innocent civilians for use as slaves in the mines. Uoodo City is a nasty place, but this is where Chirico must survive and try to find out the answers as to why he was turned upon by his own army. The setting of Uoodo City is an accurate reflection of a city that has been devastated by war. Mix in the obvious Blade Runner futuristic influences and Uoodo City becomes a setting that I believe is the highlight of this stage.

With such an interesting setting, it was a bit of a shame to see the story get stuck on repeat for a good chunk of these first 13 episodes. Most of the scenarios involve Chirico getting kidnapped or into trouble with some heavy fire, with him having to either escape on his own or receive help from his three groupies: Gotto, Vanilla, and Coconna, three civilians who are doing what they can to survive in the underground. Most of the scenarios also have quite a few conveniences that enable the group to escape or make life much easier. Chirico Cuvie is also supposed to be a special forces soldier, but there are many times where it’s just luck or poor shooting that allow him to escape or get what he wants, rather than relying on his elite skills. I am also still confused as to why one would work so hard at stealing jijirium, only to sell it back to the cops. Even if it’s the only option, one would think that would have been discussed prior to the heist.

In the end, a lot of the scenarios that Chirico and company find themselves in seem to be orchestrated only to show off mecha or other big explosive action sequences, rather than truly moving the plot forward. At the end of the 13 episodes, it seems that the story has not progressed much farther ahead than where it started. Sure, Chirico finds out more info about the Prototype, but there is not a lot of new information to look forward to in the next set of episodes, other than Chirico is still going to try and track down the Prototype to find the answers he needs. He’s still on the run with an AT, only now Uoodo City is a pile of rubble and ash. The characters are also quite one-dimensional, with Chirico putting on the silent treatment with a cold stare for a good chunk of these episodes. While it does highlight the elite soldier personality within him, one who has seen a lot of devastation on the battlefield and only knows how to fight, as well as someone who lacks trust, it is quite hard to connect and root for him during his troubles.

Besides the interesting setting and realistic portrayal of the spoils of war, the action scenes and music are also a highlight of these first set of episodes. Even though the animation is 20 years old, the action sequences are quite explosive and fun to watch, featuring very fluid, traditional animation that feels quite warm. Some of the action doesn’t even include mecha at all, which could either be a plus or minus for you depending on which side of the fence you are on. The jazz music that backs up the animation was an interesting choice as well. It helps to enhance the sci-fi aspect of the story, while giving the animation its own flavor and style. I never would have imagined jazz and gritty war, mecha action to go together as well as it is here.

In Summary:
VOTOMS: Uoodo City are 13 episodes packed with a lot of excellent action and an intriguing setting of war and desolation with realistic after effects, but it is the story itself that left me wanting a bit more. There were some definite highlights and interesting things happening here, but I couldn't help but feel a bit unsatisfied with the flat characters and revolving door storyline that seemed to have trouble moving forward. That said, I still think there is some good potential here as long as the pace and development of the characters picks up in the next stage. In the meantime, enjoy the jazz music, explosive action, and the warm, old school animation.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Director’s Commentary track on Episodes 1-3

Review Equipment


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