Posted by psgels on 31 December 2006 with categories: Anime Reviews

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Black Lagoon is a perfect example of a series which starts out magnificent, but gets rather ruined later on by such small elements. It’s a real shame. It’s an action series, featuring a salaryman who ends up delivering a package for his company, somewhere in the Asian side of the Pacific Ocean, gets attacked by modern-day pirates, abandoned by the company he works for and in the end, joining the same pirates that attacked and kidnapped him.

The pirates appear to have a sortof delivering company. The first thirteen episodes showcase some random jobs who have to be accomplished, with some of these jobs attracting quite some dangerous people. I really have to say that these episodes were amazing to see. I loved how they sketched a realistic picture of the hell Rock (the new name of our main character) ended up in. This first season also managed to create some of the scariest antagonists ever. Especially keep an eye out for the maid with glasses. I also really liked the cast of main characters. Rock, Revy, Dutch and Benny formed an excellent combination when they were with the four of them, with each one of them having their own unique personality.

Then the second season came. It started out quite nicely, with a great tragedy about two siblings who give the term “killer loli” a whole new meaning. But that’s also where this series starts getting off-track. While the first season featured random jobs, the second season places our main characters into situations, just because Revy is looking for a fight. What the second season also does is place Dutch and Benny into the role of mere “side-characters”, even though they were a large reason why the first season turned out so good.

To make matters even worse, the second arc of the second season also contained way too much useless action and way too little substance. Sure, the fights were nice, the aftermaths for the side-characters were interesting, but during the fights, I kept wondering what their meaning was. The third and final arc could have saved this, and indeed, it had an interesting story, but I was too much bothered by the horrible use of Engrish in the beginning. The creators tried to find a way to show a good conversation between characters who only speak English and the characters who only speak Japanese, but that didn’t work at all, seeing that we’ve seen the English characters speak Japanese for ages.

It’s such a pity. This could have become one of the major series of 2006, but because of these small elements, it just didn’t make it. Still, I definitely recommend Black Lagoon, if it only was because of its first season.

16 Responses

  1. alafista says:

    I really liked the tragic story on the Hasel & Gretel psycho killers in Second Barrage …

  2. pauloo says:

    I was excited after watching the first two episodes of the show, but I feel like the series is going downhill from there.

    If I remember correctly, the first two set of the episode focus on Rock’s interaction with the “team” more than the mindless gunfight between Revy and the antagonists. I was hoping to see the whole team work together to handle situation instead of watching Revy solving all the problems with her two little friends.

    Maybe I should check out the manga…

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Yeah, that’s also one of my problems with this show. It focused a bit too much on Revy and her gunfighting, while Rock’s interaction with the team was much more interesting to see.

  4. toro says:

    I disagree. This series would be perfect if Rock would disappear. Balalaika and Revy are awesome dark characters.

  5. phoenix says:

    This review is backwards. The first season is bearable, but not great. The characters are just being introduced, and the viewers and animators are just beginning to become acclimated to the pace and action of each episode. The story arc with the Neo-Nazis is nothing impressive. The best first season episodes feature the give and take of Revy and Rock, and the introduction of original ideas like The Church of Violence.

    The second season is where this anime shines. When animators allow more story arcs to take place over the span of more than one episode. The originality and graphic adult content of “Hansel and Gretel” is amazing, the likes of which you would never seen attempted in the American mainstream of any medium. The story arc at the end of season two which ranges over five episodes is action-packed and culminates in a great one-on-one battle that leaves you yearning for more.

    This anime excels when it leans more towards graphic realism in it’s battles and character development, as it does in the second season. My only complaint is that so many interesting just-introduced characters die so quickly, that you have have very few characters to set up more complex plots and stories.

    Black Lagoon is the best anime of 2006, and hopefully a third season will be forth coming.

  6. ana says:

    dug this baby up again to give it another shot.

    i can’t really say that i agree. the second season has a lot of character development, mostly how rock begins to see himself let go–first with his inability to save the twins, then with his ultimate desire to have yukio’s group destroyed, only to watch her die.

    the freakshow story arc, on the other hand, is ridiculous and ‘snatch’-esque diversion that shows off that this anime can be many things at once.

    i like it.

    it has many different angles, from dramatic, to stupid, to parodying american movies, to just having a dialogue that’s entertaining.

    i liked to hear revy say ‘damn, damn, fuck’ in engrish–but then i love tarantino movies.

    benny and dutch did get left out, but that’s because there were just as many fun characters to develop (the church of violence, balalaika, revy, rock, etc.)

    i still like it.

    a lot.

  7. GeassTekken says:

    the first season focused on the group in general (their missions their background etc) while the 2nd focused on the more main characters (Rock ,Revy, Balalakisha, heck a little of Eda). I loved the series hoping for a 3rd season. It was nice to hear Revy cuss in english with an accent lol

  8. Windspirit says:

    “The creators tried to find a way to show a good conversation between characters who only speak English and the characters who only speak Japanese, but that didn’t work at all, seeing that we’ve seen the English characters speak Japanese for ages.”
    => Um… You know, this anime was broadcasted in Japan. Have you seen Monster ? We hear people speak in Japanese in Monster. Though the story in set in Germany. And the characters are mostly German.
    You hear them speak Japanese because they are Japanese shows. In Black Lagoon, the characters are ACTUALLY speaking in English, but you hear them speak in Japanese so that the audience understands what they are saying.
    Don’t know if I explained myself well enough, but I hope you understood me. >_>

    About Black Lagoon… Probably the best anime in 2006 in my humble opinion. Sad thing that everybody sees this only as an action show, since it provides much much more, notably a perfect philosophy about real life. In Black Lagoon, there’s no “good” or “bad” : people choose to believe in this or this for their own reasons, and no one has the right to say anything about it. Remember in the Neo-Nazis arc when Revy told Rock about her atheism and her vision of the world ?

    In most animes, there is the “Good” and the “Bad”. I wouldn’t be wrong if I said that in 90% of animes, there’s a “Good Guy” oppressed by a “Bad Guy”, and the “Good Guy” wins. In Black Lagoon, this “Manichaeism” is totally inexistant and this is what makes it so much enjoyable. The universe is so dark, but still so real, cuz guys, this is real life.

    So Black Lagoon until then shines for its realism. What makes it even more realistic, excluding the very fluid action scenes (where the main heroine occasionely misses and doesn’t get 10 opponents with a single friggin bullet), is the multiple story arcs. These story arcs are so well thought, so well-developed despite being kinda short.

    Still, if there’s a word to describe Black Lagoon, it’s “adrenaline”. The action scenes, the universe, the perfect animation, the music, [b]everything[/b] is well-directed that the watcher is simply hooked to the screen, feeling hyped and boosted by the scenes.

    Until today, I didn’t really find any flaw in Black Lagoon. Can’t wait for the third season, and even if there isn’t, I think this is will be one of the only animes with which I’ll continue with the original manga. :)

  9. psgels psgels says:

    Hmm, I seem to have worded that one about the language a bit wrong. Of course, I agree that it’s perfectly fine to make English people start talking Japanese for better understanding. The problem is when these people start talking in real Japanese. Suddenly, people rapidly switched from English to Japanese and back, which made it really difficult to grasp in which language they were actually speaking.

    Also, I agree with the phylosophical elements of the series. My major problem with this series is the second season, though. It didn’t really add anything worthwhile.

    Also, I wouldn’t really classify the action-scenes as realistic. Revy gets never hit by stray bullets, and most fights are overblown to create as much of this adrenaline as possible.

  10. Windspirit says:

    M’well, yeah, “realistic” may not be the most suited word. I’d say “sufficient”. I mean, the purpose of action is to entertain, but there are times when it does way too much.
    Now that I think about it, I remember that I’ve watched Black Lagoon after… Phantom the Animation. O_o
    Have you seen Phantom the Animation ? The main heroine is a killing machine, you’d feel more secure cornered by twenty tanks, thirty helicopters and a hundred of soldiers with automatic shot-guns rather than in front of the heroine. This heroine moves smoothly, she dodges all the friggin balls are more importantly, she NEVER EVER misses her shots EXACTLY between her opponents eyes, and from this tiny hole come out 20 liters of blood.

    Compare this to Black Lagoon.

    The thing is, I don’t know if you understand me, but Black Lagoon just gives enough to the viewer so that he feels thrilled. And being a huge fan of action-shows, I didn’t find this feeling so often : in series like Naruto (which I loathe), there was just soo much that it became dull (getting tired of over-10-episodes-fights), in Phantom the Animation, too stupid, and in shows like Wolf’s Rain, not enough (though I loved Wolf’s Rain).

    Don’t know if you understood me. >_>

  11. Silenus says:

    This review is obsolete, because there’s a third season in production.

  12. imogen says:

    this is all crap dont listen to theise bitches and slap heads

  13. Drudgery says:

    Black Lagoon has turned out to be a huge disappointment after watching the first two seasons back to back.

    Everything the reviewer says should be taken heed of. In short a very enjoyeable show which sadly selfs destructs into meaningless philosophy and non-sensical violence.

    Pros – Good first season, infact some very good character development and excellent individual episodes.

    Cons – Poorly executed second season, Atrocious english accents from the Japanese casts. Main characters sidelined from the first season. Fails to establish a coherent balance between the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’, a shame really because this is where Black Lagoon could have been brilliant. I wish i could elaborate on this but this would spoil it for potential viewers.

    Still a recommended watch for the first season atleast, its a shame the second season came to such a self destructive and disappointing end.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fails to establish a coherent balance between the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’, a shame really because this is where Black Lagoon could have been brilliant. I wish i could elaborate on this but this would spoil it for potential viewers.

      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> You fail at comprehension. This is an anime about criminals(evil people). Why should it create a distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’? Hell the BL crew can be seen as evil seeing as they helped in transporting Garcia Lovelace thus they themselves are kidnappers and acted as pirates when they kidnapped Rock.

      ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ in Black Lagoon? You and the reviewer of this site fail and fail very hard.

  14. citizenofulysses says:

    This comment is gonna be way after the fact, but I would suggest watching the show in the english dub. The acting, the dialogue, the voices themselves; everything turns out better with the english dub as it actually suits the show. It makes a huge difference, especially in the second season. It all becomes a lot more dynamic, definitely a little less static in terms of the dialogue.

    Personally, I consider Rock’s conversation with Revy in episode 7 (you know the one) and Rock’s conversation with the Yakuza leader chick, Yukio, during the shootout at the bowling alley to number among some of the best scenes I’ve ever scene in anime.

    And the use of Sartre and Heidegger in that last arc really resonates with me (more h-digger than sartre, since sartre was just a poor man’s heidegger anyway), and knowledge of literature surrounding them or their philosophy will really enhances one’s appreciation of this work. Seen through that lens, this show really goes above and beyond.

  15. Αγγελος says:

    Could Rei Hiroe(he’s the creator o f Black Lagoon)explain us what exactly happened to Rock’s parents? Are they alive,or something horrible has happened to them?Their absence gives me the odd feeling that Kageyama might have orderd their murder,and that should look as “accident” just for a cover-up.Whatever happened we have to know,if the latter did will Rock find the truth?Will Revy stay on his side cementing and admitting her love for him?I want nice developments between Revy and Rock.Revy and Rock!I love them.
    Questions we ought to think,and Hiroe has to answer for:Were the Okajima’s told their son “was dead”?If so what was their reaction?Did they demand explanations about Rock’s “death”,and compensations as well?About how much far would the unscrupulous (and maybe trickster!)Kageyama go just to ensure the dirty deals and cover ups of Asahi industries?!Even ordering a murder that would seem as “accident”?!
    Hm,will the Iranians enter Roanapur?I don’t think Balalaika would be pleased to encounter Qassem Suleimani.He’s so Tough,so tricky!

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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