Armored Trooper VOTOMS Ė Stage 1: Uoodo City
Distributed by Central Park Media (www.centralparkmedia.com)
Created by Ryosuke Takahashi, Norio Shioyama, and Kunio Okawara
Two DVD-Set (Episodes 1 to 13)
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Rating: Suitable for Ages 13 and up
Reviewed by Jon Minners
This is the year of the VOTOMS! Central Park Media has announced that the much anticipated 52-episode classic mecha series Armored Trooper VOTOMS will be released in its entirety, starting this month with the release of Stage 1: Uoodo City. Never heard of this title? Well, this is a classic anime series from the 80ís that somehow slipped through the cracks when everyone was dealing with Robotech. But if you missed out on it then, do not make that mistake again. This is an opportunity to own the collection and see the entire complex story from start to finish.
VOTOMS is a sci-fi war drama taking place at the end of a galaxy-wide conflict. Young soldiers have been bred for war. They know nothing else, but the sounds of gunfire, explosions and the sight of blood, death and utter mayhem. But when a cease fire is reached, thus begins the personal war of Armored Trooper pilot Chirico Cuvie.
Cuvie gets caught up in an illegal mission against his own army. Unbeknownst to him, his squad has opted to steal a treasure from their own command, but thatís not all they are after. The group sets out to find a top-secret government weapon; a weapon that Cuvie mistakenly discovers when he witnesses the birth of a genetic super soldier. Trying to do the right thing, Cuvie takes the stand and his group tries to make him take the fall, attempting to kill him, as they try to get away with their plans.
Cuvie is captured by his army, tortured and has no hope other than to escape, killing men he once trusted and escaping as a fugitive to a criminal haven called Uoodo City where ordinary menís lives turn on the flip of a coin. When all the people know is war, a peace between warring parties does not mean the end to civil unrest. But as his enemies are about to learn, Chirico Cuvie is far from ordinary and heís more than ready for the task at hand.
If you are a fan of great anime with an intricate, groundbreaking plot, then Armored Trooper VOTOMS is for you. Created in the early 80ís, this anime has more twists and turns than a season of 24, putting it well ahead of its time. So many plots and subplots take place in only the first 13 episodes. The best thing is the creators pace the show so well; there is always a reason for whatever is going on and even the smallest threads will eventually be tied up. I love shows like this that pay attention to detail and with so much espionage and political intrigue to follow, this is an intricate plot that will keep you glued to your seat for hours upon hours.
Character development is also key in this series. We learn more about Cuvie as each episode progresses. A young kid, who has followed orders blindly, learns to question what is going on around him and then must cope with being all alone, a man who actually has to become embroiled in his own war in order to cope with what is going on around him. All he has known is the killing and that seems to be all he ever will know. No longer able to trust anyone after being betrayed by his squad and then his entire army, Cuvie must now learn how to build up trust for a new group of comrades and even learn to love when he eventually rediscovers the being that got him into trouble in the first place. You cannot help to feel something for this character, as we face a similar situation today with young soldiers fighting a war and learning only about killing at too young an age.
And like classic cartoons of my generation; GI-Joe and Transformers, there is a lot of violence, mecha battles, shootouts, car chases and so much more. I loved it. This anime, complete with its nostalgic synth-heavy soundtrack, even looked like the old shows of GI-Joe or the anime classics like Battle of the Planets and Voltron. It could also be compared to a grittier PatLabor; a boy and his VOTOM, but it also had elements of Star Wars, with its strange planets, characters and less than stellar looking VOTOMS; the current Battlestar Galactica, with its political intrigue and Mad Max, with its apocalyptic gang of motorcycle driving, face painted crazies; and try not to compare some of the VOTOMS battles to an online game of MechAssault.
Ironically, VOTOMS, a show fueled by violence, took me back to a time of innocence and yet, at an older age, the cartoon stands the test of time in terms of story and plot development. More animes should follow the lead and give us more than the traditional 26-episode arc. They donít really make them like this anymore. VOTOMS may have fell through the cracks long ago, but this classic is back and leaving a mark on a new generation of viewers for years to come.