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VOTOMS Finder Review by Chris Guanche April 14, 2011
A young man named Aki Tesno lies down in an AT junkyard at the bottom of a valley and thinks about flying high in the sky. His partner A.B. tells him she got a nice lunch for them based on their earnings from yesterday, and she tosses an apple at him because he's ignoring her. She asks him what's so fun about staring at the sky all the time, and he replies that she's not his mother. A giant flying Ant crawls out of the rock face, so Aki and A.B. get into their ATs and give chase. Aki fires a smoke round from his rifle, and A.B. tells him they need to get closer to attack. Aki asks her to cover him while he shoots out his left fist on a grappling cable and swings closer to the Ant. A young woman watches from nearby as Aki and A.B. fight the Ant. Against A.B.'s advice, Aki jumps onto the Ant's head and drives a stake from his foot into its head to gain stable footing. The Ant then goes berserk and starts rampaging. A.B. tells Aki to jump off the Ant, but he tells her that his leg is stuck. He then fires his rifle at point blank range to blow off the leg at the knee. As Aki falls, he fires out his fist to grab hold of the Ant. The Ant then takes off and escapes, and Aki deploys a parachute bubble to soften his landing. Later, a worker complains to an old man named Dabart that they hauled in less today because Aki screwed up while fighting the Ant. Aki wonders if the lights coming from above the valley are from the Top and asks Dabart about it. Dabart mentions that he did go to the Top 20 or 30 years ago when he thought that was his future, but it didn't work out. He says Bottomers like them have no place up there. A.B. attaches a new leg to Aki's AT, and parts merchant Melingall gives Aki the bill while dismissing talk of the Top. Melingall tells Aki he'd better treat A.B. right, and when he says she's just an old friend, she tosses a pipe at his leg. She asks him what he would do if he got to the Top since he's always talking about it, but he doesn't know. Aki says his desire to go to the Top is like an itch, and Melingall says he must want to see a new world with new faces. Aki and A.B. go outside, and when he wonders what Toppers think of Bottomers, Aki answers scrappers and garbagemen. Aki considers scaling the rock wall to get to the Top, but A.B. reminds him that six people have died over the last 50 years trying that. Aki then says good night and heads into his trailer. At the Top, a man named Joze Lessing decides to recruit some Bottomers for help on a job. In the morning, Dabart tells Aki that a Topper has a job for him. Lessing introduces himself as a general who works under Chairman Vizrilde. Lessing shows Aki a holographic picture of a young woman and says she's the Chairman's daughter and has been kidnapped for ransom. Lessing says he sent men after her, but since they weren't familiar with the local terrain, the kidnapper escaped into a large factory. Lessing gives Aki the holographic picture and asks for his help in the search, which Aki agrees to. He's surprised when Lessing shakes his hand, although Lessing is wearing gloves. Aki, A.B. and Lessing's A.T. team head into the ruined building and follow Aki's lead. Aki looks at a picture of the young woman and wonders what her name is, finally settling on Cendrillon. He asks A.B. what she thinks, and she tells him he's an idiot and that it sounds like a fairy tale name. She mocks him and tells him he's acting like a knight in shining armor. A.B. asks Aki where they're heading, and he says their destination is the reservoir since it's one of the few sources for water. Aki immediately spots the girl and gives chase. She tells him to stay back, and Aki explains that he's come to save her. The kidnapper's AT then drops into the room and knocks Aki down. A.B. tries to call Aki and see if he's ok, but the radio signals are being jammed. Aki fires a smoke round at the enemy AT, but it kicks away his rifle and destroys it. Aki then rushes in and tries to do a knee kick, but the AT dodges. Aki then fires his fist to grab onto the AT, but it breaks free and fires three grappling hooks into Aki, swinging him around. The At is then hit by Lessing's ATs, who also fire at Aki and knock A.B. aside. Lessing's AT's place the girl into a capsule and escape from the building. They load the capsule into Lessing's truck and drive away. A.B. asks Aki if he's ok, and he says that he is. The other AT pilot, Deerhalt Grunlich, exits his cockpit and punches Aki in the face. He tells Aki that Lessing's men were the kidnappers and that Aki helped them. He says they only used Aki and abandoned him. Deerhalt picks up a damaged piece of his AT and says he's going to save the girl. Deerhalt explains that Lessing masterminded the kidnapping because he's a deputy delegate for Councilman Bild, a political opponent of Chairman Vizrilde. He thinks the kidnapping is part of a political ploy by Lessing to take the chairmanship for himself. Outside, Lessing's shuttle takes off and heads back to the Top. Deerhalt is the girl's guard and was able to save her, so they escaped to the Bottom. He tried to call his comrades for help, but the radio signals were being blocked. Later, Melingall and A.B. perform repairs on the ATs, and A.B. says she's going to install the module from Deerhalt's AT onto Aki's so they can get it working. Deerhalt says no one asked them to do that, but Aki says he did because he intends on coming along. Deerhalt refuses and says he doesn't acknowledge Aki's abilities, which leads Aki to ask if it's because he caused all this, or because he's a Bottomer. Aki says he has to find her no matter what, and Deerhalt tells Aki to stay out of his way. Aki has a look at Deerhalt's crashed shuttle, which is beyond repair. Deerhalt suggests going through the caves, but Aki points out that they have no map, and he realizes that scaling the canyon is the only way. Later, A.B. searches for Aki and is shocked to see him and Deerhalt scaling the canyon wall. Aki and Deerhalt reach the halfway point, but they're suddenly attacked by a giant Ant, which knocks Deerhalt down to a metal girder. Aki spots his AT leg and realizes it's the same Ant from yesterday. He fires a smoke round at his severed AT leg, which sends the Ant falling. Aki falls down as well, but Deerhalt grabs hold of him. A.B. is nearly hit by the falling Ant and decides to climb up through the tunnels. Aki thanks Deerhalt for saving him, and Deerhalt points out that Aki also saved him. Deerhalt is worried about the girl because Lessing was his superior in the military, so he knows how ruthless Lessing can be. A.B. climbs up through the caves and reaches an Ant tunnel. Aki reaches the Top and is surprised to see a shining city lit up in the night sky. At the base of the valley, Dabart and Melingall sit around the fire as he talks about young people and their dreams of reaching the Top. Aki and Deerhalt reach the military installation where the girl is being held. Deerhalt says they have to destroy the jamming unit so he can call for help, but it's being guarded by seven ATs. Aki is out of spare ammo drums and decides to simply charge in. A warning siren goes off when their intrusion is detected, and the enemy ATs open fire. Aki's rifle gets bent out of shape, so he tosses it up to the jamming unit and has Deerhalt shoot it, which destroys the jammer. A.B. crawls out of a hole and gives Aki a new rifle. He tells her to take cover and charges in to help Deerhalt. A Roper drone attacks Aki, and Deerhalt warns him about its chain missiles. Aki dodges the missiles, which end up destroying several enemy ATs. Aki flips into the air and uses his parachute e to cushion his landing. He then gets in close and fires a round at the Roper, destroying it. Several truck trailers open, revealing a squad of ATs that surround Aki and Deerhalt. ATs from the Topper police descend from hovercraft and attack Lessing's forces. With the enemy ATs destroyed, Aki searches for Lessing and picks up a signal inside an Ant tunnel. Lessing's truck drives through the Ant tunnel, and he says to himself that as long as they have the girl, no one can touch Bild and the incident can't be made public. Aki and Deerhalt speed through the tunnel after Lessing, and his truck reaches the surface. Lessing boards his AT and tells Deerhalt that he's just like a Bottomer to him. Lessing fires at Aki, but Deerhalt pulls in front and takes the shot. Lessing fires another shot that blows off one of Aki's legs, so Aki fires his grappling fist at the truck. Lessing fires again, but Aki boosts himself into the air and fires at the other AT. Aki manages to reach the truck, but Lessing blows away his rifle. Aki uses his knee kick to destroy the trailer and grab the capsule. Lessing fires again, but Aki lifts the trailer bed and uses it as a shield to block the attack. The explosion causes the truck to spin out of control, sending it and Lessing flying off the side of the canyon. The large Ant then takes off and swallows Lessing's AT whole. A.B. finally catches up with Aki as Deerhalt opens the capsule. The girl wakes up and hugs Deerhalt, which A.B. mocks Aki about. The girl introduces herself as Cendrillon Thrini, and Aki is surprised that her name was really Cendrillon. Aki apologizes for causing everything, but Cendrillon tells him it's not his fault. Deerhalt takes off his glove and shakes Aki's hand. Aki says that if Deerhalt ever needs help, he'll lend a hand.
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Commentary Like Case;IRVINE and Merowlink, VOTOMS Finder is one of the few OVAs in the series to not focus on Chirico. But unlike Case;IRVINE, which is instantly recognizable as part of the VOTOMS universe, Finder is pretty far removed. Based on the look of the ATs and pilot suits that can turn into normal clothes and vice versa, it looks like this is set somewhere far in the future. There isn't even any mention of the Gilgamesh or the Balarant, or even where this takes place, although the final shot showing landmasses above the clouds suggest a space colony. Visually, this OVA is also unlike the rest of the franchise, with bright colors providing a nice contrast from everything else. This OVA is also like Case;IRVINE in that it is entertaining despite a cliche story. Aki is a young man who dreams of big adventures and gets roped into kidnapping a princesstype girl, which sounds straight out of a cliche Japanese RPG. A.B. acts as Aki's long-suffering companion, and it wouldn't surprise me if she has a romantic interest in him that he's completely oblivious to. If you go into Finder expecting an entertaining ride and not expecting a deep or original story, you won't be disappointed. Overall Rating
Free People Search 3.5 out of 5 stars
Director: Atsushi Shigeta Writer: Mayori Sekijima Mechanical Designer(s): Kunio Okawara Hitoshi Fukuchi Atsushi Shigeta Character Designer: Junichi Hayama Musical Composer: Wataru Iwamoto Video Release: Japan 04.07.11