Series Recommendation: Black Magic M-66

Masamune Shirow – a master of sci-fi and cyberpunk, famous for his Ghost in the Shell that has been a fan-favorite for many years. Aside from that, Shirow has also worked on many other short OVAs that just ooze his aesthetic. And the only work that he was in the director seat was Black Magic M-66 – a 48-minute OVA that adapted his manga of the same name. Released in 1987, the OVA is just full of military nerdgasm and awesome cyberpunk atmosphere.

+ Plot: The M-66 OVA’s plot is quite simplistic. Two military killer robots has gone rogue and is on its way to assassinate someone. Our main character – a tomboy reporter named Sybil – got caught in the crossfire between the Special Force and the killer robots trying to protect its target. The story is super simple and straightforward. The characters are mostly one-dimensional, however, they are charming in their own way, especially Sybil and the Special Force Commander. The plot just keep going and never stop for 47 minutes.

This is also one of the most exciting and badass portrayal of how Special Force are supposed to be. They are extremely tactical and efficient, employing many tactics that are unorthodox in other series. And they work FAST! Their deployment rate is lightspeed and all the measures they use are like built into their blood, instantly reacting and responding according to the changes in situation. And guess what, they aren’t cannon fodders but actually do something for once. Watching M-66 makes you wish more Special Force act like this in animes.

+ Animation: AIC and Animate created quite a small masterpiece. The movement of the human characters are fluid and flow nicely. The killer robots movement are inhumanand bizarre, even though they are humanoid, which helps to emphasize their special traits. Some camera angles created a very intense atmosphere which is super nice, it makes you feel like you’re at the scene and holding the camera yourself. The overall yellow/brown tone draping over the OVA suggest a sort of dystopia cyberpunk city (most of the older OVAs have that tone too) with some neon signage really suits the series well.

+ Mechanical Design: Well, the star of the show is the killer robots, aren’t they? But to be honest, they are…pretty standard. Their design are humanoid by nature and looks just like your run-of-the-mill human (except the fact that they can easily rotate any part of their body 360 degree). But yeah, the robots have some pretty sick gimmick as well (and deadly) .For me, the highlight are the Special Force’s helicopters. They look pretty sleek, but not in the futuristic ace-combat style but more of a rounded way. The personnel deployment gimmick is pretty cool as well.

+ Music: Well, there’s not a lot of music in the OVA. But the ending theme is a pretty good 90s J-pop song if we consider the vocal and the beat. The lyrics are a bit of nonsense to me but I’m sure it made sense to some people. Well it sure does fit the title.

Overall, Black Magic M-66 is just one of many that Shirow put his unique style in. And though short, Black Magic M-66 is really enjoyable. Generally likeable characters and easy to understand plot, the shining aspect of the OVA is its depiction of the Special Force and its extremely fluid animation. Watching it really fill you with excitement, eager to know what the army will do next (instead of them being assholes and cannon fodders). And Sybil is a very cool tomboy to watch as well.