Following the excellent release of the original Armored Trooper VOTOMS series, the next chunk of the story comes in the form of a collection of OVAs. Like the TV series though, this is still an amazingly good mecha anime and very much essential viewing.
This is because unlike other OVAs in anime, these are directly connected to the main narrative and aren’t just standalone spin-offs.
While the TV series sets up some of Chirico Cuvie’s mysterious backstory, the OVAs flesh them out further and are more importantly chronologically tied to events in the series.
The first two main OVAs are The Last Red Shoulder and the Roots of Ambition. The latter occurs before the start of the series and deals with Chirico’s induction into the fearsome Red Shoulder armored trooper battalion.
It’s here we meet Gregor, Byman and Musa, initially as enemies but they soon realize that Chirico is not your regular armored trooper pilot and quickly become allies.
The Last Red Shoulder occurs at the end of the Uodo arc and sees the erstwhile group of former Red Shoulder pilots take on Yoran Pailsen, the former head of the Red Shoulder battalion.
The interesting thing here is that The Last Red Shoulder was made before the Roots of Ambition, so you see Chirico’s friendship with Gregor, Byman and Musa in reverse.
Following that, you have the Big Battle OVA right at the end of the series and is somewhat standalone but acts as a nice coda to the events of the TV series.
The real highlight here is the addition of the Shining Heresy OVA. This was a five-part series set around thirty years after the events of the TV series and deals with the mysterious Martial religion.
This was a really nice mid-90’s OVA, so the animation quality is rather good and the combat sequences are pretty amazing. It also introduces a new type of Perfect Soldier in the form of the cybernetically enhanced Tytania Montewells, who also has her own tragic backstory.
It also featured amazingly chunky mecha design for the new armored troopers by Yutaka Izubuchi and a wonderfully pimped out version of the Scopedog called the Burglary Dog.
The first OVA collection for ‘Armored Trooper VOTOMS’ contains the amazing ‘Shining Heresy’ series.
Credit: Maiden Japan, Sunrise
It’s this latter design that had an influence on games such as Armored Core, due to the usage of various hard-points for weapons and a similar load-out for the mecha you played with. Specifically, that of the shoulder mounted missile launchers and foldable shoulder cannon.
The Shining Heresy is also a critically important addition to the later VOTOMS narrative and its inclusion here is something very special indeed.
Finally, we end up with one of the more modern VOTOMS OVAs in the form of the Pailsen Files. Using surprisingly good CG for the mecha combat and a very memorable opening beach assault, it’s also set at an earlier point in the timeline.
It helps to explain how Yoran Pailsen ends up the way he does in The Last Red Shoulder and also gives more context to Chirico’s past and again what makes him so special.
As these various OVAs are directly tied to the events from the TV series, you really need to watch that in its entirety first. However, after that, you can get stuck in with these OVAs and they are all excellent throughout.
Like the TV series release, this first OVA collection is on Blu-ray but is again standard definition.
The picture quality is entirely fine though and is taken from the remastered Japanese DVDs released a while back.
The translation is also very well done, especially for the notoriously complex Shining Heresy.
As the set’s title suggests, this is just the first collection of VOTOMS OVAs and there will be hopefully another set to follow. My personal hope is that Armor Hunter Mellowlink will be included in a future release at some point.
Overall, this is a very nice collection of rare and previously inaccessible VOTOMS OVAs that all play a crucial part in the narrative of the series. Having these included here then is something rather special and noteworthy. Obviously, you need to watch the prior TV series to appreciate what these OVAs set out to do but even with that in mind, these are all classic and very influential mecha anime that anyone that appreciates the genre should definitely watch.
Armored Trooper VOTOMS OVA Collection 1 is released by Maiden Japan on May 14 and can be purchased from the Sentai Filmworks store for $25.99.
Disclosure: Maiden Japan sent me this Blu-ray set for the purposes of this review.
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