Black Lagoon: The Complete Series Season 1
DVD | Box Set
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Best Action Anime of 2007- Anime Insider
Rokuro Okajima is meek, mundane and metropolitan. His business trip to South East Asia turns from pleasure cruise to festival of pain when modern-day pirates board the ship and take him hostage. Revy, Dutch, and Benny are merciless, maniacal and mean. Together, they make up the crew of the Black Lagoon. They are the exact opposite of Rokuro in every way but one... A mercenary group out has targeted them to steal the data disc that Rokuro had, and with it, classified information that threatens the peace and security of the entire world! Amen. Hallelujah. Peanut Butter.
The action-adventure series Black Lagoon (2006) exemplifies the continuing confluence of Japanese and American filmmaking. Rokura Okajima, a minor flunkey in a powerful corporation, thinks his life is over when he's kidnapped by pirates. It's only his business career that ends: he joins the pirates as "Rock." The trio of Dutch, the understated leader; happy-go-lucky techie Benny; and trigger-happy Revy becomes a quartet, although Rock struggles to find a place in their shady underworld. They're less pirates than soldiers of fortune, ready to do anything if the price is right. Dutch, Benny, and Rock are fairly typical anime types and form a credible team. But murderous, potty-mouthed Revy has all the appeal of a rattlesnake in an Easter basket. This less-than-jolly crew pursues adventures involving treasure aboard a sunken WWII U-Boat, pornographers, drug and arms dealing nuns, kidnappings, and a terrorist plot to blow up US embassies. Bullets, blood and four-letter words fly, but it doesn't add up to much. The gun battles, car chases, knife fights, and explosions take up so much screen time, there's none left for character development or a coherent narrative. Although it's based on a manga by Rei Hiroe, Black Lagoon feels like a cartoon version of a Hollywood blockbuster. Extremely violent and profane, Black Lagoon is not for the squeamish or easily offended. (Unrated appropriate for viewers over 17: graphic violence, violence against women, extensive profanity, grotesque imagery, alcohol and tobacco use, racial slurs, offensive ethnic stereotypes, Nazi imagery, offensive religious imagery) --Charles Solomon
(1. The Black Lagoon, 2. Mangrove Heaven, 3. Ring-Ding Ship Chase, 4. Die Rückkehr des Adlers, 5. Eagle Hunting and Hunting Eagle, 6. Moonlit Hunting Ground, 7. Calm Down, Two Men, 8. Rasta Blasta, 9. Maid to Kill, 10. The Unstoppable Chambermaid, 11. Lock'n Load Revolution, 12. Guerrillas in the Jungle)
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There is no need to describe the series any further than has been done in previous reviews and there is a very good detailed synopsis on Wikipedia.
I claim this is great anime for the following reasons:
1. The art work is outstanding. The viewer is routinely treated to incredibly detailed scenes like a view of the city from the harbor, the symbolic damaged idol, a blue butterfly from a boy's flashback. If you are a fan of weapons and equipment, they are drawn in incredible detail and accuracy in a Joseph Wight tradition. You will not be disappointed in the quality of this anime. Disney should take notes. While the series is compared to Cowboy Beebop due to its action nature and episodic style, visually it is far superior
2. The story lines are a collection of short stories that follow chronologically but can stand on their own. Unlike an anime like Ergo Proxy, you can spend an hour watching a few episodes and get a complete an entertaining story. Like in real life the stories are simple and full of action, but the characters are complex. There is quite a bit of philosophy snuck in, like Sartre, but it does not come across as pretentious or bog down the stories which are incredibly fun and mainly light hearted. The scenes are unashamedly cinematic.
3. The characters are complex. The viewer will not be spoon feed. With the exception of Rock, you never get the whole story about these characters. They all have their secrets. I especially like how the character "Revy" is allowed to be psychopathic, without an attempt to explain it away. The viewer's questions are left unanswered as to why the characters do all the things they do, just as we are in our relationships in real life. I appreciate as a viewer being treated as an adult without a 5 minute monologue of amateurish psychology attempting to reconcile aberrant behavior that all too common a tedious scene in anime. They are criminals like the Sopranos; I do not need their actions justified. In addition, the guest characters are incredibly rich. Fan favorites includes the assassin "Chinglish" who takes offense to Revy pointed out her broken English, and "Sister Edda", the nun equivalent to Revy. Every moment they are on the screen is a pure delight.
4. The sound track especially the intro is bold and fresh, as Revy quotes in one episode "It's not Jpop". Really sets the tone and gets your blood pumping.
As a warning to the creators of this anime, I will mention my only perceived negative I found in the series is by the end of the second series, Rock was being given way too much time and dialogue. The series ended with the character Rock wallowing in the way too typical young man of anime angst. If this continues in the third series it will kill it. The series is at its best when Dutch and Revy have most of the dialogue. As the creators appear to become more interested in the characters they have created, Rock is beginning to behave more like Shinji Ikari from Neon Evangelion and Revy's personality disorders are getting dangerously close to be explained. If that should happen the mystery of the series will be gone, and so will end the series. The first episodes worked so well because when Rock began to wallow in his typical Japanese anime guy angst winning, Revy or sometimes Dutch would cut him off either verbally or sometimes with a good punch. Some of my favorite scenes are when Revy is able to appropriately point out how ridiculous Rock's morbidity is. Too many anime's like Evangelion are heavily damaged by their young male characters winning about their indecisiveness. It's like some sort of adolescent male menopause.
With that said, if you are an anime fan, you should consider ordering this series if you like great characters, great animation, and great fun; this could be the very best anime series to date.
In spite of the murder and mayhem the writers do take the time to let the characters act and react to matter-of-fact situations. You find out about the characters more realistically, not by seeing their life story but in seeing how they handle any given predicament, large or small. This might seem like a minor point but if you're creating an anime series it takes a certain amount of guts to throw in character building dialogue and scenes that have nothing to do with sex or blowing somebody's head off, especially if you know that's the stuff many fans are looking for.
Black Lagoon is based on a manga comic series and it sounds like season 3 (at least as written) is re-introducing the super-killer maid Roberta seen in the first season. The first Roberta arc tied up nicely so I'm not sure seeing her again is a good thing. She borrowed quite a bit from "Terminator" and the "El Mariachi" movie series.
It's no secret in anime over the last decade plus that barbaric violence and over the top comedy have been joined at the hip; therefore it's almost a guarantee that viewers will be treated to a title that wants to appeal to multiple audiences. While this is fine for a majority of anime fans, there are some whom simply loathe this artistic approach and will brush it off as genre clashes. Black Lagoon is one of the very few around this time period that manages to go against the grain on some level. It doesn't rely too much on gimmicks to drive its story, but the ones it does fall back on are actually pretty entertaining to watch at times. This is one of the rare modern titles I come back to.
Black Lagoon is still just as entertaining as I remember it, perhaps even more so. I have a soft spot for these characters since they feel quite believable, and the writing dabbles in heavy themes the likes of existentialism and strong atheist beliefs. The series handles these themes in ways I can relate to which adds to my personal enjoyment. Now the character development here isn't the greatest, but viewers will get to know Revy and Rock especially. The first several episodes develops their shaky relationship as they come from two different backgrounds. Revy's life was apparently very rough from the get-go, so her mentality is a heavy shade of black to the point where grave-robbing is far from beneath her. While Rock actually lived a decent life where his biggest complaint was kissing up to his bosses, so he doesn't get her at all. The writing is pretty solid bringing these two to an understanding, and it's actually easier for me to watch now. I feel the chemistry between these two, and some people will probably be hoping to see them get somewhere.
Black Lagoon is plot less for the most part with Revy and Rock's budding relationship being the only consistent plot thread. However, the series maintains a fresh feel through several stand alone tales and even a two or three parter here and there. The Black Lagoon company will go against Neo-Nazi's, crime lords attempting to rise in power, and even a near indestructible assassin. Make no mistake, the series is action-packed full of gun battles either on foot or in the sea.
While the series has a consistent flow from one arc to the other, and it does not follow the monster of the week formula. It's pretty far from flawless though; the writers have their moments where they can run the comedy smoothly, and the jokes along with insults can creep up on you hitting that funny bone. Unfortunately, you can also see when it's trying very hard to be funny, it also tries hard to be stylish too on some occasions when it didn't really need to be. It did a far better job letting these elements run naturally. The action scenes are very cool, but I still roll my eyes to some degree as they can feel a bit too corny pushing Revy's psychotic side. At times, I kind of think her cool factor is quite over-rated in comparison to her boss Dutch, whom doesn't need this over the top action to be cool at all.
Visually the anime isn't very impressive but it carries the action well enough. The vehicle and gun battles are very entertaining blanketed with plenty of shot bodies and explosions. When characters are shot with powerful weaponry, they're asses are sent twirling in the air. My only problem is that there are plenty of short cuts taken with the action; there's very little choreography with characters barely moving in which they try to cleverly work this into Revy's character, and it just comes off cheesy sometimes. Now I like the character designs as they have a mature look which abandons the usual chibi, big eyed look for everyone. The designs match their personality very well with the Russian Mafia crime lord Balalaika, along with Dutch, Benny, and Revy really standing out. The backgrounds are pretty nice in regards to the landscapes; the bright yet dull light shining on buildings, the night time atmosphere, it all looks very nice and even the CG blends in well enough. The only weakness I can think of are the background stills for the populace. This is something I will always take jabs at, because it renders everything lifeless due to the lack of movement. When I see a bunch of people crowded I want to see some activity.
The voice acting for the English dub deserves the biggest nod for its no nonsense and bold delivery. There is loads of profanity here and offensive content going around, and it fits very well with the characters personalities and design. The music gets the mood going for sure, with the opening theme Red Fraction which feels like a cross between rock and electronica leading the way. Unfortunately outside of that nothing really stood out as something memorable.
Overall, this first half of Black Lagoon is pretty entertaining with some good action and decent characters. It doesn't suffer from a huge amount of tonal whiplash either which will always be a plus with me. The high level of profanity, sexual references, and offensive content will more than likely bother some people though, so you're being warned on who this anime is not aimed for. In any case, even if you don't like anime at all, this is something you can probably get into. If you're an anime fan and didn't see this, well you don't need to add it to the top of your list but check it out someday.
Highs: Some stylish action and some type of character development, excellent voice-work
Lows: Action segments may feel a little corny at times, will be offensive to some
Most recent customer reviews
Revy makes Lora Croft look bad with guns.