Welcome to the next part of our Armored Trooper Votoms watch along. This shall be an analysis of Votoms OVAs 1-3 covering The Last Red Shoulder, Big Battle and Roots of Ambition. I felt it was best to cover all three of these in one post. This is because these OVAs are about 60 minutes each.
Obviously these articles contain major spoilers. If you have seen the original series but haven’t checked out analysis yet, you can read it here.
(*NOTE* This is a repost from our old defunct site MatureManga.net.)
The Last Red Shoulder
I did enjoy The Last Red Shoulder. Although it was strange to have a story without Chirico’s gang of Gotho, Vanilla and Coconna. Instead Chirico’s supporting cast are a bunch of other former Red Shoulders. They all have a comparable level of steeliness to him. Us the audience can see the hard character that was needed to be a part of the Red Shoulder battalion.
It is left unsaid in this OVA what exactly happened to these soldiers. Something caused Pailsen to single them out to send them on some dangerous mission. That resulted in misfortune for all of them involved. But we shall find out in one of the future OVAs mentioned in this article.
The fact that Pailsen was now hanging out with the Secret Society means that he was clearly with them. For how long we don’t know, but we learn what we may have suspected in the original series. This is that the Red Shoulder battalion was almost like a predecessor for the Perfect Soldier project.
This makes sense when you consider that apart from the protagonists in this story, we see the remaining Red Shoulders went to work for the Secret Society. I found it pretty ridiculous how four Red Shoulders in hastily cobbled together Scopedogs were able to defeat 30-40 other Red Shoulders in more advanced ATs.
It was strange what Pailsen said to Fyana about his work. He basically suggests that while the Red Shoulders were not controllable enough for his liking, he still wants perfect soldiers to have some kind of reasoning and not just use instinct alone.
This brings us on nicely to Ypsilon, which in my opinion was the most interesting thing about this OVA. When the Secret Society created him, we learn he was like a new born baby in an adult body. The Secret Society decided to use Fyana as a mother figure to him to teach him the basics about life. Why they decided to do this when they already realised Fyana was defective seems foolish to me.
While not as much as Fyana, her trying to teach him about love and giving him that kiss at the end of this OVA was seemingly enough to make Ypsilon not exactly fit for purpose for the Secret Society either. This makes sense as he did at times think on his own accord and have moments of doubt in the original series which this explains.
Overall this OVA seemed to contain a greater level of violence shown in the combat scenes. This is the same with the two following OVAs also. The deaths of Chirico’s former comrades just to kill Pailsen goes to show the aggressive mentality these guys had.
Sunrise made this OVA in 1985 so the animation is much improved when compared to the original.
Well this OVA was exactly what it says on the tin, in that it truly was just one huge battle. It also has nothing to do with the Red Shoulders making it a little different from the other two OVAs.
The action sequences were really great in this one, showing more sophistication in the combat than we have seen previously.
The villain Niva is probably the scariest antagonist yet in Votoms with his bulging, mad eyes. This OVA taking place at the end of the original series. It also shows us that the Balarant now also have their own Perfect Soldier program. Instead of going with the more organic route that the Secret Society took, Niva is much more of a Frankenstein’s monster of a creation.
He doesn’t need jijirium to live. Instead a multitude of cybernetics was used for his enhancement. It seems power was what the Balarant were mainly focusing on, meaning he is completely unstable and very uncontrollable. This took away some of the tension for me. It was even more obvious Chirico was going to win. I mean he had already taken down a superior perfect soldier in Ypsilon by this point.
Besides this it was cool how the big battle involved all the main cast. Also how Chirico and Shako had to scale the battleship in order to be able to fight Niva above. I expected Niva would have found it easier to hit the two of them while they did so. This is because he was wired into the battleship to control it mentally.
We see that Rochina was also able to survive Quent. He wanted to be able to capture Chirico again for the Balarant PS program. It was probably a good thing that Chirico and Fyana suspended themselves in that tube at the end of the original series. With the war starting up again they would have been in high demand for both sides. Both of which were now seemingly developing new perfect soldiers. This potentially made the renewed conflict even more dangerous and hopefully Chirico’s friends were able to survive.
Gotho has to take a lot of the blame for what happened in this OVA by selfishly trying to get Chirico in the battling arena for his own financial gain. The gang were also quite stupid leaving a vulnerable Fyana alone in her capsule, but I guess needing to protect a perfect soldier in itself seems rather ridiculous.
That Dr Thomas seemed to be somewhat aware about how to free Fyana from needing jijirium, so it was too bad how he ended up getting killed by Niva. Hopefully in future entries to the franchise Chirico can find a solution to that particular problem.
Roots of Ambition
We now come to the final of these three OVAs that probably provides more questions than it answers.
We come to understand how exactly Chirico ended up becoming a Red Shoulder. Rather bizarrely after what the original series told us, this OVA reveals that he was only a part of it for less than a year. He probably only participated in one or two operations for them.
Obviously we know why Chirico was never able to die. Wiseman was pulling the strings of fate for him. The part where Chirico is able to dodge those bullets at point-blank range I found utterly ridiculous. That spoilt this OVA a little for me.
The OVA shows us exactly what happened for Chirico and his former comrades to enter the bad books of Pailsen and why he wanted them dead. From what we’ve learnt Pailsen sure did like to change his mind a lot. The Red Shoulders was his prize project and then at some point decided it wasn’t good enough. He also at one point thought very highly of Chirico. This changed once Chirico didn’t obey him and Pailsen wanted him dead.
After Carson rumbled details about Pailsen and the Red Shoulders’ secrets to the Gilgamesh top brass, I imagine that is when the Secret Society came more into play that we know Pailsen was a part of. The fact that we see Red Shoulders attacking other Gilgamesh troops shows their methods were similar indeed.
Wanting Chirico dead and knowing about his freakish survival rate it was most likely Pailsen that put him on that mission to Lido at the start of the original series. If you remember the Secret Society left Chirico for dead in space. I imagine Pailsen thought that would surely kill him. He thought here would be no way for him to survive being out in the void.
One of the most interesting things we learn here is that it seems as though Chirico was a native of Sunsa. At the end we are told that it is the third invasion of the planet by the Gilgamesh forces, and we can see that the domes had already been destroyed. Chirico’s memories that he remembers seem to resemble what we were told in the original Sunsa arc in the original show.
This makes the interactions he had with Zophie then very intriguing, as it seems he was a victim of that particular invasion also. It now makes sense why he helped her so much despite her trying to kill him. He probably thought he deserved no sympathy as someone who came back to wage war on his home planet as part of the very force that had destroyed it. It seems that Chirico’s formative years as a child on Sunsa and what he witnessed was so distressing that he repressed it to such an extent that it took talking to Pailsen to remember.
It was brutal to see how the Red Shoulders selected potential recruits. The original series had mentioned it I believe, but it was something else to actually see how live ammo was used with many men killed. In order to become a Red Shoulder, you had to survive this and even then you had to endure the dangerous training and prison like conditions they lived in. It makes it easy to understand why the Red Shoulders we see have such hardened personalities.
Personally, even though I liked this OVA the most there were problems with it that I have already addressed. Sunrise made this Votoms OVA in 1988 so it no longer looks so dated but still has its signature feel. This is also the first entry to use a different soundtrack, and it was nice to hear something different and new.
Lastly, what exactly was it that Pailsen saw in that tube? It looked like a perfect soldier, but if that’s the case, how many more are out there? Could it have been an Overman? Could it have even been Chirico? So many questions!
Join us next time as we conduct our analysis of episodes 1-6 of the first entry in the franchise not to feature Chirico, Armored Hunter Mellowlink.
What do you think about the first set of Armored Trooper Votoms OVAs? Did it expand Chirico’s story in a fascinating way? Leave your comments below.