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Episode 1: River Crossing Operation

 

Review by Chris Guanche

January 21, 2008

 

Summary

 

The Hundred Years War continues between the Gilgamesh Confederation and the Balarant Union. On the planet Lowmes, Gilgamesh AT transport ships speed across the Tivas River. A Scopedog squad leader checks in with his pilots, including Chirico Cuvie. He warns Chirico that he'll be killed if he strays away without orders. Several Stake Bombers fly overhead to drop stakes in the water, but some come under fire from Balarant artillery and crash, dropping stakes on the Scopedog transports. The transport ships fire grappling lines onto the stakes, which the Scopedogs use to propel themselves toward the shore. The Scopedogs come under heavy fire, and the next wave of transport ships arrives and unloads its amphibious Diving Beetle ATs. The Diving Beetles come under attack when they reach the shore, but several manage to lay down a portable track for the Scopedogs to ascend the hillside with. Chirico attempts to help a fellow pilot whose Scopedog has been damaged, but the squad leader orders him to leave the man behind. The squad leader then receives a radio transmission demanding to know if Chirico is still alive, and he says that he is. He asks why Chirico is so important, but he's told he doesn't need to know. As the artillery fire intensifies, Chirico takes cover behind a stake. Chirico thinks about how he's trying to free himself from the past that's trying to wrap itself around him. On planet Melkia, a military court-martial is held for Yoran Pailsen, founder of the recently dissolved Red Shoulder Battalion. General Niharko tells an officer named Rakinson that the show is going on too long. The prosecutor begins his opening statement and says that the very existence of the Red Shoulders violates military regulations, as evidenced by the uprising at their base. He adds that all records and evidence were destroyed, and that base commander Liman was killed in a separate incident. The prosecutor then presents a list of expenses and research and asks Pailsen about them, but Pailsen remains silent. The judge orders Pailsen to answer because he's under oath, but he refuses to speak. The prosecutor then asks Pailsen about a specific operation that was budgeted and never carried out. Pailsen maintains his silence, and the judge warns him that if he doesn't comply he'll be found in contempt. The prosecutor states that Pailsen created the uprising to destroy evidence, but the judge says he won't allow conjecture. The prosecutor then states that there were about 1,670 listed Red Shoulders, but only 850 bodies were found at the base. An accident at a spaceport killed many soldiers, and the prosecutor notes that several Red Shoulders were present at a parade after the battle of Sansa, which was a month after the uprising. The prosecutor asks if Pailsen killed 1,700 soldiers to destroy evidence, and when Pailsen still refuses to answer, the judge declares him in contempt.

 

An officer named Kotta Ruske checks in on the status of the battle on the Tivas River and is informed that the Scopedogs are pinned down. He asks his superior Fedok Wockam about the trial, and Wockam says it went at Pailsen's pace. Ruske comments that the brass want the Tivas operation to fail because Wockam planned it. On the battlefield, the squad leader attempts to check in with his men, but the only one still alive is Chirico. The squad leader then calls out to make a report, but his radio shorts out because his cockpit is flooded with water. He then explains to Chirico that he has to make a report when he dies. His cockpit continues to flood, but Chirico comes over and helps him. A lightning strike sets the leaking AT polymer ringer fluid ablaze, so Chirico hauls the squad leader's Scopedog over to the shore. The squad leader says that he'd rather die on land if he can. When the squad leader attempts to open his cockpit, the Scopedog's arm moves and hits the ground, setting off a landmine and tossing out out onto the beach. Chirico gets out of his damaged Scopedog and rushes over to the squad leader's side. Before dying, the squad leader thanks Chirico because it's been years since anyone was concerned about him. Several helicopters then fly overhead and discover that Chirico is the only survivor. Later, Ruske wakes up Wockam to inform him that the Tivas situation turned around and resulted in a great victory, making Wockam a hero in the military. He tells Wockam that if the war ends this way, any position will be available to him. Wockam asks about his "mouse," and Ruske reports that Chirico survived. The next day, Wockam intervenes in the court-martial on behalf of the Intelligence Department and says he disagrees with the trial. He hands over new evidence and says that the prosecutor is underestimating the threat Pailsen poses. Wockam says that even while detained, Pailsen is still secretly directing his experiments. The judge asks Wockam for his opinion, and Wockam says he'd like the trial to be cancelled or indefinitely postponed. He also wants Pailsen to be put under the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Department's PCMP. Rakinson comments that Wockam could cause great damage to the military if he publicly reveals anything, and Niharko declares that they can't let him have Pailsen. Suddenly, Pailsen begins to scream wildly and jumps out of his chair. Several MPs rush over to restrain him, and Wockam says that Pailsen needs medical treatment because he's having a breakdown. The judge adjourns the trial, and the prosecutor asks Wockam if this has anything to do with the rumors that Pailsen was responsible for his father's death. Wockam tells the prosecutor that it has nothing to do with revenge. Wockam whispers to Pailsen that he wants to talk about Chirico, which causes Pailsen to scream again. On Lowmes, a wounded Chirico is loaded onto a transport spaceship bound for planet Galeade.

 

Commentary

 

The first new VOTOMS production in 13 years takes us back to a time before the TV series. Some time has passed since the Origin of Ambition OVA, and we're seeing the fallout from it. Pailsen is being court-martialed, and Niharko is still after him. Chirico has been reassigned to a regular unit, but his survival is of great interest to Wockam. The opening battle, in true VOTOMS tradition, shows how vulnerable an Armored Trooper is. In essence, this battle basically feels like the Battle of Normandy with mecha thrown in, and that was probably deliberate on Takahashi's part. The Kummen arc of the TV series was reminiscent of Vietnam, so it's no surprise that a large-scale ground battle would be modeled after World War II. Unfortunately, Chirico doesn't get much screen time (or much to do) since there's so much setup with Pailsen's court-martial, but it looks like a good start so far. It took awhile to get used to the idea of the mecha being all CG here, but it works, especially in creating a gritty atmosphere for the river battle.

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Overall Rating

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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VOTOMS Pailsen Files Episode 1 VOTOMS Pailsen Files Episode 1

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