Now Black Lagoon is one of my favourite anime shows and since I have started rewatching it I thought I could do a review on the series for you guys who may or may not have seen or heard about it but then again this show has been out for god knows how long but let’s get to it shall we.
Black Lagoon is the two season strong anime adaption of the 10 volume Japanese manga series of the same name written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe (which is on hiatus), it is a high-octane ultra violent thriller of a show that follows the exploits of the Black Lagoon Trading Company, a team of pirate mercenaries that smuggle goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia in the early to mid 1990s but I will go into the plot more down below.
So the plot of Black Lagoon revolves around a average Japanese businessman named Rokurou Okajima who has been living a dull life, he wakes up, goes work, finishes work, goes out drinking with his bosses to help company reputation, goes home and does it all over again but that soon changes when he finally gets his chance for a change of pace with a delivery trip to Southeast Asia.
However his trip goes downhill fast as he is captured by a mercenary aka pirate group operating in Roanapur, Thailand called Black Lagoon and the group use him as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the company that Rokurou works for which ultimately fails leaving him betrayed and abandoned by his former employer.
Stuck in a remote part of Thailand dead to the world Rokurou shortens his name to Rock and decides to join the Black Lagoon Trading Company but in order to survive, he must quickly adapt to a depraved, crime-ridden slum of a city notorious for being a hotbed of illegal activities and operations like gambling, prostitution, drug and gun smuggling as well as being home to numerous mafia groups while struggling to keep his values and philosophies intact.
What I love about Black Lagoon is the fact that it isn’t pretty or colourful, its characters reflect this brilliantly because they are not good people in the slightest, there is no good in Roanapur, there are only people trying to earn a living through illegal means and attempting to survive another day while doing so.
Black Lagoon is filled with interesting characters and each one of them has their own unique personality, backstory and motivations and while I have quite a few favourites I will start with Dutch and to be honest there isn’t really much I can say about the guy except that he has a mysterious past and is the boss of the Black Lagoon Trading Company but as the boss he is calm, level headed and quite friendly most of the time.
Next up is Benny who is the computer whiz out of the rag tag group and unlike Dutch I actually know his backstory but the short version is that he is a University dropout where he studied computer engineering until he somehow got into trouble with both the FBI and the mafia…yeah so basically Revy saves his ass, he joins the company and Bob’s your uncle, he is the most laid back of the group and doesn’t like violence but he isn’t blind to the evils of the world and naïve like Rock is.
Next up is Revy and let’s be honest here she is the reason why most people watch Black Lagoon in the first place, clad in combat boots, daisy dukes and a tank top she is the most dangerous person in the entire show and if you think she is “waifu material” get that shit out of your head as soon as possible because chances are she would probably cut of your manhood and feed it to you if she was real.
Revy is by far one of the most scariest female characters in anime and also one of the most badass for good reason and that reason being is that she is a merciless and sadistic killer, in a nutshell she is very sarcastic, rather cold, loud, psychotically humoured, extremely rude and extremely and I really do mean EXTREMELY ill-tempered but I guess I would be too if I grew up like she did, she has gone through every possible horror a young woman could go through and it creates a person like Revy.
Revy was certainly an interesting character because while I’ve seen the hardened, indifferent criminal stereotype before in half a dozen anime shows, Revy takes it to the next level and that makes the show fun to watch because you never know how to feel about Revy exactly; sometimes you’ll side with her and cheer her on, or feel sorry for her when you eventually realise just how broken of a person she is only to be horrified when she completely loses it and starts slaughtering people.
Black Lagoon has a tonne of other great characters in it with my personal second favourite in the series being a incredibly burn scarred female former Russian soldier named Balalaika who is the top dog in Roanapur and is charge of Hotel Moscow which is the Russian mafia and let me tell you, she and her men could probably start, fight and win WW3 by themselves if they wanted and she is amazing because she is incredibly intimidating woman and is not one to be trifled with because and I am quoting her directly here below from an episode where she intimidates a business man.
The reason I came today was to make clear our position. Hotel Moscow will show no mercy to anyone who is in our way. We will reject and annihilate them. Family, friends, even the dog if necessary.
Revy and Balalaika aside Black Lagoon has more kickass women in the forms of Shenhua who is a Taiwanese assassin that prefers to use various knives in combat or more specifically a pair of kukri knives linked together with a length of leather rope at the handles and throwing knives and I am not gonna even go into Roberta who is pretty much the Terminator in a maid outfit with Harry Potter style glasses because she is one awesome character to watch so I am not going to spoil it for you.
However I think I have spent a bit too much time on the characters so let’s get into the other good things like the art style, animation and the voice work because if those aren’t up to standard then its a disaster but it’s one thing that Black Lagoon fortunately does not suffer from.
The animation in Black Lagoon is extremely well done and is some of the best work the year 2006 had to offer since the sheer amount of gunfights and over the top sequences demand high quality and it shows everywhere and it is the same story with the voice work which I will get into now so I can show you an actual clip of the show below that is one of my favourites.
The above clip is from the English dub and the version I watched and fell pretty much in love with for me personally I thought that Revy really shines in the English dub and the gloriously dark and funny bits were amazing because of it but just so you know since this is Black Lagoon and not the 15th or something season of Ash Ketchum being a utter failure aka Pokémon, please watch this show with headphones because the word “fuck” and it’s variations are said once every 2.2 minutes in this series on average and most of that is just Revy.
So in general Black Lagoon is one well put together show and if you do watch it then please watch the dubbed version because Balalaika’s speech in the second season is just incredible and truly shows how good the show is and how great the characters are and you when you see her in what some fans of the series call the “I Say Kneel” moment truly shows how much of a awesome character she is.
Black Lagoon is a grounded action anime series and usually those tend to be more often than not generic shounen or futuristic mecha-combat series (that’s right I am taking shots at you Gundam franchise with your numerous damn series) while it still holds its own with thrilling action filled moments like boat and car chases, brutal fist fights and rather intense gunfights so all in all Black Lagoon is more like a elaborate Hollywood action movie which is good.
Whether we live or die isn’t a big issue. If you focus on being alive, you develop fear. Your eyes get clouded. But if you have no such feelings… you are capable of fighting right to the end of the world. – Revy
This show is one that has everything you want if you like action animes, it has great characters, action moments, if you squint really hard you can almost see the foundations of a somewhat twisted romance but then again it is probably just tension, the end result would probably end in either of two ways, rum and a trashed hotel room or a bullet for Rock but I am not sure since the manga has been on hiatus since 2014 but anyway the real matter is that Black Lagoon is pretty much a show about the criminal mind and the life of crime in all its forms.
It paints an alluring but twisted portrait of such a life while never forgetting to show the kind of sacrifices one has to make to their humanity, there is no classic “hero and villain” dynamics here because there are no heroes and villains, in Black Lagoon with the exception of Rock and Benny is a crazy murdering psychopath who in any other anime would be a stereotypical villain but here they are just people, incredibly messed up people with shady intentions but people none the less.
Black Lagoon is one show that honestly deserves your time and there is quite a lot of it, season 1 has 12 episodes at 24 minutes each, season two titled “The Second Barrage” also has 12 meaning you get 24 episodes of a loud, crude and violent action packed anime but if that is not enough there is also “Roberta’s Blood Trail” which is a five episode OVA series focusing on Roberta and Black Lagoon.
Last but certainly not least are the Omakes aka shorts which are funny as hell and so worth watching especially the one above where Balalaika is a mother with anxiety and there are numerous other Omakes that will have you in tears laughing, my personal favourites are Omake 6 where the cast de-age to numerous ages, Omake 4 where everybody swaps genders and the one above which is Omake 3 so please check this show out and enjoy and that’s about it I think with this review so I am going to end it here so please like, comment down below and share with the hashtag #Slay3rNation so other people can read it and I will see you in the next post.