Mai Waifu, SHE IS GAR

ghostlightning & sybilant back in the day

She agreed to watch Armored Trooper VOTOMS with me. I’ve been meaning to see this show for some time, given it’s reputation as a dark, gritty-as-hell, /m/anly plate of GAR. Yeah sybilant is a Ouran High School Host Club-loving girl who I marathon Aria with, but she saw all 110 episodes of freaking Legend of the Galactic Heroes with me too. That Mazinger Z shirt I’m wearing in the photo (taken 2005, Armed Forces of the Philippines GHQ Camp Aguinaldo shooting range)? She gave that to me. The Mazinger Z you see in this post? She gave that to me too. My VF-25 Messiah? She built it (I helped), that’s what. I am so pumped right now because Armored Trooper VOTOMS is bad ass.

votoms-op-title-page

In 1983 while Kawamori Shoji’s SDF Macross anime was proving to be a smash hit – the successor (in smash hit status terms) to Tomino Yoshiyuki‘s Mobile Suit Gundam as a mecha show in the ‘real robot’ tradition (which sputtered as a TV series first before its compilation movies started winning fans over in droves), Takahashi Ryousuke quietly put together 2 shows that took the ‘real’ in real robot towards ‘hard’ science fiction realms: Fang Sun of Dougram (ended 1983), and Armored Trooper VOTOMS.

If Gundam at that point still had many elements that are part of the ‘super’ robot anime tradition (some elements persist even in contemporary Gundam shows), and Macross had a fun and campy feel throughout its narrative, VOTOMS immediately plunges us into a universe awash in bloody, bloody war. Everything is dark; nothing and no one looks glamorous: not the mecha, not the character designs, nothing.

I’ve seen the first episode, and while the setting presented is that of a large ongoing war I get the impression that this will be a personal story. I feel that instead of a story about the conflict great sides and factions the focus of the narrative will be that of the survival – yes, the survival of one Chirico Cuvie — a soldier caught in the midst of treacheries and conspiracies that he may not truly feel passionate about, at least at the start.

votoms-01-chirico-evades-pink-beam-of-deathChirico avoids certain death from a large beam weapon.

The first thing that really grabs my attention is that almost everyone is trying to get Chirico killed, inside and out of his Scopedog. As robots go, these boys are little more than suits of armor; you wear them almost as much as you pilot them (even though they’re technically walking tanks). They’re the not-so-mobile suits in mecha anime. I mean, Gundams can get very fast (even those who don’t transform into ValkyriesWaveriders) – and behave more like piloted craft. Scopedogs really are suits of armor that merely amplify the combat ability of a trooper.

From Mecha Anime Headquarters:

During the Hundred Years War between the Gilgamesh Confederation and the Balarant Union, military technology takes great leaps forward with the introduction of humanoid “machine troopers” and later “armored troopers” (code named VOTOM: Vertical One-man Tank for Offense and Maneuvers). However, the creation of the ATM-09-ST Scopedog in Astragius Year 7198 marks the turning point in the war. With its compact design, the Scopedog is suitable for various combat environments, including space, terrestrial battlefields and urban environments.

Note the mentioning of the compact design. At under four meters tall, they stand up to a Gundam’s knee. I think the Scopedog matches the Zentraedi Regult (Macross) as the most GAR-inspiring mecha in real robot anime. It really takes a some guts to ‘pilot’ these mobile coffins. I mean, they’re supposed to be suits of armor right? However, the destructive capabilities of the contemporary weapons in their respective shows usually results in a fatality after a single hit on the torso section of the mecha, the largest target on the accursed things.

votoms-01-chirico-is-rewarded-with-tortureCaptured! Chirico endures clumsy interrogation supplemented by cruel torture.

The episode is all questions. We don’t really know what the fighting is about, nor the mission that Chirico is involved in despite not being filled in about its objectives (apparently he was on a need-to-know-basis). This same mission is what his captors are interrogating him about. We do know that he escapes, and his trying to survive while trying to find out what’s going on will probably serve as the meat of the narrative for now.

votoms-01-chirico-will-kill-all-of-youChirico kills almost every sentry that got in his way. You don’t mess with Chirico Cuvie.

Armored Trooper VOTOMS is not brief. It’s a 52 episode anime with a good number of related shows that flesh out a universe (here arranged in the chronological order of its storyline):

  • OVA Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Red Shoulder Document: The Roots of Ambition (レッドショルダードキュメント 野望のルーツ)
  • OVA Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Pailsen Files (ペールゼン・ファイルズ)
  • TV Anime Armored Trooper VOTOMS episodes 1-13, Uoodo storyline
  • OVA Armored Trooper VOTOMS: The Last Red Shoulder (ザ・ラストレッドショルダー)
  • TV Anime Armored Trooper VOTOMS episodes 14-27, Kummen storyline
  • TV Anime Armored Trooper VOTOMS episodes 28-39, Sunsa storyline
  • TV Anime Armored Trooper VOTOMS episodes 40-52, Quent storyline
  • OVA Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Battle Of The Heterogeneous Species (ビッグバトル Big Battle)
  • TV Anime Armored Trooper VOTOMS episode 52, epilogue
  • OVA Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Heretic Saint (赫奕たる異端 Shining Heresy?) (set 32 years after the television series)

-From Wikipedia

What am I expecting out of this show? If I sometimes find Gundam and Macross too fanciful, I came to VOTOMS for the grit and blood of violent robot combat. No silliness, no called-out attacks, no shiny sparkly stuff, no underage pilots with puberty issues, no weaponized pop music, no funny physics wherein standardized weapons deal variable damage contingent to the needs of the plot (I’m looking at YOU Macross 7, and YOU Zeta Gundam). While these aren’t necessarily peeves (after all I mentioned my most favorite shows in both real robot franchises), I am looking for the ‘realest possible realness‘ in real robot anime here in VOTOMS. I have a taste for mechanical violence in military science fiction and I look forward to enjoying this with mai waifu.

Related Reading

  • The Animanachronism has a few posts on the series starting with this one, which will give you a fuller immersion into the universe of the narrative.
  • OGUIE MANIAX reviews the whole anime in three parts, part 1 covers the first 13 episodes.

We Remember Love is exactly six months today! For a blast from the past, here is our very first post [->]

A complete digression, feel free to ignore: It’s supposed to be utter fail to relate to oneself as weaboo, but here I am surprising my Japanese guest at how I happily admit to being otaku. And while mai waifu is indeed GAR, I feel moe anyway:

sybilant-in-dress-uniform

Follow our adventures in Neo Venezia ^_^

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in fanboy, first impressions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Mai Waifu, SHE IS GAR

  1. lelangir says:

    white on black blog themes……………AT LEAST DON’T USE YELLOW TEXT LIKE A CERTAIN ANIME CRITIC, ONEGAI ^_^”

    • ghostlightning says:

      AFAIK that certain anime critic stopped using yellow text after I gave him the feedback. All this is for the short term as I explore functionality and features among available themes.

      • animekritik says:

        if people bothered to read a certain anime critic’s blog directly rather than through google reader, the full glory of the yellow font would dazzle and confound them…. Awwright, i’ve stopped using it. But there’s no way you’re gonna get me off sky blue, red and Hirano’s orange!

  2. TheBigN says:

    Your wife. She is awesome. But you already know this, which makes me wonder how many times you realize this each day. 😛

    • ghostlightning says:

      Not enough, if you ask her :p But yes, I’m quite appreciative. After all I’ve been blogging for half a year now (thanks again for being there for to comment on the very first post), and I’m sure she gets bugged given that I spend some of my free time working on the blog. Not only is she supportive, she actually contributes. So I better be appreciative.

  3. drmchsr0 says:

    Your wife, she is not an armor officer.

    Just sayin’.

    But yes, she is GAR.

  4. I can’t decide whether lawyers or soldiers are more frightening, actually.

    The mecha action in Votoms definitely remains very real, but I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the general direction of the story in its latter half.

    • ghostlightning says:

      A combination of both, capable of serving you a lawsuit accompanied by an fully armed squad; I pity the fool who truly pisses her off.

      I’m four episodes in, and it’s been a straightforward survival story thus far. The mecha action is indeed more real relative to Gundam save for cases of anime physics (completely forgivable: exploding cockpits due to a mechanized punch, I’ll take it).

      I’m writing a more extensive essay on things real robot, mainly due to my experience of FLAG (oooh, delicious). But so far, VOTOMS impresses me with the casual abundance and disposable nature of the Scopedogs.

  5. Flash Sword Irene says:

    The VOTOMS TV series starts off a bit slow, but it is an introductory arc that gets your feet wet and lets you familiarize a bit with the main cast. Although, VOTOMS is certainly one of the more “realistic” mecha animes out there in terms of its atmosphere, presentation of mecha battles, aforementioned grittines, etc. Not to mention, there are no wusses in this anime since Chirico is totally manly and even Vanilla is manly enough despite his afro hair color and demeanor.

    If you do feel that you might have seen much of what the series serves later on, well it is like a predecessor to future animes that tried to duplicate some part of its formula. Although, one of the OVAs does give one of the biggest “WTF” moments and I do believe it is the Red Shoulder Document. That moment will explain quite a bit, yet it is still a ball buster. Not only that, Pailsen is one wily old man as you will see in the prequels.

    On another note, the OP by Tetsuro Oda “Honoo no Sadame” is one of the better anime songs I have heard as well. Not to mention the ambivalence of the lyrics and instrumentals it is worked into creates a cool blend. It is a shame that most animes can not at least replicate the effort since they just do not put that much work into the songs these days. Then again, that is how it has been in music for the most part with tons of lackadaisical effort.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’ll assume you’re female with your name being Irene, so I apologize if I’m mistaken. A female mecha fan is a cool rarity.

      I actually started watching the Pailsen Files last year but have since put in on hold. I may pick it up soon even though I’m not done with ATV.

      Yeah I’m loving the OP a lot, and am very pleased that a friend included it in a grand stash of music he gave me.

  6. Flash Sword Irene says:

    No, I am actually a guy who just happens to bear the name of one of his favorite Claymore characters. Not only that, Irene herself is just a total badass that was immortalized as cool despite being a side character. Let’s face it, calm, collected sword-wielding women with cool nicknames that match their appropriate instant kill techniques are awesome beyond words. Lol.

    Speaking of female mecha anime fans being scarce, cute/hot female mecha anime fans are especially scarce. Then again, most of the girls I meet that consider themselves that way have only seen Gundam Wing. And if they ever saw Votoms, they would hurl because apparently Chirico is not as pretty as Heero Yuy. Nor is Chirico as inherently womanly as Quatre, one of the epitomes of wussiness. To slightly modify a quote of translations from Crusader:

    Trans Graham – Are you a pussy, test tube bitch with a smaller bushido blade then I?
    Quatre – (Some wussy crap) Translation: Yes, I am trying to cover up the fact that I wet my pants and shit myself.

    Anyways, I do suggest picking up Pailsen Files once more since it is actually a good OVA overall.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I actually know one. Visit East Anyhow – she blogs about it too. I got her into Gundam through 08th MS Team, and the compilation movies of the original tv series (she’s watching the original tv series now as a result). Like me she’s a Macross fan first, as well as the GAINAX robot shows.

      When recommending Gundam shows to your friends male or female, try this tool we developed: https://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/find-your-gateway-gundam/ and don’t forget to check out the link near the bottom of the post. Let me know what you think.

      I most definitely will watch Pailsen Files. Thanks for the recommendation.

  7. Sakura says:

    YAY for GAR WAIFU!

    • ghostlightning says:

      You’re a rarity yourself: a mecha-loving waifu who builds her own Gunpla. Btw, given the ending of Gundam 00, how do you feel about the Sumeragi Lee Noriega end? She had a non-making up with Billy (eww) who himself had a Graham Acre end (yay?).

  8. Pingback: Keeping it Real Robot « We Remember Love

  9. Flash Sword Irene says:

    Zeta was easily my result from the tool when I used it a month or two ago. My true gateway Gundam was actually the original Kidou Senshi Gundam which aired before I was even born. If anything, the tool does indicate my love for the U.C. due to my results since I hardly have love for an A.C. series. (G-Gundam, Gundam X, and Turn A being the exception.) The more recent 00 left a pretty bad impression on me, especially the shameless movie advertisement which was unnecessary in the first place. Then again, what the fuck was I really going to expect anyway?

    Originally, I was going to respond to your post before I suddenly felt lazier then usual. At the same time, I have taken the daunting task of watching LOGH which was mentioned over at Gaguri’s blog. So my time is being consumed as I continuously dl that OVA while trying to keep my sanity with the sensory load at hand.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Do watch LotGH, I called it a masterpiece [->].

      I have a bias for UC as well [->], though I do have an appreciation for Gundam 00. I’ve put G Gundam on hold because I think I’ll get more out of it (I’m right at the middle) the more UC shows I watch. I’m also watching Turn-A Gundam at my own leisurely pace. I’m still downloading X.

  10. Crusader says:

    JAG…eh? Well I suppose having MPs to boss around is at least something. 😛

    She can always qualify on the M203 to increase her available firepower.

    VOTOMS should be fun I loved Pailsen Files to pieces and just got Last Red Shoulder, will hope to do it once my duty expires for the month.

    • ghostlightning says:

      She has me to boss around. After 6 eps, Chirico is manly man, though the silent type as opposed to the hotblooded antics of say, Kouji Kabuto. I’m enjoying it, and the OP is old-school brilliant.

  11. Pingback: A Revolution in Me: Discovering Revolutionary Girl Utena « We Remember Love

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