Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files Analysis – Episodes 1-6

So now we’ve arrived at the next entry in the Votoms mecha anime franchise, with Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files. This Votoms OVA series takes place between Chirico’s adventures in Roots of Ambition and the original anime series. So far it’s an interesting series that gives us some more revelations, so let’s get started. As always beware of spoilers.

(*NOTE* This is a repost from our old defunct site MatureManga.net.)

The Elephant in the Room

Okay let’s not beat around the bush here. Let’s talk about the CGI. It greets us right from the opening sequence. This wasn’t anything new for Sunrise of course. They released this Votoms OVA in 2007 not long after Mobile Suit Gundam MS Igloo had also used it. Sunrise also used it for Gundam more recently in the OVA adaptations of The Origin, to great success.

I wish I could say the same about Pailsen Files, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Most of the time the CGI looks like something out an old video game. Often it also looks clunky and the CGI animation doesn’t move so smoothly. On occasions it looks okay, sometimes when combined with the more traditional cel animation. The opening D-Day-like battle was a good idea, the lackluster CGI effects did let it down in my opinion.

Attempting an Armored Trooper Votoms OVA with CGI mecha was possibly worth a shot, but I heard that this series didn’t receive the highest of budgets. With some greater funding the CGI could have been made to a better standard, but alas.

Even for 2007 standards the CGI was below par.

Breakdown

We know that Pailsen was in hot water already due to his Red Shoulder project. It seems that the information Carson obtained back in Roots of Ambition Votoms OVA was enough to send Pailsen to a military trial. This has been enough for him to suffer some form of mental breakdown, probably out of fear that this would be the end of his ambitions.

When the Gilgamesh put Pailsen on trial, the fact that Wokkam of the intelligence agency got him out of that situation just to interrogate him himself speaks volumes. During this he shows little sympathy for Pailsen, as we are told that Pailsen was involved with the death of Wokkam’s father. Wokkam was able to recover Pailsen’s files from a disk that was discovered after the base incident in Roots of Ambition.

The series reveals that Pailsen didn’t just have his eyes on Chirico. While he was the main focus of his attention, we learn that Pailsen had also studied Chirico’s supporting cast of this OVA. They too, apart from Zaki share his amazing survival traits, meaning that they are also possible Overmen. Zaki is still only 16, so I imagine Pailsen found other traits in him that still indicate an Overman.

Wokkam is after all of Pailsen’s secrets.

Pailsen’s Secrets

We learn that Pailsen has an extraordinary scientific mind. He embarked on his mission after finding a strange kind of bacteria or cell that just refused to die by any means. He realised that humans possibly had this trait, but with low odds of just one person out of billions. This led him to his fascination with Chirico, as well as him documenting the others.

He discovered from Chirico that people with this trait could heal from any physical injuries, but could still be mentally affected such as Chirico when he was set on fire as a boy on Sunsa. Because of this I now have the silly question in my mind as to whether they can regrow limbs, but who knows.

Most fascinatingly he discovered that those with this trait are able to change their environment around them in order to survive. How this works I have no idea. Are people with this ability able to somehow subconsciously predict the future? Chirico and his new comrades still almost got killed in the tank explosion so this can’t be it, well not exactly. Maybe it works similarly to Doctor Strange in The Avengers. Perhaps they subconsciously pick one of a vast number of potential possibilities that will allow them to stay alive.

What other secrets will Pailsen’s files contain?

The invincible organisms that Pailsen discovered.
The invincible organisms Pailsen discovered.

Wokkam’s Goals

Wokkam too seems to have developed the same fascination with Chirico and potential Overmen as Pailsen had done. Even though Pailsen Files is set before the main Armored Trooper Votoms series, it’s clear there’s still a great deal of interest in Chirico even at this point.

What exactly his endgame is remains unclear. From what we have seen so far he seems intent on putting Chirico and his comrades through as many survival tests as possible. How he plans to use them for his own benefit, which he surely wishes to, remains unclear.

A very familiar looking man going by the name of Ruske is assisting Wokkam… Just by looking at him though we can all see that this is Rochina. Why he is going by a different name is strange, and we’ll probably find out his reasons for doing so in the next half of the OVA. As this is close to the beginning of the original series, I imagine by this point he was already under the influence of Wiseman.

Definitely not Rochina. Honest.

Crunching Some Numbers

Okay it’s time for some maths here now at Retro Anime Realm. For a bit of fun let’s have a look as to whether the numbers of potential Overmen discussed by Pailsen and Wokkam are correct.

What We Know

From what Pailsen Files tells us we know that there are 180 planets in the Gilgamesh Federation. Also that the possibility of anyone having the special trait was about 1 in 25 billion. Wokkam stated that this was probably an exaggeration however and suggested that the real figure was much lower than that. Let’s lower this number then, but not too extremely, and put it at about half that at about 1 in 13 billion.

Planets of the Gilgamesh Federation

So let’s look at those planets. I’m going to presume that those 180 planets mentioned also includes moons, and that all of them are inhabitable by humans. A quick Google search shows that most terrestrial planets like Earth are roughly the same size on average.

As I type this, the population of Earth stands at about 7.6 billion. From what we have seen of Melkia, the main planet of the Gilgamesh, it seems quite similar. There are large expansive desert landscapes, and Kummen with its forests as far as the eye can see. Also large, extensive cities like Uodoo. With so many planets for people to live on, let’s set Melkia’s population at just under half of present day Earth’s, at 3.5 billion.

We are told of 180 planets in the Gilgamesh Federation.

Other planets we see in Votoms seem more sparsely populated, with war having ravaged them. These are probably the ones right on the front line of the Gilgamesh-Balarant conflicts. Some of these planets potentially just have populations in the millions, perhaps thousands even. I imagine some other planets are more desirable for people to live on however or have a large military presence. Let’s set the other 179 Gilgamesh planets at something low like 500 million on average. Just to be conservative.

Population Numbers

Adding our Melkia population to this low 500 million estimate for the other planets would put the population of the Gilgamesh Federation at 93 billion. This seems like a reasonable figure. Now we also know that pretty much all soldiers in the Armored Trooper Votoms universe are male, so let’s cut that figure in half to about 47 billion, removing the female population.

Now let’s exclude those over 50 that would be unlikely to be participating in many battles. On Earth today these people make up roughly a third of the population. So taking this away from our figure we’re left with 31.3 billion people. This number would be the amount of Gilgamesh males that would be suitable for combat.

With the initial war going on for 100 years, it’s reasonable to presume that both sides were conscripting. Not all of these males would have been in the military of course, so yet again let’s take another third off this figure and leave it at 20.9 billion.

Soldiers in the world or Votoms are almost universally male.

Conclusions

Remember these figures are just guesses and just for a bit of fun. With this figure in mind then if the 1 in 25 billion chance was true, Pailsen should have discovered just one potential Overmen. This means one or multiple of the following:

  • Wokkam was correct and the 1 in 25 billion figure was an exaggerated one.
  • The average population of the planets of Gilgamesh Federation were larger than we estimated (given our low guess this is probably also true).
  • Pailsen’s studies and calculations were incorrect.
  • Pailsen potentially included women soldiers in his research boosting the numbers studied. Those he discovered by chance just so happened to be male. However this scenario is most unlikely.

New Overmen?

Let’s move on and take a look at Chirico’s new crew in Pailsen Files for a moment. So we know these guys were all picked out by Pailsen himself after years of his own research. As well as Chirico they all carry their own mysteries.

Pailsen’s research documents on Chirico’s new comrades.

Godan and Zaki

A group are hunting Gary Godan, due to having gained a reputation of always surviving while everyone around him dies. This is not surprising considering people’s superstitions. He’s also known as Grim Reaper Sirasko. I’m sure there is more to it behind the reasons as to why he changed his name. Then there’s Zaki with his mysterious sudden urges to kill Chirico for reasons as yet unknown. Despite his youth he seems a skilled soldier.

Berkhoff

Noll Berkhoff is the leader of the group and saved Chirico from one of Zaki’s outbursts. In Episode 6 we saw Chirico and his comrades escape certain death from the polymer ringer fluid tank. However Berkhoff wasn’t there with them and instead went to watch proceedings from a cafeteria. Also when the gunmen attacked Chirico and Godan he seemed very reluctant to help. There seems to be more than meets the eye with him. With his purple skin he is obviously not a regular human, making him only the second example of another race we have seen since the Quentians.

Kochak

Then there’s the bumbling Kochak who may be the most interesting. This is considering unlike the others he is completely inept in an AT. Considering that, it’s quite ridiculous that the commanders sent him on that mission to the Balarant outpost with the rest of them. He also nervously killed those the two commanding officers Yugunt and Fuller, and is most likely working for Wokkam who’s just using people as pawns in his game.

Kochak was mostly responsible for the enormous catastrophe that occurred at the Balarant base, as well as Zaki when he had another urge to kill Chirico. That said, there were far more than the 10 Balarant ATs that were stated to be there, that made things much more difficult. Once again it was obviously Wokkam giving the potential Overmen another little test from the shadows.

Kochak just about hit the target.

Other Nitpicks and Observations

I’ve already mentioned the CGI of Pailsen Files, so I’m now going to go over some of my other dislikes. Well, more nitpicks really.

The standard animation can sometimes be a little rough around the edges, sometimes clearly evident when characters are moving. The moment when Zaki stabs Chirico in the shoulder at the medical ward I found laughably bad.

With this series it can sometimes be a little difficult to tell who the pilots are when characters are inside of their ATs. As the characters all wear the same pilot suits it can be a little confusing.

Also, this Armored Trooper Votoms OVA has terrible opening and ending sequences. This is rather a shame as the original series and the ones from Shining Heresy were really enjoyable. I have no hesitation of skipping them for this series however.

That said the music overall for this series is good. The OVA mixes some new background music with a lot of the old music that the original Votoms anime series used, which is a nice touch and very welcome indeed.

Even though it was just a small thing I also liked how Chirico commented on the gravity on Galeade, as this is something that has never been mentioned in Votoms previously.

This scene was badly animated complete with comical blood splatter.

Thoughts So Far

Overall then, this series has been very enjoyable. The story has been engaging and the naff CGI hasn’t been too much of a handicap. It’s been good to get some answers to some questions previously raised, as well as some new ones that we always seem to get with every Armored Trooper Votoms series.

We didn’t speak about Chirico much in our analysis above because a lot of the action in this Votoms OVA just takes place around him. Much of the curiosity lies with who his new comrades are and the information that Pailsen possessed.

Hopefully the second half of the series can keep up this standard. If it does, it’ll definitely be up there with the best of the Votoms mecha franchise so far.

Agree with the points we raised? Do you agree with our Overmen calculations? We’d love to read your comments down below.

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