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I have not been able to identify a series of short anime shorts (I think each episode was about a minute, maybe two or three minutes, but short) from the mid/late80s (I think I first saw them in 86 or 87 in the US, perhaps on cable). They were animated in a typical cell-style, not CGI.

As I recall, each episode featured the same three characters: two male mecha/battle-suit operators (with tank-tread "skates" on the feet, and the mecha would skate around in combat), one looked a bit Elric-like, the other was dark... these two were always combating one another but with layers of emotional complexity (former friends? brothers?); the third character was female and caught in some way between the two (hostage? divided loyalty?).

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  • You might want to ask on anime.stackexchange.com if you didn't already - interested to hear an answer to this.
    – BenjaminJB
    Oct 18, 2014 at 22:57
  • Hey @BenjaminJB finally getting around to trying, but anime.SE forbids identification requests. I hope some kind user IDs this some day! It is just this mysterious set of memories that drive me up the wall every now and then. :)
    – Lexible
    Feb 22, 2018 at 17:11

2 Answers 2

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The problem with the most likely answer to this is that it is not a series of minute-long shorts. However, based on the description of the robots' locomotion, and the character relationships, it sounds like you saw the 1983 anime series Armored Trooper Votoms.

The titular Armored Troopers skate around on foot-mounted wheels, though most are difficult to see, as they're small or concealed underneath the feet. Here are two examples of the large, visible, treaded wheels equipped on a few of them:

The protagonist and antagonist of the original TV series are Chirico and Ypsilon. Ypsilon is certainly rather Elric-like in appearance — thin, pale, and white-haired — and Chirico is rather tan by contrast:

The two are artificially created super-soldiers, and find themselves in conflict several times intermittently throughout the series. Part of their conflict is indeed over a woman, another super-soldier, Fyana:

Ypsilon believes that, due to his belief in his own inherent superiority, she is destined to ally herself with him, but Fyana is more personally attached to Chirico. All three pilot robots (Fyana's personal machine being the pink one whose wheels are shown above), using several throughout the series as they proceed through various battles in a larger interplanetary war.

The description of their fraught relationships — a kinship between the protagonist and antagonist, and divided loyalties on the part of the female lead — does fairly well fit these characters. They are three of a kind, with no other artificially modified humans like themselves participating in this war. As such, their struggles to understand their own existence are a subtext to their battles.

The one thing that doesn't match to me is that you saw this series in one-minute chunks. I don't know of any TV network using clips of the series in promotional segments during commercial breaks or anything like that, but it's certainly possible.

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    +1 Great answer! But the shorts I recall were not Armored Trooper V.O.T.O.M.S. The characters looked quite different: younger (kinda hero teen anime style), the blonde haired one was almost white-white-haired... had a kinda creepy Elric of Melnibonë vibe, the dark-haired one was either dark brown or black hair, the woman looked less sophisticated (that goes along with younger, I suppose), the entire foot was caterpillar tread, and the scenes had a very fast edit action feel to them (not surprising give the very short format), and ATV is just way to slowly paced.
    – Lexible
    Sep 15, 2018 at 0:30
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The HEAVY GEAR Miniatures game tie-in series? If the one you are thinking of was CGI, then that's a point for this.

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    Thank you (+1), but no: this was in the mid to late 80s, so there wasn't much in the way of (full) CGI anime then. The style I recall looked more or less like typical cell animation.
    – Lexible
    May 15, 2015 at 18:17

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