Brief thoughts on new anime, recent anime, old anime.

So for the past four weeks, every Saturday I’ve been sitting down in front of the TV at 10:30 to watch Space Dandy.

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Below the cut, some thoughts on that, a 2012 anime I’ve been getting back to, and some more thoughts on Dougram.

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This is me crossing another dusty old robot show off my bucket list.

NOT EVEN JUSTICE, I WANT TO GET TRUTH!

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Long-time friends, followers, and readers probably recall my strong affection for Armored Trooper Votoms, a fifty-two episode mecha anime from Sunrise studio directed and created by one Ryosuke Takahashi, the gentleman who directed most of Sunrise’s fondly remembered robot cartoons of the 1980s that weren’t directed by Gundam director Yoshiyuki Tomino. Takahashi’s Votoms is a gloomy, bitter robot cartoon full of shady characters and corruption, soaked in acid rain and blood. At least, that’s how it starts, opening with a dreary urban setting that reminds me of a more run down Blade Runner before moving to an equally miserable jungle planet that might as well be called Space Vietnam; clearly that’s the war that Takahashi and company are in a mood to evoke, as that stretch of the show opens with the most obvious Apocalypse Now homage imaginable. The show’s robots are fragile tools that may have a certain character, but they are not characters in the way that previous robot cartoons’ robots were. They’re disposable, interchangeable, and absent for episodes at a time. The true focus of the show is one man army Chirico Cuvie, a quiet, terse young man betrayed by his comrades, falsely accused by his government, and skilled only in the art of combat. He’s a different breed from the bright young heroes who came before him, a harder hero for a harder cosmos.

Where Votoms is a damaged butterfly of a show, Takahashi’s previous effort, 1981’s Fang of the Sun Dougram (co-directed with Takeyuki Kanda, who would also go on to direct his own Sunrise robot show in ’83, Round Vernian Vifam) appears to be the gauntlet-like chrysalis it emerged from. As of this writing I’ve watched eighteen of its seventy-five episodes (yes, seventy-five episodes) that aired from October 1981 to March of ’83, and I can see how it stands as an important evolutionary step between Tomino’s Gundam and both Votoms and even Zeta Gundam. It’s also enjoyable viewing, if a bit slow at times and also possessed of a lead character who spends a very long time being frustratingly naive.

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