Black Magic M66 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: D+
  • Packaging Rating: C-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 48
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Black Magic M66

Black Magic M66

By Chris Beveridge     October 30, 2001
Release Date: October 30, 2001

Black Magic M66
© Manga Entertainment

What They Say
Black Magic M-66 is the exciting futuristic adventure of Sybel, a freelance video journalist who becomes involved in a dangerous military fiasco when two top-secret military android assassins, know as M-66 units, are lost in a heavy storm. It triggers a series of events that will change three lives forever....

One of the deadly M-66 units has a mission to eliminate Ferris, the granddaughter of its creator. Time is running out as Sybel faces the deadly M-66 android in an epic battle to save Ferris.

Directed by: Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed) and Hiroyuki Kitakubo (Blood: The Last Vampire). Original Story, Screenplay and Storyboard: Masamune Shirow. Character Design and Production Design: Hiroyuki Kitakubo. Animation Design: Keisuke Okiura. Animation Director: Keisuke Okiura. Music Director: Yasunori Honda

The Review!
Black Magic M66 was the first anime of Masamune Shirow's to be animated. Unfortunately, it has practically no relation to the manga from which it was based and is basically your standard 80's action anime OVA. Time hasn't been a friend to this show.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the show, the forward soundstage sounded pretty full since practically everything is really going through the center channel. Dialogue was clear and the action and sound effects fill up the area. I spot checked several sections in the English 5.1 track and found that track to have a less "boomy" feel to it. Explosions would occur and be isolated, whereas they sounded fuller in the stereo mix.

Things aren't hot here at all. The first is that these must be old masters. Colors look pretty washed out and flat. The second is that the animation in here is simply "alive". Practically every line jitters. A look down a stable hallway, and you'll see ever line shifting up and down and all over. Look at a soldiers shoulder and you'll see it jump and jag. There's a lot of jaggies throughout as well as the lines move in bad ways. Add in several instances of visible ghosting, where you'll see frames carry over into the next, presenting a meshed image.

In the effort to sell this old 80's show, an 80's style cover has been chosen. An almost solid black background with one of the M66's posing in the front with a simple logo, it's just not all that eye-catching at all. The back provides one piece of animation and a couple pieces of Shirow artwork. There's also a decent summary, a good listing of features and some of the more basic technical and production info. The insert provides another shot of the cover while folding it out shows one scene from the show. The back of the insert reuses the artwork from the back cover and provides the chapter listings.

The menu layout is taken from one of the animation pieces of the M66's shell opening (which means it's a bit jittery as well). Animation plays (in English) in the center of this. Selections are quick to take and moving between menus is nice and easy. Language selection is a bit of a pain as it doesn't indicate what's selected. You make a selection and the screen remains the same (especially depending on how fast your player accesses things).

Oddly, the extras aren't included in the extras section. Along the main menu you can access the six character bios for the show. Inside the extras section is everything folks don't consider extras; weblinks, trailers for the various Palm companies, trailers for other DVD's and trailers for various Manga items.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Black Magic M66 felt like a retread back when I originally saw it on VHS under the US Renditions label oh so many years ago. At the time, the manga had intrigued me, so I had spent the money to check out anything Shirow related.

It's not bad, but it's very simple. In a near-alternate future, an advanced helicopter is mysteriously brought down (engine trouble? sabotage?) and its cargo has gone missing. A group of soldiers arrives on the scene to take care of everything. They're pretty efficient and get things settled quickly and learn what's gone on. Apparently inside two of the caskets were new advance anti-personnel robots that are humanoid in nature. They're essentially anime terminators.

Also on the scene is Sybel, an up and coming reporter and her cohort photographer, Leakey. They both snap some good images of what's going on, but are eventually captured by the military and held while the higher-ups figure out what's going on at this crash site. It's then that the two M66's begin their assault, killing troopers easily and making a mess of things in general.

Apparently the two M66's have been programmed with a kill target, even though they were being sent to be tested at a new facility. So they're now both working in synch to get their bearings on the target and move in for the kill. But who is it is the question for the first half or so. When we learn that it's the granddaughter of the kooky scientist who built the M66, you can sense the waves of surprise. How could these M66's hunt down the cute and bubbly blonde teen?

So go the chase scenes, with buildings exploding, troopers exploding and all kinds of other general mayhem. With its short length however, you simply can't develop any kind of real feelings for any of these characters as there's very little to them. Tie this in with a transfer that gives your eyes the shakes, and it's a recipe for trouble.

Black Magic M66 is one of those shows that would have been better off being forgotten into the history of anime, something to remember with some degree of fondness, but with the knowledge of knowing that a revisit will only invite bad things.

Japanese Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,English 5.1 Surround Sound,Character Bios

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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