So here we are, the end of Armored Trooper Votoms. In this final proper edition of our watch along, we shall be covering not one Votoms OVA but three, with Case;Irvine, Votoms Finder and Alone Again. These OVAs are interesting for various reasons, and bring something new to the table. Let’s get started.
(*NOTE* This is a repost from our old defunct site MatureManga.net.)
Armored Trooper Votoms: Case;Irvine
Armored Trooper Votoms: Case;Irvine is a very interesting OVA in the Votoms franchise, due in part to the fact that it is the first true stand-alone entry. You may be wondering ‘Well what about Mellowlink?’ but if you remember that was actually connected in some way to the main Votoms story. This isn’t.
This OVA tends to get average reviews but I was pleasantly surprised as I really enjoyed it. You may remember in our last edition that I felt as if Votoms needed some fresh ideas brought in for the franchise. Case;Irvine definitely does this. A common feeling among Votoms fans is that there’s a whole galaxy out there to explore, and so many stories to tell. So it’s great that this particular story makes use of that.
Besides that though, it’s still blatantly Votoms with battling being a central theme as well as the acid rain we are all familiar with by now. The idea of the ultimate soldier is once again addressed. Paygun deemed Irvine as one after what happened during his time with the military.
A Modern Interpretation
The protagonist Irvine Lester is similar to Chirico Cuvie in some ways but different in others. Irvine has a similar feel to the main characters you usually find in other mecha shows. He has a more regular background and a level of angst closer to protagonists of this genre. However like good old Chirico, he has a quiet demeanor even if he is a little more outspoken. Also he has a tragic and depressing back story that he would prefer to keep repressed.
If we pretend that Votoms was never made when it was, and was instead released in 2010, it’s plausible that a character such as Irvine would have been the main character. He is in some regards a more modern-day interpretation of Chirico’s character type.
Irvine’s Past Traumas
In Chirico’s case, we were led to believe that he participated in many of the Red Shoulders’ war crimes, however we found out that this was ultimately not true. With Irvine however we find out this was not the case… Irvine seemed to have been fighting in Kummen at some point during the war. He was a good person, but the fact that he went ballistic on the battlefield, killing everyone including children is incredibly dark.
Luckily for him, the Gilgamesh military let him off the hook after what happened, probably having seen those types of incidents happen to soldiers many times over. Irvine, although bad, did what he had to do to survive. This ties in nicely with Pailsen Files and how members of the Berkhoff Squad all had their own individual last-ditch survival instincts when the chips were down.
What he had done and what he had been through had really traumatised him. To the point he simply refused to do any more killing. This was the reason he was only taking dives whenever he ventured into the battling arena.
One thing that’s very striking about Case;Irvine is that the animation in this looks gorgeous. While previous Armored Trooper Votoms entries Phantom Arc and Pailsen Files had used CGI, this returned to more traditional methods of animation.
With the plot being a more personal conflict, this makes sense. One can imagine the reason why Sunrise used CGI was to make it easier to animate large numbers of ATs. With no large-scale battles in Case;Irvine, it wasn’t really necessary.
A Different Type of Villain
The antagonist Paygun was also a refreshing change, as he is a type of villain we haven’t seen in Votoms before. Whether this is a good thing I don’t know exactly, as he seems like a character that stepped straight out of Gundam. Votoms has always had a very different feel. Characters who think that war is a game have been done in many things before, so he wasn’t the deepest of villains.
I mentioned in the last edition how spectators are always shown getting blown up and killed at the battling events. But Paygun takes this to the extreme. Having him do this on purpose in order to antagonise Irvine was a nice little twist on this Votoms cliche.
That Same Old Complaint…
Once again, the common error of a Votoms OVA not having a long enough running time rears its head. Paygun is a good example of this, as we never get to see any of his backstory at all. We don’t get to see exactly why he became such a bloodthirsty monster. One can imagine that like Irvine, he too was serving on the front lines for the Gilgamesh forces.
Shiraf, Irvine’s old agent also suffers from this. He sells Irvine out for money, and then Paygun kills him when he tried to make amends. Irvine never seems to learn of this, and is a plot thread that is just forgotten about.
Overall then I really enjoyed Case;Irvine and was a nice surprise after reading other people’s underwhelming opinions of it. Many say it is similar to Code Geass which I have never seen before. So I may have to give that a watch seeing as I liked this a lot.
There’s no disputing the fact that Votoms Finder is the black sheep of the Armored Trooper Votoms franchise. The setting seems very different to what we’ve seen before. The OVA is seemingly set far into the future from previous entries, or most likely in an alternate universe altogether.
I didn’t really enjoy Votoms Finder. I found it very boring with a plot that we have seen many times before. In fact it’s full of cliches, and as this is a watch-along you won’t need me to point them out.
As well as that, it’s not really Votoms in anything but name. One thing that I did really like is that, despite this OVA returning to CGI, was that it was of really good quality and meshed very well indeed with the more standard animation.
The mecha designs were cool also, moving greatly away from what we’ve seen previously. I specifically liked the way the ATs’ heads move completely to change scopes, rather than them moving independently like on the designs we are used to seeing.
Clocking in at 40 minutes in length, there’s no surprise that yet again there’s not enough time to tell the story effectively. It’s the villain Dabart who’s motives are only really touched upon. With a longer running time they could have been expanded upon much better.
A New Direction?
With this and Case;Irvine, it seems Sunrise were attempting to expand the Votoms franchise and try out new ideas for it. This is a good thing, as you will remember from my last edition I felt that this was needed. Unfortunately it appears these entries didn’t meet with a great deal of success, and is another reason why there’s been no new Votoms for almost a decade now. This is a shame, as even for Votoms Finder which I didn’t like too much, I still thought there was potential there.
So yeah, as you can tell I don’t have much to say about this one. Votoms Finder isn’t terrible, it’s just blandly average and doesn’t really fit in too well with the rest of the Votoms franchise. Because of this, it’s an OVA I am unlikely to revisit at any point.
Armored Trooper Votoms: Alone Again
So here we are, the last edition of the Armored Trooper Votoms franchise. I mentioned in the last edition about the bizarre release order of this and Phantom Arc, but to some degree this does work as a finale. In some ways not however.
I have mixed feelings over this one. There some absolutely cracking moments, some of the best in Votoms in fact. But the overall plot was just one big mess at the same time. Even now, a couple of days after watching it, I’m still confused about some of the plot events and some of the characters’ motives.
The animation is the same as Phantom Arc as you would expect, with CGI again used for the ATs. Unfortunately, off the back of Votoms Finder’s excellent use of it, Phantom Arc and Alone Again now look a little poor in comparison. But it is what it is.
Alone Again as the name implies is a more sentimental story than what we’ve seen previously. Chirico was so upset by Fyana’s passing that he actually went to Melkia just to see her capsule pass by. Teitania also ends up dying a pretty meaningless death after Montewells used her life as a tool. Let’s discuss her first.
If you remember the analysis of Armored Trooper Votoms: Brilliantly Shining Heresy, you may remember me feeling that her character was somewhat shoe-horned in. It seems Votoms’ creators felt similarly by this point, considering she was killed off pretty soon. That said, I liked how her character was used in Alone Again, and she plays a big part.
Fortunately, the whole thing about her suddenly being in love with Chirico was dropped. She still follows him however and is there to help out in the battle at the end. It’s interesting that she was fighting without her auxiliary brain, signifying that she was rejecting her Nextant existence that she was forced into against her will.
It’s her death with Chirico comforting her that’s the reason why Chirico doesn’t gaze up at Fyana’s capsule.
This is a very touching scene. One can interpret this as Chirico moving on from what happened with Fyana and deciding to carry on living his life the best he can. As well as that, we know by now that Chirico is a good person, and probably considered it to be an insult to Teitania if he didn’t give her his full attention during her last moments.
It’s revealed at the end he even took the time to bury her complete with some nice flowers. In a strange way this is kind of amusing as it’s not something you can picture the stoic Chirico doing!
On the happier side, it was nice to see Chirico reunited with his old friends. They hadn’t seen him for over 30 years, and I imagine he was very pleased to see them after the hell he’d been through since he was unfrozen.
They now live quite a lavish lifestyle, thanks to the families trading company. Gotho reveals that he has now retired after making a good living selling produce from Kummen.
In one of the more heartwarming moments of Armored Trooper Votoms, for once in his life he actually cracked a joke saying Coconna hadn’t changed at all in 30 years. We even see him smile, which is possibly one of the few times he ever does so apart from when him and Fyana were sent into space in the capsule.
We also see why Chirico ultimately left his friends to return to Sunsa. Chirico realises that damage and destruction always follow him. His old friends are now living comfortably without much trouble, and he feels that he would be a danger to that.
Vanilla didn’t exactly help with this situation. Unlike previous times, he didn’t seem exactly thrilled to see Chirico, as he probably rightly knew trouble would come to him and his family and the life they had built. Saying this in front of Chirico as Coconna mentioned in Phantom Arc was most likely a key reason as to why Chirico decided to leave.
The old gang were the closest thing to a home Chirico had left, so reasoning he had to leave and continue wandering alone was another unhappy event for him.
Alone Again also gives us a proper introduction to Vanilla and Coconna’s children. We saw them in Phantom Arc but us as the audience never got introduced to them properly. Stevia is the one we get to see the most of, and witnesses first hand Chirico’s abilities. Saltio their son gets involved with the Martial Church, of which the city seems to be under their jurisdiction. This is also the reason as to why Teitania and the Shield of Order come in.
Trying to Explain the Confusing Plot
Gastelman is a high-ranking member of the church, and is the villain of the piece. With the plot of this OVA being a bit of a mess it’s a little difficult to figure out what his motives were exactly. In a nutshell it seems as though he wanted power over the city, and was prepared to start a war in order to take power as the cardinal.
The Black Lightning Brigade are the ATs we see a lot of in this OVA, and it’s revealed they’re in cahoots with Gastelman. Interestingly though, earlier it was stated that Gastelman was in fact in conflict with them and their leader. Again this is a plot point that is never mentioned again. Presumably this information was false or a red herring, a ruse, or just an example of bad writing.
Making the best sense of it as I can, it looks like Gastelman got Saltio to smuggle the ATs in and then tipped off the Black Lightning Brigade himself. This caused them to come investigate the city and helped Gastelman create the engineered conflict he wanted.
Alone Again is a good entry in the Votoms franchise, but like a few of the OVAs the execution seemed a little off once again. The plot was hard to follow and I was only really able to make sense of it upon reflection.
Some of the best bits of this OVA are when Chirico is interacting with his old friends, and the ending scene is one of the best from anything the Armored Trooper Votoms franchise has produced. Alone Again also seemingly puts a poignant end to the whole Fyana story line, that was the most prominent throughout Votoms, giving us somewhat of a proper conclusion.
That said, it still fails to match some of the previous entries.
What did you think, did you enjoy these final entries of Armored Trooper Votoms? Put your thoughts down below.