Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files Episode 1 (River Crossing Operation)

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You Guys Think So?  Really?!

I’ll admit right now I haven’t seen the original Votoms series, but intend to now.  For this reason my summary might seem a little confused as this is a spin-off that appears to require some knowledge of the original series.  I’ll try to do my best though to give this a good look over though…..

Summary:

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Some Scenes From The Opening Of The Battle of Lowmes

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A Definite “OHHHH SHIT!” Moment

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A Close Call

We begin on Planet Lowmes in a scene that clearly parallels the allied beach landing at Normandy during world war two.  Several hundred Scope Dogs approach a heavily fortified beachhead in landing craft with several bombers overhead.  All hell breaks loose fairly quick as some anti-aircraft fire kicks in and brings down one of the bombers.  To make matters worse for the scope dogs, the bombers payload is involuntarily discharged on top of them, taking out a good portion of this first wave.  In one of the landers, Chirico Cuvie is getting briefed by his squad commander to follow his lead, and with that the hatch opens and the first set of scope dogs get’s nailed right off the bat (see where I’m going with this Normandy thing).  The scope dogs scramble towards the shore and use retracting grappling hooks that they attack to several of the fallen missiles to make the trip faster.  Soon though they find themselves too packed in as the second wave approaches from behind. 

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Squad Two Deploys

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PWNED!

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Uh….Uh Oh……

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Windshield Wipers For Mecha

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Not Exactly Rolling Out The Red Carpet

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This Can’t End Well

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Chirico’s Monologue Of How He’s Screwed Royally

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This Part Right Here Pretty Much Seals How They Are Doomed.  Nothing Like Having A Missile Come Down Right On A Pile Of Battered Scope Dogs To Illustrate Just How Much Of An Upper Hand The Enemy Has

The squad commander orders the reinforcements held back, but its’ too late and they deploy.  This screws up the mission timing a fair bit.  The second wave moves out under water and passes the first one, only to find that the beach is still a hotzone as well as being mined.  They try to roll out a metallic carpet to ride up the side of the embankment, but the first mech up gets mowed down right into the next one.  It’s a shitstorm…….

Back at the first wave a mech goes down a Chirico (I think.  You can’t see anybody through these masks) is forced to argue with his squad commander to be allowed to get him to safety (this scene is rather confusing and after watching it six times, I think a voice came in over the speaker from central command forcing the commander to allow the rescue of this unit).  Chirico recalls as he looks up at the beachhead about the nightmare where he had to travel a short distance, but was forbidden from doing just that.  He wishes he can free himself from his past.

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The Series True Focus Get’s Under Way

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Don’t Piss Off The Judge If Your Ever In Court People

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Man Does Pailsen Ever Look Like Aiguelle Delaz From Gundam 0083

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Chirico Was Among The Red Shoulder

Things slow down now as a military tribunal is underway somewhere.  A man named Yoran Pailsen is on trial for without authorization, created a squad called the Red Shoulder, which the prosecutor uses the word brutal to describe.  He asks Pailsen several questions about the budget for the facility where this squad was trained, but Pailsen remains silent.  The judge is about to find him in contempt of court as he continues to refuse to answer any of the questions being asked of him.  The prosecutor tries to call an end to the days proceedings, sighting the length of the session going over the allotted time, but the judge keeps the questioning going.  The prosecutor then shows images of the aftermath of a Red Shoulder massacre, where they killed without discretion (and even amongst themselves) in an uprising that the prosecutor claims was organized by Pailsen to cover up any evidence to be used in this trial. 

The interesting thing though is that 800 bodies were found at the site of the uprising, and the other half of the Red Shoulder squadron is unaccounted for.  An explosion occured later that year, which was said to have killed the last half of the Red Shoulder Squadron, but none of thes 1700 or so bodies was ever identified.  Furthermore, the prosecutor claims Red Shoulder was present at a victory ceremony for a battle later that year and that, while they are still working on the identification of it’s members, he believes the Red Shoulder was never disbanded at all.  The prosecutor then accuses Pailsen of in fact massacring 1700 unknowns to creat a body count equal to the Red Shoulder Squadrons number in order to cover up their disappearance.  Pailsen again refuses to answer the charge and is found in contempt of court by the judge.  At this moment, a man sitting in the audience by the name of Wokkam, who was early identified as a member of the armies intelligence branch smirks and walks out of the courtroom.

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Evil Aryan Male Character From Any World War II Movie

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Anybody Who Thinks That Only Kyoto Animation Series Have Pointless Frames Of Ridiculously Detailed Animation Need To Look At Sunrise’s Offering Here Of The Floating Bubble Fizzle Wine Glass Shot.  Normally I Don’t Bring This Stuff Up, But Every So Often I Like To Point Out This Kind Of Stuff To Keep People Aware Of The Work That Other Studios Do In The Field Of Animation

In his room a subordinate asks Wokkam (who he refers to as excellency) how the trial is going, and Wokkam smirks, saying it’s proceeding at Pailsen’s pace.  Wokkam asks how the operation is going (the one we just saw earlier) and we learn that the military brass wants it to fail because it was one that Wokkam proposed (he seem unpopular and I can see why given his demeanor).

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Nothing Like A Good Storm Of Purple Lightning To Make A Bad Situation Seem Worse

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What’s Amazing Is That They Somehow End Up Winning This Battle.  There Sacrifice is Likely To Go Unrecognized Though

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Purple Fire!  Kind Of Reminds Me Of Hunting Those Poes From Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time.  I Recall A Lot Of Purple Fire In That Game

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Ahhhhhhhh Heroism, Is There Any Finer Virtue Of Man

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Stupid Move

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ARG So Close There Buddy

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What Is This A Western Flick Now

Back at the battle, the squad commander and Chirico are the only survivors. A bolt of lightning strikes one of the bomb/grappling points setting the water ablaze in an oil fire.   Chirico helps the squad commander to land and the commander says they have the devils luck.  However, he accidentally lays his mech hand down on a mine that blows them both across the beach.  Chirico survives, but the commander dies of injuries, saying it looks like Chirico is the only one with the devils luck. 

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An Unexpected Victory

A rescue squadron picks up Chirico as the only survivor and back at Wokkam’s room, he is awoken by his subodinate to find out that the battle turns out to have been won by the main force sent in after Chirico’s squad.  What’s more, Wokkam is now considered a hero among the military and if the Hundred Year War comes to an end under the current circumstances, any position will be available to him.  Still, Wokkam wants to know if there are any survivors among the 1,400, including his “mouse”.  The subordinate confirms 3 survivors who will be dealt with shortly, but Wokkam insists on knowning.  It turns out Chirico IS among the survivors as we already know.  Wokkam says ominously that he was worth testing.

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The Aftermath Of Palisen’s Meltdown

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Wokkam Taunts Palisen As He Puts Him Under His “Protection”

Back at the now resumed trial Wokkam suddenly barges in asking for the proceedings to be put on hold indefinitely or cancelled altogether, in his opinion as a member of intelligence.  He presents the judge with a coded message he says should prove Pailsen’s guilt, but the judge claims has nothing to do with the case at hand.   Still Pailsen recommends he be put under his departments care.  In the spectator box the brass discusses how Wokkam is taking action for the post war and trying to discredit the military and seal his position (motivation for and by power).  They say they cannot let Wokkam have Pailsen, but suddenly, Pailsen has a breakdown as he tries to speak but can’t do anything but screech in a rage.  He is removed from the courtroom and gives Wokkam a piercing glare on the way out, appearing to be directing his rage directly at him.  The prosecutor also asks Wokkam about his motives possibly being as a result of Pailsen being responsible for the fall and suicide of his father, but Wokkam says that that has nothing to do with this.  The prosecutor says to do what he will, for the benefit of the defendant and not his torture and Wokkam replies ominously that the two might be one and the same.

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The Next Stage

Elsewhere in a military hospital, Chirico thinks that his current nightmare will now shift to it’s next location, Planet Galeade, on the behest of that observer controlling his fate.  The one that will never allow him to be alone.

Thoughts: Even though there’s a lot of great action in this opening episode, the meat is in the conspiracy surrounding Pailsen and this Red Shoulder Squadron that is unveiled in his trial.  The opening sequence deserves a quick mention first though.  It should be pretty obvious to anyone who knows their World War II history that the Battle of Lowmes was a mechanized version of the Battle of Normandy.  It’s done in a very neat way though, and the whole scene is very well choreagraphed to make for one exciting sequence, even if it has been experienced by many viewers who have ever played a World War II theme FPS.  If your grandfather or a family member was in WWII though, ask him about Normandy as it was a pretty major historical event.

Back to the trial part of the episodem by now it seems almost evident that Wokkam is the true mastermind behind everything that happened in this episode, which is quite a feat.  This Wokkam reminds me both in look and demeanor of an SS officer (they seemed to be trying to make him look as Aryan as possible), and he’s a very convincing figure of a man that everyone would just love to detest.  I think I’m right in suggesting that Red Shoulder disappeared into the military as a result of a cover up, and that Wokkam is managing to pin the blame on Pailsen in order to secure his position in the coming resolution to this conflict.  He even seems aware of what happened to the Red Shoulder, and some of them appear to have been present during the Lowmes battle.  Chirico was obviously one of them as we see him in the snapshots presented at the trial, and he was there at the Lowmes conflict. 

It’s those common soldiers that fight these conflicts for the benefit of people like him (like the noble Squad Commander we saw give the fight his all) that are the true victims though, and not Pailsen.  Though it seems clear that nobody will ever care what is happening to Chirico and his comrades in all this.  Such is the division between officers and the enlisted though that makes the military such a stratified establisment.

I have to talk a bit about the presentation here too.  The CG is wonderful, and the character designs nostalgic, as they are drawn in the same way as the classic 80’s Votoms TV series were.  In a time where shows are trying to make characters as big eyed and appealing as possible, the gritty old school style of Palisen Files presentation is a welcome treat.  Man I’m glad Shinsen decide to sub this, and I thank them again for always picking up the series that would have slid through the cracks otherwise.  I also hear the BGM track is the same as the one used in the original series as well, and I really liked it’s military feel.  The overture to the opening sequence as Chirico’s unit approaches the beach head worked especially well into drawing me in to the military setting of the Votoms universe for the first time.  

If I have one complaint it’s that the circumstances of the Squad Leaders death seemed kind of forced.  I mean first lightning happens to hit a bomb and set the beach on fire, and then he makes it, but just happens to lay his arm down on a mine and blow himself up.  It doesn’t feel real at all, after all the grittiness of the previous sequence. 

Anyway, I look forward to the next episode and seeing what happens to poor Chirico, and hope to god that somebody manages to stop that bastard Wokkam from getting his way.

Rating: Nine And A Half Out Of Ten

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11 Responses to “Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files Episode 1 (River Crossing Operation)”


  1. 1 animanachronism January 3, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Hmm, this looks pretty interesting, though I’m a little doubtful about the mechanical design. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    My Grandfather (on my father’s side) was at Normandy, on one of the easier beaches (i.e. not like Saving Private Ryan). Apparently some of the soldiers had bicycles to get up the beach quicker, and they just cycled straight of the landing craft and through the surf.

    I suppose that wouldn’t work with large, armoured suits, though.

  2. 2 Kaioshin Sama January 3, 2008 at 1:14 am

    I’m currently rather shocked because despite the fact I theorized that nobody would watch this OVA, the first episode currently has a larger swarm then any other file on the front page of Animesuki. Very very pleasantly surprised at the turnout to give this series a chance despite it being arguably old fashioned.

  3. 3 animanachronism January 3, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I do wonder whether it’s Shinsen’s reputation. They seem to be one of the fansub groups who have a kind of ‘fanbase’, because of quality. So maybe people actually think ‘If Shinsen subbed it, it must be worth watching.’

  4. 4 anonymousman January 3, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Well, this is going to change the amount of people watching (and liking) the Votoms series. I wonder how this’ll turn out. Will it become really popular like other shows (naruto… bleach… gundam seed!!??). I hope not -_-.

  5. 5 David January 5, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for blogging it – good analysis.

    I had mixed feelings about it. I like the Votoms-style mech designs, but the river assault itself just didn’t work for me – despite the attempt to be gritty, it actually managed to feel less realistic than some of the Gundam series (e.g., one year war stuff). No sense of modern tactics at all – the US Marines would laugh at this sort of assault. No vertical envelopment, no real artillery or missile prep, everyone bunched together…

    There’s a basic rule of science fiction: if you’re just going to tell a “historical” story with sci-fi trappings, don’t bother.

    This felt like they just changed a World War II D-Day battle by having everyone in giant robots.

    Then the court room scene just sucked the remaining energy out of it.

    Also, it’s a shame they didn’t provide much context for the story…

  6. 6 Kaioshin Sama January 5, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I get the sense that we are supposed to have watched the TV Series and most of the other OVA’s up until now for the story context.

  7. 7 Onizuka-GTO February 2, 2008 at 2:56 am

    kinda agree with David, loved the battle, but something just stand out, like those bomber things, it would of been so much easier if they just launched those pike things like artillery. And the landing craft had no weapons to cover the landings, and the supporting ships didn’t even give any bombardment support….

    love the way the attacks, the grittiness, but….you would think after a 100yrs of inter-galactic war, they would of made more leaps in military tactics….

  8. 8 Kaioshin Sama February 2, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Yeah, you’d think they’d drop them in over the enemy lines or something. Incidentally I just got the chance to watch the OVA Roots of Ambition, and where it ends is the part you see in the courtroom showing Pailsen at the victory rally for Sunsa with the Red Shoulders and Chirico among them. That the entire scene was recreated verbatim in modern art 20 years later for Pailsen Files shows some serious attention to detail and respect for the classic and it’s continuity.

    Of course it’s the exact same director and most of the original team doing this series, but still, they’re working hard to make this a treat for the fans who might be picky about out of place or forgotten Canon.

    Also of note is that Shinsen released Episode 03 today, meaning I’ve got some catching up to do.

  9. 9 Dorne June 28, 2008 at 3:15 am

    Hope you’ve been keeping update, because Episode 07 was subbed by Shinsen already.

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  1. 1 Armour Hunter Mellowlink « The Animanachronism Trackback on June 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm

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