Mellowlink is a revenge plot. That's the simple way to put it. The first three episodes are there to establish Mellow's character as he guns down the people who sent him and his squad on a suicide mission of which he is the sole survivor. It's a very simple plot, one that is in many ways as old as fiction itself. However, it does a good job in keeping things well paced, offering good character moments and enough action to satisfy you. Later on, you learn more about the mission and find out that there's more to the plot than just a simple revenge story. For a twelve-episode OVA, Mellowlink is definitely working to make the most of its runtime.
It isn't the best story in the world, but it's interesting and well paced. The real unique aspect is actually right there in the title: Armor Hunter. It doesn't use the "Armored Trooper" title that every other VOTOMS installment keeps, because Mellowlink never pilots an AT on-screen. He guns down every AT he fights with nothing but his wits and his old anti-AT rifle. Each fight is unique in some way, as Mellow has to use his resources, his environment, and his knowledge of the opponent to his advantage. That aspect alone is what makes it so much fun to watch, since it ensures that every fight is intelligently written. Fight locations vary so much that it makes every single one memorable, since Mellowlink has to use the terrain to his advantage - or sometimes when it gives him a disadvantage that he must overcome. There's a fight in a desert, in a rainforest, in a Battling arena, in a mansion, a train chase, and more.
If you've seen VOTOMS, you already know if you'll like the art here or not. Pilot suits are still present, and the art style is mostly similar, though the art is noticeably more detailed than the TV show could be (due to being made later as well as fewer episodes needing to work budget around). Character outfits are pretty standard for VOTOMS, but personally I like the clothing design. It's just plain cool and still holds up today. Mellow's cloak is just awesome billowing as he runs around.
Also, remember how I mentioned all the fights being memorable and unique? That's helped by the fact that nearly all of the ATs Mellow fights are customized for a specific pilot. They have some cool modifications made,such as a silver Scopedog with big arm shields. Customizations are always fun to see, so I very much appreciate the design choices in helping to differentiate the ATs.
The animation is pretty standard for 80s anime, nothing really stood out to me. Not bad, just nothing special there. If you like 80s anime, you could probably guess as to what Mellowlink's animation looks like.
General Presence: 1.5/2
Visual Design: 2/2
Attention to Detail: 0.5/1
Visual Effects: 1/1
If you like classic anime sounds, you'll love Mellowlink. It has some famous voice talents from the 80s in the main cast, including Matsumoto Yasunori (AKA Kamille Bidan) and freaking Otsuka Akio, whose voice can best be compared to the auditory version of velvet. They all have a unique character that they manage to slip into like a glove. Even though it's obvious that Mellowlink shares a voice actor with Kamille, for example, he plays it much differently. Mellow is calmer, older, and more brooding than our old Zeta Rage kid.
The music is nothing to write home about, it's pretty standard 80s stuff. It sounds nice, but mostly doesn't end up leaving a huge imprint on me. However, the opening and ending themes are pure awesomeness, and the recurring battle tracks "Bloody Battle" and ESPECIALLY "Prologue" stand out as being absolutely epic. If they don't sound that way to you and you haven't watched Mellowlink, then just take that as me saying that the director really knows when to use the music.
Sound effects are classic VOTOMS goodness. The mechanical noises are a treat for the ears, and anybody who likes oldschool anime will definitely enjoy the sound in Mellowlink all around.
Voice Acting: 3/4
Sound Effects: 2/2
Let's not beat around the bush: one of the big issues with only having 12 episodes to work with is that it's a bit difficult to have elbow room to establish character, especially with a series that is big on the plot. Mellowlink is no exception. Most of the episodes are focused on a single revenge, so we get a little bit of screentime on the target, usually being a douchebag before we start to see Mellow put his plan into action to take them down.
Most of the characterization is very "show, don't tell." Lulucy and Mellowlink interact multiple times, and are generally friendly to one another, so any change in their relationship is going to be hard to notice. Mellow's development, as well, was almost all done before the main plot even begins, which we see by comparing him in the flashback scenes to him in the present.
That said, the characters do end up standing out. Mellowlink for his obvious tactical genius (I'd compare him to the VOTOMS version of Batman, or MacGuyver) and Lulucy for just being a genuinely fun character who provides an interesting contrast from the ever-serious Mellowlink. Characters also do have little quirks, most notably Mellowlink's habit of running his fingers across his face (which ends up creating his recurring face smears).
Overall, I wouldn't be entirely honest in saying that Mellowlink has some of the most well developed or human characters out there. There's nothing wrong with the cast, just that the writing is focused more on the story than it is the characters.
FINAL JUDGMENT : 8/10
Armor Hunter Mellowlink is very much a series that is built on its great concept. It takes the idea of "guy who can beat a mecha by himself" and just runs with it. The story gets deeper, for a 12 episode deal, but the big draw is just to find out what crazy trick Mellowlink will pull off next. His insane levels of preparation and ability to think on his feet are a constant source of enjoyment, and they are more than enough to make this series stand out among the crowd. Come for the amazing battles, stay for the interesting story.
+Great battle scenes, both in terms of animation and writing
+Good pacing, each episode is fun to watch and it never really feels too slow or too rushed
+The sound is absolutely brilliant, for the most part
-Characters could be better developed
-Most of the music isn't really memorable
Ys with mecha, or Zelda with mecha, and about as much plot as either. However, somehow both of those turn out to be much more entertaining than this. When you see the preview for episode #3, you'll quit and move on. (unless you appreciate rip-offs of "The Most Dangerous Game").