Welcome to our Watch Along or in this case more of an analysis of the anime Armored Trooper Votoms, and the journey of its protagonist Chirico Cuvie. A note before we start is that most of the articles here will not be like this. Usually they will cover a bunch of episodes at a time. I hope to cover the Votoms mecha franchise in its entirety, and have already seen the first series before creating this website. So this particular edition will cover the series as a whole. Also please beware this will contain huge spoilers.
(*NOTE* This is a repost from our old defunct site MatureManga.net.)
You could consider Votoms to be the ugly sister to the Gundam and Macross anime franchises. Gundam launched the real-robot sub-genre in 1979 with it’s more realistic setting. Mechs were now more of a tool of war than previous in previous series. Macross first aired in 1982 adding extra touches of flamboyancy and flair to this concept. Armored Trooper Votoms released in 1983 however went in the other direction, at least on the surface.
Personally this was my first time ever watching Votoms. In the past I have watched a lot of Gundam, so Votoms made a very refreshing change.
The Votoms, well Armored Troopers, are the main example of this, being more basic, much smaller mecha that are easily destructible. There is no war going on, with the events instead focusing on conspiracies and plots going on in the shadows. Then there’s Votoms’ protagonist, Chirico Cuvie, who is cold and calculating. Before or since, most anime and manga protagonists let alone of the mecha genre are usually brash, loud, angsty or a combination of the three.
Key Votoms Analysis
While I enjoyed the journey that Chirico goes on while watching Votoms, I was disappointed they revealed him to be an Overman later in the anime. I preferred him being more of a normal soldier. Just equipped with the knowledge that his Red Shoulder experiences had given him.
It’s really great to have a protagonist who is so morally grey considering the actions he had committed in the past. Chirico was a good person and I think Votoms made this clear. Especially in the Sunsa arc. But that his superiors had forced him to follow orders during the war.
One of the key themes of the series I thought of when contemplating this anime analysis of Armored Trooper Votoms is to do with authority. How in the series Chirico chooses to follow his own path and make his own decisions compared to in the war. His relationship with Kan Yu illustrated this. He was a terrible leader and was happy for him and his men to kill anyone and do anything to help him feed his ego.
Also I think it’s fair to say that some of the arcs of Armored Trooper Votoms were stronger than others. In my opinion the Uoodo arc was very weak with its repetitive nature. Many series often struggle with their opening stories however and this was just another case.
After that though I think all of the following story arcs are pretty strong. Kummen was my personal favourite which seems to be a common opinion. The following Sunsa arc was enjoyable but didn’t quite hit those heights. The finale on Quent was also entertaining, but at times felt like a different show altogether.
It’s been a week since I finished Armored Trooper Votoms now. but I still don’t quite know what to think about the ending. It was a gutsy move for Chirico to try and fool Wiseman with the power he possessed. Also temporarily abandoning Fyana and his friends that had helped him for so long. I liked that we did see Chirico’s ruthlessness from his Red Shoulder days come out too.
What I also liked was that the cast is small enough for the viewer to get to know and understand their thoughts and intentions. I’ve already spoken in this Armored Trooper Votoms analysis about Chirico, so let’s go into some of the other characters:
With Gotho, Vanilla and Coconna it’s interesting to think about why they ended up befriending Chirico. Maybe it was because Uoodo was a place where they needed every friend they could get. So definitely the fact that Chirico was a soldier with immense skill and in combat helped. Coconna quickly became attracted to him. Gotho and Vanilla seem to be older than Chirico. I think his age is about 20 or maybe younger if I remember. Maybe they had some kind of empathy for this younger man. It was clear that the war he had been a part of had affected him. Chirico begins to open up a little more throughout Armored Trooper Votoms and bond with his supporting cast as it progresses.
I liked Fyana as a character too but sometimes it felt like she was a bit of a spare part. When she got involved more in the action it was great to see. Especially when Chirico was sick and she had to keep the Balarant forces at bay on the way to Sunsa. By the end of the series you can see that their feelings for each other are genuine. The nature of their relationship was a little ambiguous at first, due to him being imprinted on her mind when he first opened that capsule.
Armored Trooper Votoms doesn’t explicitly tell us, but it seems the Secret Society’s aim all along was to somehow reawaken the legendary Overmen. They probably created Fyana and Ypsilon for this very purpose, and Killy was eager to inherit Wiseman’s powers for himself at the end.
Speaking of Ypsilon I would have liked him to have stuck around for the events on Quent. His death came a little too early in my opinion when I think there was the potential for more development there. The more time we saw him it seemed that he wasn’t as perfect a soldier as the Secret Society had wanted.
We also have Rochina, who was helping to pull the strings to get Chirico to Wiseman. It is unclear to me when he became aware of the overman, especially considering he tortured Chirico for information at the start. He had a really interesting story, with him moving over to the Balarant side towards the end. It’s also unclear what was in it for him – probably he was going to try and take Wiseman’s power for himself.
Extra Thoughts on Votoms
Moving away from the story for a moment, I thought Armored Trooper Votoms’ animation was on the whole pretty good for an anime of this time. It’s not groundbreaking, and at times I wasn’t too keen on some of the character designs. I’m not much of a music guy, but I felt the score added to the atmosphere of the show well. There are some pieces from the show that I will gladly listen to again.
It’s the ATs that really helped set the visual aesthetic. The Scopedog is an iconic mech in the genre and even before I saw this series it has been a design I have always loved. That sound as they zip along the ground is something that will stay with me. Some of the designs like the Standing Turtle in Kummen I didn’t care for so much, but on the whole I loved the designs.
To wrap up, I greatly enjoyed Armored Trooper Votoms and it met my high expectations. Many have said this surpasses the original Gundam series. I don’t personally agree with that, but I do rate it very highly.
What do you think about Armored Trooper Votoms? How do you think it stands up against Gundam or Macross? Leave your comments below.