As the sole survivor from a squad that was sacrificed and hung out as scapegoats for embezzlement of military resources at the end of the 100 years war, Mellowlink Arity is out for revenge.
Carrying the dogtags of his deceased comrades and armed with a dated anti AT rifle, he swears to hunt down and exact revenge on the corrupt officers that betrayed his squad, and maybe even uncover the truth behind the plot as well.
Time for a mini review! Do you like 80s action movies? Do you like big explosions and awesomely stupid MANime? Do you wish that there was a crossover between Gundam and MD Geist? Your prayers have been answered!
Technically "Armor Hunter Mellowlink" is a spinoff of the Votoms franchise. What the Hell is Votoms? In the 1980s, Studio Sunrise had a LOT of money and wanted to make as much Gundam as possible. However, they initially wanted all Gundam series to fit in a single, neat timeline. This means taking time to collarborate, avoid continuity errors, and basically not working on 5 Gundam series at once.
In the 90s, Sunrise abandoned this philosophy and started creating alternate universe Gundam series like G Gundam and Gundam Wing. In the 1980s, their answer was Votoms. It isn't a violation of copyright if you rip off a property you own! Votoms began life as a bootleg Gundam so Sunrise could milk the Gundam cash cow without making an official entry. It uses the same sound effects as Gundam, the same art as Gundam, and the bad guys are clearly piloting knockoff Zakus. Insert "same energy" meme.
Fortunately, you don't even need to watch any Votoms to enjoy Mellowlink. This is a spinoff that's completely standalone. Just sit back and watch a dude on foot wreck the shit out of bad guys in giant robots.
Mellowlink is the last survivor of an uber-elite unit trained to fight mechs on foot using anti tank guns, land mines, and oddly enough a giant version of a cattle bolt pistol. Remember that gun from "No Country for Old Men"? This is a huge version meant to penetrate the cockpits of giant robots! However, Mellowlink's unit was too good...too dangerous! The corrupt military decided to send them all on a suicide mission near the end of the war. Once the super elite unit was dead, the military could blame them for all the missing money and cover up their own embezzlement and corruption. Mellowlink must get revenge by killing every major figure of his old military responsible for the suicide mission. They all have giant robots, but Mellowlink has the power of fucking MANLINESS! Watch this guy go BEAST MODE and murder Gundams on foot for 13 episodes! Hell yes!
Art and Sound:
This is 1988 Sunrise when they were near their peak. If you liked the art and sound from War in the Pocket, this was about the same quality...originally. Tragically, Sunrise didn't give a fuck about this series and destroyed the master copies. That means it will never be released on DVD or Bluray. It's only availble online via VHS rips. The person who transferred this from VHS tried his very hardest and I salute him! However, this of course means the color is going to look wonky in places. VHS to digital transfers are never going to be flawless.
Armor Hunter Mellowlink isn't a mindblowing masterpiece. It isn't going to forever change the way you look at anime. However, this is near the top of awesomely cheesy, 80s and early 90s MANime. This can join the Pantheon along with Cyber City Oedo, Fist of the Northstar, and Ninja Scroll. You probably haven't heard of this series, but it's freaking awesome and you owe it to yourself to check it out!
For any fan of Ryosuke Takahashi's Armored Trooper Votoms franchise, you'll feel right at home with this series. It's set in the same world, and Chirico even makes a short cameo as well, though their paths never really intertwine.
As a revenge tale, you shouldn't expect anything profound from the plot. Simplicity is the name of the game here, so the setup is fairly obvious...you get pieces of info along Mellowlink's journey that unveil why he's hunting down these high-ranked officers.
The main draw of the show, IMO, is the clever, tactical ways in which Mellow dispatches his enemies. Whether it's using misdirection ploys or baiting pursuers
into a trap of mines, he's always got some scheme going on to get the upper-hand. And seeing how he's just a lone man against giant mechas most of the time, it's absolutely essential he turns the battle into a match of wits rather than outright strength. Some of its episodes are better than others at depicting this, but overall, the action here engrosses with its gritty guerrilla warfare...a stark contrast to other mecha anime like Gurren Lagann and recent Gundam shows.
Concerning the animation, I think it's important to point out it was made back in the late '80s. As a bit of an old-school fan myself, I don't mind it at all, but younger anime fans accustomed to shiny CGI and sparkly colors may be put off by the gritty, earthy look of the show.
It's not outstanding or a classic, but you will not be disappointed if you watch it.
If you are a mecha fan or more specifically Votom fan this is definitely for you. since its a votom spin-off
I personally really like the mechs (A.T's). Even though the main character dosn't use one. He uses a anti-AT rifle to take out the mechs the "bad guys" use.
The animation is typical of the 80's. character animation isn't that strong. BUT some of the still frames the use for paning is pieces of art.
I'm not sure who animated the series, but it sure resembles the
work of Moriyasu Taniguchi. who is awsome :)
The Music is .... awful, sorry.
It's a lone ranger story. A soldier running around taking revenge for his fallen comrades who where betrayed. with a hint of love story.
The main Character is cool. like a little Rambo with is own signature move.
Let me preface this review by saying I don't know anything about ATV, the parent franchise of this series, in case that's an important aspect for you in reading this review.
That out of the way, this is a solid, old school sci fi anime with a somewhat fresh take on the mech genre. The premise is a quite straightforward (basic, if you're being harsh) revenge story about an ill done by ex-soldier hunting his former commanders to avenge his dead comrades. It functions as an episodic series for the most part, with the last few episodes following a short "finale arc".
All these episodes are
titled based on the environment they take place in - quite appropriately, as the environments are the stars of the episode in lieu of a really charismatic or interesting cast. Mellowlink, the protagonist, is pretty much just a bland soldier man without so much of a hint of an arc, his 'love interest' is equally one dimensional and their relationship is just as pointless and unnatural feeling. The antagonists are all just cackling shonen style villains with no depth either - not inappropriate for a story of this style, and to be fair they have their individual gimmicks for each episode, but still, all this means something has to fill the gap this cast leaves. And it's the environment: while the animation is nothing to write home about, there are some quite excellent looking background paintings of mysterious and exciting sci fi vistas.
As for "mech and tech" stuff, I wouldn't consider myself any kind of mech expert, so take my assessment with a spoonful of salt but I would describe the stuff on display in Mellowlink as interesting but homogenous. The Mechs on display, AT's as they are called, have a cool design similar to Gundam's Zakus but a bit more "real" feeling (they remind me of some designs from the Mechwarrior Games). This shouldn't be a surprise, as they were designed by the same person who designed the Zaku, Kunio Okawara. While it's a cool design, I don't love it - it does seem a bit devoid of personality, although perhaps that is the intention in taking the "real robots" concept to its conclusion. But from what I can tell, this one triclops design is the only one on display which makes things get a bit stale, when you are watching Mellowlink blow up the same mech for the 5th time in that episode. (Note that as I said I am unfamiliar with this setting - perhaps there was some subtle differences between the mechs, but by and large they all looked the same, and perhaps there was some lore reason for them all to be so...I can't say).
But it is perhaps unfair to focus on the mechs in a show which is about a mech hunter. Which is as I said in my intro, quite an interesting take I haven't seen in other anime. The concept seems to be inspired by WW1 and early WW2 anti tank rifles, which reflects a broader trend in this anime - everyone seems to be using some early 20th century inspired technology, with Browning MG's and German style armoured cars. It's a neat aesthetic and it works well, giving the show a grimy, gritty feel that it'd otherwise lack - there's rarely any sense that the protagonist is in danger, and opponents are disposable cannon fodder to him.
While I may seem disproportionately harsh in criticising this anime, I did enjoy it more than my scores would suggest. It's a low tech sci fi anime with solid mech designs and a pace fast enough to stop you getting bored - which ticks a lot of boxes for me. If you're similarly into that scene, or the idea of a guy with a giant AT rifle fighting chunky, realistic mechs just sounds fun to you, I think this anime is worth your time.