Black Magic M-66

Tagged: TV

Japanese Original Video Animation (OVA) (1987). Based on the Manga by Masamune Shirow. AIC. Directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo. Written by Masamune Shirow. Voice cast includes Ichiro Nagai, Yoshiko Sakakibara and Chisa Yokoyama. 47 minutes. Colour.

When a sabotaged military aircraft crashes into a forest, the two M-66 anti-personnel automated soldiers (see Androids) it carries escape. Created by Professor Matthew (Nagai), these were loaded with an experimental assassination program: as it was for testing purposes only, the target selected was Ferris (Yokoyama), Matthew's granddaughter. Fearless journalist Sybel (Sakakibara) learns that something is up, but is arrested by the army shortly after arriving, escaping when the two androids attack the troops: one is destroyed but the other gets away.

Later Sybel goes to Matthew's house: she realizes the surviving android has preceded her and would have heard Ferris' answerphone message giving her location. Multiple vehicle thefts get Sybel to the city: finding Ferris is not difficult, as she waves and calls out to the android, whom she recognizes from Matthew's laboratory. Sybel rescues her, pursued by the android and considerable destruction: the army helps, but in the end there is a confrontation between Sybel, Ferris and the android atop a crumbling skyscraper. Sybel sets off explosives, sending the android falling to its doom, but the whole fragile building collapses – only for the pair to be scooped up by an army aircraft. The subsequent military cover-up blames the destruction on a terrorist attack.

This was the first work by the author of Ghost in the Shell (May 1989-November 1990 Young; graph 1991) (see also Ghost in the Shell) to be animated. Influenced by The Terminator (1984), this is an enjoyable Anime: violent and action-packed with a tough and determined (if clumsy) heroine. There is little characterization and Sybel suffers some Fan Service (naturally she is informed of the crash whilst showering); but some Clichés are avoided – for example, the army is not portrayed as brutal or incompetent. The androids, which look like female crash test dummies, are effective antagonists (though one having luxuriant blonde hair seems unnecessarily decorative for a killing machine); whilst the use of magnets to repel them is interesting. There are several implausibilities, none equalling the jaw-dropping recklessness of whimsically naming Matthew's granddaughter as the androids' target. [SP]

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