Black Magic (manga)
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DVD cover for the Black Magic M-66 OVA.
(Burakku Majikku Mario Shikkusuti Shikkusu)
|Written by||Masamune Shirow|
|Published||February 25, 1983|
|Original video animation|
|Black Magic M-66|
|Directed by||Hiroyuki Kitakubo, Masamune Shirow|
|Written by||Masamune Shirow|
|Music by||Yoshihiro Katayama|
|Released||June 28, 1987|
Black Magic (ブラックマジック M-66 Burakku Majikku Mario Shikkusuti Shikkusu?) is a cyberpunk manga written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. It was first published as a dōjinshi in 1983, and was later reprinted in tankōbon format by Seishinsha in 1985. The series was later adapted into an OVA in 1987 which was directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo. AIC, and Animate provided the animation/production while Bandai Visual was chosen as the distributer. The OVA is very loosely based on one of the volumes of the manga and centers around the efforts of a female journalist named Sybel to save a young girl from an out-of-control military android created by the girl's grandfather.
A thunderstorm illuminates a military transport chopper which is flying to an undisclosed location with a secret cargo – two fully equipped, but un-programmed M-66 battle androids. It becomes apparent that the chopper is suffering from some sort of attack, as one of the turbines flares up before exploding, causing both pilots to fight to get the massive craft under control again. Shaken, the co-pilot grabs the radio and begins to issue a 'MAYDAY' distress call, but is stopped by the steely eyed glance he receives from the pilot. Both men evacuate the doomed craft and it crashes in a remote forest miles away from Center City, although both of the M-66's storage pods are thrown from the wreckage. As the opening credits commence, one of the pods slips down a mud bank and opens as the M-66's automatically begin their mission.
Two men hiking in the forest become the M-66's first 'confirmed' kills- as they stumble upon the body of a dead bear which one, or both of the androids beat senselessly before killing it ruthlessly. The men become scared upon investigating the bear's body and finding that even its paws have been broken. Running off into the woods, it becomes apparent that the M-66's go after both men, but their demise is not shown on screen.
Sybel, a freelance journalist, receives an intercepted Military Broadband Transmission and loads up her equipment to go see what type of footage she can get of the event to sell to the major networks. She's joined by Leakey, her cameraman, and a greedy backstabber (this is explained later in the film). Rushing to the scene of the accident, the two of them abandon their truck and try to sneak closer to the crash site which has already been sealed and cordoned off by the military's retrieval teams.
The military's Special Ops Forces are directed by a professional soldier who is identified only as the 'Major', his status rank. The Major is a seemingly cool, yet calculating man- and his soldiers perform his orders without question. Among the retrieval team is the assistant professor of the android's main design programmer. He is heard talking to the soldiers regarding the M-66's attack capabilities. The Major orders one of his dispatch craft to go and pick up the lead professor and bring him to the crash site as well, and the men investigate the area some more. The SpecOps Forces have also discovered the bodies of the two hikers, and are running ID checks on both men to see if they were potential spies from the North.
The M-66's are active searching out their target as well, this becomes apparent when the lead designer, Professor Matthews arrives at the site and talks to Professor Slade, his assistant. It seems that Slade loaded a 'dummy' program into the M-66's before they were transported, which mimics an actual mission engagement. Had he not done that, then when the airship crashed, both androids would have obeyed their secondary programming – and buried themselves deep under ground, to prevent being found by 'enemy forces'. Professor Matthews tells the Major that the SpecOps Forces must find and rescue his granddaughter Ferris, as she is the target the M-66's have been tasked with killing. Both androids do not realize that their mission is a false engagement- as both would have been reprogrammed with real mission directives once they arrived at their destination. The Major decides that the best course of action is to confront the androids on their way into the city area, and he sets a trap for both of the cunning machines. Sybel and Leakey, meanwhile – had been captured by the SpecOps Forces in the forest, their equipment was taken, and they were arrested. Both were to be administered a shot of sodium pentothal – but only Leakey is given the shot- the android's arrival at the soldier's temporary base allows Sybel enough time to try to knock out the guard, but she is ineffective and he shouts at her to quit resisting. Another soldier walks over to their vehicle with a machine gun, and the guard shouts at him to watch Sybel and Leakey, before jumping out to run and join in the battle. Sybel is horrified when she sees the unidentified soldier turn around, a look of disbelief on his face- and a huge wound in the middle of his chest. Falling forward, the soldier dies, and Sybel takes advantage of the situation to get herself and Leakey out of there.
Despite the Major's best advances and planning however, the androids engage his men and kill the majority of them, before his soldiers deploy a magnetic device which shuts down the androids for a limited time. Using one of these devices, the soldiers manage to capture one of the M-66's, and pin it on the hood of one of the transport vehicles using nets. However just before they can retrieve the android, it self-destructs using a move known as the 'Scattershot', which propels all 20,000 of the small bore projectiles embedded within its skin in every direction. This move was meant to keep the androids from falling into enemy hands, and the Major loses more men when the android performs this action. He survived, having been behind one of his men who stood in front of him when the android self-destructed. Just as the men approach the ruined prosthetic chassis it emits a final failsafe – poison gas which quickly dissipates in the open air. His remaining forces turn their attention to the remaining M-66, which easily beats them back and then makes its own escape by jumping into the air and disappearing into the surrounding forest. Beaten, but not one to give up easily, the Major regroups his forces and calls for a transport craft to pick them up.
Sybel and Leakey make it back to their truck, and Sybel drops Leakey off with the film to go sell to the networks while she tries to get more information on what has happened. By accident, she discovers Professor Matthew's house deep in the forest. It has been ransacked by the surviving M-66. Sybel finds one of the Professor's robot assistants in the rubble, and mistaking it for a human female, attempts to dig it out before realizing that it is indeed a robot. She then listens as a voicemail message begins playback. It is Professor Matthew's granddaughter Ferris saying that she will be home late and that she is out with friends at a restaurant in the city, which she aptly names. Sybel realizes that the M-66 must have heard this same message and has gone to intercept and kill Ferris since she will not know it is there to kill her.
Indeed, Sybel's instincts prove correct as she steals a small plane and ends up outrunning two police airships who are attempting to make her land. Just as she makes her way past a small crowd, she sees the remaining M-66, which had blended in with the crowd by putting on a blanket and walking calmly through the city center. The police sirens tip the android off, it thinks that they are there to intercept it, so it destroys one of the airships with its heat laser, causing the airship to explode. In her haste, Sybel arrives at the restaurant and finds Ferris, who is more than reluctant to follow her. Sybel has to tell Ferris that the M-66 is there to kill her, and from then on, it's a fight to stay alive for both Sybel and Ferris- with help from the Major and his SpecOps Forces running defense against the unstoppable android.
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The OVA has received reviews from those with experience in the anime/manga field. In his review Theron Martin from Anime News Network said that the series had a "dated look" to it. Martin also praised the character designs though along with the android action giving the overall subtitled OVA a B- grade. Carlos Ross from THEM Anime reviews gave the OVA a 3/5 star rating calling it "not a bad effort by any means". In his review Ross compared the villans in Black Magic to those in Terminator 2 for their lack of humanity which adds to their terrifying nature. He goes on to recommend the OVA for an audience that likes graphic violence.