The 2nd Dimension

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Viewing Journal: Black Lagoon (complete)

Series Overview
DVD Info

Overall= B+
Story = B+
Video = B
Audio = B+
Okajima Rokuro is a Japanese businessman…in a town full of Japanese businessmen. His normal day consists of social drinking with clients and being kicked around by his bosses. He finally gets a break though, as he’s sent by his company to the tropical seas of Eastern China to deliver a disc…only his boat gets hijacked by a band of mercenaries that were hired to steal it. “Rock” (as he is newly dubbed by his captors) catches the interest of the only female merc “Revy” as she thinks he’s worth a ransom, taking him hostage. However, the disc turns out to be more trouble than its worth, and complicates things both for Rock, and the mercenaries known as Black Lagoon. (Source: ANN)


The first thing that hit me about Black Lagoon is that everybody smokes. For some reason, even more than it's graphic violence, that me that hit me as being the biggest indicator that this was going to be a fun series with bad-ass characters. And as it turned out, that expectation was met and exceeded because this show was easy to watch with a cast of cool, strange, and violent characters that I looked forward to watching episode after episode.

The show is all about criminals doing jobs for other criminals in order to gain the upper hand on even more criminals. There are no real good guys. And the members of the mercenary group Black Lagoon only seems to be the good guys when taken in comparison to even worse characters, like say a group of neo-Nazis. But at other times it's like no one is really the good guy, because all the characters are equally tough, cool, criminally violent, and at times just plain a maid who is tough as nails and packs a umbrella with some serious fire power. Of course my personal favorite is Balalaika from the crime syndicate "Hotel Moscow", with half her face scarred and smoking that giant stogy, she is easily the coolist of the cast.

There is, of course, plenty of violence but it is the kind of violence where the characters are giddy and enjoy it so much, while at the same time being casual and matter-of-fact about it -- but without making the kind of corny, lame quips that you see heroes make in similar scenes in American movies -- that it's hard not to feel the adrenaline rush right along with them.

Another part of what makes the characters so enjoyable to watch is that they have multifaceted personalities. For instance, Dutch, the leader of Black Lagoon, is a tough fighter, but is intelligent and level-headed and has a gift for being able to read people. Another example is Revy, who has a mysterious past that partially explains why she is so violent and makes her all the more empathetic. And even though she seems to have fighting in her blood, she also seems to envy Rock's old life of normalcy. Rock, on the other hand, is constantly weighing that normalcy and morality against his involvement in the criminal activities of Black Lagoon. This causes a lot of arguments between Rock and Revy; but that conflict is also what causes Rock and Revy to develop such a deep connection. Rock's need to choose between those two lives is the driving force of the show and by the end Rock must make his final choice of whether to give himself over the the dark side or to return to his previous life.


The animation is top quality throughout. The character designs fit the character personalities. The weapons are detailed. And the overall art design is just solid.


The opening and closing animations are incredible. The opening animation really gets you into the mood with its blunt, violent, action-oriented attitude. And the closing animation... it threw me off at the end of just about every episode. It was so subtle and understated that the first time I saw it I wasn't sure if it was the end credits or a continuation of the episode. But it has with a such dark, mysterious tone that it's like ending each episode with a question mark.


So suffice to say that I really liked this show. In fact as the show reached its final episodes I was a bit anxious. Revy and Rock were developing their relationship and it was just so cool to watch that I just did not want it to end. Though I guess it's just as well that it did end on a good note for me. At least I have the memory.

The first season is available on DVD now, but the second half is in limbo since Geneon halted its distribution of anime. So you can obviously download, or you can just wait for some other company to pick up the second half. Either way, I definitely recommend this show if you enjoy anime with action, compelling characters, and plenty of attitude.

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