With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

ACF 1962: BLACK MAGIC M-66 Region 1 DVD available today

Black Magic M-66
Directed by Masamune Shirow
and Hiroyuki Kitakubo
Japan, 1987, 48 minutes
In Japanese with English subtitiles
S.R.P. $19.98

Years and years ago, in what now seems like an ancient era in home video, I bought an English-dubbed VHS tape of Black Magic M-66 that was put out by Manga Entertainment. Today Black Magic M-66 finally becomes available as a Region 1 single-disc DVD from Maiden Japan.

Sybel learns of the crash of a military aircraft

Based on a 1983 manga by Masamune Shirow (one of the directors of the anime´), Black Magic M-66 was an original video animation (OVA), meaning that it was created for the home market, not for theatrical release or television. Having seen the English-dubbed version, I was excited to learn that Maiden Japan was releasing it with the original Japanese language soundtrack and English subtitles.

Pursued by the military, Sybel races to rescue Ferris

This futuristic animation begins as a military aircraft flies through a severe storm, has engine trouble, and crashes in a forest. Two coffin-like containers, each marked M-66 are disgorged. Their contents were M-66 anti-personnel automated soldiers. Now activated, the units set off on their test program mission, which one of the scientists involved in the project foolishly left loaded in their memory. The target of this termination program is Ferris, the granddaughter of Professor Matthew, who created the units. The M-66 automated soldiers are programmed not only to destroy their target, but anything that gets in the way of their completing the mission.

A military aircraft about to land

Meanwhile, intrepid freelance video reporter Sybel has her shower interrupted when her scanner picks up news of the crash. She sets off with her assistant and becomes involved in an action packed adventure to destroy the M-66 units before they destroy Ferris.

Ferris (left) and Sybel

There's nothing much in the way of significant extras on the disc, just an "Also Available from Maiden Japan" collection of trailers and the credits for the DVD. It's also unfortunate that there isn't an optional English-dubbed soundtrack available; perhaps Manga Entertainment still has the rights to distribute a dubbed version.

An M-66 unit approaches Ferris and Sybel

Still, Black Magic M-66 is an OVA classic. It belongs in the collection of anyone who takes their anime ´ seriously.

ACF rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recomended.