“Black Lagoon” is really a fine series, but understand that it is grim and gritty and violent and unrelenting, reminding me of series like “Gantz” and “Deadman Wonderland”, only not as graphic with the violence or destruction, but still with disturbing concepts and approaches.
Our ‘hero’ (for lack of a better term; this anime is like “Payback”, where everyone is horrible, just varying degrees of it) is Rokuro Okajima, the decent-looking one up there. He works for the Asahi Company, who sent him out on a ‘project’. The ship he was on got hijacked and he was taken hostage, but the company wrote him off, not willing to do anything to save him. Since his options were to either sleep with the fishes or boat over them, he chose the latter and made “Black Lagoon” a quartet.
Yes, they are all mercenary pirates who will do anything for a buck and they prove their mettle. The rest of the company consists of (left to right) Benny (Lagoon Company’s mechanic, computer specialist, and researcher. He also functions as the Lagoon’s driver), Revy (Rebecca Lee, chief killer and trigger girl) and Dutch (CEO, for want of a better term and ex-Marine). They operate out of the Asian city of Roanapur, a completely lawless and corrupt city, where anything can be obtained for a price and the cops appear to act more as clean-up than clean-out.
The series covers about 13 months in Rock’s life (as he is now known). Rock does all he can not to get sucked in or befouled by the new life that has been thrust upon him, but it is potentially impossible. Part of the problem is Revy.
She is a psychotic killer. Why she hasn’t ventilated Rock is anyone’s guess, but she has no qualms, no fears and no regrets when she kills, kills, kills and she does. Herein lies the first concern: bullet fairies. These folks never seem to run out of bullets. Yeah, you do see her slide in a new clip now and again, but they do not seem to be able to hold 100 rounds at a time, as she can be a firin’ fool. Thus, to the second concern: the bulletproof nature of everyone. Some of these folks take damage that not only would kill you, but your entire neighborhood; they just laugh it off, even though it appears that you no longer have a kidney.
The discussions that Rock and Revy have are interesting, so you at least get the idea that things are done for a reason: Dutch is a businessman and needs to keep his reputation high for completing job, so he gets new jobs. Repeat business is always the best. He has to keep Revy in line so they can get new jobs, even though it means dealing with Hotel Moscow, another shadow gang, made up of Russian soldiers and other unsavory types.
There are some small story arcs in the middle, like the Missing Nazi Portrait, the Killer Kids and the Mercenary Maid. These tales just add to the depravity of where we are. The series-ending arc, which could be subtitled ‘You Can’t Go Home Again” almost became the Rock and Revy show. Dutch and Benny were reduced to supports and hardly made an appearance, considering how important they were beforehand. And along those lines, the show itself ends flat; it ended and that was that. You kind of want some kind of real conclusion or epiphany, not just “Well, that’s that.” A bit aggravating for me.
But I would still give this series high marks. Sure, it gets a smudge unrealistic in places (jumping your PT boat out of the water to attack a helicopter? Are you samplin’ what you’re sellin’?), but the overall tenor of the show is one worth following. And it’s sure different than “Tokyo Mew Mew”.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Strong in design and execution)
Plot 8 (Nice take on an old idea)
Pacing 8 (Does sometimes get frantic)
Effectiveness 8 (They never forget the back stories)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but doesn’t end)
Fan Service 5 (A similar show would be “Maburaho”)
Overall 8 (Despite the bail-out)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Lock and load.