April 25, 2006
by: Patrick Sutton
"The second you see it on the shelf, buy it. It truly is a part of anime history that must never be forgotten."
Review Hardware Used: Sanyo 20 Flat Screen CRT and XBOX 360
Led into an illegal mission against a military ally, Armored Trooper Chirico Cuvie stumbles upon a secret his government would do anything to hide: the body of a beautiful woman suspended in a capsule of energy. For this discovery, Chiricoís superiors leave him to die in the hands of enemy troops. He escapes with his life, but is forced to flee to the criminal haven of Uoodo City. Here, amid the outlaws and beggars, Chirico begins his galactic quest for justice!
13 Uncut Episodes
Japanese 2.0 Audio
Directorís Commentary track on Episodes 1-3
Content: (May include spoilers)
The backdrop for VOTOMS is one of a massive war between two different groups of human in space. This war has been going on for over one-hundred years and has gotten to the point where the people donít even remember why the war is even being fought anymore.
We are introduced to a group of soldiers who are on a mission infiltrating one of their own base. It is at this point when we meet Chirico Cuvie a young eighteen-year-old AT (Armored Trooper) pilot who was recently assigned to the unit and has no idea what their mission is. While they are infiltrating the base Chirico wanders off and comes across a mysterious tube containing a bald girl that awakens and stares at Chirico. After the other men from the unit find out that e discovered her they betray him and blast him into space where he is captured by another ship.
When Chirico is taken onto the ship he is taken to interrogation. The men think that he knows what happened on the base and are trying to find out even though Chirico has no idea what is going on. After sometime Chirico manages to escape from heís captors. Next time we see him he has entered the massive Uoodo City, a city full of all sorts of low lives, corrupt police, and other thugs. This is where Chirico meets his three friends that help him on his journey; Coconna a young street girl who seems to have a crush on Chirico, Pops an old junk dealer that provides Chirico with supplies and took him in when he entered the city, and Vanilla a bit of a jack-of all-trades--he clearly acts in a way to be sure he benefits for sure but is a true ally in the end.
As we move through a Uoodo City arc many mysteries begin to unfold and new questions come to the forefront. A large portion of this arc was designed to establish the overall feeling of the series as a gritty and serious war-drama. The show doesnít hesitate to show gratuitous violence and death which makes the series very believable and feels real. Something that really helps the show move is that the ATs arenít treated like god like machines that are stuck right in the center of everything. At many points in the series you donít even see the ATs and it is just sheer guts and craftiness from Chirico and his friends.
Towards the end of the arc many things begin to unravel and we begin to have a bigger picture of what is going on. Who is the mysterious bald girl and what is her connection to Chirico? And why is it that everybody seems to be after Chirico so passionately. As all these mysteries unfold many very well done and classic stories are laid out in front of you. This truly is a classic war series and it is clear that it has influenced this genre in many ways.
VOTOMS is a fairly old series, originally airing way back in 1983. But for a show of this age the new print is making it look great. The colors in this newly remastered print are very bold and stick out in just the right way. Though, there are a couple of problems with the video unfortunately. While watching the series you will notice that there are some little specks of dirt and tiny nicks throughout the video that arenít really common but are fairly noticeable. There is also a noticeable grain to the video that may be a problem for some people but I think it actually gives the show a sort of old style war chronicle feel to it. Regardless of these problems Iíd have to say that this is the best the series has ever looked in the US.
The audio for VOTOMS is not bad at all but it isnít without its flaws. There are some little hicks in the music that are just barely noticeable. The sound fits this classic show like a glove and makes it just terrific. Luckily none of that was lost as the show aged.
The menus for this set are very simple and easy to navigate, featuring bright colors to catch your eye. The main menu features video from the show playing in the background as well. There are no transitions from menu to menu on this set. A nice touch is the theme song playing in the background as you navigate the menus. They are nothing really special but there isnít really anything to complain about.
VOTOMS features only a few extras but they are very worthwhile ones. The main thing we see on this disc is a set of commentaries on the first three episodes of the series from the director. The next big thing on the disc is a DVD-Rom feature, which is a PDF guide to the series which just tells you all sorts of things about the show. Rounding out the extras is a set of Anime and Manga previews. All in all while it's not the most packed set of extras but it's certainly a lot of stuff to keep hardcore fans of the series happy for quite some time.
Votoms features only a Japanese language track and no dub. The speech is very clear but certainly isnít perfect and has a couple little hiccups just due to the sheer age of the source material. The subs are bright yellow with black outlines, very easy to read, but doesn't blend in with the show. It is a respectable effort with a couple little problems but nothing too serious.
The Bottom Line:
As we end the first arc in VOTOMS we are left with many questions just dying to be answered. VOTOMS truly is a classic series featuring all the goods and bads that entails. While the Video and Audio are a bit dated, they are still very nicely done and present the scope of the show well. This is a must see for anybody who considers themselves to be a hardcore fan of Mecha Anime and I strongly suggest it for anybody at all. The second you see it on the shelf, buy it. It truly is a part of anime history that must never be forgotten.