What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.
Series Premise: Armored Trooper Votoms: Case;Irvine is a one-episode Original Video Animation special set in the storied Votoms universe, released on DVD on February 25, 2011. Irvine Lester is a simple mecha repairman, but at night he is secretly involved in Armored Trooper arena fights, where he is trying to earn enough money so that he and his little sister can leave the hell-hole where they live.
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Spoiler-free set-up: In a broken-down city on a broken-down planet, Irvine Lester and his younger sister run a simple Armored Trooper repair shop, barely making enough to scrape by. But unknown to his sister, Irvine is secretly involved in the underground Armored Trooper arena gambling circuit, where he purposely throws matches to earn some extra money. Yearning to leave the world for a better place, he can never seem to get ahead, until a rich sponsor learns of his excellent fighting skills, and pushes him to get involved in a real battle. But Irvine soon finds himself pitted against a psychopathic madman who will stop at nothing to destroy him and everything he loves.
My Impressions: Now here’s the thing: What I know about Votoms is just about zero. What I know is that it is a relatively dark and gritty giant robot/mecha show from the early eighties. Despite its hard sci-fi bent, the word “mecha” was enough for me to avoid this for the past three decades. As for what I’ve watched in the epic Votoms saga, that is limited to a *single* episode of the recently released “Phantom Chapter” OVA last year, which I panned (no surprise).
But reading up online, I have pieced together enough to know that this one-shot OVA doesn’t really have anything to do with the main story, it’s just set in the same universe. I think.
Which means you really don’t need to know about all this back-story about Chirico and Gilgamesh and all that stuff, because the characters in this one-off stand on their own. Irvine is the troubled ex-soldier who is haunted by the demons of his past; he is trying to protect his innocent little sister from the evils of the harsh world, but that only ends up making things worse in the end. Irvine catches the eye of some cunning vixen of a lady with big boobs and blonde hair and a big bankroll, who forces him into a battle with an absolute maniac. And once the maniac goes out of control…all hell breaks loose.
Even though Votoms features comparatively realistic “mecha” and realistic fighting scenes, in the end it’s still giant mecha, and many times in the past I have expressed my innate dislike of the stupid concept. And this show features very long, drawn-out battles between Armored Trooper robots, and that’s really half the show. But if you completely eliminated that element, the main story itself would fall flat for me, primarily on the weakness of the psychopathic bad guy, who is the worst kind of villain of them all: an irrational one. You know the type: The guy who laughs maniacally as he shoots up everyone and everything around him, wreaking a wide swath of destruction as he is focused on the single-minded task of defeating the protagonist. Throw reason out the window, he’s just evil for evil’s sake. And without any serious, fleshed-out motivation for the character, it feels like little more than wanton destruction without purpose.
Anyway, I’ll just leave it there, I don’t have much to say. Partly because I actually watched this over a month ago and forgotten many of the finer details (or perhaps you could say it was mediocre enough that there were not really many details worth remembering). But also because it’s just not worth dissecting the more nuanced points of the characters and the story. It’s all really angst-driven melodramatic window dressing for the robot battles, anyway.
I will say this, though: It is visually attractive and well animated (especially if you’re going to even try to compare it to the original 1983 Votoms). And I suppose if you’re a mecha freak (and let’s face it, that’s half the anime watching audience out there), you could do worse.
- Preview trailer on Youtube.
- Info resources:
- If you like this, you might also like: Well, frankly, just about anything Votoms related, or maybe Dougram.
Sampling of Online Reviews:
- “VCI kind of sucks, but it doesn’t totally suck. I don’t know if the gamble to appeal to contemporary robot fans will pay off – or if going about things this way is the best course of action. I don’t think this show will fulfill the aspirations of the core fanbase, and if the younger viewers don’t feel compelled to watch the older fare, I would be more than tempted to think of this show as a failure.” – Ghost Lightning
- “I don’t know whether to hold that against Irvine or not. It’s from a different time, and probably for a different audience. I’ve never been good at judging quality, so here’s a suitably tepid conclusion: Case;Irvine is okay. If you have fifty spare minutes and want to watch some robots fighting, you could do worse.” – Animanachronism
- “I would recommend this to most of my friends that enjoys mechs and are not bothered by how oddly shaped they are. The ending was nice and perhaps worth a tear shed or two. It depends how emotional you can get or how close you can get to putting yourself in Irvine’s shoes. Grade: 4.5/5” – Myu’s Anime Blog
- “Don’t get me wrong here: I am all for trying out new things. For that, I applaud this move. The thing is, however, that this just was not very good. In fact, now that I think back on it I can’t remember anything about it anymore, other than that it had some really annoying and underdeveloped characters. It was half-assed and I expected a lot of this, and as a Votoms-fan, that made this my biggest disappointment in terms of movies and OVAs this year. ” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
Miscellaneous Odds and Ends left to review: Robo to Shoujo, Votoms: Finder, Koko ni Iru, Keroro Gunsou Movie #5, Pokemon Special: Pikachu’s Really Big Day, Umi Kara no Shisha, Stitch: Zutto no Tomodachi, Sora no Otoshimono OVA, Rita et Machin, Kakko Kawaii Sengen, Shokupan Mimi, Mardock Scramble, Bleach Movie: Hell Verse