(Mecha March 2019) Armored Trooper Votoms: A new favorite mech show? Yes. Yes it is.

To ruin the illusion of me writing about all these mech shows that are getting a review this month, I finished watching Armored Trooper Votoms in the middle of November last year. I think you can now see how far in advanced I’ve been thinking and planning for Mecha March. Armored Trooper Votoms is a show that was released at the pace of three episodes a week for an extended amount of time by HIDIVE. So basically, I watched this show similarly to how I watch seasonal anime. Considering that Armored Trooper Votoms is 52 episodes, that’s what it felt like for a while. If you followed my twitter feed from August onward, you might know that I feel in love with it half way through it’s second arc. Armored Trooper Votoms just had this special feeling to it that drew me further and further into it the more I watched it. This wasn’t the first I tried watching Votoms, because I tried it a few years ago and stopped for some reason so something might of put me off. I don’t remember why, but I am glad I gave it a second chance. As old as it was on a visual level, the story telling in this series more then made up for everything.

Armored Trooper Votoms takes place after a one hundred year between the space forces/countries known as Gilgamish and Balarant. Chirico Cuvie, our main protagonist, had the dishonor of being a new transfer to a ship that was about to go on a secret mission to attack an allied base. The mission goal was never explained to Chirico, because he was an outsider. During the assault, he unknowingly came across the mission goal when he opened a mysterious box. It had a special woman sleeping inside with whom he immediately fell in love with. Little did he know until later that this woman was designed to be a perfect soldier and also reciprocated Chirico’s feelings because she woke up when the box opened. After the operation was over, Chirico escaped this ship, was captured by the Gilgamesh forces because the captain thought he knew something, and then Chirico escaped that ship too to only end up in a city on a planet in the middle of nowhere. The war was over, but it was never truly over for a life long soldier like Chirico. And so begins Armored Trooper’s epic adventure.

Chirico

This anime’s story is constructed out of four arcs with their own specific and unique settings. First there is Uoodo, a city ruled by a militaristic police force that is very dystopic in nature. This is the arc where Chirico meets his series long friends by the name of Gotho (the older weapons trader), Vanilla (the former helicopter pilot that is also a weapons trader), and Cocona (the stray cat) who stay with him and help him develop. These three members are also Chirico’s morality pets where you can see how human Chirico is as time goes on. He also meets Fyana, the perfect soldier he fell in love with, in action on the opposite side in this arc and also finding out that they do have some feelings towards each other. The second arc is the Kummen arc which is like an adhoc Vietnam situation with mechs fighting the jungles a civil war a civil war with the secret society fighting against Chirico’s side that Fyana and another Perfect Soldier by the name of Ypsilon are a part of. These two arcs are like the place settings for the final two because now that all the characters are in place, the show feels like it wants to do something with them.

Ok, the next arcs aren’t as varied per se, because they are centered around desert planets. Still, they each hold some of the personal mysteries of our main protagonist Chirico in them. Chirico is a very quiet protagonist that tries to keep himself distanced from other people because he doesn’t feel like he’s a normal individual. I mean, he only knows how to fight and loves being in situations where can fight to his heart’s content. The guy isn’t much of a talker, but you can get all of that through how he carries himself and his body language.

Left to Right: Cocona, Vanilla, and Gotho

The third arc when Chirico and Fynana are alone on a space ship heading to who knows where and he and Fyana can fight the threats that oppose them is where he starts to break down. Given what his previous service was like and how addicted he was to combat, this seemed like the most realistic sense of PTSD that I’ve ever seen in anime. It helps that he was not right of mind because he had a fever that he couldn’t control and its truly stuff that I was enamored with. The third arc is my favorite arc in this anime. While every other arc in Armored Trooper Votoms are very antiwar, this is where that aspect of the show started to appear in full steam. I won’t tell you anything about the forth arc, because that’s digging too deeply into spoilers.

Since Fyana is this show’s love interest, I feel like I should talk a lot about her. I already mentioned that she was designed to be a Perfect Soldier, so there is that. There are some early 80’s character and she is one of two female permanent female characters in the show so the traits of “woman” and “emotional” is given to her. She even mentions she learned how to cook when her and Chirico are in the middle of a jungle trying not to be found or shot. With all that in mind that, she’s still a complete bad ass when piloting a mech. Nobody besides the other perfect soldier by the name of Ypsilon and Chirico are on her level. When Chirico is sick on the ship leading to who knows where, she takes up arms and defeats every single mech that opposes them. Not to mention she defeated Chirico in the first arc and so many other instances that she was involved in. Fyana is amazing, so go her! She is weighed down by 1980’s tropes, but she succeeds anyway.

Fyanna and Chirico are an adorable couple

This is a mech series, let’s talk about them. I love how the Armored Troopers as used in this show and their designs. They are so cool. The first thing that caught me off guard is how disposable all the mechs are. Yes, all of them. While there are experimental mechs used to emphasize a perfect soldier’s capabilities, they can be destroyed just as easily as a standard mech. And then there is the fact that Chirico goes through so many mechs in this show. While most of his mechs are scope dogs and other variants, the rigidity and disposability of each Armored Trooper unit on the field of battle is incredibly consistent throughout the show. Then there is the subtle symbolism of the mechs by their color and design. For starters, each arc has their own special mech with a distinct design and color to give them their own identity. At the same time, Chirico almost always pilots a green scope dog so he is easily distinctive from the rest of the show’s characters. That is unless he steals some an enemy or his personality completely changes, and he pilots another colored mech because he wants to. Maybe that could be a coincidence, but I don’t think so. There is a lot of thought being put into Armored Trooper.

For a show from the early 80’s, Armored Trooper Votoms is amazing compared to a lot of its peers during that time. Especially considering that it 52 episodes. Since the show is cut into four arcs, that means the amount of filler is greatly reduced and most of the show is all business. There are recap episodes, but they are well placed in necessary points so you don’t forget what happened after the arc you just watched so you can go into new ones remembering everything going on. Also, like with other 80’s anime, there are some reused scenes during battles. The crazy thing is the amount of stock footage is very low. While you can easily remember some explosions, a lot of battle scenes are completely original footage and it’s so good. I love it when battle scenes are so original like this because everything feels so new and fresh. And yeah, insert usual speel about how the character designs are unique and how each character has their own distinct colors to them as well. I just love all of this. Everything is so spot on.

Scope Dogs are Cool!

At this moment, I can’t help but recommend Armored Trooper Votoms to everyone. Especially since it’s become one of my favorite mech shows that I’ve ever watched. Ryosuke Takahashi is a name that deserves to be amongst the bigger mecha creator names of Yoshiyuki Tomino of Universal Century Gundam and Shoji Kawamori of Macross and Escaflowne fame. Ryosuke’s approach to mecha shows is incredibly unique. Especially with Votoms where the cast is incredibly small compared to what you would expect from a mech show. That means relating and getting to know this cast is incredibly easy. Then there is the strong anti-war message, the completely destructible mechs, space combat, and so many other cool and interesting things. If a 52-episode mech series like Armored Trooper Votoms doesn’t scare you, then please give it a watch. I am more than sure that it won’t disappoint you at all. If it does, that’s ok. Different of opinion is alright. I can never be upset at people who try something out.

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Also, if you are interested in watching Votoms, you can watch it on HIDIVE or even order it on RightStuf right here.


9 thoughts on “(Mecha March 2019) Armored Trooper Votoms: A new favorite mech show? Yes. Yes it is.

  1. Man, that’s one retro series I need to see more of. One of my buddies is a huge fan of that series and has the soundtrack on vinyl. Granted, I’m a bit more familiar with Takahashi’s later work Gasaraki, but I like how he uses robots with a more military bent than something that looks like a toy commercial.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just see a lot of Votoms because I follow some retro mecha fans that like it a lot and I’ve found that I like it a lot as well.

      Gasaraki is pretty solid. I need to redo my review of it at some point. Also, I like how the mechs are used as well. It’s so interesting and requires some more skill from the pilots.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thay’s fine. I heard great things about it and it could be something to watch in the future.

        Quite true from what I remember. That anime has one of my favorite opening themes and I liked the elements of Noh and mecha.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you got round to this one Scott. I think I may be one of the “retro mecha fans” you were talking about above!

    Votoms is probably the thing I’ve tweeted about the most since joining Twitter, thank you for liking my articles on the series; you seem to be one of the only people who’s read them! I’m going to get back to doing those shortly and talking about the rest of the OVAs.

    The great thing about Votoms story is unlike the Armoured Troopers themselves nothing is particularly disposable: even the OVAs that aren’t that important to the overall storyline (Like Big Battle) add something to the Votoms universe and seeing more of any of the characters in this series is never a bad thing.

    The TV series for me has one of the best structured narratives of any anime TV show. When Chirico is wandering around Uoodo at the beginning it introduces you to such a multi layered and well realised, “lived in” world: the dystopian elements are great as is the military conspiracy stuff and I love the fact that it’s just as an exciting an action show whether Chirico is in a Scopedog or not.

    I also dig the fact that in the early stages of the show there’s a lot not centred around mecha action such as the episode where Chirico is captured by slavers. There’s always a good bit of build up to Chirico having to jump into action particuarly when he seems to be on the backfoot. It’s also so satisfying when people don’t know who they’re dealing with when fighting him, like the episode where he takes on the biker gang.
    Fyanna and Chirico’s relationship is also a great part of the show as are the relationships and dynamics of all of the characters.

    I can’t express how damn happy I am that we’ve finally gotten a decent home video release from Maiden Japan. Can’t wait for the OVAs to hit Blu as well.

    I’ve also got my eyes on some more 1/20 scale Bandai AT kits on Mandarake so I might do another Twitter build thread at some point in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You definitely are one of those retro mecha fans, so thank you so much for getting me interested in this series again. I still have no idea why I stopped watching it half way.

      And you are so right about Votoms story. I feel like the anime only covered a fraction of what this universe has to offer because it only covers some individual planets. There are more out there, I know it.

      I think that people not knowing they are facing the strongest person in the world is one of my favorite thing that happens in anime and I am glad that Votoms lives up to that.

      I do know that the Votoms ovas are up for pre-order right now https://www.rightstufanime.com/Armored-Trooper-VOTOMS-OVA-Collection-1-Blu-ray. Oh man, I need to find some Votoms model kits.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem. Glad we got you passionate about the series.😀 Yeah i’ve got the 1st OVA set on pre-order already! My fiancee was kind enough to buy me the complete TV series on Blu Ray for my birthday…. so roll on the 17th April! A lot of Votoms stuff can be expensive but you have the benefit of a friend who’s researched decades worth of merch. My favourite kits are the Bandai 1/20 scale (they were the ones I dedicated build threads to on Twitter). There’s also some very good completed pre-built figures. All depends on what scale/style you like really. PM me on Twitter if you don’t know where to start. The Japanese shop chain Mandarake has the best prices. You’ll need to translate the page but they ship worldwide. What’s great about them is they’re a chain that buys entire collections and sells 2nd hand stuff. They often get uncompleted models or unopened figures from people who didn’t open em and you get em much cheaper than the aftermarket prices on ebay and the like. I’ve got my eyes on some rare bandai exclusives and limited editions they produced which go for crazy prices elsewhere but are sold there for retail price or just under. Mandarake is a godamn goldmine. Always finding amazing merch there. I dread to think how much it’d cost to buy everything on my wishlist.

        Liked by 1 person

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