In an interstellar war between the nations of Gilgamesh and Balarant, a woman designated “Proto-One” is the galaxy’s first Perfect Soldier. Genetically modified for battle and having her memories artificially placed to give her all of the necessary knowledge to be an efficient killer, she is highly prized as a military weapon and has been prepared for nearly every situation. However, her encounters with a stoic mercenary named Chirico Cuvie provide the biggest shock of her life: the emotion known as love.
Named “Fyana” by Chirico after an intense encounter in the anarchic city of Uoodo, they eventually escape the planet together at the end of the civil war in Kummen. There’s no time for a honeymoon however, as they are immediately abducted by an abandoned spaceship that seems hell-bent on reminding Chirico of his bloody past. Episodes 28-39 of Armored Trooper Votoms trace Chirico and Fyana’s lives as they both begin to figure out who they really are. We also get to see the other side of the war for the first time as the Balarant military makes its appearance.
I’ve criticized the romantic side of Votoms in my previous two reviews, but their time aboard the mysterious spaceship improves that aspect tremendously. You’re never really sure how they ended up in love, but now that they are, they love each other in a way that two soldiers unfamiliar with emotional response only can. The “Deadworld Sunsa” arc of Votoms is very different from the first half of the series, as it lets the viewer truly see for the first time the relationship dynamic between Chirico and Fyana. Previous mention is made of Chirico’s past as a “Red Shoulder,” but it is only now that we are given the knowledge that to be a Red Shoulder is to be a member of the most ruthlessly efficient and barbaric military group ever known. As both Chirico and Fyana are biological engines of death and destruction, it appears that their tacit understanding of each other despite barely knowing each other only brings them closer. Chirico is willing to fight to the death for Fyana and vice versa, and woe is the enemy who ends up in the targeting sights of either one.
The forced trip to Sunsa gives us the opportunity to see space battles in Votoms, and just as the tactics of warfare must change from city to jungle, so too must they be modified for a zero-gravity environment. Votoms isn’t exactly trying to be a 100% accurate depiction of inertia as it applies to fighting in space, but it does a good job of showing how both Chirico and Fyana must handle enemies that can come from any angle, and later battles on Sunsa show tremendous creativity without dispeling the realism that Votoms is known for.
Like the previous two arcs of Votoms, Deadworld Sunsa can be treated as a stand-alone series, but part 3 has far more connections to the underlying plot that drives the entire show. New characters introduced give the viewer a better understanding of the Perfect Soldier program and the nature of the Red Shoulder platoon. Old friends and enemies reappear, though not necessarily where you expect them. In every case, they impact Chirico and Fyana in myriad ways. By the end, the desire for the truth is what will compel you to keep watching.