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Armored Trooper VOTOMS: The Last Red Shoulder

 

Review by Chris Guanche

September 1, 2007

 

Summary

 

As the Hundred Years War rages between the Gilgamesh Confederation and the Balarant Union, a Melkian commander addresses four members of the elite Red Shoulder Battalion who have been selected for a secret mission. Gregor Galosh objects to a secret mission when peace seems imminent, and Baiman Haggard points out that he, Gregor, Muza Merime and Chirico Cuvie seem to have all been selected because they had problems with superior officers. The officer reminds them that they're Red Shoulders and must always follow orders. Gregor, Baiman and Muza walk away with their duffel bags, but Chirico asks who gave the order. The officer tells Chirico he'd better leave if he doesn't want to face a firing squad. Months later, the war has ended, and Chirico walks through the Melkian wasteland to Bakara City. In a warehouse, Muza brings in a beaten up Scopedog, and Baiman wonders if it will work. Muza tells Baiman he should try it out, and Baiman says he doesn't want to settle his problems the way Muza did in the Battling arena. Gregor tells Baiman to can it and asks Muza to not take everything so seriously. Gregor says that he had trouble tracking them down, so he doesn't want any in-fighting. Chirico arrives and says he'll test the Scopedog. He takes the Scopedog outside, but it has trouble braking and crashes into a wall. Gregor comments that they'll have to take that one apart too. Muza doesn't think they'll be able to get four good units out of their scrap heap, and Gregor tells him he can quit if he wants. The four begin to dismantle the battered Scopedogs to reassemble them into custom units. Baiman tells Chirico that Gregor was shot multiple times because of that mission, and Muza returned home to find his family dead. Chirico thinks about the strange final mission he had attacking allied forces on the asteroid Lido, as well as his first encounter with Fyana. After reassembling the units, they examine the four completed Scopedog Turbo Customs. Muza is worried about several unreliable parts, but Gregor thinks they'll be ok since the machines are so finely tuned. Baiman comments that the Red Shoulders were disbanded after the war, so they're probably the only ones left. Chirico and the others load the Scopedogs onto a trailer and head out of the city. As Gregor drives, he can't wait until they encounter Yoran Pailsen, founder of the Red Shoulder Battalion. Chirico thinks that Pailsen must have some tie to the Secret Society, which is why he accepted Gregor's offer.

 

Elsewhere, Perfect Soldier Proto-Two wakes up in a garden with Fyana, who introduces herself as Proto-One. She tells him that he's just been born and that his name is Ypsilon. She then takes Ypsilon by the hand and offers to show him the world. Ypsilon is suddenly frightened when a bird flies out from the brush, but Fyana manages to calm him down. She shows him a flower and laughs when he gets dirt on his nose. Nearby, Pailsen quietly watches. Elsewhere, as the trailer travels through the desert, Muza examines satellite photos of the Belaida Plains, where Pailsen is supposed to be. Gregor says the area was supposedly so heavily bombed that it'll be radioactive for a century, but Baiman doesn't believe that. He wonders why Pailsen would retire to such a place, or why he retired at all after the war ended, since he could have advanced more in the ranks. Chirico says Pailsen wouldn't be interested in that and asks them if they've considered why Pailsen tried to get rid of them. Chirico thinks it's because they didn't fit the Red Shoulder profile and were "defective" by Pailsen's standards. He also doesn't think that Pailsen would let go of the unit he worked so hard to create just because the war ended. If Pailsen is where the intelligence indicates, Chirico believes all the surviving Red Shoulders are there too. Muza says that four fifths of the Red Shoulders were reported KIA (Killed in Action), so Gregor estimates that there's probably 34-35 left. Baiman asks Muza if he's scared of the numbers they'll have to face, and Muza answers that he's vowed to kill Pailsen and won't take unnecessary risks. As they begin to argue again, Gregor diffuses the situation. Chirico performs an infrared examination of the Belaida Plains and finds an area with high heat absorption, which means that there's vegetation. At Pailsen's compound, Fyana takes Ypsilon to a river and shows him a fish. Serge Borough asks Secret Society leader Albert Killy if it's a good idea to have Ypsilon spend so much time with Fyana, and twin scientists Arron and Gurran Schmitel assure him that the attack program is ingrained in Ypsilon's brain. They say Ypsilon needs to learn as a human being, and Borough is concerned because Fyana is imperfect and has many emotional reactions, but the twins insist that Ypsilon is a true Perfect Soldier. When a bug bites Ypsilon, he swats it and beats it down into the ground. Fyana tells him that it's dead and will never fly away. Enraged, Borough and the twins come to take Ypsilon away. Ypsilon attacks the twins when they try to shoot him with a tranquilizer gun, and he knocks down Borough. Fyana tells him to stop, and when he does, the twins shoot him. Borough forbids Fyana from coming near Ypsilon, but Pailsen arrives and tells him not to make hasty decisions.

 

Fyana wants to speak with Pailsen, so he takes her to his office. She asks him if what they're doing to Ypsilon is right. She agrees with his idea to nurture feelings into the PS, which is born as a pure weapon, but she thinks Ypsilon would probably be happier as a weapon. That way, at least, he won't have the constant doubt she does. Pailsen asks Fyana if she feels that way because she met Chirico before she was "born," and he tells her she shouldn't lie to herself because she loves Chirico. Pailsen says that he wants to test if a human can become more than human even though it has emotions. Although not exactly the same, the idea behind the Red Shoulders was to create similar people through training. Pailsen says he didn't intend to create the perfect soldier through the Red Shoulders, and he ended up with Chirico. He says that he hated Chirico because despite his many strengths, he had many flaws, as did three others. He admits that he planned to have them killed before the war ended, but despite his planning, Chirico survived. Pailsen says that if Ypsilon fights out of decision rather than instinct, he'll be superior to Chirico. Fyana asks why he wants that, and Pailsen answers that he wants Ypsilon and Chirico to fight. At night, Chirico and the others sit down for dinner around a campfire. Baiman asks Muza what he's brooding about, and Muza says he's going to quit because he can't stand to fight alongside someone who can't understand the pain of others. Gregor pleads with Muza because their operation will be impossible with only three people. Baiman remarks that Muza has some attitude for blaming his cowardice on someone else, and Muza punches him. Muza keeps punching him until Gregor grabs him. He asks Baiman why he doesn't fight back, and Chirico tosses a flaming stick onto Baiman's right hand, which burns away the glove and reveals a cybernetic hand. Muza asks Baiman if he can pilot with that hand, and Baiman says it's good enough to strangle Pailsen with. The next day, the trailer arrives outside of Pailsen's compound, and Gregor decides to wait until nightfall for the advantage. Two Blood Sucker ATs emerge from the compound's entrance, so Baiman fires missiles to smoke them out. Chirico and the others then slide down the side of the blast crater as they fire at the Blood Suckers.

 

The Scopedogs blast into the base and come under attack from more Blood Suckers. Pailsen tells Borough the attackers might've formerly served under him, so Borough concludes that it's Chirico. Killy says that Chirico supposedly died at Woodo, and Borough points out that Chirico is just as deadly as a PS. After barely escaping a bridge attack, Baiman stays behind to take care of the Blood Suckers while the others proceed. Fyana pleads with Ypsilon not to fight and tells him he has to learn to love all living things. He says he doesn't understand and launches in a fallen Red Shoulder's Blood Sucker. Ypsilon attacks Muza and damages his Scopedog, and his movement causes Chirico to assume that Fyana is the pilot. Muza attempts to attack again, but Ypsilon kills him. Chirico and Gregor split up and use the smoke from a missile explosion to lose Ypsilon. Pailsen addresses Chirico over the loudspeaker and tells him he can't beat the Perfect Soldier. He asks Chirico if he really thinks he can kill him, and Chirico says he'll regret it forever if he doesn't try. He's then blindsided by Ypsilon, who knocks him around and repeatedly arm punches the torso. Gregor arrives and grabs Ypsilon from behind so that Chirico can escape. Ypsilon breaks free and tosses Gregor against a wall, and he kills Gregor by repeatedly punching the cockpit. Chirico tries to contact the Blood Sucker under the assumption that Fyana is piloting, and he escapes into a room lined with tanks. Ypsilon kicks the Scopedog down to a lower level and knocks Chirico out of the cockpit. Pailsen enters the room and orders Ypsilon to finish Chirico with his bare hands. Fyana asks Pailsen to stop, and he says that Chirico is too dangerous. Fyana tells Ypsilon that she'll show him what love is and kisses him. Chirico wakes up, and Pailsen pulls out a gun to kill Chirico. Just then, Baiman rushes in with his heavily damaged Scopedog and shoots Pailsen to death. Fyana runs away and takes Ypsilon with her. The Scopedog falls over, and Baiman dies in Chirico's arms, happy that he killed Pailsen. Fyana is evacuated on a helicopter, and Chirico uses an elevator to escape the base before it explodes. Chirico drives away in the trailer, but it soon runs out of gas, forcing him to walk through the wasteland on foot. In the Kummen jungle region, a crying Coconna tells Vanilla Vartla and Bouleuse Gotho that she had a dream about Chirico being alone. Vanilla and Gotho tell her that if they wait, they're sure Chirico will be drawn to Kummen.

 

Commentary

 

Released in 1985, this OVA tells a critical part of the story between the TV show's Woodo and Kummen arcs. Although the TV series covered the Red Shoulders in some detail, we didn't get to see much of Chirico's time there or the people involved, and we get both of those here. Chirico and the other three were singled out for death by Pailsen because they didn't fit his standards for the Red Shoulders. This explains Chirico's transfer to a new unit in episode 1 of the TV series and the attempt to kill him. The TV series gives the impression that they tried to kill him at Lido because he asked too many questions, but here we see that it was deliberately planned in advance by Pailsen. His plan to kill them had an effect on all of them, so now they want their revenge. We see that Pailsen was heavily involved in the Perfect Soldier project, and this OVA gives us retro introductions to Ypsilon and the Schmitel twins. It's interesting to see Ypsilon's first innocent moments, and how quickly he's turned into a weapon. Fyana became devoted to Chirico because he was the first person she saw, and here it's the same with Ypsilon and her. This explains his obsession over her in the TV series. Of course, Chirico doesn't see Ypsilon's face, so that doesn't affect the continuity of the TV series. As a result of this battle, Chirico really is the last Red Shoulder now. And though Pailsen is dead, he's prominently featured in the OVAs Roots of Ambition and the namesake Pailsen Files. It's interesting to see Chirico in a story that doesn't involve Coconna, Gotho and Vanilla, although they do have a very brief cameo at the end in Kummen. For the backstory and character development, this is an essential part of the VOTOMS viewing experience.
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Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

5 out of 5 stars
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