Friday, February 28, 2014

Anime Review: Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail


Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail follows Roberta, a character that has been slightly featured in the original Black Lagoon series. When Roberta’s benefactor, the patriarch of the Lovelace family, is murdered during a political rally, she reawakens her murderous self and tracks down the organization behind it. This leads her back to Roanapur on a mission of vengeance.

In the timeline of events, this OVA takes place after Black Lagoon: Second Barrage. Really, it feels like a direct follow-up to the Black Lagoon story that it could even pass as the Third Barrage. As a result, there are certain plot points, plot elements, and characters, that require knowledge of the previous titles. This is clearly not for those who haven’t seen the original Black Lagoon series.

I really like the decision of the creators to bring back Roberta as a character, since she is one of the most iconic characters in the original series. But as much as I like this decision, I think the story is not well-made.

The story doesn’t really take off until episode three. That’s not a good sign, considering that this OVA has five episodes only. The pacing is obviously problematic. The story also gives the impression of premature complexity. It has certain elements that try to make it complex but end up making it pretentious.

Another thing I don’t like is how certain characters act out of character. Some of them appear to be very different from the original Black Lagoon series. This is actually understandable. I just don’t like it because it harbours inconsistency. It is understandable because the characters could have had off-screen character development.

This is particularly obvious in Rock. Yes, his characterization is a little skewed when compared to the original Black Lagoon series, but let’s remember what has happened in the final episodes of the Second Barrage. That might have opened him to off-screen character development, explaining the inconsistency in his character.


Other than the inconsistencies, I have no problem with the characterization in Roberta’s Blood Trail. It’s fun to see the familiar faces from the original series, and also some new ones for a sense of freshness.

And of course, the feature character, Roberta, doesn’t disappoint as well. I like how she has been given some background story to give her a more solid foundation. This has also given her justifiable reasons on her actions in the OVA. And I admit that she has triggered a lot of emotional reactions from me.

Another character I like is Roanapur itself. I consider this city as a character because it feels alive. I could really feel that this place is extremely dangerous and filled with people I don’t want to mess with. One thing to credit here is the art style.

Roberta's transformation

Speaking of the art style, it is basically the same as that of other Black Lagoon titles. And that’s a good thing by the way. That’s consistency. As for the music, there really isn’t much to say about it, because, like the art style, it is basically the same as that of other Black Lagoon titles.

Overall, Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail is a good watch. It may have some problematic aspects in the story and inconsistency in characterization, but it does have factors to counterbalance the negatives. The story becomes a rollercoaster ride by episode three, and the characters, particularly Rock and Roberta, undergo good character development all throughout the OVA. And take note that these developments are easily emotional.

And of course, catharsis isn’t just the emotion this anime delivers. It also has the exhilarating goodness of the original Black Lagoon series when it comes to action and blood.

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  1. Good timing with the review, I am actually going to watch this OVA as soon as I finish the Black Lagoon series. After watching the First Barrage, I am loving it! Probably the most purely enjoyable anime I have seen in a long time. I will return with my thoughts of Roberta's Blood Trail after I watch it. By the way, did you watch the sub or dub of the series? I personally enjoy the dub, but that's because of the America pop culture references and other slight changes in the dialogue.


    1. Yes, Black Lagoon is a really enjoyable series. Great action! In first and second barrage I watched the sub, regrettably, and the english dialogues are a little awkward for japanese speakers. But I learned my lesson, so I watched Roberta's Blood Trail in dub. It's good. I love the foul language.

  2. But do we forget someone in there?Eda,and the entire Church of Violence too.Along with Eda comes the CIA,who has by long ago decided what kind of status is the Proper one for Roanapur.Look at the conceited Hotel Moscow doing mafia business,mere petty jobs while the Big ones are outside their Intellect,and spirit too.And Rock was summoned to do something for this Strong Crisis,to save garcia,Fabiola,Roberta and Roanpur too!Him with his Reasoning,Deductive skills was needed there.Let's hope he'll remaine Pure,Benevolent even after the manga finale.