Posted on 3 December 2010 with categories: Armored Trooper Votoms - Phantom Arc, OVA Impressions



And with this, we’ve reached the end of Gen-ei Hen. And I have to say that it left with one heck of a cliff-hanger. It’s not like this episode didn’t provide closure to the whole OVA: it was a great ending. But I’m just so curious as to what’s going to happen next. Before that will happen though, there still are two spin-off movies in the way.

Beyond progressing the story, the entire Gen-Ei hen was meant to bring all of major Votoms installments together, so it’s very fitting for this final episode to bring Wiseman back. It’s interesting how he had this kind of back-up server ready, that may not have been able to rule the world like he did for the past 3000 years, but was enough in order to prepare a proper successor for his legacy, one who could even surpass Chirico in terms of intrigue.

The politics were also a bit interesting this episode: Gilgamesh and Balalant were too scared and didn’t do anything, while the Church did send the pope to Wiseman, yet in the end he just got killed as a bit of an aftermath to the Brilliant Heretic. It’s still very good to see what happened to him in the years that followed that OVA though.

Now, all that’s left is the three movies. What I’m hoping for the first two movies is that they’ll be good standalone stories, that at the same time flesh out the universe of Votoms. The third one however is by far the movie I’m looking forward to the most: Chirico and the Child of God have been picked up from outer space by what I guess to be Balalant forces. What is the point of the Child of God for Chirico? That’s going to be the central question to that movie, but beyond that I’m also clueless.

This episode also partially explains the promo art for the upcoming movie, and what Vanilla and Cocona’s children are doing there. It’s clear that they had no part in the Gen-Ei Hen, and yet they’re supposed to play such a big part during the “Alone Again” movie. Speaking of which: how does that title make sense? Chirico was alone anyway after what happened at the end of the Brilliant Heretic. At the moment he finally has company again that could replace Fyana (the Child of God), he’s about to meet those six children (who I’m also pretty interested in, by the way), so how is that title going to relate to what’s going to happen?

Still, the biggest mystery of the Alone Again Promo Art isn’t answered yet: what’s someone who’s supposed to be dead doing there?
OVA Episode Rating: 8,5/10

Posted on 20 November 2010 with categories: Armored Trooper Votoms - Phantom Arc, OVA Impressions



That was just absolutely amazing. Both this franchise and this OVA keep just heading in new and different directions, and yet at the same time this OVA is also bringing together the different parts of the series. This episode really embodied the things that made the mystery-parts of the Votoms-franchise so awesome: it just keeps throwing you in new settings and situations that are completely original.

It was a building-up episode, but it did that extremely well with its atmosphere. This child of god gets even more intriguing than it already was now that it got abducted by those strange huge bugs, who seem to know exactly what to do with it, along with that girl who turned out to be a previous Child of God, who managed to survive for god knows how many places, suggesting that these children of god are some sort of immortal, which is pretty believable considering how Wiseman lived for 3000 years.

And yet that makes Chirico even more intriguing, as he’s supposed to be even above these deities. I also loved all of the religious subtext that this episode again brought to the table. Religion in Votoms was always something vague, yet very much real. It never really was explained what exactly Chirico’s powers are, and yet his destiny plays a key part here: wherever he goes, something really important happens and everyone wants to be a part of it. At first sight Chirico seems to be nothing more than yet another variation on the Gundam-esque Newtypes, but his nature lies far deeper than that.

Oh, and what I also really liked was that the creators finally showed a bit more depth to the scene in which Pailsen tried to burn Chirico. It’s now revealed that he burned the entire research institute in which he was gathering potential Abnormal Survivors, and I think that that’s the point in which Pailsen really found out about Chirico. I’m especially intrigued by that boy and girl who ran towards each other, and what their relationship with Chirico was. And again, I loved how mature Chirico reacted to it.

We really need more series like this in the future. Heck, the Gen-ei hen has pretty much become my favourite OVA of 2010, and to think that there still are one episode, one movie and two side-story movies left. the entire Votoms franchise really is something unique. The animation could have been better, but ah, who cares? It’s nowhere near bad enough to ruin the rest of this experience.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,75/10

Posted on 29 October 2010 with categories: Armored Trooper Votoms - Phantom Arc, OVA Impressions



I must say, that I’m really impressed with how this OVA turned out. This isn’t just there for its storytelling or action. Instead, it’s all about its plot. It’s very unlike what we’re expected from Ryousuke Takahashi at this point, yet it has the elements that are so typically his style, like the large focus on religious mumbo jumbo.

As expected, this episode went to Quent, or at least Quent’s twin planet. And finally we get a bit more of an idea what this OVA was meant to be about: the so-called Child of God. A kid who is supposed to be Wiseman’s successor. It’s interesting that it’s going to take the place of Chirico, who somehow was chosen by Wiseman himself as the new ruler. Could it be that Wiseman knew about his demise and the new birth of the child of god, so he at least tried to pick his own successor?

In any case, with this I can really see enough material for the upcoming three Votoms Movies. The Gen-ei arc and the Pailsen files were really meant to tie everything together: the Pailsen files filled in the missing details of Chirico’s past, while Gen-ei hen prepared for the real conclusions of the franchise: the three upcoming movies. On top of that, it really feels like an omnibus, which contains a bit of everything that we’ve seen so far: mecha action, the comic relief, the religious focus, the politics and of course the way that each of the episodes revisited the four arcs of the TV-series.

Either way, it’s great to see so many great series-based OVAs this year: we’ve had Darker than Black, xxxHolic Rou, Black Lagoon, Yozakura Quartet and all of them really had the guts to be different and go with their own direction and focus.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,5/10

Posted on 18 August 2010 with categories: Armored Trooper Votoms - Phantom Arc, OVA Impressions



This episode took this OVA in a completely different direction. Seriously, Chirico finally makes his comeback, but the way in which the creators did it. I really have to applaud their guts. There’s no fancy entrance, he’s just there. We still have no bloody idea what he’s doing, other than the fact that he’s running away from what looks like the cult of the Brilliant Heretic, but the scale of this episode was just so small: it was pretty much all about Sophie. Yeah, that woman. I completely forgot about her, but it’s great to see that the creators ended up giving her so much character-development.

I mean, this entire OVA has been chock full of character-development. Especially for anime, how often do you get to see a time-skip of more than thirty years? I really like how Sophie changed over those years: throughout the tv-series, she really seemed possessed by this thirst for revenge, even though she couldn’t do anything about it. Right now she’s just an old woman in her seventies, and apparently, she still remembers the past, but right now she doesn’t really care for this revenge anymore.

Meanwhile, Chirico’s development has been more subtle. He’s still pretty much the same as he’s ever been, though you can really see that he’s grown older. He’s no longer the young boy that he was at the beginning of the TV-series. I think that the biggest difference is that he doesn’t shy away from people anymore: he still doesn’t say much, but he lost the air of “don’t bother me, I want to be alone”.

Overall, when you put everything of Votoms together, you get one heck of a well rounded and varied whole. I mean, no part in this franchise is the same as any of the others, it’s constantly evolving and changing. The Gen-ei hen was again completely different, but at the same time I loved how it also pays homage to the original Votoms series. Heck, this episode even brought back some of the most iconic background tunes that created that bleak atmosphere in the earlier incarnations. I mean, this isn’t even a homage, or a modern version: they took the exact same songs here. That really turned out to be a wonderful way to bring this series back to its roots.

My only complaint about this episode was: how the heck did Vanilla, Goto and the others find Chirico? I mean, they didn’t know about what Chirico did when he was up in that space ship, so in god’s name how did they track this guy down?
OVA Rating: 8,75/10

Posted on 9 July 2010 with categories: Armored Trooper Votoms - Phantom Arc



All in all, this turned into quite a unique series. With the second episode, we’re given a new hint to the point of why this series was made, as we continue to revisit some of the locations of the television series. This time: Kummen, the jungle kingdom that was the stage of the second quarter of the series.

Alongside the nostalgia and the decade-spanning developments, this series also puts a lot of focus on the mystery around Chirico: what exactly is he? What has he been doing after the end of the Brilliant Heretic, where that massive spoiler happened? As it turns out, there are more people trying to find him, and the mysterious mecha of the previous episode may also just have been someone who wanted to lure out Chirico (who probably wasn’t even there at the time).

Either way, it’s great to see these kinds of drak and gritty mecha series again, compared to the over the top and colourful ones that we’ve been getting lately. Cocona and Vanilla may be light hearted, but they actually form quite a nice contrast between the otherwise dark fight scenes here that don’t try to be epic with their direction. The politics also were a nice addiction, and it’s quite ironic that with thirty years, nothing much has changed in Kummen, which just devolved into yet another civil war. We can now see that the plan of the prince, who was portrayed as a brilliant stategist at the time, failed to create a new and stable country because people were too quick to grab their firearms at their disagreements.

In any case, I really wonder what’s up for the next episode, because a lot of that arc was spent on a space ship that already crashed by now. For me, it was that arc that really sold me to this series. The loneliness of just being all alone, along with Fyana being really able to show that she’s more than just a damsel in distress. There are quite a bit of open questions left from there, so I’m really looking forward to it.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 19 June 2010 with categories: Armored Trooper Votoms - Phantom Arc



Well… that turned out to be different than I expected.

In any case, I’m very glad to see another series of Ryousuke Takahashi, but this episode was far more light-hearted than I ever expected. I can fully see the idea behind it, though, and this is a great one. The Phantom Arc is all about nostalgia. It plays twenty five years after the original series played, at a time in which it has been twenty-seven years after the original series ended. This episode was all about the side-characters who have all built up their own lives after Chirico left them, and this series shows them as they decide to go back to some of the locations of the TV-series out of nostalgia.

Like the Pailsen Files, these are very interesting and creative ideas as continuations that were produced decades after their original series. It’s a great way to add to your franchise. The disadvantage of course is that there is no way you can watch this OVA without having watched the TV-series. This one is entirely meant for the fans.

As for the actual content, this episode did well in mimicking the light moments of the TV-series, so there’s not much to say about the serious parts. All we saw of Chirico was a bunch of shady silhouettes, and he ended up stealing a mobile armour in order to fight Shaka in a battle to the death. No reasons were given of why he was there, what he was doing there, and why he picked that day of all possible days to do this, that’s left to the rest of the episodes.

I also wonder how everything is supposed to fall into canon, especially with the Brilliant Heretic. This could become a bit strange for the people who haven’t seen that one, as there is a crucial plot twist at the end of Brilliant Heretic that will cause you to really wonder what’s going on in the next number of episodes as soon as Chirico really shows himself.

On the production side of things, I was a bit surprised: this really goes back to the original series. Most of Ryousuke Takahashi’s series are animated with a great attention to detail, but this brings us back to the inconsistency of the 1980s.

Also, the character-development. I really like how down to earth the creators have portrayed them. Through the past twenty five years, the characters have changed subtly. You can really see that Vanilla and Cocona are a married couple now. In the TV series they insulted each other, but to balance that out they were also nice to each other. Here the insults feel harder, and instead of balancing these out with nice comments, they instead just are themselves without any pretension. I wish I could have seen a bit more about their six children, but on the other hand they were just made to show how the two of them spent their past twenty-five years.

At first I thought that this was a bit cheap compared to Ryousuke Takahashi’s other series, but a surprising amount of attention has gotten into these characters right now.

And really, the entire cast of this series is now in their forties or above. When was the last time we got an anime like that?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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