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Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Pailsen Files

 

Review by Chris Guanche

September 30, 2010

 

Summary

 

Red Shoulder Battalion commander Yoran Pailsen walks across a large open space at a military base as customized Red Shoulder Scopedogs speed past him. The Scopedogs line up in formation flanking Pailsen and perform arm punches as a salute. Several trucks pull up in front of Pailsen, and a Melkian officer presents an arrest warrant for Pailsen. The Scopedogs all aim their rifles at the officer, but Pailsen waves them off with his hand. On planet Lowmes, Gilgamesh forces travel across the Taibas River in amphibious AT carriers. A squad commander tells Chirico Cuvie to stay in his sight or be killed. Several stake bombers fly overhead and begin to drop massive stakes into the water near the shore. The AT carriers fire grappling lines onto the stakes, which the Scopedogs use to propel themselves across the water as they come under fire from the Balarant. Several Diving Beetles reach the shore and activate a portable track to allow the Scopedogs to roll up to the hill's crest. Many Scopedogs are destroyed trying to reach the shore. On planet Melkia, the military's supreme court begins a court-martial of Pailsen. The prosecutor notes that all records at the Red Shoulder base have been destroyed, and Pailsen's crimes have been brought to light. The prosecutor asks Pailsen about his expenses, but Pailsen refuses to answer, even when compelled to by the judge. On Lowmes, the surface of the water catches on fire, and a helicopter discovers Chirico as the only survivor on shore. The prosecutor is interrupted by the arrival of Intelligence Undersecretary Fedok Wockam, who objects to the trial. Wockam submits papers to the judge, which he explains are coded writings from Pailsen. The prosecutor wants the information be made public, but the judge refuses because the information is unrelated to the Red Shoulder uprising. The judge asks Wockam what he wants, and Wockam says he wants the trial stopped and Pailsen handed over to his department for re-interrogation. General Niharko doesn't want Wockam to get Pailsen, and Pailsen begins screaming and stumbling like a madman. Several officers restrain him, and Wockam says Pailsen needs medical treatment for his breakdown. The trial ends, and Wockam meets with his subordinate, Kotta Ruske. Pailsen is brought out in a wheelchair, and when Wockam whispers that he wants to talk about Chirico, Pailsen begins to scream again. Elsewhere, an injured Chirico is tossed off a transport ship that has landed on planet Galeade. Several soldiers call for a stretcher and ask AT pilot Gary Godan to help. Godan responds by picking Chirico up and roughly tossing him onto the stretcher. One of the medics then tells Godan to stick with Chirico and watch over him. The troops are loaded onto an APC, and Godan roughly gives Chirico water. He then gives up when AT pilot Nol Berkoff takes over. The next day, the convoy arrives at the M7 military base, and Chirico is taken to the infirmary.

 

At night, an AT pilot named Glenborash Droka Zaki tries to stab Chirico, but Chirico is able to move enough to take the stab in his shoulder. Zaki tries to stab Chirico again, but Berkoff intervenes and knocks him away. Zaki is taken to an interrogation room and beaten by an officer named Wapp. Zaki insists that he doesn't know Chirico, but had a feeling he'd die because of Chirico and thus decided to kill him. Wapp knocks Zaki over and starts kicking him. Later, Zaki runs into Berkoff, who tells Zaki not to blame him for what happened. He then mentions Chirico, and Zaki yells at him to never mention that name. Later, Chirico, Zaki, Berkoff and Godan are placed in a squad together under Berkoff's command and fly to the X-2 frontline base. After arriving, the squad meets with their final member, a fat man named Dare Kochak who immediately complains about being assigned to the squad. The squad is then summoned to a conference room for a briefing about their first mission. The mission involves moving a convoy through the narrow Manid Gorge, which is defended by a Balarant base. The Berkoff squad is air dropped at night to assault the base and neutralize it. The squad parachutes out of a plane in their Scopedogs, and Berkoff orders them to split up and approach from different directions. Kochak crashes into the ground and is nearly dragged over the edge of the cliff by his parachute. He causes some rocks to fall, and the noise puts the Balarant base on alert. Berkoff glides over the base and fires rockets at it, while Chirico and the others glide onto the base's main platform. Several Chabbys emerge from the base, but Berkoff shoots them as he lands. Chirico, Zaki and Godan mow the rest down, and Kochak is too scared to finish off the fallen ATs. Chirico rushes into the base and takes out three more Chabbys before climbing into an elevator. Berkoff orders everyone to guard the main gate and not let anyone pass since Chirico went inside. Chirico speeds around to the bottom of the base, destroying Chabbys as he encounters them. Two Chabbys speed past Kochak and go in after Chirico, but he destroys them. With the enemies taken out, everyone regroups outside the base on the main platform. Godan yells at Kochak for accidentally shooting at him and damaging his Scopedog. The convoy begins driving through the gorge, and Chirico notices Zaki staring at him. Kochak hears a vibration and realizes that there's a Chabby inside the base. Chirico and Zaki head into the base's elevator while Berkoff and Godan search from the outside. Zaki begins to hyperventilate and thinks about Chirico. After exiting the elevator, Zaki starts shooting at Chirico. Chirico dodges his attack and knocks him over. He holds Zaki at gunpoint, and Zaki explains he feels strange whenever he's around Chirico.

 

A massive cannon begins to descend, and the squad realizes the Chabby at its controls is setting off a cave in. Everyone speeds down to the bottom of the base, and Zaki jumps onto the cannon. The cannon moves into position to fire, and Zaki sticks his rifle between two gears to stop the cannon's movement. The gears grind through the rifle, and Chirico swings over and starts shooting at the control both. Zaki tosses a grenade over to Chirico, and Chirico uses it to destroy the Chabby. The cannon continues to move, and Chirico isn't able to stop it. The cannon fires several rounds and triggers a cave in on top of the Gilgamesh convoy. Balarant fighter jets fly overhead and begin bombarding the gorge. The Berkoff squad manages to escape, but the cave in leaves 1,500 Gilgamesh soldiers dead or missing. On planet Kuzsuk, Wockam and Ruske visit Pailsen at a hospital run by the Department of Intelligence. Wockam tells Pailsen that he saved him from being executed by the military. Wockam recites Pailsen's long service record and the creation of the Red Shoulders. Wockam mentions that Chirico is under surveillance on Galeade. He asks what Chirico is, but Pailsen deflects and says intelligence officers should be able to figure it out. Wockam has Dr. Menken hook Pailsen up to a device to aid in the interrogation. He asks again what Chirico is, and Pailsen explains that Chirico is an abnormal survivor who can't be killed. He says research on Melkia led him to the rare gene, which appears with a probability of one in tens of billions, or maybe trillions. He adds that Chirico is the only confirmed abnormal survivor in the entire Astragius Galaxy, and it took him seven years until he found young Chirico on planet Sunsa. Pailsen burned Chirico, but years later found that Chirico survived and bore no scars from the incident. Pailsen explains that Chirico rejected everything after Pailsen revealed things to him. Pailsen then shot Chirico through the heart, but he still survived. Pailsen's heart flatlines, and Wockam orders Menken to revive him. Later, Wockam says he thinks Pailsen isn't finished with his plans and asks what he's scheming. Wockam then pulls out a damaged disk, which Pailsen dismisses as just personal notes. Wockam then says he's running an experiment to check out other potential abnormal survivors.

 

The Berkoff squad returns to the X-2 base and is later deployed again in another aircraft. The plane's engines lose power, and pilots Greyson and Shokit perform a crash landing on a barren field in the Castio Highlands. The plane immediately comes under sniper fire, and man radios them and says he's a representative of the Gilgamesh Purification Committee. Chirico asks if they caused the crash, and the man asks them to hand over Grim Reaper Sirasko. The man says that Sirasko has cheated death by letting his comrades die around him, and he now goes by the name Gary Godan. The man states that if they don't hand Godan over, they'll be executed as well. Godan pulls out a gun and dares everyone to send him out, if they can. Zaki says everything would be taken care of if Godan left, but Godan refuses. More sniper fire hits the plane, and the man on the radio announces that the entire squad will be targeted alongside Godan. Kochak doesn't want to help Godan, and Zaki says Godan might once again find a way to be the only survivor. Chirico asks Greyson what he needs to activate the AT launch system, and Greyson says they'd have to lift the plane. Chirico asks Greyson to help him look at the electronics, and they crawl under the deck to check them out. Greyson opens a panel and is surprised to see it's been sabotaged, because it was fine before takeoff. Shokit then pulls a gun on them and reveals he's part of the committee. Godan knocks the gun out of his hand and accidentally breaks his neck during a bombardment. They drag Shokit's body back to the deck, and Kochak grabs a gun and tells Godan to leave. Everyone ignores Kochak, and Zaki grabs the gun from him before he can fire. The committee man calls Greyson and demands that they send out Shokit. Chirico tells Greyson to start the engine, and Godan brings Shokit's body to the cockpit to rig it so that Greyson can escape with them. The engines activate, but the plane doesn't move. Chirico dodges sniper fire and runs back to the launch deck. The plane finally starts moving and slides down a hill before taking off. The launch deck opens, allowing Chirico and the others to launch in their Scopedogs. Godan jumps off with Greyson, and the plane explodes after crashing into a hill. The squad dashes over to the point of fire and begins firing rockets. Berkoff sends Kochak around the side to confirm survivors, and Kochak finds an empty trench. Everyone begins to follow the trench and finds a small bunker with several committee members. Godan arrives and kills them all. On Kuzsuk, Wockam meets with Pailsen again and tells him that Chirico and his squad are facing the extreme cold of Galeade's northern territory. He wonders if they could survive a massive cold air mass that has been formed as the result of environmental damage from the war. These cold air masses create temperatures of -185 degrees that will freeze anything. The Berkoff squad marches through heavy snow, and Kochak tells everyone their Scopedogs will be fine until they hit -100. They finally arrive at the remote base, which is completely empty.

 

After outfitting their Scopedogs for the cold, the squad leaves the base the next morning. Berkoff breaks off and tells everyone they need to leave immediately instead of going to the frontline stronghold. Kochak says they'll be court-martialed, and Berkoff explains that he saw weather data about a massive downburst heading their way. Balarant forces appear in the distance and open fire on the Berkoff squad. ATs from both sides glide through an ice trench as they shoot at each other. They force the Chabbys to go on the run and finish them off. The sky darkens, and Berkoff decides that they have no choice but to head back to the base and prepare. He asks Kochak if he can come up with a PRL mixture that can survive -200. A large Balarant AT force appears on the horizon, and the squad falls back to the base. Godan doesn't think they can trust Kochak, but Berkoff points out that Kochak was involved in PRL research. The Balarant forces attack the base and begin to destroy its automated defenses. The Berkoff squad then exits the base and begins engaging the Balarant forces. The squad lures the Balarant forces behind them, and the downburst freezes all the Chabbys. The extreme temperature also freezes the exterior of the Scopedogs, but Kochak's PRL mixture keeps them warm on the inside. The Chabbys begin to explode, and Wockam monitors the situation from a satellite. Ruske tells Wockam there's no signs of activity, but the Scopedogs then reactivate. Ruske confirms the survival of the entire squad, and Pailsen tells Wockam that the results are interesting, but nothing more. Later, Wockam returns to Melkia and addresses senior military officials about the current state of the war. He reveals that there are already secret negotiations with the Balarant, so they can wait out for the war's end. He then offers an alternative plan to attack planet Monad. Wockam returns the disk to Pailsen, who warns him against his Monad operation. Pailsen thinks his work was a mistake, but Wockam notes that Pailsen identified four abnormal survivors, and found a way to make Zaki an artificial abnormal survivor. Wockam says that Pailsen must've intended to spend the rest of his life researching it, and Pailsen asks how much he knows. Pailsen tells Wockam that he's wrong because Chirico is the only abnormal survivor, and the others are just close approximates. Wockam says that doesn't matter because he only cares about results. He then mentions that Chirico and the rest of the squad are coming to the asylum. The squad reports for duty, now under the command of the Intelligence Department. Wockam introduces himself to the squad, and Ruske tells them they've been reassigned to the ISS special force that comes with much higher pain. Berkoff asks if they were collected by Wockam from the start, and Wockam answers that he's been observing them. He says they're all very skilled, but the military hasn't noticed that. Berkoff asks if there's something special about them, and Ruske says they'll get their answer after the next operation. They'll get three days of rest before a major operation involving the whole of the Gilgamesh force. Kochak runs past the glass barrier and tells Wockam he wants to be relieved, but Wockam says only after the operation.

 

Three days later, the squad rides a helicopter away from the asylum, and Pailsen watches as it flies away. Niharko gives a speech stating that the recapture of Monad will change the fate of the galaxy. A massive Gilgamesh force gathers in space and approaches Monad. An intelligence officer tells Wockam that the ISS has already moved in, and if they can reach Monad's core, they'll have control of the planet. Gilgamesh ships drop large numbers of AT carriers and Scopedogs onto Monad's fortified surface, where they immediately come under fire from the Balarant. The ISS force flies through a shaft that takes them deep underneath the planet's surface. Niharko's officers are surprised that Wockam had such a powerful team, and one of them wonders how many of their 120 million soldiers will return home. Niharko thinks it's a sacrifice worth making if they can recapture Monad. The Berkoff squad comes under fire in the shaft, but they manage to land and continue moving. They break past a defense line and destroy multiple Fattys. Once the enemies are cleared away, Berkoff announces that they're going to capture to controller for the planet's energy systems. They begin to activate a controller device, but the floor suddenly vanishes beneath them, plunging them into darkness. The squad falls through free space, where they see bright lights and hear strange baby noises. Berkoff panics and begins to scream wildly. The squad is then teleported to another part of the planet, right in the middle of Balarant forces. They immediately come under fire, and a Fatty knocks Kochak onto Godan. Chirico destroys several Fattys, and Berkoff continues to panic and hear baby sounds. He suddenly speeds away near to the edge of the floor and begins firing wildly. The rest of the squad drags him back, and the floor crumbles beneath them, sending them falling into a pit. Godan accuses Berkoff of trying to run away on his own, and Kochak and Zaki wonder what happened to them. Berkoff says something horrifying happened, but Godan doesn't believe it. Berkoff explains that there's rumors about Monad having ancient Quentian technology, and whoever claims it could take control of the galaxy. Kochak thinks they're all going to die, but Zaki says Chirico should be used to this sort of thing as a Red Shoulder. Chirico asks who told him that, and Godan laughs that Chirico is a murderer too. Chirico says he didn't join out of choice, and he's been observed this whole time by Pailsen. He tells the squad what Pailsen told him about abnormal survivors, but Godan doesn't believe it. Chirico asks them if they've wondered why they've survived for so long, or if they've healed faster than others. Godan wonders why they were all paired with Chirico and realizes it must be Wockam. Berkoff then states that since they've made it this far, they must all be abnormal survivors. Kochak laughs and says that Godan just survived by being the Grim Reaper. Godan then fires back that Kochak is just a spy for Wockam, but Kochak insists he didn't sell them out. Godan punches Kochak in the face, and Kochak begins biting his arm.

 

Berkoff tries to calm them down, and Zaki notes that he tried to run away. Godan joins in and says that Berkoff always runs away whenever there's trouble, which makes him a dog like Kochak. Kochak then pulls out a gun, and Zaki knocks him over, but the gun fires and grazes Chirico's cheek. Chirico tells them no matter the reasons, they've all survived up to now. He says he can't believe he's the only abnormal survivor in the universe, even if it is very rare. Zaki tells them he was a new soldier who didn't have any combat experience before meeting them. He asks if he's a survivor too, and Chirico tells him he is. They start to come under fire and hop back into their Scopedogs. They jump out of the pit and start attacking the surrounding Fattys, believing that they won't die. On the surface, the bombardment of the planet continues. Ruske tells Wockam that his victory is assured, even if Chirico and the others die. Kochak is injured and begins to bleed heavily, but he says tightening his belt will stop the bleeding. He then gets back into his Scopedog and begins shooting wildly into the air. Two Fattys attack him from above and destroy his Scopedog. The rest of the squad destroys the Chabbys, and everyone is surprised that Kochak was killed. Berkoff wonders if perhaps Kochak was an exception, but Godan says Pailsen spent his life searching for them. He then points his bazooka at Chirico and demands to know what's going on. Chirico says they have a high survival rate and can manipulate their environment to a certain extent. Godan fires at Chirico and then turns on everyone else. He tells them to show themselves to the enemy, and he'll see if they can survive. Several Fattys land nearby and open fire, heavily damaging Godan's Scopedog. Berkoff starts to tend to Godan's wounds, and Godan says he can give up the Grim Reaper name. He sits on his Scopedog's hand and then dies. Zaki is surprised by his death, and Berkoff explains that he pumped Godan full of painkillers so he could die peacefully. Pailsen stands outside in the rain over Menken's objections. More Fattys continue to attack, and one of them slams into Chirico, who arm punches it in response. The planet then begins to shake several times, and Chirico runs over to a destroyed Fatty to access its computer. Chirico says there's a Balarant order to evacuate, which explains why the enemy has disappeared. Berkoff wonders if the Balarant did something to the core, but Chirico says they're not capable of it. He then suggests they find an escape route. They plow into a battlefield where Balarant soldiers are killing each other to get a place on an escape pod.

 

Berkoff's Scopedog is damaged when a Fatty shoots him up from behind a door. He tells Chirico and Zaki to escape while he defends that spot. Critically injured, he says he's not an abnormal survivor either and that his life of running away is over. Berkoff tries to hold back the Fattys with two rifles, but he's taken down by overwhelming enemy fire. When several Fattys get close to him, he fires his rockets and point blank range, destroying them all in an explosion. Chirico knocks out Zaki and escapes with him in a pod. Just after their launch, the planet explodes, killing 120 million Gilgamesh soldiers. Melkia is put under martial law, and the military conducts a raid on the Intelligence Department to seize Wockam, who is already escaping. Zaki wakes up inside the pod, and Chirico tells him they have to go to sleep to conserve oxygen. Zaki pulls out a gun and says again he feels he has to kill Chirico to survive. Chirico says that Zaki's brain has been conditioned to think that way, and he asks Zaki if he wants to be controlled by someone. Zaki says he doesn't want to and struggles against pulling the trigger. Chirico tries to grab the gun, and Zaki tells him the real abnormal survivor won't die in a place like this. He tells Chirico to find the man who is after him and who did this mental conditioning. He then pushes Chirico away and commits suicide by shooting himself in the gut multiple times. Elsewhere, Menken tells Pailsen it's impressive that Zaki survived all the way to Monad, and in the future they can improve their brainwashing techniques. Wockam arrives at the asylum and is surprised to see Pailsen dressed in full uniform. Pailsen explains that Menken is his subordinate, and he had him infiltrate Wockam's staff. Wockam says that everyone died, and Pailsen tells him that this all happened because of the file he believed in. Wockam insists that he found the survivors on his own and wasn't manipulated. Pailsen tells him that capturing Monad was an impossibility, but Wockam believed he could do it with a few abnormal soldiers. Ruske sees that Pailsen used fake data to influence Wockam's decisions. Pailsen says that Wockam's ambition produced excellent results. Wockam again states that Chirico died, and Pailsen asks if he confirmed that. Wockam orders Ruske to kill Pailsen, and Ruske asks if he can assist Pailsen. Wockam pulls out a gun, but Ruske shoots him instead. He then tells dying Wockam that he thinks his name will fade from history. Chirico wraps up Zaki's body and injects himself with a needle so he can go into deep sleep as the pod drifts through space. Later, the pod lands on a planet, and Chirico buries Zaki before setting out on foot alone.

 

Commentary

 

Coming several months after the end of the OVA, the Pailsen Files movie marks the first feature length compilation for the VOTOMS franchise. Clocking in at two hours, the main parts of the story are here, but a lot of material has been cut. The battle on Lowmes is only briefly glimpsed. Godan's Grim Reaper subplot is substantially cut down, with only the attack on the transport plane remaining. The gorge battle has also been heavily slimmed down. All the parts with Yugunt and Fuller are also gone, including their murders at Kochak's hands. Large portions of the snow episodes are also gone, including all of Wapp's involvement. That's fine by me, because that guy was really annoying. In the end, it looks like the least cut parts where the final two episodes on Monad. There isn't much new footage here, aside from the opening scene of Pailsen's arrest and the closing scene of Chirico landing on a planet, set to a cover of the TV series' memorable opening theme. Despite all the cuts, I found the movie's flow and pacing to be good. You could certainly watch this movie and not feel like you're missing any important parts of the story. Gundam compilation movies could certainly learn a thing or two about that.

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Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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