Posted by psgels on 1 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



I’ve been a fan of Ryousuke Takahashi for quite a while now. This guy always manages to combine realism with an intelligent plot, that yet are epic and full of action. Because of that I obviously had to check out the series that put him on the map: Armored Trooper Votoms. And like most of his later works, it really is an excellent series that takes both itself and its audience seriously.

It’s interesting how this one of the few mecha-series that aired between the original Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam, and because of this it has the advantage of being inspired by the more serious and realistic Mobile Suit Gundam, but not the repetitive emo-fest that was Zeta Gundam. This allowed Ryousuke Takahashi to really play with the formula, and significantly improve on it in a lot of areas. And he succeeded at this really well.

Chirico really is the antithesis of all those wimpy teen-aged leads you see in anime through all ages. As an adult, he stands out as being a regular soldier, following the duties from his superiors. He is cold, heartless and can’t live without fighting, and even though he slightly softens up throughout the series he never loses his hard edges.

Another thing that’s been bugging me a lot about Gundam series is that while they start out diverse and different, for some reason they always start looking too much like each other, with the final quarter being a string of random battles that look like each other and most of the time hardly resolve anything. Again, Votoms aired before this trope was even created, so it beautifully avoided this. It’s basically made up out of four arcs of about 13 episodes (or 12 episodes and a recap), with each of these arcs being distinctly different from the others, and all of them get better and better as the show goes on. There really is plenty of action, but the creators manage to make the battles count: each of the battles has a point or purpose in the story, even if they’re very small. This really allows the story to evolve continuously.

There are some lighter parts in this story though: Chirico spends the series with three rather silly henchmen around him who are the ones who sometimes provide the comic relief. While at first they may seem annoying, this series knows very well how to handle them. They’re not just there to brighten up the mood and prevent the story from getting too dark, but they also prove to be surprisingly useful to the plot at times; they help to develop Chirico’s character, and tend to remind him what a socially awkward idiot he can be. While they’re not often the most pleasant to watch, without them this series would have lost one of its sparks, and looked a whole lot more generic.

This series does have its flaws, which mostly lie in small plot-holes throughout the story. It really is a series that continuously evolves, but for that it had to sacrifice a few things in the plot, like bringing a bunch of characters from one point in the universe to another instantly when it’s necessary for the plot, or characters knowing things that they aren’t supposed to know. And really, I’ve seen 52 episodes of this series now, along with the 12 episodes from the Pailsen Files, and I STILL don’t know what the “Votoms” in the title stands for. It seriously never gets mentioned in the entire series.

But yeah, those are just nitpicks. Votoms is a great recommendation if you’re looking for something old and dark, away from most cliches and teen-aged stereotypes. There is a romance in the series, but it’s handled really well and forms a central part in the series without dragging on. Ryousuke Takahashi is one heck of a talented director, and he already showed this in his first major series.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 9/10

14 Responses

  1. Avatar IKnight says:

    The plot holes aren’t helped by the multiple prequels adding extra confusion and the fact that Big Battle and The Last Red Shoulder both take place within the original series’s timeframe. I imagine the staff weren’t sure they had the funding to make a fully fifty-episode series when they started out, too. But perhaps the clearly separated arc structure of the plot helps to deal with that. There’s a massive plot hole in Dougram, Takahashi’s previous series, when two characters have a flashback to a flashforward that hasn’t happened yet!

    Wikipedia claims that VOTOMS stands for ‘Vertical One-man Tank for Offense and ManeuverS’, which sounds like an explanation cooked up after the fact to me.

  2. Avatar Julian says:

    This anime is….confusing…

  3. Avatar Firechick says:

    You sure like realism and intelligent plots and dark stories.

    If you’re a fan of realistic settings and dark stories and characters, you should definitely check out this movie called Ringing Bell (aka Chirin no Suzu). It’s about a lamb who becomes a wolf’s apprentice when his mom is killed…by that very same wolf! It may seem kiddy at first, but after the first 10-15 minutes, it immediately goes into a COMPLETELY different direction. There’s no blood, but there IS violence. And best of all, there’s no happy ending! Unfortunately, the movie is hard to find since it was made in 1978, and it’s available on YouTube only in English. But I think you’ll really like it if you’re into animals being portrayed in a realistic manner and darkly toned stories and twisted moods and vice versa.

  4. Avatar Pax says:

    Nice to see that you have watched this classic anime and enjoyed it.So far,i have only watched the 1st two arcs and it is one of those anime that even if i like i doubt there are many other who i would recommend watching it.One can clearly see its age,it can be quite slow,it has its pacing problems,but i like its dark story and Chirico is a great main character,i like the way he evolves and learns to care about other.Votoms is for me one of the few serious sci-fi anime one can find.

    You should also try Layzner,another anime from Takahashi and another classic i would recommend to you would be L-Gaim,it’s from Tomino.

  5. Avatar Camario says:

    The importance of plot holes is relative though…I’m sure someone else probably cares a lot more about them than you do, by all means, so we’ll see how that goes for me. I might be more generous, or I might be more demanding.

    In any case, I’ve been interested in Armored Trooper Votoms for a while and everything makes it sound like something that would appeal to me, so this review adds yet another reason.

    I just need the time and resources, literally and otherwise. That’s what keeps delaying my watching older, longer series lately.

    It’s possible that I might end up watching Armor Hunter Mellowlink, a Votoms spin-off, first. You might want to look into that too.

    By the way, I would also second the previous recommendation for SPT Layzner, if you’re interested.

    I’ve only seen the first few episodes but a slightly similar vibe seems to be present, although events take place in a Cold War context and teenagers are very much involved…initially as spectators who end up getting much more than they bargained for, granted, but the setting justifies it. Then again, I don’t necessarily dislike so-called “emo” in and of itself either.

  6. Avatar Camario says:

    On a different note, have you seen Gasaraki yet? I’ve always wanted to here more about that one, considering how its reputation is a bit negative.

  7. Avatar Keith says:

    Gasaraki was pretty good, in my opinion. It’s fairly slow but it’s definitely one of the more realistically-toned anime out there. The politics in the story are fleshed out just as well as about anything else. Not to say that it’s realistic, because it’s not.

    I feel like Gasaraki got negative reviews because most people don’t have much of an attention span.

  8. Avatar Camario says:

    Looks like my first comment disappeared into the void, somehow.

    I’ve been interested in Votoms for a while and everything makes it sound like something that would appeal to me, so this review adds yet another reason. I may watch Armor Hunter Mellowlink first though, since that will take me less time.

    Also, the importance of plot holes is often relative. I might care more or less for them than you did, in time, but we’ll see have that turns out.

    By the way, I would second the recommendation for SPT Layzner. The Cold War setting and survivalist atmosphere makes for a relatively unique work. It’s been quite interesting, at least for the first few episodes I’ve seen. There are some teenagers involved and they do angst, but I think it’s justified under the circumstances.

  9. Avatar Camario says:

    That’s good to hear, Keith. I might check it out myself, at least at some point.

    That’s strange, it looks like my first comment disappeared into the void, somehow. Oh well, nevermind.

  10. Avatar Camario says:

    Sorry if I might be spamming a little. I’ve been interested in Armored Trooper Votoms for a while and everything makes it sound like something that would appeal to me, so this review adds yet another reason.

    I may watch Armor Hunter Mellowlink first though, since that will take me less time.

    By the way, I would second the recommendation for SPT Layzner. The Cold War setting and survivalist atmosphere makes for a relatively unique work. It’s been quite interesting, at least for the first few episodes I’ve seen.

  11. psgels psgels says:

    Camario: apologies. Sometimes blogsome has the tendency to hold very long comments for moderation.

  12. Avatar Nomus says:

    Thanks! This review finally inspired me to watch it (couldn’t make up my mind all this time since Pailsen Files).

  13. Avatar heavensdrive says:

    Hey! Im really having a hard time finding the series online…. i pinned down all the Ova’s, i really like this story!

  14. Avatar vp says:

    Thanks for this, really. Was trying to find something to quench my thirst after finishing Legend of Galactic Heroes and this got me really interested.

Leave a Reply

Star Crossed Anime Blog

8 User(s) Online Join Server

Featured Posts

Fruits Basket (2019) – 12 [You Look Like You’re Having Fun]

More than any other episode, this week is where Fruits Basket embraces its two opposing spectrums the clearest: it’s reverse-harem hijinks of highschool life and romance and its dark drama about the Zodiac members. By that light, we can be able to see this adaptation’s quality by this episode alone. For example, this 2019 is […]

Carole & Tuesday – 11 [With or Without You]

Even with Carole & Tuesday standard, this episode is a letdown with many forced developments to move this predictable story forward. These include 1) Tuesday injures her hand but still manage to perform and win the bracket 2) just right at the moment Tuesday said no one in the family care for her, she gets […]

Sarazanmai – 11 [I Want to Connect, so Sarazanmai]

I must admit that days after watching this finale I still can’t wrap my head around all the events happened in this episode. Sarazanmai ends in a happy tone, something I didn’t expect from Ikuhara to be honest. On the most surface level, it’s a rescue mission from Kazuki and Enta to bring Toi back. […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 12 [The Boar Bares Its Fangs, Zenitsu Sleeps]

Welcome all to what is, for me, a very conflicted episode of Kimetsu no Yaiba. Filled with fantastic animation, some well thought out fights and a character I loathe no matter how great his scenes look. Let’s dive in! Starting off, Yaiba looked great this week. I don’t think that’s really up for contention. I have […]

Serial Experiments Lain – 8 [Rumors] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome to another episode of Acid Trip Weekly, also known as, Serial Experiments Lain! This week is one of the most confusing, yet simultaneously coherent episodes of anime I have ever watched. It’s impossible to summarize, so let’s just dive in. Starting off, like I said, this episode was an acid trip, both visually and […]

One Punch Man Season 2 – 10 [The Encirciling Net of Justice]

https://www.sakugabooru.com/data/2c523ad11331508ce3e674f68b79ccf2.mp4 Welcome one and all to a rather surprising week of One Punch Man Season 2! This week the animation was mostly fine, and interesting things happened, so let’s just jump right in! Starting off, I rail against the series a lot, but credit where it’s due. The sections of the Garou fight done by […]

Dororo – 23 [The Story of the Demons]

Welcome one and all to the penultimate episode of Dororo. We have brutality, we have drama, and we have a boatload of philosophy. Its everyone Game of Thrones Season 8 said it would be, but wasn’t. Is it too late to make that joke? Regardless, this was a good week for Dororo, so let’s jump […]

Mix – 11 [Try Pitching]

Good news for all you Mix fans out there: the show is likely to be two cour, as the Wikipedia page for its timeslot doesn’t have a replacement listed until October. That means three more months of baseball, romance, and mystifying Japanese puns before Hero Academia S4 kicks Mix off the air for the fall […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 11 [Tsuzumi Mansion]

Welcome to another episode of Kimetsu no Yaiba! This week we finally meet the rest of our leading group, find a new Demon and deal with some… odd tonal issues. Lets dive in! Starting off, Zenitsu. I have to say, whatever Yaiba is planning with him, so far I am not impressed. The man was […]

Latest Reviews

[Star Crossed Anime Exclusive] Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection Review – 80/100

I was lucky enough to be at Sakura-con in Seattle on 20 April 2019 for the Funimation’s movie premiere of Code Geass’ third movie with the Director himself, Gorō Taniguchi, along with his senior staff in attendance inside a room full of raving fans. Was it was worth the decade-long wait to have a worthy […]

Paranoia Agent Anime Review – 67/100

In an era of the mundane, where every series is the same moe blob, the weird sticks out. Even the most mediocre series can get attention just by being weird. Paranoia Agent is not mediocre, and it is far beyond simply “weird”. Written and Directed by Satoshi Kon, Paranoia Agent is one of his last […]

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 77/100

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat […]

Kemurikusa (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 79/100

Kemurikusa is your very definition of an overlooked gem, one that never really gain much discussion anywhere, but one that has a distinctive style from an up-and-coming auteur who has full control of his projects. Coming to Kemurikusa, all the attention it has came from the fact that it is created by TATSUKI, a mastermind […]

Mob Psycho 100 S2 Anime Review – 87/100

Upon finishing this series, the only question on my mind was how many animators did Bones sacrifice on ONE’s altar to achieve this. Following their prior season, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 continues Bones adaptation of webcomic and manga author ONE’s 4th work, Mob Psycho 100. ONE has also authored the critically acclaimed One Punch […]

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai Review – 84/100

Anime draws on many different media types in its endless search for properties to adapt, but manga is still the king of the bunch. And why not? It’s a distinctly Japanese art form, their main demographics have significant overlap, and manga’s panel-based layout means that some of the anime staff’s work is already done. Plenty […]

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru Anime Review – 93/100

Recently, sports anime have become a bit of a dying breed. Falling into the same hole as Mecha, aside from a passionate base audience, most are overlooked. There are the occasional hits like Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice, or Darling in the Franxx for Mecha, but those are few and far between, often taking years. Even […]

A quick and dirty review of Garo: Vanishing Line

What it claims to be about: A secret order of knights and alchemists, the Makai Knights and Alchemists, fight horrifying creatures called Hollows who prey on human weakness .Part of the media franchise spanning anime and live action shows, this iteration is set in modern metropolis and concerns the attempts of Sword, the strongest Makai […]