It has always amazed me how Votoms never caught on in North America. Armored Trooper Votoms, a TV series (1983), and its spinoff OAV Armor Hunter Mellowlink (1988), should have captivated American science-fiction fans. Attempts were made. U.S. Manga Corps released the entire Votoms TV series to DVD. Granted, it was subtitled only and not available in English dub but I still don’t get how it didn’t catch on. I bought the DVD box set and was enthralled. It really is an excellent show. I had to use BitTorrent to get Armor Hunter Mellowlink as it has never been released to DVD in North America.
I have learned over the years that most science-fiction fans in North America don’t react well to the giant, piloted robots that are ubiquitous in Japanese anime and manga. However, the mecha in Votoms are quite small and not at all flashy. The plausible, no-frills, mass-produced look of the scope dog and other AT’s should resonate well with English-speaking audiences. Heck, the Heavy Gear franchise was little more than a Votoms clone and it was quite successful.
Votoms had a lot more to offer English speakers than just believable mecha. The atmosphere and plot of Votoms has great appeal for people accustomed to Western science-fiction and action movies. Chirico, the gritty, self-reliant soldier survives the toughest odds and keeps going no matter what. The look and feel of the Votoms world is very Western to my eyes. The corrupt and backstabbing bureaucracies that scheme against the heroes seem to be lifted right out of Western science-fiction. The whole package would resonate very well with Western audiences if it could just get more exposure.
It’s a shame Votoms never went very far in English speaking countries. I haven’t give up hope completely, though. There’s still a chance the right person might discover it and unveil it for the masses. In the meantime, Votoms remains a hidden gem for the true science-fiction fan to seek out.