Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Black Lagoon (Anime)

Black Lagoon is a 29-episode, dark anime released from 2006 to 2011. Black Lagoon is packed with guns, gore, death, and chase scenes. And true to adult anime form, all the psycho, gun-wielding women look like they spend their off-hours working as fashion models. However, the stories and characters are well developed and worth some time.

From a writer's point of view, watching the main characters develop over the three seasons of Black Lagoon gives perspective on what makes a strong story. Without the characters, this anime is a simple shoot-'em-up cartoon about smugglers. The depth of the main characters, Rock and Revy, holds the story together. Despite some of my criticisms mentioned below, I enjoyed to series and will likely watch it again if I ever find myself with some spare time and an empty watching queue.
If you decide to watch Black Lagoon, you'll want to watch the subtitled version. The translations and dialog in the dubbed version come off a cutesy and trite. The only downside to watching the subtitled version is that the spoken English in the subtitled version is so bad you might need to read the subtitles to figure out what is said.

One of the characters mentions that Revy is an American with a thick New York accent.  You won't get that from the voice acting in the subtitled version, but it's better than the dubbed version where Revy sounds like a California valley girl. Again, if you watch Black Lagoon, watch the sub, not the dub.

Warning! Here there be ...


The Black Lagoon is a small, fast, ocean-transport ship. Rock is a Japanese business professional that gets kidnapped by the crew of the Black Lagoon during one of their jobs. The Japanese corporation Rock works for abandons Rock to his fate, and assume he will quietly and conveniently die. Instead, he takes on the role of accountant, inventory manager, and collections agent for the crew of the Black Lagoon.

More than anything, the 29 episodes of Black Lagoon document Rock's journey from disgruntled corporate clone to a skilled manager and criminal. Rock notedly never uses guns or brawn. He literally takes any non-lethal, physical punishment that comes his way like a rag doll. However, he proves very capable and dangerous when allowed to make plans of his own, and manipulates to his own ends every crime syndicate available without their approval.

Revy is the deadly, gun for the Black Lagoon crew. If a bar full of scum needs to be cleared, she does the job without leaving anyone alive who makes the mistake of pulling a weapon on her. At first Revy is repulsed by Rock, but after a failed effort to kill him, they come to an unspoken agreement to work politely together.

The main characters, Revy and Rock, develop a complex platonic relationship completely devoid of sexual undertones. In fact, Revy's best friend, a gun-slinging nun who doubles as a CIA agent, often teases Revy about the lack of physical intimacy between Revy and Rock. Revy would simply shoot anyone else who teased her in this manner. However, she merely gets angry with her friend. This is one of the many good examples of interesting character dynamics that develop over the course of the series.

Despite Rock's journey to the dark side, he has the irrepressible need to save people from the troubling world he is embracing. Every attempt to save a victim fails, often after he feels he finally accomplished his goal of saving even a single person. The series finale shows Rock depressed on the deck of the Black Lagoon feeling he has failed once again to save any victims. However, the viewer sees Rock's success play out with Roberta and her employer who despite scars and injuries find some relief from their suffering. From this perspective, the series finale is satisfying and brings the plot arc of Rock's attempts to save people to successful conclusion.

Sadly for fans of Black Lagoon, it looks like there will be no more episodes created. Here's the list of episodes for Black Lagoon.
  1. "The Black Lagoon"   April 9, 2006
  2. "Mangrove Heaven"   April 16, 2006
  3. "Ring-Ding Ship Chase"   April 23, 2006
  4. "Die Rückkehr des Adlers"   April 30, 2006
  5. "Eagle Hunting and Hunting Eagles"   May 7, 2006
  6. "Moonlit Hunting Grounds"   May 14, 2006
  7. "Calm Down, Two Men"   June 4, 2006
  8. "Rasta Blasta"   June 11, 2006
  9. "Maid to Kill"   July 1, 2006
  10. "The Unstoppable Chambermaid"   July 8, 2006
  11. "Lock'n Load Revolution"   July 15, 2006
  12. "Guerrillas in the Jungle"   July 22, 2006
  13. "The Vampire Twins Comen"   October 2, 2006
  14. "Bloodsport Fairytale"   October 9, 2006
  15. "Swan Song at Dawn"   October 16, 2006
  16. "Greenback Jane"   October 23, 2006
  17. "The Roanapur Freakshow Circus"   October 30, 2006
  18. "Mr. Benny's Good Fortune"   November 13, 2006
  19. "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise"   November 20, 2006
  20. "The Succession"   December 3, 2006
  21. "Two Father's Little Soldier Girls"   February 16, 2007
  22. "The Dark Tower"   March 6, 2007
  23. "Snow White's Payback"   March 13, 2007
  24. "The Gunslingers"   April 3, 2007
  25. "Collateral Massacre"   December 24, 2010
  26. "An Office Man's Tactics"   January 14, 2011
  27. "Angels in the Crosshairs"   January 21, 2011
  28. "Oversaturation Kill Box"   January 28, 2011
  29. "Codename Paradise, Status MIA"   February 4, 2011

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