Anime Review: Armored Trooper Votoms Phantom Arc Episode 1

(Originally published on Livejournal on 11/5/10)

Anime Review:
Armored Trooper Votoms: Phantom Arc Episode 1

What this is about: I made the promise that I would review every new subtitled anime show (excluding blatant yaoi and/or porn) released during the Spring and Summer 2010 seasons, so now I am going back to review a handful of shows that I missed over the past few months for one reason or another. This time around, it’s Armored Trooper Votoms: Phantom Arc (VOTOMS: Gen-ei Hen), a six-part OVA series billed as the “final chapter” in the franchise. The first episode was released on March 26th (some people would consider this part of the Winter 2010 season, but I use the vernal equinox as the dividing date).

tl;dr review: Vanilla and Coconna go on a silver anniversary trip to Uoodo; Big robots get in a fight…what, you expected something different?

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size:

Episode 1-3 Summary: It has been 25 years since the events of the original series, and Vanilla Varta and Coconna have hit a bit of a rough patch. On the advice of Gotho, they decide to take an annivesary trip to Uoodo to rekindle their relationship. Arriving in the metropolis, the two of them visit a couple of their old, abandoned haunts, where they come across some recent footprints and a new poster. They then head off to a Battling arena, where they meet up with Gotho (who masterminded the whole trip as a surprise), and also the stoic Ru Shako, who has been searching for Chirico. Ru Shako pisses off the arena fighters, who challenge him to a friendly duel. But one of the fighters is mysteriously murdered and replaced, and Ru Shako finds himself in a battle for his life on the arena grounds. The war-hardened veteran manages the victory, but just barely — and the unknown assailant escapes.

My Thoughts: Even though Votoms has been a pretty big deal in the world of anime, starting with a seminal series in the Eighties plus numerous sequels, spinoffs and video games, I have managed to avoid it entirely. I got as far as “fighting mecha” and that was all I needed to know; as a result, I am not familiar with the basic story or the characters or, well, anything. And this series is clearly designed for someone who is already a fan.

Twenty-six years after the Armored Trooper Votoms series first aired, this “final chapter” returns after 25 years with two of the main characters reminiscing about events in the past. As an outside observer, I am left to piece together the story from scant clues, and it boils down to this: is it a story interesting enough to entice me to go back and find out more? The answer is a pretty solid “No”, setting the whole distaste for mecha and giant robot silliness aside, I don’t find the characters particularly engaging, nor the plot compelling. But for viewers who are already fans of the show, I’m sure this is a great sentimental trip down memory lane. It’s just not a journey for me.

The Verdict:

For more info:

Votoms Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armored_Trooper_Votoms
Anime News Network Entry: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=11487
Video promo trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj_HgGUwSmc

Up Next for Spring and Summer 2010 shows: Hen Zemi (OVA), ToHeart2: adNext (OVA), Kaichou wa Maid-sama (25-26), Occult Academy (13), Legend of Legendary Heroes (13-15), Agriculture Angel Baraki (1), Super Street Fighter IV (OVA), Bungaku Shoujo (Movie)

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