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, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

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