A note: This review covers both Black Lagoon and Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, and the score is a composite of the two series. If I were to rate the two seasons individually, I would most likely give season 1 around a 7.5 and season 2 around a 6.5.
Black Lagoon looks like a mindless action series. It smells like a mindless action series. However, it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a mindless action series.
To be sure, Black Lagoon almost certainly has mindless action in it. Minor characters spew streams of automatic fire at the protagonists without so much as scratching them. Buildings and vehicles explode at the slightest provocation. Villains emerge from flaming wreckage completely unscathed. Without doubt, these scenes are completely brain-dead, but this is not really what Black Lagoon is all about.
In fact, more than three quarters of the show is reserved for dialogue. One might think that this would slow down an action series, but instead it is easily the best part of the show. Put simply, the show's script sparkles with wit and intelligence. Through an interesting blend of obscure pop culture references, serious philosophical debate and hilarious one-liners, Black Lagoon has some of the best writing of the year.
Unfortunately, Black Lagoon is hampered by a disappointing final arc. The ending drowns itself in a seeming avalanche of petty plot details that I didnt really care about, and the things that made the first season so great (the black humor, interesting philosophical discussions, and risqué attitude) are almost completely gone. In particular, a large part of the normally excellent dialogue is carried out in English. While all of the English is grammatically correct, it's hideously voice-acted, almost to the point of being unwatchable.
In fact, as a whole, the storyline is somewhat uneven. Some of the episodic arcs work well (in particular, the Twins arc at the beginning of the second season is wonderfully creepy), but others either are too ridiculous to really take seriously or get bogged down in unimportant details. Fortunately, as mentioned earlier, the story usually takes a backseat to the dialogue, which is fantastic.
The technical aspects of the show are serviceable, but certainly not outstanding. Animation-wise, the show looks fine most of the time but seems unsure of itself when it comes to the action scenes. Some scenes literally consist of two characters running in a straight line while shooting at each other, and are somewhat dull to sit through. Still, the character designs and backgrounds are top-notch.
There are a couple of problems with the sound. For one, the show leads into the ED at the end of every episode. This slow and depressing instrumental piece is often at odds with the frenetic action that has happened right before it, and serves to dampen the mood of the show. Also, the aforementioned switch to spoken English represents a key misstep in my mind. Fortunately, the OP and non-English voice acting are both great, so Black Lagoon's sound isn't a complete failure.
The wonderful dialogue serves to create characters that feel much more real than the cookie cutter clichés that have come to dominate most of today's action series. Despite the inherent ridiculousness of the setting, all of the characters are believable and likeable. In particular, the two primary protagonists, Rock and Revy, are fantastically well-developed and serve as primary illustrations of the show's theme of moral relativism.
As a denizen of the "normal world," Rock represents the core moral values of modern Japan. Conflict is wrong, life is sacred, good and evil exist, etc. Then, over the course of the series, his traditional beliefs are challenged again and again and again. These beliefs are most apparent in his conversations with Revy. In the beginning, whether he can help it or not, he judges her. He sees her as a thoughtless, cold-blooded beast, an amoral killer that should be both despised and pitied. However, over the course of several heated arguments, Revy slowly shows him that he cannot judge her, because he has no experience whatsoever in her world. He is an alien, a visitor. He does not live in the "night" like the rest of the people of Black Lagoon's accursed city of Roanapur (where even the church is corrupted); he can only peek in through the "twilight." Combined with the characters, this moral "twilight" is ultimately what makes the show what it is.
In many ways, the show strongly resembles Cowboy Bebop. Both series can superficially be written off for their action or episodic plots, but both have significant and interesting things to say about the outcasts of society. While Black Lagoon fails to match Cowboy Bebop in sheer execution, the anime is certainly a step in the right direction for the otherwise increasingly derivative action genre.
Watched on Blu-Ray DVD Release- Covers Fisrt And Second Season
Daisy Dukes, gunfights, nazis, attack choppers, pirates, samurais, smoking, bad language, asscheeks, and MORE GUNS! All of what you can ask for in an action anime rolled up into one nicotine and scotch flavored burrito wrapped in a testosterone tortilla. This is Black Lagoon & here's ya boy Wiru-san's take on it! Let us begin!
The city of Roanapur it's where all the filth accumulates, all the crooks and the theives congregate here basically nothing good comes from here
Like a certain website
Enter our pal Rokuro Okajima,he is a buisnessman for a large company that seemingly deals with data and stuff like that. He is brought along as a translator and pushed around to do basically whatever his superiors want
Pushover is his middle name
He lives a pretty mundane life that he's content with. He goes on a cruise because of a business trip with the company and this is when he gets a warm welcome
Say hello to Mr. Smith & Wesson and his Lady Friends Beretta
Rokuro's company ship gets hijacked by pirates known as The Lagoon Company, kind of like Captain Phillips with less africans and more Femme Fatales with daisy dukes on. The Lagoon Company kidnap Rokuro in hopes of ransoming him to his company and getting some extra money. Shit hits the fan and it turns out Rokuro's company had a CD that was being transported that carried nuke algorithims on it that they were going to transfer to someone and Rokuro happened to be on the boat that contained said nuke codes....So they kinda say fuck you and make it their goal to destroy everyone on that boat so the secret doesn't get out
Sorry buddy you're not worth it
His past life is now gone, they already have the funeral planned. To everyone he ever knew in Japan he's a dead man. Now the Lagoon crew are pissed and Rokuro joins forces with the ragtag group to try and get out of this flustercluck
From Left to Right: Benny, Rokuro, Revy, Dutch
He must join forces with a black guy,a jew, and hot headed gun toting chinese american. After they get out of their quagmire Rokuro meets up with his boss and The Lagoon Company helped set up a transfer,however Rokuro abandons this offer and decides to join the Lagoon Company, he is no longer Rokuro but is now Rock and accompanies them throughout all their misadventures.
The plot is very episodic but the events that take place carry over, they follow the characters and because of that it stops just being a action show about blowing shit up. You want to see why Revy is so pissed or why Rock is feeling sad. The episodes range from mindless micheal bay type shit, to touching and serious, to funny and it's never a dull moment in between. Each episode felt satisfying, some things they hint at in the story and never really fully explain what or how it happens. That kinda ticked me off don't bring it up if you aren't going to at least give a smidge of information.
I'll tell you one thing about MADHOUSE they LOVE their guns and I love the models for their guns. I mean look at this show and Gunslinger Girl they always do a great job and realistic portrayal to their weapons.
Not only do the weapons look great the overall animation is badass too. Characters pull off shit straight from a John Woo movie, and speaking of that this anime is just oozing with western cinema tropes. They actually make referecnes to western action flicks, Sunao Katabuchi probably loves these action flicks and you can see the influence just by watching it
You can't tell me Chang isn't supposed to be Chow Yun Fat
Not to mention the ever so blatant homage to the best 90's action film there is...mohterfucking T2 I jizzed when I saw this reference
That's fucking amazing, you see it has the influence from western and gunslinger movies as a whole here and the gun fights look fucking badass too.
There's never really a moment when the animation looks shitty. It isn't top notch at all times but it's never bad either.
I laughed so fucking hard when I saw this
Animation: 8 (Lotton 10)
Let me just clear this up now, if there is one thing that definately is bad about this anime it's the fucking Opening. That Op sucks eggs, I don't know why they thought it'd be a good idea to have some lady sing in Engrish. It's skippable and I can't imagine someone listening to the entire song let alone the op more than once but I guess it's not super terrible at least it has a good structure?
As for the other music two things stand out.
There's the song "The World of Midnight" which is used in the conclusion of my favorite arc, it gave the show a different tone. The song is a beautiful one that paints the characters in a different light who I believe are another movie reference. I like the solo version better
There's also the ending theme that is remnisent of some orchestral piece in minor. It's a sad piece and it's cool how the use it to end the episode
Also each time there's a fight scene this typical heavy guitar badass theme plays and that was pretty good got you ready for the scene. It was aight
As for the sub and the dub, the voice acting for both were good and the curse words just flow better in english (because that's my native tongue) however I prefered the sub's voices over the dubs. They were both good though so you'd be good with either one
From left to right: Balaika, Eda, Revy, Shenhua, Roberta
The cast of Black Lagoon is full of badass characters and most of them are female too. Lets focus on the main four though
Let's start with "everyone's favorite femme fatale" Revy or by her real name Rebecca which no one ever calls her, if someone did she'd probably kill them. Revy is the gunman of the Lagoon crew and she's damned good at what she does
She's like a fucked up version of Lara Croft
She's not lady like at all and doesn't give a damn what other people think of her, she does what she wants when she wants. She drinks her rum straight and curses like a sailor and is the definiton of badass. Rock is the main character but you will see her on the cover & posters all do to her badassery.
Straight Bacardi...Now It's a Party
Revy is not only a musclehead she actually develops as the show goes on. She's had a damaged childhood and shows no remorse for her actions until Rock joins them. Rock is like the polar opposite of Revy and with him here she starts to think about her actions more often, something she isn't fond of doing.
Revy is awesome and there's no denying that but I want to take a moment to adress all the people that say Revy's character is sexist and all that other bullshit. There's no denying that they use her for fanservice
I'm not denying that, but so what if they are. They are in the islands of Roanapur and it looks like it's pretty fucking warm over there. Revy looks like the type to get pissed off in the summer and cut her pants into shorts, that's probably what happened. That's just how she is, and all of the female cast are the most badass out of everyone in the show. I mean my favorite character in One Piece like never has on a shirt and is ripped as fuck that doesn't make his character sexist
He looks like a gay cowboy stripper
Now if that isn't manservice then my name is Edwardo Jamestown Jerimiah the 4th...and it's not
The things I do for lulz
There's also this
Revy raised Hilda and you can't tell me otherwise
Then we have Dutch the leader of the Lagoon crew and captain of the ship. He is philosophical and very wise. He's a mysterious man, one thing we do know is that he knows a lot of people and cares for his ship and crew. What we don't know is if he actually cares or is it because they make him money? I like to believe the former but I could really see it going both ways, although Dutch doesn't seem like an asshole. We never really know about Dutch's past and that's one of the main things with the Lagoon crew anyway you don't have to discolse that and they rather you didn't.
Dutiche leads and Benny does machines! Benny is the tech guy that does...er tech stuff. Him and rock are two sanest indiviuals in the entire show. Benny is a pretty chill guy and we never know that much about him either. He's always by their side and without him they wouldn't get anywhere
We have our protaginist Rock who at first glance looks like he might turn out to become a Shinji and let me tell you it's the exact opposite it's what Shinji should've become. We see Rock grow the most and he has an influence on the Lagoon crew it's badass to see him stand up after he's been ordered around his whole life
These two here
There's this obvious attraction going on between them although you could argue that it isn't a romantic one, but that's not what i want!
Just do it!
A character that deserves a worthy mention
Balalaika is the head of the Russian Mafia and she gives the Lagoon a bunch of their jobs. She is hands down the most powerful person in the entire show and we all want to know...
How'd you get those got damned scars
She is cold blooded and a total badass there are parts where I think the show wants to you to root against her but I always found my self rooting for her. She's just too badass.
There are more characters that are also cool but these are the main ones you'll be seeing the most of
Black Lagoon is an action packed anime that starts off with a sprint and is able to keep up the pace even though each episode brings different elements: some serious, some funny, and some that are dark. The show is consistently badass and it rarely lets up
Something that is grate takes you on a great journey and ultimately leaves you satisfied. Any bumps along the road are taken with stride and don’t take away from your experience
What I Liked: Intriguing representation of modern piracy and the "underground". Main characters are big on personality and memorable. Revy. Roberta. Patricia Drake as Balalaika. The Aryan Socialist Union. The occasional non-sequiturs and small pieces of black humour dotted throughout the series. The design for Roanapur. Pretty consistent but average animation.
What I Didn't: Brad Swaile's American accent is WAY too strong for his role as Rock. The laughable voice acting for the Nazis in Episode 4. The way the series barreled through the antagonistic groups (e.g. The Rip-Off Church, The Aryan Socialist Union) made said groups seem more like set pieces than organisations. The ending wasn't really a conclusive ending. Soundtrack was surprisingly dated for such a recent series.
Final Verdict: A gritty series that prefers gunfights and explosions to wallowing over humanity's vices, Black Lagoon is action at it's finest and most visceral. It's backed up by a strong cast of characters and enough gun porn to make one's head spin. The English dub's not too bad, either.
Overall: This series isn't for the light-of-heart or innocent ears. It's harsh from it's language all the way to it's characters. If you have a problem with cursing I recommend avoiding the series because you can't go 5 minutes without hearing something obscene.
Story: The story follows a team of pirates called the 'Lagoon Company', who smuggle items throughout the Southeat Asian seas. The team take on a variety of missions that usually result in gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, and/or sea battles. The story is pretty much consistent throughout without any real overlaying plot. This is not one of those series that get's increasingly complex as it goes on, winding it's way towards an eventual end. Black Lagoon's plots are given in arcs. Each arc is made up with two or three episodes during which the Lagoon Company complete their current job.
Animation: The art itself is wonderful, very detailed though the characters come off as simplistic sometimes. The animation is rough though. It's not fabulous but it's not bad enough to deter you from watching.
Sound: The music is a wide range, from poppy beats to hard rock and all things in between and is always appropriate for the current events of the story. My problem is that the sound effects are louder then the dialogue a lot of the time, or at least, that was the case while I was watching it.
Characters: The show offers an interesting collection of characters. You have 'Benny' the computer geek, 'Dutch' the intelligent, reserved warrior, 'Revy' the hot-headed tomboy, and 'Rock' the emotional tag-along. All and all it's not too unexpected, you see similar groups in other animes whose plot circles around a small band of warriors. They are all likable in their own way but a bit one sided at times, though as time goes by you get snippets of information about all of the characters.
Black Lagoon... where to start? The story is, to be blunt, epic. It's completely believable, showing the dark underbelly of humanity. The writer(s?) managed to blend the deep emotional and psychological themes common to most Japanese anime (that I've seen anyway) with the senseless violence and brutality that makes Western media just so darn entertaining. Pair it up with gorgeous artwork, an absolutely perfect soundtrack, and possibly the best sound effects ever heard in an anime, and you have a dark, evil masterpiece. The voice actors choses for the English dub were incredible as well, capturing the sophistication of a Russian mob boss, the vulgar humor and trash-talking of a hired gun, and so many other unique and memorable characters. The characters themselves were amazing as well: from the dark and deeper-than-expected mercenary Revy and her horrifying past to the unusually plain but potentially explosive Japanese businessman Rock. Even the minor characters, like the bartender and the various thugs that come, get shot, then vanish into a "muddy hole in the ground" show the signs of having plenty of thought and effort put into their creation. All in all, Black Lagoon is a thrill ride of a series. I've watched it more than a hundred times and I still find myself coming back again and again.