Friday, August 16, 2013

Anime Review: Black Lagoon

BLACK LAGOON: Decent storylines with over the top action

Rokuro Okajima is just your typical employee, but everything changes when his boat is hijacked on a business trip. This has led to complications that have made him end up joining the pirates. Thus, he has been drawn into the underground world of crime.

The story of Black Lagoon is somewhat episodic -- divided into mini story arcs that stretch from two to four episodes. In other words, there really is no singular plotline that envelope the whole series. The anime has no main goal that will lead the story to a specific direction. It simply follows the group of pirates and their activities in the criminal world.

However, I don’t find this as a problematic trait. This episodic approach, if anything, has made the experience much richer, for it offers me a huge array of interesting storylines that involve criminal organizations. It isn’t very surprising that these storylines are very action-packed, and I must say that these action sequences are done very well. The incorporation of appropriate music and sound effects has contributed to its effectiveness.

The main characters of this anime are also worth noting. Even though they have not shared intricate back-stories that could improve their characterization, they still remain as justifiable characters.

However, there are also characters who have shared their back-stories. These are the characters that make the mini story arcs, so the arcs could still trigger some emotional reactions. I’m not saying that the viewers will feel subtle emotions with the side characters only. The main characters are also able to trigger such things, for there are enough interactions and conflicts between them that make things more interesting overall.

These are all weaved with dialogues that fit the themes of Black Lagoon perfectly. The use of foul language and slang matches the dangerous atmosphere of the criminal world. It has also improved the uniqueness of the characters.

Another thing I want to point out is the fact that Black Lagoon has two seasons -- and they are entirely different from each other, for better or worse of the franchise.

The first season gives more emphasis on the harmony of the pirate team. It is mostly set on different tropical islands in the seas of Southeast Asia. I find these settings to be very refreshing, for they feature different cultures and atmospheres.

The second season, dubbed The Second Barrage, is more plot-oriented -- and this is a bit problematic for me. It feels like the main characters are just offering the viewers a perspective in the development of the plot, instead of being inside the plot itself. The story has become so plot-oriented that it has neglected some of the characterization of the title.

This clear distinction between the seasons, one being more character-oriented and the other being more plot-oriented, could make one more favourable than the other. However, this distinction does not really affect my overall enjoyment of the franchise. Black Lagoon is simply too good not to enjoy, and I assume I would enjoy it further, for I think there would be a third season because the story has not reached a proper conclusion.

As a whole, I find Black Lagoon as a franchise of above average quality. As a personal note, its amazing action sequences are the best it can offer to the viewers. I recommend this series for those who are looking for an anime with non-stop action -- not just mindless action, but action that actually involves good storylines.

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  1. After finishing Black Lagoon, it has become one of my new favorites for sure.

    The first two episodes of the series hooked me like no other opening episodes before it. For me, it has to be one of the best opening episodes of any series in terms of getting me interested in the series as a whole.

    As you now know, the dubbed really makes the series a lot better. For me, the dub really makes the characters a lot better too. To compare, I watched some of the sub and I agree with your previous statement in that it is awkward and the dialogue seemed a little clumsy compared to the usual sub.

    The First Barrage was a ton of fun and I loved the character interaction between Revy and Rock. There were a few slightly corny moments, but it was a blast and the dark comedy was spot on.

    The Second Barrage was interesting. At first I did not like it as much, but the storylines seemed to be better and more complex. My biggest problem with it is that Revy and Rock were sidelined during a few parts of it, but I did not actually mind the lack of Dutch and Benny because I ended up liking Balalaika and Eda a lot more anyway. The vampire twins arc was a little too weird for Black Lagoon to begin with, but I ended up liking the dark turn of the story towards the end. The second story arc was fun because, in the dub at least, Eda's and Revy's interaction was a ton of fun. The final arc had very much invested in the story since the animation seemed to be better and it had more Rock and Revy. Those episodes turned out to be my favorite of the entire series.

    One of my favorite parts about Black Lagoon is that it took everything I like about American action movies and makes them better with great characters and a surprising amount of development.

    In terms of action, I do not believe I have seen a better series. All of the battles get me excited and engaged in what is happening.

    Wow, that was a long comment! Anyway, great review as always!


    1. Hey, you should write a full review of this! HAHA. Anyway, did you know that the Black Lagoon light novel is by Gen Urobuchi? The guy is just all over the place. His name keeps turning up in the anime titles I particularly like, maybe that's why I became a fan of him even though I don't particularly subscribe to anime writers / directors / etc. He is the first one I subscribed to, the second being Yuki Kajiura and her music.

      Yes, Black Lagoon is quite Americanized, I think your blog readers will like it, as long as they try the dub that is.

      I agree with you about the vampire twins. It was a little too unbelievable considering Black Lagoon's world. But I'll let that pass. And yes, the action scenes are the best of its kind! Those scenes could be compared to the quality of Shingeki no Kyojin's 3d-maneuvering gear sequences. They're just beautifully made and are very effective in triggering excitement.

    2. I have just about finished writing my review actually! Yes I did and the fact that Gen Urobuchi wrote it actually kind of surprised. However, I do know it was written after the anime was released and I could not find a plot summery, so I am not sure exactly what it is about. I know what you mean, Gen Urobuchi has been very consistent with his work with even some of his weaker work still being very good.

      I still need to watch Shingeki no Kyojin, but I think I will wait until this summer so that I can devote more time to it and marathon the series.


    3. Great review, this is one of my favourites. I'd been looking for a similar anime and decided to give Jormungand a go and it's fantastic and it quite a lot like Black Lagoon. If you're a fan of Black Lagoon, you should definitely check out Jormungand!

    4. I haven't seen Jormungand, but I've heard good things about it. I guess I'll give it a shot, since a lot of people seem to give it positive impressions. Thank you for the recommendation!