Armored Trooper VOTOMS Ė Stage 2: Kunmen Jungle Wars
Distributed by Central Park Media (www.centralparkmedia.com)
Created by Ryosuke Takahashi, Norio Shioyama, and Kunio Okawara
Two DVD-Set (Episodes 14 to 27)
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Rating: Suitable for Ages 13 and up
Reviewed by Jon Minners
The year of the VOTOMS continues! Last month, Central Park Media released the second set in the much anticipated 52-episode classic mecha series Armored Trooper VOTOMS with the next two sets being released later in the year. For well schooled anime fans, this is a great chance to collect and get reacquainted with the entire series and for newbies, Central Park Media has just provided you with an opportunity of a lifetime; to discover a classic anime and not have to wait long to fully understand the complex storyline. Almost quicker than an entire season of 24, viewers will never miss a beat and get to enjoy the intense adventures of Chirico Cuvie and the friends he makes along the way without all the anxiety of having to wait too long for the next release.
For the uninformed, 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. Our hero 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.
The first set followed our protagonist as he went on the lamb from his former allies to a place called Uoodo City where ordinary menís lives turn on the flip of a coin. Bred for battle, Chirico Cuvie is at his element, fighting for money before the past catches up with him and the real fun begins. The second set takes place after the fall of Uoodo City. With war being all that he knows, Cuvie heads off to the jungles of Kunmen where he signs on as a mercenary in a bloody civil war that actually seemed to me like a shot at our involvement in Vietnam, complete with scenes that looked like they were taken from Apocalypse Now, but with mecha thrown in. It is here that Cuvie discovers the guiding hand of the sinister Secret Society behind all his problems. Chirico Cuvie gets too deeply involved, unable to separate his personal demons from his job at hand and soon is reconnected with the genetic super soldier, Fyana, he encountered in the first episode, but while she seems sympathetic to his plight, Cuvie discovers another super soldier, Ypsilon, whose love for Fyana, makes him Cuvie's deadliest enemy yet.
I loved Stage One and funny enough, Stage Two takes the series to a whole new level. More mecha battles, more explosions, more hand-to-hand combat, more twists and turns and more characters to learn about. This set is just crazy. You just never know what lies around the corner for Chirico Cuvie. The people you think he can trust, turn out not to have his back and the people you feel may be his biggest antagonist, turn out to be great allies. Viewers will like new additions to the show; Bully Kiderra, Pol Potaria and Ru Shako; three mercenaries who upon learning about Chirco Cuvie's ordeal, help him in his quest. Potaria's story is one viewers will take the most interest in; he definitely stands out in this set with a back story all his own, perfectly complimenting the adventure of Cuvie and his team.
Character and plot development continue in this set, as we see Cuvie much more comfortable than he was in the past. He is letting his guard down and the man who once just fought to survive has now learned to fight for love. In fact, as the show goes on, you realize that everyone is fighting, because that is all they know how to do, but everyone has different reasons to fight. Viewers will also see that Cuvie is not much different from the perfect soldiers created by the Secret Society; hence why he has the most success in fighting Ypsilon. As for the perfect soldiers, viewers discover how they are created and just what can happen if a soldier who is bred for only war comes into contact with any other kind of emotion before being programmed. There is hope after all for Chirico Cuvie and Fyana in what really amounts to an intergalactic love affair minus the sap and akin to Han Solo and Princess Leia of Star Wars.
Armored Trooper VOTOMS has quickly catapulted itself up there with must-see classic anime like Voltron, Robotech, Battle for the Planets and PatLabor as well as classic animation like GI-Joe, He-Man, Thundercats and Transformers. The best part is; unlike most anime titles, which would have ended with the 25th episode, this story is just getting started. There are two more sets of action. After the first two sets of explosive action with one of the most well crafted plots that still stand the test of time, viewers have a lot more to enjoy. Expectation high. Armored Trooper VOTOMS gets an A+. Don't let this great title pass you by.