Posted by psgels 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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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 10:48 AM)
    This is a fairly minor complaint but in some older anime I always noticed “flashing light syndrome” and “Epilepsy visuals” , “Animes equivalent to flash photography”, it can sometimes bother me alot/hurt my eyes watching old shows, then again I am susceptible to epilepsy…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 09:14 AM)
    @Bam: Emotional involvement and rewatch value are very important to me in a film, which is my preference for synecdoche over birdman.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 04:05 AM)
    “Firechick, answer: Hell no. And don’t impersonate Bam. You suck at it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 03:05 AM)
    Yeah guys! Why aren’t you reviewing Go! Princess Precure?
  • Firechick
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 02:51 AM)
    Is anyone gonna review Go! Princess Precure? I hear it just aired.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:14 PM)
    Synecdoche is incredibly rich in detail, and keen return viewers can find a lot of things they missed the first time thru. Kaufman didn’t have a single teacup in a shot that didn’t mean something. Pacing is a bit of an issue, but if you notice the passage of time you can see that was deliberate as well. The movie could’ve been livelier, but for a movie about death and decay that would’ve been a bit of a sell-out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:01 PM)
    @Emma: Birdman and Synecdoche have a lot of thematic elements in common, and given that Synecdoche was released in 08 makes me realize that Alejandro González borrowed quite a bit from it; although in the end they are different enough to justify Birdman’s existence. Where Synecdiche was a better written movie, I feel that Birdman was the better directed one.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:15 PM)
    And I’d go as far to say this beats out birdman for me by miles.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    The film is a solid mood piece thanks to the in tone cinematography, a great performance from Hoffman that along with his characters drama makes for an emotionally investing film. And before it gets TOO sad theres all those bits of dark humour fitted in there that work out pretty well. This is probably my favourite work by Kaufman currently.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    Well Bam, I had a go of synecdoche there. A bit of a slow burner, near the end slightly drawn out, however that last stretch was forgiven by that bonkers ending.

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