Crown Jewels of Anime: Armored Trooper Votoms

Posted by Guest Author on May 13, 2008 in Animation |

Armored Trooper Votoms

In this exclusive series our guest author Tim Eldred picks the top ten crown jewels of anime:

As a guy who started watching anime in 1980, I was lucky enough to catch the virus when the medium was in a creative upswing the likes of which simply hasn’t been seen since. Of course, there was great stuff before that, but never in quite so much abundance. The early 80s in particular were chock full of shows that had the power to make me (A) cry like a baby or (B) leap out of my chair like a sports fan. And any show that could do both became a crown jewel in my eyes. They haven’t all been officially exported yet, which means a lot of people still have an opportunity to experience them for the first time. Here’s number 2 on my top ten list:

Armored Trooper Votoms

You gotta hand it to a series that starts out riffing on a movie you really like and then blows way past it into completely new territory. For me, the movie was Blade Runner (1982) and when I saw the first few episodes of Votoms I thought, cool‹a Japanese take on one of my faves! And then Votoms kept going?and going?and GOING. By the time it got all the way to its finale in episode 52 it had left Blade Runner far behind and found its own path to become something wholly original that has never been equaled, though some well-meaning imitators have tried.

One of the thing that keeps it on top is that it’s so hard to sum up in a short paragraph. It’s about a galactic war, but really it isn’t since the war ends in the first episode. It’s about a robot pilot who stumbles into an illegal mission, but really it isn’t since there are so many invisible strings being pulled that everything is fated to happen. It’s about a struggle against a greedy criminal cartel, but it really isn’t since at any given time there are other forces who want our hero’s head on a platter.

It’s dark, it’s complex, it’s exciting, it’s suspenseful — each episode is a potato chip and you quickly find that you can’t stop eating them.

It arrived on Japanese TV in 1983 and has had a steady presence ever since then thanks to the ever-expanding side stories that have rolled out in books, games and OAVs. The Armored Troopers, absolutely the coolest anime robots ever, are just as revolutionary now as they’ve ever been and still look like something you could actually build. Literally hundreds of Votoms toys and model kits have been made and there’s no end in sight even now.

Fortunately for us, the original TV series has been released twice on subtitled DVD (from both NuTech and US Manga Corps) but you’d better jump on soon. With the latest OAV series currently in Japanese release, the train shows no sign of stopping.

Below: The opening titles for Armored Trooper Votoms.

Tim Eldred is a graphic novelist, TV animation artist, and hopeless fanboy. You can see his work at and

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