Anime Meta-Review


Black Magic M-66


By Date




Title Info

  • type: Movie
  • grade: worthy
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title may offend the sensitive.
  • people: Shirow
  • made: 1987
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

If you like high tech military toys, and nice graphic depictions of them in action, then you can't go past Masamune Shirow (Appleseed). This is his first anime, the one he had the most direct involvement in, and while simple in structure it's a very good action flick. The story involves an accident during transport of a prototype military weapon. Unfortunately this weapon happens to be a pair of combat robots which are still running a test scenario. Considering that these robots are plenty lethal, and that the program involves assassinating the creators daughter, there's a high probabiliy of high tech violence on the horizon. An agressive and competent female (a shirow trademark) reporter is also involved and finds herself quickly drawn into the center of this conflict.

The story is not fantastically complex, and has none of shirow's philosophy, but is a good basis for what unfolds. The M-66 robots were actually just minor players in the Black Magic Manga, so the simple story is no great suprise. On the other hand Shirow's understanding of the military mind, infatuation with military science and a good grasp of how such things may unfold comes to the fore. In addition the robots, who have generally female appearance (for a while) are living embodiments of implacable resolve and almost artistic deadliness. Some of the encounters between them and the competent (but outclassed) soldiery almost has the appearance of a dance, albeit a very deadly one. Of course this is partly because Shirow robots tend to not stand still and grunt while bullets bounce off them, but move with the swiftness of any other predator. The action scenes are marvellously constructed, gory and believable. There truly is a sense of the chaos of battle and the calm calculated violence of the robots.

It could be said that the story becomes a bit limited towards the end, but it is a fitting conclusion. The characterisation is limited by time, but what dialog there is gives an excellent sense of character. As mentioned the action is excellent and the technical design very strong. The only weakness is that the animation can't quite keep up with what is asked of it. It is reasonably good older OAV level animation, but many scenes are very complex. The thought, I'd love to see a modern version of this, will probably be echoing through your head which somewhat diminishes the experience. Still, a well written and classy action piece. Be warned it is moderately graphic...but not uneccesarily so.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:15 WST 2009