For the time worth watching this, people have been describing this as the younger sister of “Cowboy Bebop”, being the anime equivalent to the big action blockbuster Hollywood movie (The Rock, Bad Boys, any 80s’ action flick you can think of) with the many details of graphic violence, excessive cursing and language, sexuality thrown in there and a bit of inspiration some such filmmakers as Quentin Tarantino & John Woo, although the former did a bit of anime in his venture (yes, you should know what I’m talking about).
The story follows a team of pirates/mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, which smuggles goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia in the early to mid-1990s. Their base of operations is located in the fictional harbor city of Roanapur in southeast Thailand (somewhere in the Amphoe Mueang Trat district, likely on the mainland north/northeast of the Ko Chang island or on the island itself).They transport goods in the 80-foot (24 m) Elco-type PT boat Black Lagoon. Lagoon Company does business with various clients, but has a particularly friendly relationship with the Russian crime syndicate Hotel Moscow. The team takes on a variety of missions—which may involve violent firefights, hand-to-hand combat, and nautical battles—in various Southeast Asian locations, even going as far as Phu Quoc island of Vietnam and when not doing much, the members of the Lagoon Company spend much of their down time at The Yellow Flag, a bar in Roanapur which is often destroyed in firefights.
Now for the characters of the show, it does have a very vast range of characters but sometimes that showcase as little as they can. Rokuro Okajima, or Rock, is the main protagonist of the show as the Japanese salary man who is so bored and displeased with his daily life and no one exactly gave a shit about him. Actually, when the company he worked for send him out to deliver a package and he gotten captured, they just abandoned him as he was expendable to them. Aside from being captured, Rock manages to keep his mild-mannered and humble attitude throughout the whole show, which is in contrast to our next character, Revy, also known as “Two Hands” (at least she didn’t swing chains). She is one of the most foul-mouthed, merciless, sadistic and fatal characters of the show and that really got the show in drive. Hell, most of the opening sequence is practically her being showcased in action and while she often gets irritated by Rock in the first season but she is protective of him as the series goes along.
The other members of the Lagoon Company include Dutch, the black leader of the company, who is more of the easygoing and relaxed members and last, there’s Benny, the tech specialist member who in his past gotten into the mafia and would’ve ended up dead if Revy didn’t saved him. Now, I would like these characters to have backstory in the show but unfortunately, it’s being taken up by the former two characters of the series, which really disappointed me considering they seemed like interesting characters to know…maybe they might be in the manga, though.
Like I said, there was a wide variety of characters in the show that will probably be too many to mention and name drop like Balalaika, the boss of Hotel Moscow, one of the many gangs that are mentioned in the show and not only she is very skilled at what she does but practically a character that makes her presence to be feared. There is also the Hong Kong Triads lead by Mr. Chang and his top assassin Shenhua; The Colombian Cartel, The Church of Violence, The Aryan Socialist Union (Neo Nazis.) and The Washimine Group (Japanese Yakuza), who are more heavily-involved towards the end of the show.
The show is total 24 episodes, with the first and the second season called “The Second Barrage”, and I will say that the second season has more of a storyline while the first is just random missions with little storyline aside from the main one and yet for some characters like Roberta and her arc makes me crave for more of her (luckily, there is an option for that) but the vampire incestuous twins Hansel and Gretel didn’t feel organic to the series or even to most of the plot. They could’ve been thrown out of the show entirely and not much of a difference would have been made.
As for the animation, the credit all goes to Madhouse for the many use of blood, detailed fight scenes and gun battles, chase scenes, beautiful scenery, and for the opening and ending sequences, which the music for both worked well. The OP theme, “Red Faction” by MELL will get your blood pumping as the show begins, although singing it….I would not suggest if you get the lyrics and the ending music….yeah, music, it’s not much of a theme but many people complained about it being slow, depressing, and drags down the tone of the series…..maybe it does but most of the time when the show have its serious moments, it’s appropriate to rather end on that note rather than just generic hard-driving rock music. The ending music for episode 15 was actually one of my favorites but the last ending theme music was more of a “meh” to me.
Now, as for the dub from Geneon/Ocean, it is a bit 50/50, on the one hand, the dub fits more naturally than the sub, considering its flair is more international and some characters speak English naturally, performances from Brad Swaile, Maryke Hendrikse, Brian Drummond & Dean Redman, which from him I will say this: “Finally, a black character in an anime is voiced by an actual black guy.” This is a good thing, people. But, unfortunately, some of the voices either irritated or creeped me out like the voice of Hansel and Gretel really had me freaking out a bit, considering I heard them before on a show that in a conscience that I’m not telling you….well, one of the actresses was the voice of Nurse Witch Komugi. Garcia just seems annoying and grating whenever he speaks and whoever voiced Shenhua has the worst and slightly offensive Chinese voice I have ever heard. It sounds like that fake accent most people would put in a black-owned hair salon and that’s about as Chinese as the Panda Express.
FINAL VERDICT: By all means, Black Lagoon is worth seeing and definitely worth buying. This could be one of the few anime that I see Western culture getting into, maybe not as much or iconic as Bebop but still. It has a very in-your-face tone mixed with dark comedy and sometimes even darker drama once it gets more storyline driven. Your friends will love this but I wouldn’t recommended seeing this with family or kids…..unless they into that, too.
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