Armored Trooper VOTOMS: VOTOMS Finder (of the Rebellion) is GRIMDARK LITE and is Kind of Good


Even if only because of the wild enthusiasm for VOTOMS and its ATM-09-S Scopedog in the ongoing Sai Mecha tournament I’d watch this show, despite being lukewarm to the original Armored Trooper VOTOMS (I’m 32 episodes in) and becoming not altogether pleased with the recent Case; Irvine OVA.

I actually liked VFinder, even if the enemies becomes buddies schtick doesn’t really have much meat in it, and the plot isn’t much to write about, and the world-building seems generic. Why? It’s because I do feel it succeeds as robot anime. This is so because the fights are very well done in the way VOTOMS as a franchise is hyped about: Armored Troopers get wrecked a whole lot.


The thing about Gundam, to use the original real robot show as a benchmark, the Gundams themselves enjoy a high degree of “hero” immunity not altogether different from the traditional super robot shows it breaks tradition from. When a Gundam MS gets severely damaged or scrapped, it is a highly dramatic if not a climactic event. In VOTOMS this is not the case at all. The Armored Trooper is almost just another machine, if the Gundams are fetishized as hot rods or high-performance cars, then ATs are fetishized for its generic quality. It’s a big deal to see not only lots of ATs get shot to pieces, but for the hero’s ATs to be smashed again and again like it wasn’t a big deal (as if to leave no doubt, the main character works in a scrapyard of ATs LOL).

Obviously, the fans make it quite a big deal, and you’ll see quite a bit of it here in VFinder. I find it funny that this makes the VOTOMS franchise “GRIMDARK” to its ardent fans. I don’t mean to say that this is the only reason, as the locales and setting of the original series aren’t exactly light and fluffy havens (Woodoo/Uodo alone is as grim and dark a setting as can be found in anime), but yes I think that any robot the lead uses can and does get destroyed goes a long way. It hints at a vulnerability that disguises the inherent plot-armor the main character must wear.


One thing’s for sure, the combat is fast. You’d think that Code Geass would own the rollerblading robots on high gear category, but VFinder moves just as fast if not faster. What I find so cool is that there is a lot of acrobatics while remaining very grounded. The mecha still feel heavy and not naturally maneuverable – which highlights the skill of the pilots.

One thing that VFinder takes from Code Geass is the weapons on a rope/cable projectiles conceit. I thought that CG’s slash harkens were silly but interesting (almost wholly abandoned in R2 when it looked so out of place with the gigantic swords, and gratuitous beam spam firing all around). VFinder does a lot with this. I’ll try to think through what makes it interesting.


Projectiles with cables attached form natural contrails that simulate/evoke visually stylized missile attacks popularized by Macross’ action director Itano Ichiro. I may be quite mistaken but I think it was ∀ Gundam that did the cable version first 1999 (and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann even did it with drills in 2007). In VFinder there’s a remote weapon that fires cabled projectiles… almost like a funnel from Gundam but instead works like a mine.

I think VFinder is the robot anime Code Geass didn’t want to be, and this isn’t a condemnation of the many faults CG annoys us with (in terms of being a robot show);  that horse is as dead as fuck and won’t be pulling carts anymore. It’s not like VFinder is noteworthy apart from specific robot fanservicey things. But for those robot fanservicey things, I wholly recommend Armored Trooper VOTOMS: VOTOMS Finder.

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.
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38 Responses to Armored Trooper VOTOMS: VOTOMS Finder (of the Rebellion) is GRIMDARK LITE and is Kind of Good

  1. Reid says:

    Those ATs are strange-looking. Does the story take place many years in the future from the standard storyline?

    • Matt Wells says:

      As I understand it, this series is possibly set in an alternate universe from the usual Votoms shows, or at the very least, a different galactic system than the ones we’ve seen before.

      While we’re on the subject of Votoms, does anyone know where I can watch the early OVAs like Big Battle and Last Red Shoulder? Shining Heresy’s subbed on Youtube, but the ones I just described are subbed in Spanish. I’d appreciate it if anyone could tell me where I could find Pailsen Files and Phantom too.

      • Reid says:

        MATTY! I FOUND THEM! has Big Battle and Last Red Shoulder, along with Finder. I just watched it. Pretty decent stuff for the cool robot fights but it doesn’t feel much like VOTOMS.

        • Matt Wells says:

          THANK YOU. You are a prince among men, a Newtype amongst Coordinators, and a King of the Braves among whiny Japanese teenagers with daddy issues. My sincerest thanks my noble friend. I just got a copy of SRW Z2.1 and I’ve had a hankering to finish the entire VOTOMS canon ever since. Sorry for the late response, I just found this. You are the best man, you know that?

          Now if I could just find Pailsen Files, Armor Hunter Mellowlink and Phantom chapter in their entirety…

          • Reid says:

            Thank you for the kind words. I am astonished by the heartfelt feeling you just poured out with something as simple as “A King of Braves among whiny Japanese teenagers with daddy issues.” That’s brilliant stuff, sir. ^.^

            I am hella jealous that you’ve got SRWZ2! Gaaaah I want it so bad. I’ve never imported a game before, but that one, Gundam 0081 Senki, Gundam Extreme Versus and now the new Unicorn game make me want to badly.

            Also, I used to have Mellowlink on my old computer before it crashed or else I’d help you out.

          • Matt Wells says:

            Go for it dude. Importing isn’t to hard so long as you’re careful. If you can’t get the game you’re after through or sites like that, then try ebay, but be prepared to pay through the nose. I just had my birthday so I could afford it. So long as you’re careful who you buy from, you should get your games fine. Hong Kong based sellers are usually legit, try buying straight from Japan if you can.

            Remeber that X and O buttons are switched in Japanese PSP games, O is your confirmation button, X is negative. Seriously, this game was worth every penny dude. It may be one thing to watch the attack animations on Youtube, it’s something else entirely to play it for yourself. And in the case of Z2, there are plentiful FAQS to let you know what to do. There’s even partial story translations!

            First time I got my hands I Shin Mazinger and used rocket punch, I almost cried. I did a little victory jig and everything, it was pathetic. But it felt so RIGHT. Fuck a well balanced team, on my first playthrough, first thing I’m doing is maxing out Dai-Guard, Mazinger, Getter Robo, Godmars, Scopedog (because Chirico is awesome), Gurren Lagann, Daitarn 3, Zambot 3, Big O, SUPER ROBOTS REPRESENT. Fuck Gundam 00 and Code Geass, fuck bishie sparkles, I’m doin’ this thing OLD SCHOOL.

            Importing games is fine so long as you don’t mind not knowing the story (or the cost). Action games like the Gundam VS series are easy enough once you get the hang of the menus. Just think about what you buy. I splashed out on Masoukishin I + II because I’m a total Cybuster fanboy. Unfortunately, there’s next to no FAQs on Revelation of the Evil God, so I’m screwed out of that one.


          • Reid says:

            I’m glad I’m not the only dweeb who enjoys watching SRW attack videos on youtube!

            I tried to download that rom or mame or whatever of Alpha a while back…didn’t work. Then I tried downloading J after Ghost wrote about it…didn’t work. So I gave up for a while. Then I found a copy of the North American release of SRW OG on Gameboy Advance…got about two hours into it and the game wouldn’t save my file. True story. The game you got is the one for PS3, right? If so, you ought to add me to your friends list! I’m ArkeotheEchidna. Maybe we have some games in common.

            I always imagined my perfect SRW team would be something like: Black Getter (cuts faces in half with its Batman gauntlets and grins without having mouth), Mazinkaiser (METAL FOR LIFE), Combattler V (because yoyos), Sazabi (lawl I so fat but vurrry fast), Nu Gundam (wa date ja nai!), Orguss (gayest sunglasses ever, ugliest transformation, best real robot pilot in history), some combination of those wacky Valkyries (just because Ghost said so and ’cause jets are cool), Turn A (third most powerful robot ever), Scopedoggydizzle (because real recognize real, ya heard?), Harry Ord’s gold SUMO (bossest thing in Gundam ever, coolest sunglasses ever) and….GANGANLEON GANLEON! If he’s in it…

          • Matt Wells says:

            I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve spent watching SRW attack animations on Youtube and Nico Nico Douga. If nothing else, its a great incentive to finding new shows. That’s how I discovered Machine Robo, Gear Fighter Dendoh, Zeorymer, the list goes on.

            OUCH. Bad luck there. I don’t hava a freaking clue how to run emulators on my computer, so no J or Alpha Gaiden for me either. OG 1 and 2 are both worth tracking down if you still have a Gameboy, those games kick ass. Hard as fuck mind you, and the graphics on OG 1 suck hard. Still worth it for Elzam TROMBE, SANGER ZANVOLT, and UNMATCHED UNDER THE HEAVENS, SUPER ROBOT TYPE X!!!

            Sorry, no PS3. Though that may change when OG 2nd comes out. For now, I’m stuck with a Wii 😦 Masoukishin’s a SRW: OG game on the PSP, entirely about the adventures of the hot blooded Masaki Andoh and his fellow Lords of the Elements, in the magical underworld of Las Gias. Imagine a Banpresto version of Aura Battler Dunbine, minus the grimdark ending and with cooler mechs, and you’ve got it. Can’t make heads or tales of the gameplay though.

            Yes, this mech has fin funnels piloted by talking cats. Words fail me.

            SICK list of SRW favourites. With your choices all the way. You’re ideal series list sounds like a mixture of the Z games and A Portable. Mad props to you! WITH YOU ALL THE WAY ON KEI. Dude is the best part of the show. My own list would include all your choices (oirginal Mazinkaiser or SKL by the way?) but include;

            Big O, Giant Robo and Tetsujin 28 (Boy Detectives unite!), Shin Mazinger Z and G Gundam (with the four shows making a FINAL IMAGAWA SPECIAL), One Year War Gundam (All of it: White Base, 08th MS Team and War in the Pocket, the good stuff), GaoGaiGar and Brave Express Might Gaine (Nobuyuki Hiyama will yell at you till you become light), New Getter Robo (because Best Ryoma and Crazier-than-a-Shithouse-Rat Hayato), Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos (because Rom Stoll is too awesome for words. Evildoers don’t deserve to hear his name), Bioboosted Armor Guyver (because if Tekkaman Blade can get in, why the hell not?), Betterman (for a team up with GaoGaiGar), Patlabor (realest of the reals!), Aura Battler Dunbine and Heavy Metal L-Gaim (because they need to be in another SRW). I’d also throw in Armor Hunter Mellowlink as an on foot NPC who takes down only VOTOMS units, for the lulz.

          • Reid says:

            Man, I didn’t even know that you could have a team that big! I’ve not spent much time at all with SRW games, sadly. If you can field a team of lobottos that HUGE then I guess I’d go along with your whole list as well, with special emphasis placed on GUYVER. That junk is amazing. I love it all – especially the David Hayter movie (seriously, the best sci-fi suit fighting ever put to film. Makes me hopeful for a bauce Kamen Rider movie ^.^). I would add Alberto the Impact because, let’s face it, the man can kill Angels on foot. Team him up with Master Asia and the whole dang Earth might upend itself.

          • Reid says:

            Oh yuh and I’d swap in Sinanju for Sazabi.

    • Alternate universe according to wikipedia. But as mentioned elsewhere here, the VOTOMS universe is sufficiently vast to accommodate both this and Case; Irvine. I see no big problem with this theory.

  2. Huntsman says:

    Even compared to Case: Irvine both the mecha designs and action sequences in Finder can be considered far removed from the Votoms standard, whether you just look at the classic itself or take into account its retro revivals, and the setting feels more unfamiliar too…but neither of those aspects are necessarily negative in my opinion (though, for the record, I still prefer 2-D over 3-D as far as my ATs are concerned).

    Like it has been said before by myself and a few others…in this day and age, Votoms can certainly use some sort of occasional innovation rather than continued repetition in its spin-offs. What’s more, the Votoms universe has more than enough room for potential variations…especially when you think about it in terms of a galactic as opposed to personal scale and decisively move away from the inherent restrictions of Chirico’s own time and space coordinates. Thinking about an unspecified amount of years later and focusing on a completely different planet would, to say the least, allow for all sorts of changes in the way ATs looks and feel. This was also true for the previous OVA, technically, but it’s even more appropriate here.

    You could say this continues to be an experimental approach though. We don’t know what will happen to Votoms after this recent revival, so to speak, fades into the background. And by the way, while Finder has an even more basic and stereotypical plot than Case: Irvine, which was already a bit weak in that area, I imagine it’s less likely to get on people’s nerves simply because of the different cliches and character archetypes employed.

    Finally, completely setting aside the title of this piece…the actual comparisons to Code Geass can be discussed further but they’re at least conceptually interesting in my opinion. I might add that Lelouch spent over half the first show having his KMFs destroyed or being kicked around a whole lot, in a manner that’s arguably less Gundam and more Votoms too. On the other hand, the reality is we’re once again taking a short OVA and comparing it to an entire TV series so…there’s a limit to how far you can take these arguments and their implications without hitting a wall.

    But just because I can’t help being a nitpicky old bastard…there’s really only one huge mecha sword -note the singular- in R2 and, despite all the noise about flashy beams or what have you, a number of scenes continued to feature the slash harkens and/or visible damage. It’s less that they were completely absent, I’d say, but more tha their role became less important (and, I’d add, people got way too angry or bored to actually pay attention to certain details anyway).

    • My comparison with Code Geass here is strictly about the mecha design and action, particularly the use of the Slash Harkens — which was rendered rather obsolete in R2 where you had more lances, swords, and AoE shining fingers for melee weapons. You make an excellent point about Lelouch’s disregard for his own mass-produced units until the show started its wild procession of super prototypes.

      As can be seen in the reactions here, this approach by VOTOMS doesn’t really go down well with the elitists and oldfag wannabes who’ve seemed to regard the original material as the apotheosis of “real” robot anime. I don’t have that kind of esteem for the original material so I enjoy this show as something that fulfills a fundamental need of mine when it comes to anime: fast-paced robot fighting!

  3. WhatSht says:

    speaking of ATs….i was fighting some dude in SRW Z2.1, and he seems to be using the scopedog or something, and what he did WAS “WTF!”, HE DODGED 2 MACROSS CANNON SHOTS FROM THE MACROSS QUARTER!

    anyway, about main character’s machine getting trashed by normal grunts, thats what gundam needs, the gundams are mostly indestructible, only enemy gundams get killed by grunts(if extremely lucky), many good gundams went boom with honour(Strike was destroyed while protecting Arch Angel)

    • Matt Wells says:

      The only problem with that is that Gundams are currently as close to Super robots as the confines of the franchise will allow; every main Gundam in a new series is always a super cutting edge prototype which can slaughter thousands of Zaku knock-offs, and only matched by some Char knock-off. Frankly, its been that way ever since the original series, Gundam has always straddled the super/real robot division.

      Its a confinement the series has grown into, and its another reason I love 08th MS Team and Votoms: nothing screams real robot more than taking out a mecha with a simple rocket launcher. Real robots SHOULD suck to some degree, otherwise they’re little more than super robots which aim for SLIGHTLY more realistic settings and technology.

    • I approve. We need more Gundams gettting hit by grunts. They don’t have to be completely wrecked, but I want to see real tough maintenance work due to battle attrition… and none of that FIRE AND FORGET shit in Z where Kamille just ditches the beam rifle after shooting. SUPER PROTOTYPES CAN’T HAVE THAT MANY SPARE MAIN WEAPONRY.

      • WhatSht says:

        i remember kira throwing away Strike’s Shield in battle tons of times, he always got a new shield. Gundams getting owned by grunts would be nice, the pilot can then go “**** YOU GRUNTS!”. well, 00 season 1 had gundams getting owned by grunts, they were losing until, they switched the systems.

        • I have little hope for AU Gundam shows, though I think there wasn’t any of this garbage at all in 00 come to think of it. But yeah, a major accessory of the Gundam gets thrown away before the core fighter combines to form the Gundam in the SEED subfranchise. There really is so much to hate in that shit.

      • Skribulous says:

        I distinctively remember that one time a UC Gundam suit got hit by a grunt.

        Oh wait, that was in the Tomino novel. And it was piloted by Amuro. And it blew up real good.

  4. Matt Wells says:

    Fair warning Ghostlightning, the last 20 episodes of Votoms will be hard going for you. There isn’t much mecha action to speak of, particuarly in the last 13 episodes. The focus shifts more to Chirico and grand sci-fi concepts. The resolution of his rivalry with Ypsilon is streched out, and the final pitched battle…with Chirico fighting off two armies trying to kill him…feels rushed and underdeveloped. All my own opinion of course, but I felt the best Scopedog action in the original series was the Kunmen arc. Try the other OVAs if you want cool action sequences.

    • Jack says:

      “The focus shifts more to Chirico and grand sci-fi concepts.”

      That’s another way of saying it goes from being a good show to a great show!

      Also, when it comes to combat, most of the best action found in the original series is centred around one-on-one combat, such as the excellent contest in the battling arena from episode 4.

      Anyway I found Finder to be okay, not particularly bad or good. Which in itself is fairly disappointing. If you’re going to make a mecha show in this day and age I’d prefer it if they went all out and made it into something special.

      Also, I vastly prefer the 2D robots of Case;Irvine to this ugly 3D rubbish.

      • Matt Wells says:

        Hey, I never said it wasn’t an excellent show! Just that if you go into the last two arcs expecting Scopedog action of a quality seen in the previous 28 episodes, you’ll be disapointed. The fights on Sunsa boil down to Chirico and Fyana effortlessly toasting thousands of grunts in one hit, and on Quent it was mostly the same, but with Votoms being teleported away any time they tried to fight.

        Chirico’s last pitched battle lasted only one episode, same with his duel with Fyana, and I found both of those a letdown. Those last episodes should have shown me the galactic military might of two empires trying to kill our hero, and the woman he loved opposing him with every breath in her body. Instead, we got 6 or so padded epsiodes of Chirico futzing around with ancient Quentian tech, occasionaly firing his gun. These final fights were covered in about 20 minutes. Combined, they lasted shorter than a full episode. Hardly an epic conclusion to Scopedog combat.

        Don’t get me wrong, the Scopedog action in the first two arcs is great, and the more epic, Clarkeian slant the show takes in the last arc made for classic animated storytelling. What I found jarring was how suddenly they foisted the two together, we went from Raymond Chandler with Mecha/Vietnam with robots, to 2001: A Space Odyssey (with the occasional robot fight)! It wasn’t a bad shift, but it was a sudden and awkard shift none the less.

        I also thought they should have devoted far more time in Sunsa looking at Chirico’s Red Shoulder past, but instead we got 7 episodes of him emo-ing out on spaceship, leaving Fyana to kill an army by herself. I was sad to find myself more entertained by a throwaway battle in the 4th episode than the concluding fight to a rivalry the series spent half of its running time setting up! Chirico VS. Ypsilon was disapointing to say the least…

        Votoms is still amazing and well worth anyone’s time, but if you’re looking for good Scopedog action, stick with either the Kummen Arc, or the OVAs.

      • Matt Wells says:

        And I second the CG complaint. Computer rendered mechs always look terrible to me, whether they’re Votoms or Macross. They just seem so horribly out of place compared to the traditionaly animated figures piloting them, like watching a 3D effect without the glasses. Unless you can make them look better than hand drawn mechs, or they offer more fluid movement, I don’t see the point.

      • They’re still 2D, the rendering is just CG. Get your hate straight.

        • Jack says:

          It’s not really hate, aesthetically they’re just very ugly.

          That wasn’t a problem in ‘Case;Irvine’ but they clearly didn’t care so much here.

          • The Scopedogs were ugly, it’s part of why they’re charming. The mecha here are consistently ugly. But you’re talking about the CG right? And you’re talking as if it’s self evident that Macross Frontier’s CG is ugly right? So your stance is all CG is ugly right? By policy? Is there any CG that didn’t look ugly to you? Will there be any?

            Don’t answer the last few, it doesn’t really matter. I can get behind your distaste over something — as I have my own pet peeves.

  5. Huntermad says:

    Oh, I just watched raw OVA 3(Maybe the last of OVA series).Sad Ending………..>_<

  6. I cant see why people tend to hate on CG rendered mech, unless were talking about SRW divine wars.

    I actually love the new designs of the altro, and it kinda works considering pulling of all those crazy stunts require a degree of aerodynamics.

    • Fake oldfaggotry that’s just trying too hard. Nothing this fast exists as non-CG. And if someone mentions Macross Plus I swear JESUS TAKE THE FRICKIN WHEEL.

      • Jack says:

        I’m not particularly sure what “This fast” actually means.

        Also, it’s a little bit funny that you complain about “oldfaggatory” and then go on to right about the original Macross.

        • Precise movements at this speed is very rare in anime. TTGL has it, but Imaishi’s style is so dirty that precision takes a back seat to entertainment (which is fine for TTGL).

          I’m an oldfag, and the wild flailing is directed at myself as well.

          What is different with me and other oldfags, is the lack of affinity with newfags. I’m an life long Macross fan but I’m a Gundam fan for only 2 years and got my start in liking the franchise with 00. So I would be utterly stupid to adopt the attitude of so many people younger than I am acting as if the old, and that adhering to the old ways is the ultimate (if not only) good.

          I only saw Giant Robo 2 years ago, and I love it. But far be it for me to declare it as some kind of apotheosis of robot anime when mostly the robot does Sumo with a giant black ball. It’s actually an excellent shonen-type ensemble action/adventure show and superbly so. It’s what Sengoku Basara could’ve been if it were an OVA extravaganza but it obviously wasn’t going to be.

          So yeah, I like so many older shows, but I’d find it difficult to treat them as THE standard of what is good. I’m fine treating them as important parts of their respective traditions.

          What is actually true that has to forgive many things about the old shows — datedness, chauvinism, terrible ‘physics’, shortcuts. New shows have it tougher because they can’t be forgiven for repeating those mistakes, and the shortcuts the older shows are forgiven for. That’s how I see it.

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