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.