Review: Black Lagoon (2006)

Directed by:
Cast: ,

Distributed in Australia by:

Back in 2006 when our great land was run by a nerd with glasses and petrol prices were rising, I went to my first Anime Convention. Manifest ’06 was weekend of anime and the ultra addictive foodstuff that has become the food of choice for Otaku everywhere. Over that glorious wonderful weekend — where it can quite safely be said that I had developed a bizarre fixation on violence (known as a bloodlust) — I first saw Black Lagoon. Only the first two episodes of it were shown but I was hooked. I wanted more. And now finally I can without having to worry about the moral and legal problems of piracy. Two years is a long time to wait, but trust me when I tell you that it’s worth the wait.

Rokuro Okajima, a Japanese salaryman on company business in the South China Sea and unknowingly smuggling illegal information, gets kidnapped by the crew of the Black Lagoon, a group of smugglers and thieves. Disillusioned and hunted by mercenaries and possibly suffering from Stockholm syndrome, he joins the crew to aid in their illegal activities, often acting as a negotiator and peace-broker between the various groups they do business with, which earns him a new name from the crew — ‘Rock’. The other members of the crew include Revy, a vicious female gun fighter that could equal or out gun Chow Yun Fat’s characters from his many roles in John Woo films like The Killer, A Better Tomorrow and Hard Boiled; Dutch, the captain and leader of the crew who never seems to remove his glasses; and Benny a computer and communications expert.

The first disc only offers the first four episodes but what these episodes offer is a good teaser for what to expect for the rest of the season. The first two episodes are primarily about introducing the main characters and their own internal dynamics in the group and how they operate, while also giving us a glimpse of what to expect in terms of guest starring villains (deviant psychotics for the most part) as well as an interesting way to take out a flying helicopter using a torpedo designed for use in the water. The third episode is a stand alone episode that offers up more about the world our characters are in and also delivers a great action set piece with Revy jumping from boat to boat and wiping out a good many men with explosions and other weapons. The fourth episode is the first of a three part arc about a job to retrieve a painting from a sunken U-boat while fighting a group of Neo-Nazis for it. While light on action, it does set the stage nicely for more to come in episodes five and six.

The show will remind a lot of people of Cowboy Bebop and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing Black Lagoon might suffer unfairly in the long run because of it. Both shows have great action, often evoking the style of John Woo gun fights in their action choreography; both have characters living in a bleak, crime ridden world; both have some really beautiful animation; both revolve around a crew on a ship but there are small differences. Cowboy Bebop used a more episodic format while Black Lagoon usually goes for small episode arcs of between two to three episodes; Cowboy Bebop’s music was noteworthy and memorable while Black Lagoon’s Music not counting opening and closing themes is not very memorable or noteworthy and Cowboy Bebop’s English voice actors were perfect for the show from word go while with Black Lagoon it’s hard to picture anyone other than the Japanese voice actors performing the roles (listen to Dutch’s baritone-like voice on the Japanese voice track and tell me I’m wrong).

Words of mine will probably never do appropriate justice of actually watching the show so I urge you, dear readers, if you are even remotely interested in the show after reading this please find a way to watch the first disc in this series of Black Lagoon. There is two twelve episode seasons of Black Lagoon so be prepared for July when Madman release the second season known as ‘The Second Barrage’.

9 Games of chicken between a boat and a helicopter out of 10.
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