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Black Magic M-66

It’s time to look at another anime adaptation of one of Masamune Shirow’s (Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell, Dominion) manga and this time it’s Black Magic M-66 that is in the spotlight. Like so many of Shirow’s other works, it depicts a cyberpunk future full of exciting technology. In this case, all is not well in the world as a top secret robot developed by the military is rampaging through town in order to kill its creator’s granddaughter. It’s not at all a sophisticated story but what is there is exciting watching the OVA’s protagonists trying to get away from a mechanical killing machine.

The manga version of Black Magic M-66 is actually a series of smaller stories all taking place in a cyberpunk future. They all happen independently while taking place in the same world, and what viewers see in this OVA is a retelling of just one of these stories. Here, an independent journalist named Sybel is always in search of her next scoop. In this case, she has caught wind of a military transport crashing in the forest and goes to investigate. When she arrives, she quickly discovers that the vehicle was transporting a pair of robots that have since activated and are on the loose. As the plot unravels, one thing leads to another and Sybel is racing to find the granddaughter of the robots’ creator because for some reason they have been programmed to hunter her down and kill her. From here, a lot of the story feels more like an 80s horror flick with some sort of unstoppable killer, as the two women try to get away from the robot.

It’s a bare bones plot that serves to give viewers a brief, tense experience and not much else. The show is enjoyable for what it is and those curious should go in with low expectations story-wise. At best, it may whet some people’s appetite to go check out the full manga. If nothing else, it provides one more conduit for people to discover and check out Shirow’s wonderful art.

While we don’t see as much of his portrayal of futuristic architecture and technology here compared to other works, what’s present in Black Magic does look very nice. The city’s buildings are tightly packed with a very metallic look to them while various vehicles and flying machines scurry around them. These all look great and really do a good job in creating a cyberpunk environment. The killer robot’s design is also interesting in that, unlike other shows, this thing looks rather harmless at face value. It resembles an elf to some extent with its pointed ears and long hair. Nevertheless, once it finds its target one can quickly see that it’s still a lethal killing machine. When it does go in for the kill, some of the deaths can be quite gory as well, though not as much as other OVAs of the era.

Black Magic M-66 is for people who want something that encapsulates anime OVAs of the 80s. It has a simple plot, quite a lot of violence, and cool, futuristic art direction. Moreover, it gives viewers another avenue to check out one of the many creations by Masamune Shirow. It’s not as fleshed out as his later works, but still has early hints at his enthusiasm for science fiction and cyberpunk. Those interested in his work would do well to check this show out.

- IroIro
June 29, 2019

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- Dominion Tank Police (Same author)
Directed by: Hiroyuki Kitakubo
Studio: AIC
Released: 1987
Episodes: 1

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