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.
It has been a year since Rock joined the crew of the Black Lagoon, and while becoming accustomed to life in Roanapur, he also gets involved in many dangerous circles. With the level of violence increasing by the day, Hotel Moscow takes advantage of Rock's talents, and he soon finds himself intimately involved in their struggle for power. A series of events eventually lead Rock back to Japan as a translator for Balalaika, where he soon finds himself confronted with the choice of returning to his old life or continuing with the new. While questioning where his morals lie, Rock must decide, once and for all, whether or not to call the Black Lagoon home.
Though I'm a big fan of slice of life and romance, I'll watch just about anything that catches my interest. My opinions tend to be pretty level-headed, but I have been known to be controversial from time to time! Feel free to lay into me if you so desire, as I always appreciate feedback - positive or negative. I hope you enjoy reading!