Black Magic M-66 (Japan 1987)

Rating: **
Review Date: 12/7/15
Writer: Masamune Shirow

This early effort from Masamune Shirow is one of his lesser works and not particularly interesting. A military transport ship carrying two experimental combat androids is sabotaged and the droids escape. Unfortunately, they're fully armed and their test program has them hunting down the granddaughter of the scientist who created them. You really have to wonder about that. "Let's see, I think I'll write a test program to have my cool new robots assassinate my adorable granddaughter. Nothing could possibly go wrong in that scenario..." While the army has their hands full trying to recover the rogue androids, a spunky photo journalist named Sybel (or "Shebel" if you read her name tag) stumbles across their radio transmissions and joins the hunt in hopes of getting a scoop and some highly classified footage. She inadvertently ends up rescuing the granddaughter from the relentless killing machines, and manages to keep her alive long enough for the military to finally shut down the androids for good.

The animation is good and fairly typical of the 1980's, which gives the production a wonderfully nostalgic look and feel. Sybel is a strong and confident female lead, but the simplistic script and short running time allow no room for character development. The character designs do a good job of reflecting Shirow's style, and there's a cute in-joke where Sybel wears an "Appleseed" t-shirt. The "Terminator" (1984) influence is readily apparent, which makes the material feel slightly derivative. It's an entertaining diversion, but easily forgettable. In fact, I originally watched this over twenty years ago and had no memories of it whatsoever.