Posted on 8 September 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


I’m a large fan of Ryousuke Takahashi. He’s one director who manages to take Sunrise’s love for epic storylines, and adds to that a great sense of realism, politics and storytelling. The same goes for the Pailsen Files, the continuation of a franchise he started in the eighties, probably as a reaction to Tomino’s Gundam. This twelve-episode OVA is very smart, and critical of both itself and various tropes of the mecha-genre.

There are quite a few things that stand out in this series. First off is its large focus on politics: especially the first episode will be information overload as it sets up the story for the rest of the OVA. The focus on military tactics is also immense: this series knows exactly how certain small actions can trigger a huge snowball full of consequences, while remaining realistic and believable. Seriously, I wonder what would have happened if Ryousuke Takahashi got assigned for the team of Code Geass.

Then there are the characters, another point at which this series deviates from most other anime. Nearly every character here is meant to be hated. They’ve all got some huge flaws in their personality that makes their company downright unpleasant. And yet at the end of the series, they’re all fleshed out and subtly developed, making for a rock-solid ending.

The only oddball in here is the main character: Chirico. He’s got what you can call the Patlabor-Syndrome. The guy has already been fleshed out and developed in the Votoms-TV series, so those (like me) who haven’t watched it are left out on this. The effect this has is pretty interesting; I don’t think I can recall any main character that feels more like a pawn than he does. He’s more like an observer to the entire story than an actual player in it. It’s something I appreciate a lot, but at the same time there’s so much wasted potential in his character, simply because he’s the least fleshed out of the entire cast.

This obviously isn’t a series for everyone: you have to like politics, or otherwise you’ll be bored for more than 50% of the airtime. This also is a series that takes a long time to get going, and don’t expect to see the big picture within six episodes. It’s not one of those series that’ll jump up and down, screaming “like me! like me!”. There’s also one particular twist about the white haired-kid at the end of the series that feels a bit fake. Still, this is a series worthy of Ryousuke Takahashi’s repertoire, and I’m eagerly anticipating his next work.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 10/10

5 Responses

  1. Dorne says:

    I have to agree with the twist near the ending. It felt like they put it there to make sure ends meet. Still, a great series overall.

    I’m sure the theatrical version would make it more likeable?

  2. Einherjar says:

    I like how they used this series to link the previous OVA (Roots of Ambition) with the original TV show. As for the white-haired kid, I recommend watching the original series to find out the reason for the twist.

  3. See, all those people who are upset about Code Geass emphasis on mecha duels should watch this instead. This is what they are looking for and won’t find in that show. This is the show with balanced army on army mecha action. The thing people don’t realize about Sunrise is that there are other options in their recent mecha series then whatever is there most popular show of the moment.

    It’s really a shame that Pailsen Files was rendered so invisible by Gundam 00 and Code Geass much as I like all 3 of them.

  4. DJ says:

    “This is the show with balanced army on army mecha action”
    i had high hopes for this anime, everyone saying it was balanced and with real tactics, but i was very disapointed. why the enemies like to shoot around the main guys and not AT them is beyond me. Sure its not like gundam seed where the main character has flashy moves and a superior machine, its even worse; the main characters in votoms have no advantage over the enemies, they just dont get shot even though theyre just standing there. atleast gundam, however stupid, tries to explain it by saying theyre nutypes/coordinators or have better machines. I was expecting something that would top Gundam 08th MS team as my all time favorite “realistic” mecha, and i think votoms failed miserably, atleast in the realism department.

  5. Jerry K says:

    I tried the first episode, but could not get past the art work and music. It just has a very low budget feel to it.

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  • Asuka111
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 07:37 AM)
    @Lacrid Surprising, yes, but it seems they’ve brushed over that so far. The story has gone back to normal romcom/slice of life.
  • LacridSayo
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 07:11 AM)
    Wow, Horimiya managed to surprise me twice. They teach me that in the face of adversity, conformity is the way. Also, Miyamura and Hori f&@ks.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 04:09 AM)
    The whole world structure and the framework of spirituality, eyes of death perception, counterforce and whatnots are kept intentionally vague so he can have some wiggle room to bullshit and handwave plot elements as they go on. KnK was a pretty good OVA series tho and Ufotable had a big party to play in that.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 03:56 AM)
    Here’s some classic Nasu at work.
    http://lparchive.org/Fatestay-night/Update%2003/30-P02-034.jpg
    A f*cking security system? No, it’s a person creating a small alternate world around them from their mind. Plain and f*cking simple.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 03:45 AM)
    I’ve heard people criticize Nasu as “writing terrible history fanfiction” and “Like my old bad fanfiction” “When the action scenes actually happen they suck”
  • Raggers
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 03:44 AM)
    @K-Off: didn’t we all.
  • Raggers
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 03:44 AM)
    @Aidan: I didn’t know what they were, but “withering eyes of death perception” doesn’t really leave a whole lot up to the imagination anyway…
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 03:42 AM)
    @Aidan Reminds me of my English papers where I bullshitted tons of explanations to fill up a ten page report.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 03:39 AM)
    And the eyes of death perception. Ho Boy. He talks about how it’s not cutting but severing and bonds and blah blah blah.
    Here’s the shorthand. You cut a tree with a knife you make a small cut, cut a tree with a knife while using the eyes of death perception and the tree withers and dies. There only took one sentence to explain something that Nasu uses 10 or so paragraphs for.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Sep 16. 2014 03:33 AM)
    Take the explanation for mana. All the man had to explain was more mana = More powerful servant. Yet he makes this comparison to ammo, guns and cannons that is just needlessly confusing.

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