Sunday, December 21, 2008

Black Lagoon Part 2

... continued from yesterday

Another interesting point about Black Lagoon is that most of the fightings are done by the ladies. Apart from Revy, Roberta the maid, Shenhua the Taiwanese assassin, Sister Eda, and Sawyer the chainsaw wielders are the notable few. Not to mention the most powerful among them all, Balalaika from the mafia group Hotel Moscow, who happens to be a ex-Captain in the Russian army from the Afghan War. In contrast to most other anime series with girls as supporting roles, you jaws will drop for the girl power in Black Lagoon. ^^

Also, there are moments when the anime makes reference to many Western action movies. Some gun scenes seems awkwardly similar to movies by Clint Eastwood, or at least the mood seems similar to me. Scenes from the episodes featuring Roberta even make reference to movies like Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and Antonio Banderas's "Once Upon a Time in Mexico". Roberta herself seems to be designed after T-1000. XD Others connections made included Sawyer the Cleaner and Leatherface from "the Texas Chainsaw Massacre", Boss Chang and Chow Yun-Fat from "The Replacement Killers". Some of the lines spoken by the characters support such relationship as well. I often find it fun to look for the connection between the anime and movies.

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Black Lagoon also features a lot of dark humor. Sometimes the dialogue and scenes can be awfully funny. I used the word 'awfully' because I think it's bad to laugh at scenes where people were getting killed, but then again I just couldn't help it. For example, the scene of the huge Neo-Nazi soldier kept on boasting about his gun before being shot by Revy was hard to forget. The bored face of Revy as she slowly reload her gun while the solder kept on with his 'performance' was priceless.

"All you have to do with these is to shoot." A good lesson by Revy, ^^; too bad the soldier won't live to put that to practise.

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There are two seasons for Black Lagoon, but there is no obvious break if you watch all 24 episodes in one go. The OP and ED are mostly the same. The difference is the increase in character development in Season Two as compared to the earlier. We get to know more of Revy's background, not to the point of completely understanding her of course. Each story takes more episodes to eloborate, and the mood becomes darker as well.

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The opening three episodes of Season Two are about a pair of identical twins coming to Roanapur to do the bidding of one of the mafias. The job was to kill Balalaika, as she was deemed to be too powerful by the plotter. The mafia's plan went out of control, and they were undone by the twins they hired instead. Having many of her former subordinates killed, Balalaika plotted a trap with her soldiers and managed to kill the twins, in total cold blood. For me, some of the moments are really spine chilling, not just the torturing and the killings done by the twins, but Balalaika's cold pair of eyes and her method of vengeance against her enemies.

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The closing half of Season Two talks about the experience of Rock and Revy in Japan. Rock was hired by Balalaika as her translator on that trip, and Revy acted as his bodyguard. As the boss of Hotel Moscow, Balalaika's trip to Japan was of course not for vacation. She intended to wage war with the yakuza groups there, and to establish a place for Hotel Moscow. Rock encountered a girl named Yukio, supposedly an ordinary schoolgirl. Unknown to Rock at first, Yukio was the sole daughter of a yakuza group. Trying to escape that kind of life in the first place, she had to harden up with Balalaika coming to destroy her group. She and her bodyguard, Ginji fought an uphill battle against Hotel Moscow.

Although Rock commented that Yukio was very similar to Revy, I think she bears very close resemblance to Rock himself instead. Both of them were forced to adapt to a life they tried to avoid, and had to fight hard to survive. Both of them are like villains (in the eyes of the society) who doesn't know how to commit any crime. Instead, they have powerful friends/subordinate there helping them. While Rock has Revy the two handed gunwoman, Yukio has Ginji the slasher who was extremely loyal to her.

It was a very unpleasant trip for Rock. He was there to get back the kind of life he had before joining Lagoon Company, but he found out that he became more and more distanced from it instead.

As I recall, there was not a single job for Lagoon Company as a whole team in Season Two, but the story show greater depths, and will make you develop a lot of thoughts about life. The were much more talking in Season Two, especially between Rock and Yukio in the last few episodes. Very meaningful indeed.

As mentioned yesterday, although Black Lagoon has no connection whatsoever with Gundam or any other sci-fi series, fans would be able to hear a few familiar voices in Black Lagoon. Revy's seiyuu (voice actor) is Megumi Toyoguchi, who also voices Klun Klein in Macross Frontier. She also voiced for Miriallia Haw in Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny, even though her voice for the character was totally different as compared to Revy and Klun Klein). Rock is voiced by Daisuke Namikawa (Michael Trinity in Gundam Double O) while Balalaika's seiyuu is Mami Koyama (Karen Joshua in The 08th MS Team and Captain Talia Gladys in SEED Destiny).

Black Lagoon is definitely a great anime series I would like to recommend to you (not if you're underage, sorry ^^;). Apart from the actions and humor, watch out for plenty of food for thought.