The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Armored Troopers VOTOMS: Pailsen Files

Title: Armored Troopers VOTOMS: Pailsen Files aka Soukou Kihei VOTOMS: Pailsen Files
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 12 OVA
Dates: 26 Oct 2007 – 22 Aug 2008

Synopsis: Following the events on Odan and Sunsa, the Red Shoulders have been disbanded, Yolan Pailsen faces a court marshal, and Chirico Cuive is once again in the regular forces. The status quo, however, does not last. The many years of Pailsen’s research soon falls into the hands of the equally ambitious Admiral Wockam, who is determined to finish the tests on abnormal survivability. Suspicious yet unknowing, Chirico now must survive the most brutal of environments along with four soldiers who appear just as abnormal. But with the twilight of the war approaching, this may be next to impossible.

The Highlights
Artwork: Modern, yet true to itself.
CG animation: Poorly integrated.
Appeal: Niche, yet inclusive.
Drama: Light on the melodrama.
Continuity:
Could have linked up to the series better.

Finally, a VOTOMS series I can recommend to anyone. No, it is still a niche, hardcore action title that is bound to raise a few Freudian issues like it’s the last two episodes of Evangelion. However, Pailsen Files has the fortune of being a mostly self-contained story with far more inviting animation. Devoted fans may feel like there is a lot more to be desired, but everyone else can just sit back and be drawn in by the intense violence.

Being based on a gritty old school work, the obvious thing about Pailsen Files that sets it apart from the rest of the series would have to be its modern look. The animation is very clean and easy to digest, yet somehow does it without giving up its “charm,” or lack there of. The only part that didn’t work was the CG, which while on its own is impressive; integrated with cell shading, it stuck out like it was from a Gonzo work with a mismanaged budget. If you’ve seen Blue Submarine No. 6, you’ll get the picture.

More than just being a gritty action piece, VOTOMS has always drawn much of its strength from being, at times, more of a suspense thriller. The majority of tense moments are contrived less from fight scenes but rather watching of everything slowly and helplessly fall apart around the protagonists. Environments that vary from narrow canyons, to the frozen tundra, to a massive space fortress become truly threatening, making Pailsen Files feel closer to being horror than a drama. And the atmosphere is only heightened by having little that remotely resembles melodrama, which could potentially sour the mood. Besides, while the fate of one who is almost immortal is discussed through exposition and a few character moments, what better way to truly capture the moment than setting a man on fire?

How one will view Pailsen Files will ultimately come down to whether they are a fan or not. The story provides enough back-story along with feeling conclusive, so new viewers will not have to worry about feeling too left out. Then again, the mentioning of Quentian technology and Abnormal Survival will come off as somewhat jarring. This may not be totally accurate, but for those already familiar with VOTOMS, the conclusive nature of the OVA may not feel cohesive with the beginning of the original series, let alone The Last Red Shoulder. This lack of fluidity/completeness may be irksome; however, it doesn’t lessen the viewing experience in any way. So whenever you’re in that rare need for a cathartic experience, featuring an all male cast, and robots being crushed by giant snowflakes, you know where to go.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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