The Second Barrage picks up right where Black Lagoon leaves off, carrying on the same sense of atmosphere and style. Instead of four separate mini-arcs, however, there are three, each with a unique focus: the first on the macabre, the second on humor, the third on character depth. While not quite on the level as the first season, if you loved Black Lagoon you definitely ought to turn your head in this direction.
Because the story portions of The Second Barrage really aren't too incredible in and of themselves, I won't spend too much time trying to make them more complex than they actually are. The intrigue of the story comes from an overall atmosphere, where events that happen in one arc indirectly tie into the next. The first arc encompasses the continued power struggles in Roanapur, where one of the major drug cartels hires assassins to kill Balalaika and the rest of Hotel Moscow. These two assassins, whom are "affectionately" referred to as the twins, will make you cry and throw up at the same time, and both out of the same orifice. Now, if you just tried to picture that, you've got a pretty swell idea as to how grotesque this arc is. Cross-dressing? Sure. Cannibalism? You bet. Necrophilia? Of course! Yet, as disgusting as it is, I found their horrendous back story to really fit in well -- no matter how much I hated their guts, I couldn't help but pity them.
I guess the storywriters figured the audience needed a break after the twins arc, so the second takes a light-hearted, comedic approach. My least favorite of the arcs from both seasons, but it is amusing. Not much to comment on about it though.
The Second Barrage's finale arc, however, is by far the strongest. Through his continued aid to Hotel Moscow, Rock finds himself whisked back to Tokyo as a translator for Balalaika. Her business, of course, does not involve love, joy, and happiness, and he soon finds himself mixed in with Japanese mafiosos. This arc primarily focuses on Rock's struggles to affirm his new identity, as the lines between his past and his future are blurred surprisingly well. Revy accompanies him as his bodyguard, and due to her proximity, gets to see a side of him that she had no experience with before.
I personally loved this arc, most especially because of Revy. Tokyo's atmosphere is vastly different from Roanapur, and she encounters a number of obstacles that cause her to reflect upon her own values and her own lifestyle. Though she can't escape her own thirst for adrenaline and danger, the fact that the scriptwriters gave her such depth is commendable. No matter the facade she puts forth, deep down she has a distinctly human persona -- one that she cannot escape.
The animation, like the first season, is gorgeous. A vast abundance of detailed scenery and the same vivid character designs. If you're watching The Second Barrage you should have already seen the first season, so expect the same.
The only major difference is during the twins arc, and if you're any fan of sick, twisted pervesion and lots of blood and gore, it's certainly right up your alley. This arc is quite disturbing, and the visuals go right along with it. I winced a number of times while watching.
My poor ears. Somebody give me a chalkboard and nails, please. While the musical score isn't half bad, The Second Barrage does something insanely stupid: it makes its seiyuu voice a large number of English lines. As much as I appreciate the job the actors did for their respective characters, which is certainly top notch, they speak English about as well as I pick up women. Honestly, Read or Die should give up on Beethoven's suicide song and just throw in a thirty second loop of this crap. Plus, not only is it audible murder, the grammar is absolutely atrocious. While I commend the attempted "realism" the writers were aiming for with Rock as a translator, my God this never should have passed quality checking.
But hey, the music is good...
Definitely the strongest part of The Second Barrage. The third arc, being six episodes long, really expands on the relationship between Rock and Revy. I get really irritated when people label Revy as some air-headed, gun-loving maniac, as it clearly is not the case. With a tragic, violent, and lonely past, her amoral, bloodthirsty face certainly exists, but that's what makes her so deep. As she continues to spend time with Rock, especially on an intimate, personal level (no not sexually for all you who would think that), you can activity see his influence brushing off on her. Little subtleties begin to sprout up here and there, and you begin to see her show signs of a girl in love. Notice how, little by little, her dress shifts to be more feminine, and her mannerisms toward him become less flagrant and much more empathetic. It's hard to argue the Revy at the end of Black Lagoon is the same as the Revy at the beginning.
Rock showcases equally as complex character growth. As the series progresses, he's forced to finally confront and decide on which world he wants to live in: the underground of Roanapur or the kosher of Toyko. Because of this, unlike so many anime, Rock is forced to deal with his unrealistic, pure idealism. It's hard to comment much on his growth as it spoils the best parts of The Second Barrage, but it definitely is one of reasons I enjoyed the series so much.
Though the weaker of the two seasons, The Second Barrage is still damn good. The combination of action and deep character development, along with the unique introduction of mini-arcs, really impressed me. Innovation seems to be its greatest virtue, as there the series is littered, quite literally, with traces of ingenuity at every bend. Probably one of the most enjoyable anime I've had the opportunity to watch. I highly suggest watching Black Lagoon, and if you enjoy it, The Second Barrage is a must-see.
If ever there was an anime that depicted atmosphere of the criminal underworld, warts and all, it's this one. 12 episodes for the first season and another 12 for the second season, this anime is full of violence, guns, swearing, explosions and... great story. This isn't the mindless action anime it seems, it has a lot behind it, especially since the story revolves around a rather ordinary character in the dangerous criminal world. I got major western (non-anime vibes) here. I'd expect this anime to be popular among many, with varying tastes. Not many anime show crime as well as this one. If you don't like the average anime, if you like good anime, if you like action or even if you're a fan of unique story, then this anime is for you. I expected well of this anime, a bad thing since high expectations never bode well. Was this as great as I predicted? Read on to find out.
The animation quality of Black Lagoon is rather good for 2006. I watched it in crystal clear HD and while there are a few bits where it shows its age, it's nothing major. The animation style seems to be the average, but when the action reels in you get a taste of the somewhat unique flavour of a few of the character designs. Some seems generic but others are designs I haven't noticed much. Heck, while the main character seems generic, I can't think of a single anime off the top of my head with that style of character (maybe because most of them are teenagers in generic high school settings). There is a lot of blood shed and the gore is slightly underwhelming, but then a certain scene makes up for it. Good or bad depending on personal tastes. Nothing too offensive here, what little nudity here is in context, rather like Hollywood movies. Heck, I feel this anime gives me major vibes of Hollywood movies. Of course this anime depicts the criminal underworld, so horrible things will be depicted or implied, it's up to the viewer whether or not to get offended by it. I was horrified, but this anime reminded me that this stuff can and actually does happen in the real world, whether it is brought to our attention or not. I can conclude that while the animation is great, it isn't groundbreaking.
They went all out on the sound here. The first scene of Black Lagoon I saw in a clip had awesome rock music and I instantly went and got the soundtrack. Don't be fooled, while guns and rock go well together, there's much more to hear here. The outro is a great example and juxtaposes the thrilling intro. Occasionally the music sounds cheesy and out of place but it's mostly appropriate and is pleasant to the ears. While this anime is available in both English and Japanese, the effort they've gone to with voice acting is astounding. At least in the dub version. How? Technically speaking, the English dub has more than just English, with some characters speaking in their mother tongues, rather appropriately. As for voice actors, you may notice that Rock sounds exactly like Light Yagami from Death Note, voiced by Brad Swaille. Funnily enough, Benny is also voiced by Brian Drummond the voice of Ryuk from Death Note and also Vegeta from DBZ. Balalaika is voiced by Patricia Drake, voice of Kid Trunks from DBZ too.
The main character appears to be the average Japanese salaryman, a drone working a thankless job. That is until he gets involved in the shady side of the law when he becomes a hostage taken by pirates. He has no real name, except for the one given to him by his companions: Rock. This guy has a conscience, so the criminal underworld isn't an easy place for him to be. Surprisingly, he enjoyed his life-threatening escapade so much that he discards his own life to become a member of the Black Lagoon smuggling company. He won't kill anybody and he won't bring harm to anyone, but he comes in useful at times. His personality clashes with the likes of Revi, almost getting him killed in the process. A character that is very easy to relate to and is surprisingly very far from being cliche or a trope. He also smokes, just like almost every other character in this anime.
Revi is a hot-headed psychopathic woman who likes to shoot first and ask questions later. Orphaned from a very young age, this woman was shaped by hate, pain and the luck to survive. Nationality is described to be Chinese-American. She's very skilled with guns and she dual wields her custom M92 pistols, the Sword Cutlasses. I didn't like this character. This wasn't because this character was made or depicted bad, in fact the were a very convincing persona. I more hated this character for how hateful and evil they appeared to be. She doesn't take orders from anyone, but is willing to cool her jets to work with the rest of the Black Lagoon company. I like how well they did the backstory of this character. She tends to drink a lot of beer and smoke a lot. Surprisingly for a woman, she lives like a slob.
Dutch is the big black badass, who usuallly pilots the boat and is the leading member of the Black Lagoon. Surprisingly, he isn't a horrible person and is a very reasonable, just making good use of his smarts and skills. He prides good service above all else and this has resulted in the good record and reliability of the Black Lagoon company. He can deal with the other members well and is just good at negotiating in general, after all, he does set the price for the services of the Black Lagoon. Like the rest, he smokes and his favourite drink is whiskey. I think this guy is from America, makes the most sense or he'd be talking in a different accent and be called something different. We don't get much background of this character, unfortunately.
The last, but not least, member of the Black Lagoon is Benny, the technical guy. He wears glasses and has a ponytail. This character reminds me of Hal Emmerich (Otacon) from Metal Gear Solid. He is also American and a graduate at that. His computer (hacking) and technology skills are second to none. He is the most ordinary of the regular crew, coming from a decent background and he even mentions this to Rock. That said, he gets along with everyone very well and unlike Otacon from MGS, things go well for him. Perhaps we could have seen more of Dutch and Benny, I feel like the other two got more of the limelight.
Among the other characters is Balalaika, the leader of Hotel Moscow, the Russian mafia based in Roanapur and a strong woman. A character shaped by war, as is evident by the many scars from burns on her body and is addressed as 'Capitan' by her soldiers (henchmen). Due to the military origin of the members of Hotel Moscow, they are well organised and more skillful than the gangs and small-time criminals in Roanapur combined. Balalaika initially seems like a benevolent being, but we eventually get to see that she is just like Revi, a horrible individual that has lost all shred of humanity. And the good thing is, we get to see some backstory to support this character. Done well I'd say, since we get to see how imperfect and unreasonable this character can be towards the end.
Not too many other noticeable characters, but many have decent backstories and some of them are pretty interesting. Like 'the cleaner' a young woman who chops up victims with her chainsaw, in order to get rid of them for others. She survived having her throat slit and as such she speaks with a robotic machine requiring contact with her neck. Then there's also the character only known as 'Chinglish,' a Chinese woman in traditional Yeongsam that specialises in using throwing knives. The nickname comes from the terrible Chinese accent that borders on offensive. Unrelated to this character is the leader of the Chinese Triad in Roanapur, a badass who wears a suit and cool glasses.
An ordinary guy in an less than ordinary position. At the start of the first season, Rock is a hostage on a boat, where he is taken for his knowledge and access to vital information given to him by his boss at the office. Falling in with the crowd at the Black Lagoon trading company (AKA BLTC), which mainly specialises in smuggling and devilveries on the wrong side of the law, he comes into contact with the grim reality of how horrible the world is beneath the surface. Mainly he is trying to come to terms with such things and his human opinions make him do silly things and get into trouble. There is no overarcing plot in Black Lagoon, other than Rock's personal issues with where he's at. Rather, Black Lagoon is mainly a collection of events that occur to Rock and his friends at the BLTC. The larger events seem to last for 3 or 4 episodes. Not too disappointing since Rock is a very interesting character, easy to relate to and the many stories are very entertaining, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. They are well written, but there are a few flaws, including certain characters appeared less later on in the second season. The BLTC's various jobs feature less in the second season and as such, some people didn't enjoy it as much. Towards the end, the story gets a bit psychological as Rock's position comes into question, some people may not like this iffy crazy mindbending stuff.
Black Lagoon is a great anime and I'd recommend it to regular fans of anime and those who don't watch many anime/ have a more refined, niche taste in anime. It's filled with action, but there are some things which may be upsetting to watch, this is a very good depiction of the criminal underworld after all. Minus the crazy cool anime badassery. Give it a go and try not to get too freaked out.
Family-friendliness Rating: 5/5 Violence, inappropriate language and all associated with the criminal underworld make it unsuitable for minors (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 (higher is better)
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, gives the audience more of what they’ve come to expect. Lots of action, dark comedy, and brooding characters make this a worthy second season, though a prolonged final story arc and some needless things here and there detract from the overall experience.
1) More of the Same- The first two arcs of this second season contain all the sort of things you’ve come to expect from Black Lagoon. The first arc focuses on incestuous vampire twins and gets weirder and weirder the longer it goes on. The second arc focuses on a money launderer and the hunt for her by every baddie in Roanuper. The third arc deviates quite a bit from the normally fast-paced and action heavy script of the other arcs, but I’ll get to that later. The first two arcs show that the writers knew what the audience wanted. They focus on wacky action, fun characters, and that general sense of fun that pervades this very dark show. The fact that Black Lagoon can blend the merciless and brooding with the funny and entertaining remains a testament to its strengths. As I said in my review of the first season, it’s so hard to balance comedy and darkness, action and silliness. Especially in something as usually serious as Black Lagoon is. But this series manages to do so. The fact that the second season is more of the same isn’t a con because this is what the audience wants.
2) Revy’s Development- Revy continues to develop in this second season and manages to become an even better character due to this. While at the beginning of the series she was unapproachable, annoying, crass, and a total bitch to Rock; she’s really developed into something like a…girlfriend. I mean, she’s not dating him and she’s not overtly saying anything but the gradual softening of Revy is one of the more interesting and well done aspects of the show. In this season, especially toward the end, we see a different side of Revy. This is especially due to her entering Rock’s world and seeing what her definition of a normal life would be. She’s where Rock is, stuck between normalcy and piracy and not able to move one way or the other. So she plays with kids, she’s nice to Rock. She still kicks some ass, but she has feelings toward Rock that are never overtly stated. She’s a total tsundere without falling into the high school level conventions of the character. She blushes, she softens up, but she’s not loudly calling him a baka and crying in corners. I feel that out of every character, Revy was the best developed. Rock stays mostly the same through the whole series and Benny and Dutch aren’t even given much focus. This is the story of Rock and Revy. Any romance is implied, but not shown.
3) Animation- I don’t think I ever took the time to praise the animation for this series. It’s damn good. Even watching the DVD version on a sixty-inch the show looks like a freaking blu-ray copy. Even my friend mentioned that when we watched some of the show together. Black Lagoon has really good animation. Sure, from afar faces can look Picasso-esque, but close up the characters faces show all kinds of mixed, weird emotions that are fun to try to understand. Revy especially has these looks of disgust/boredom that are both hilarious and deeply integral to her character. The animation does a good job of expressing emotion and making the characters much more interesting because of that. The action scenes are also exceptionally smooth. There was definite care taken in making sure the series looked good.
4) Balalaika- Dis bitch cray. Balalaika pulls most of the strings in the series and while the first season gives us a good idea of who she is, this second season gives us a lot of her. She’s remorseless, cruel, and batshit insane. The final arc is fairly dull but the parts containing Balalaika shine. While I could have done without the part of her backstory concerning becoming a ballerina (is that all Russian women can attain to be?), the rest of her parts are great. The first season made Revy out to be the crazy bitch but this season really shows that Revy is nothing compared to Balalaika.
1) The Final Arc- The final arc isn’t bad in any way. The story itself is good, the action scenes are excellent, Revy and Rock getting in the middle of a war is pretty great, and the character development is wonderful. But it goes on way too damn long. This single arc stretches across half the season and the pay-off is forgettable. This was an arc that could have probably been about four episodes if it had neglected to show all the ridiculous high school antics and build a character who is both extremely boring (she can pull quotes from philosophers out of her ass), and just there to play point-counterpoint with Rock. Which is part of the charm of the character building, but, in the end, it wasn’t effective because the bitch was crazy! If it had been a normal girl, someone like Rock who got pulled into the world and was forced into being part of the underworld, who didn’t succumb to the craziness, it would have been so much more effective. If Rock had to realize that in order to protect people like her from the underworld, you have to kill in the underworld, it would have been more effective. I understood the tone and meaning of the final arc but it fell into a long-winded, very Japanese style of story-telling. Which just might be the point. We go from a very western, gung-ho style of story-telling then move to a slower, Japanese version. It’s part of the counterpoint to Revy and Rock’s lives. Ultimately, this arc left me with mixed feelings.
2) Panty Shots!- We got some Revy fan service in the first season. But this season, we get all the fan service we need in the second arc, when a silly girl who counterfeits dollar bills continually shows her panties every time she moves. Perhaps that’s part of building her character and showing her as silly, but at the same time, it’s rather pointless and, for me, detracted from the experience. There were more panties in this season then I would have expected. It didn’t totally detract, but was a minor nuisance.
3) Neglecting Benny and Dutch- While the focus on Revy and Rock is welcome; the series never gives much of a chance for the audience to get to know Dutch and Benny. They’re part of the crew yet we are only given fleeting glimpses of Benny and Dutch maintains a kind of stoicism through the whole series. There was a lot of room to build character that never got a chance.
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage is a good follow up to the first season, though unbalanced. While not as strong as season one, it still makes for great entertainment.
Well, I thought this was pretty good overall, but in comparison to the first season this was kind of a step back. I mean the animation was pretty good although (there were a few corner cuts) and the dub is amazing, but it falls short with the characters. Most of them were one dimensional retards who's only purpose was to shoot everything on sight. The pacing was sloppy because they drug out some of the planning, so we hear more talking than shooting. The redeeming quality is that this anime has some killer sound effects and they sound more realistic than other anime.
To sum it up, it wasn't bad, but it really wasn't as good as it should've been either. If you're a fan of the first season give it a try, you may like it, but if you are expecting more from it than Season 1 then you might as well just skip it.
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage
After seeing Black Lagoon I was pretty much sure what to expect of this and it delivered all the crazy gunfights and recklessness I could ask for. And it did so with a bit more finesse than the first part.
Those looking for a depth and intelligence are surely to be disappointed, but when you just regard Black Lagoon as a mindless fun ride, it works. It has its highs and lows, but all in all it is pretty consistent. If you enjoy the first ep, go on. Otherwise don't even bother.
Visuals are good thanks to the great colorful style and it has a few awesome nostalgic tunes. It is not pushing any boundaries on either side, still it is making pretty good use of what it has. The only problem I had was the voice acting in the last part. If you decide to let the cast speak English, let them learn it first. I know it was to emphasise Rock being a translator, but it really sounded bad. Moreover it really felt inconsistent, English-Japanese-English-Japanese...That is not the way to do it.
To sum it up, if all you are looking for is a bit of violence served in a stylish way, Black Lagoon definitely does it right. Hop on board and enjoy the ride.