Saturday, June 25, 2011

Black Magic M-66

Black Magic M-66; Animated science-fiction action thriller, Japan, 1987; D: Masamune Shirow, Hiroyuki Kitaburo, S: Chisa Yokohama, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Ichiro Nagai

A top secret military plane crashes one night in the forest and thus its cargo is unleashed: two murderous female androids. The army is able to eliminate one of them in a combat, but the second one is programmed to kill the blond Feris, the granddaughter of a robot inventor. Freelance reporter Sybil discovers the story and goes on to save Feris in the city. The murderous android is chasing them through a building until it collapses in an explosion and de-activates it. Feris and Sybil are saved.

A rump anime version of "Terminator", shown from a female perspective (even the android in question is female!), "Black Magic M-66" is the first and only movie by manga writer Masamune Shirow ("Ghost in the Shell") and thus arguably remained his best achievement by default. Luckily, his numerous mangas were later adapted into anime shows by other directors. "M-66" is an extremely simplified 45 minute movie where the characters are just vessels to carry the story from one point to another, which is why numerous viewers complained about it, rightfully claiming that the whole thing should have been more versatile. However, it is corroborated by some very good action-chase sequences and mecha design, which luckily did not end up one-dimensional like the aforementioned features, and at least two situations (the door of the freezer and the elevator sequence) reach almost Hitchcock's intensity of suspense. Shirow was allegedly notorious for the studio due to his perfectionism since he drew more animation cells than scheduled, yet the finished result doesn't really seem revolutionary: every scene is tight and detailed, yet the character designs are not as as good as numerous other animes (who could, for instance, seriously claim that Sybil looks better than let's say Minako Aino or Yoko Littner?). The ending seems a little rushed, yet the sole setting on top of a collapsing building does have its moments.


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