Sunday, May 19, 2013

Black Magic M-66 Anime Movie Review

Black Magic M-66
Burakku Majikku Mario Shikkusuti Shikkusu
Manga Entertainment
Movie - 48 mins. - 1 disc
$19.98 (2013) Sub only
$19.95 (2001)
ISBN 660200408022
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Hiroyuki Kitakubo/Masamune Shirow
Studio - Bandai Visual

Synopsis: A secret cargo transport carrying two military test androids crash lands in a forest.  The military sends an elite squad of soldiers led by the hard-nosed Major.  He's known for getting the job done and never failing a mission.  This time might be different as the two androids are cutting edge killing machines meant for anti-personnel attacks.  The Major and his men investigate the crash site for clues to find the androids.
The Major and one of the scientists at the crash site
Meanwhile a plucky journalist named Sybel intercepts a transmission about the crash and brings a colleague along to investigate.  They observe a brutal firefight between the military squad and the two deadly androids. Sybel and her friend get caught in the middle of the action.  The androids are programmed to assassinate an innocent girl and Sybel rushes to save her.
Sybel gets interrupted while taking a shower
Does she have any hope against a killer android with immense strength, durability, and laser beams?  The original developers of the androids get involved, but can they offer a secret shut off switch to save the day?  Sybel and the hapless girl are harried by a murderous android.  Will the military be able to save them both or is Sybel only delaying their gruesome deaths?
Sybel brings along a journalist buddy and they scope out the crash site
Pros: Lots of relentless cyborg violence, ambitious camera angles and animation for the time, good character designs by Shirow, cyborg movements were adequately creepy along with attack gimmicks
The military try to stop one of the androids, but it's tough!
Cons: Too short!, very basic plot, music is bland, dub has a few rough patches, falls into typical 'monster-slowly-chases-main-characters-and-is-always-one-step-behind' formula, no character development, animation is dated (from 1987) and not as slick as the original manga, aircraft destroys the scientist's roof for no apparent reason
The androids are equipped with powerful lasers
Mike Tells It Straight: Black Magic M-66 is based on a work by Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed, Dominion Tank Police).  He wrote and co-directed the anime and it was one of the first adaptations of his work.  It was released as an OVA (original video animation) and came in at a short 48 minutes.  Section 23 is releasing a new edition in Summer 2013, but it's supposed to only have subtitles instead of an English dub.  
Sybel tries to protect an innocent girl from a deadly android
Due to the short length of the feature the characters are relatively one-note and the action is the driving force of the plot.  There's some brief nudity in the beginning with Sybel jumping out of the shower to answer a call.  It's pretty tame and not gratuitous.  I thought the fights between the military and the androids was pretty awesome for the time.  The camera angles and choreography were pretty entertaining.
Can Sybel count on these guys to save her bacon!?
Sybel was a likable heroine and the androids were perfect 'monsters' chasing the damsels in distress.  The plot is incredibly simple and the show was very short.  It's a quick watch with dated animation, but I somehow liked it more than Appleseed.  If you like old school '80s anime and a quick science fiction story with a bunch of violence then check this out.  It's always nice to see more work based on Shirow's incredible art even though it usually gets butchered by these older shows (before the animation technology caught up enough to capture the amazing details).  
You know that part of the movie when you think the monster has been
killed and it's safe?  Yeah, I wouldn't touch that android if I were you!

TO BUY and Recommendations: