AM! #3: Black Lagoon

Anime Me!  #3: Black Lagoon

This week, I bring to you one of my all-time favorites.  Black Lagoon.  This is one of those rare animes that I have just immersed myself into.  I have the original Japanese manga books, as well as the English translations.  I have the anime DVD’s, as well as the anime soundtrack.  So it’s not going to take a genius to figure out, I love this anime.

Black Lagoon is a manga series written and illustrated by the great Rei Hiroe, and published in Shogakukan’s Sunday GX since 2002.  The anime series based on the manga aired in Japan from April 8, 2006 to June 24, 2006.  It totaled twelve episodes.  The second season was called Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage and ran for another 12 episodes beginning on October 2, 2006.  The third season was just recently announced as Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail, and has been slated as an OVA.

The story follows a team of misfit mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, who smuggle goods around the seas of Southeast Asia.  They are located in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand.  Their main means of transport is an 80-foot Elco-type PT boat named Black Lagoon.

Each episode basically consists of the team taking on a variety of missions in various Southeast Asian locations.  What really draws me into the anime is that the stories take on a realistic view.  Such as if cars or other vehicles are destroyed in one episode, they remain destroyed in subsequent episodes.  Even some instances were some injuries will continue on in later episodes.

We begin the anime with the introduction of Rock, your mild-mannered Japanese businessman, and he’s been used by his bosses in a situation he wants no part of.  While you immediately feel sorry for him.  It won’t be the last time he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He joins up with Lagoon Company and immediately gets at odds with most of them because of his moral compass.

While female anime characters are not exactly rare.  You will NEVER find one as tough, or as strong, or as talented as Revi.  She is the muscle for Lagoon Company and the protagonist for the series.  She is of Chinese descent and is very skilled with firearms.  What makes her character rare, is that she enjoys killing her enemies.  While normally calm, she tends to have some sort of internal emotional instability.  You can see this flourish with her interactions with Rock.  You can immediately tell, both of these characters need each other.  Rock needs Revi’s strong backbone, and Revi needs Rock’s moral stability.  This of course causes many fights, some very violent.  One of which almost costs Rock his life.  But it is soon realized that without each other, both characters just wouldn’t be the same.

But the anime doesn’t stop there.  Chock-full of many characters, and all of them are given a sort of depth, especially in the manga.  Some do border on cliche for anime, such as nuns & maids (both of whom are skilled in firearms).  But the characters never show any sign of just being thrown into the story.  Each has a purpose, and each are used to the fullest.  THAT is rare in any story telling in this day-and-age of old, tired, retread remakes.

Another aspect I enjoy is the humor.  A very dark humor that involves adult themes such as drugs, alcohol, guns, sex, and murder.  All usually during very violent scenes and gun battles.  One of my favorite is the Rock, Paper, Scissors game Revi plays with another character.  They are playing to see who will start killing first.  When Revi loses, she begins to whine like a child.

On the flip side, there are scenes of great depth, and thought.  The submarine scene with Rock and Revi comes to mind.  It is the first real instance where both Rock and Revi explain to each other their views.  Some scenes concern themselves with philosophical thought as well as emotions, actions, and responsibilities.

It’s a real treat to find an anime that can satisfy you with action, violence, thought, depth, and humor.  Quite literally you’d be lucky to get one of these with most.  With Black Lagoon, you get it all.

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