Posted on 9 August 2011 with categories: Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail



Apologies for this late impression. I just didn’t have the time to check it out. I’ glad that I did, though, because this is an awesome conclusion. It was far from the all out war that I expected: because of the first Roberta arc, I really thought that this OVA would try to trump that. Instead we got something much more character-centric, dialogue focused and horror-like. It worked really well: the build-up paid off wonderfully with this episode.

There were pretty much two major things going on in this story: first of all there is Garcia trying to get Roberta back, and then there is Rock. Their conclusions were very different, but very satisfying, and in a way bitter-sweet. Garcia did a great job in maturing and getting Roberta back to her senses, while Rock’s story ended with a great anti-climax, after just one phone call of Balalaika threw his plans in the water. This is what I consider to be a great pay-off after a lot of build-up.

I do wonder why there were no repercussions for Roberta: I mean, she killed a ton of the soldier’s comrades, but after the fight ended none of them seemed angry about it, and they just let her go. I know that they were in the wrong and all, and that they acknowledged their responsibility, but to me they felt a bit too cold towards Roberta. In the same way Rock went a bit out of character during the first half with his scary faces (his voice was like… totally different from usual). Those are mere details though: the continuation of Black Lagoon was really excellent from beginning to end.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.5/10

Posted on 23 March 2011 with categories: Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail, OVA Impressions




I expected this episode to be full of action. It wasn’t. The action scenes were small and instead this episode was full of dialogue and build-up. And strangely enough it was just as good as I hoped.

Roberta’s Blood Trail shows the strength of OVAs. I mean, it really feels like Black Lagoon has matured even more since the I last watched it. In any case the pacing of this OVA allowed the creators to really take their time: the slow pacing is used quite effectively to give just about everything extra detail. Seriously, this episode was full of people talking about themselves and each other. This really feels like one of those arcs that would not have worked at all as a TV-series, and therefore it fits the OVA format perfectly.

What’s also very typical here is that the creators pretty much put Revy out of the picture for the climax here: with both of her arms shot she won’t be part of the big climax of this OVA. At first I really thought that Roberta’s Blood Trail would be much in the same alley as the first Roberta arc, which was very much hinted by the first episode. Instead the ending seems to be turning out much deeper than expected, with everything depending on whether or not Rock’s huge gamble turns out well. It goes without saying that if the creators play it right they can reach an amazing conclusion with that.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,5/10

Posted on 10 January 2011 with categories: Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail, OVA Impressions




The contrast with the previous episode couldn’t be bigger here. Where that one was mostly focused on building up and dialogue, this was was nearly entirely focused on the action part. The first half of the episode showed different skirmishes between all of the different fractions that happened to come together. The second half. Oh boy. Talk about nightmare fuel.

There are still two episodes left, so the combat in the first half was only just the tip of the iceberg of the things that are about to happen. They were quite well written, though: every fraction had its own way of combat and the different skirmishes were quite varied throughout the episode. At the same time, there were also a few great dialogues, like the one between Rock and Chang, and Revy and Fabiola.

In the second half meanwhile, Garcia runs into Roberta. This scene takes up around ten minutes in total, and it was relentless in the incredibly slow way in which it unfolded itself and where Roberta’s demented acts completely destroyed the image Garcia had of her. It was really disturbing, and just shows how completely drugged up Roberta must be at this point. That cliff-hanger especially is a really nasty one to have to wait for another two months.

On a side-note: this episode also featured foreign languages, but instead of voicing them over in that very confusing way like they did in the second season, this episode instead simply subtitles them. Works much better.

Also, I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but I quite like the OP and ED of Roberta’s Blood Trail. Especially the ED: there is something wonderfully ironic to have such a semi-upbeat tune after all the depressing stuff and for once it doesn’t feel out of place unlike a ton of other dark shows that have bright EDs (I’m looking at you, Uragiri…). I just wonder why they showed so much of Balalaika, because she doesn’t really have that big of a part in this arc of the story.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,5/10

Posted on 17 October 2010 with categories: Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail, OVA Impressions



In terms of television series, Madhouse is currently having its worst season out of all of the seasons that I’ve been blogging, so thankfully Black Lagoon delivers one bright point for them this way. This episode was all about building up, but it did this really well.

Basically we had half an hour of dialogue, leading up to the inevitable clash between Roberta and the US Army, which will probably start on either episode 4 or 5. This episode established who the new maid was, it showed the implications that Roberta’s little adventure will have on Roanapur, while still keeping a few things a secret (for example why Balalaika and the favour that Dutch did to her, and what it had to do with anything here). It showed a lot of new stuff about the setting, like all of the different cartels that are operating in the city.

It’s clear that the creators are intending this to become a chapter in which all hell breaks loose. The previous episode explored how much of a monster Roberta had become, this episode did the same for the other fractions involved: the FARC and the US Army, mainly by not showing them and instead having all kinds of people talk about them.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,25/10

Posted on 27 June 2010 with categories: Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail




And so, after more than three years we finally get to see the continuation of Black Lagoon, and the creators decided to put the focus back on fan favourite Roberta. Personally, I loved that first season. The second season was a bit less, since I found that it lost sight of its big picture, but to be honest, I did have some strange biases back then. As an action-series, it still delivered like hell.

In any case, the third season starts off really well with a clear attempt to give more depth to Roberta, while also going for the most action-packed scenario possible. The real challenge for the creators is to balance them out well: deliver the solid action while at the same time not forgetting that they’re supposed to tell a story and fleshing out a character.

You can see that this really is an OVA for the fans. While this definitely had its own story, it also contains a ton of homages to the first seasons. There’s the obvious as Roberta, but here the creators introduced another maid with awesome fighting skills. And seriously: how many times has that pub been destroyed by now? It’s like there’s some sort of curse on it. And I wonder how the owner manages to fix it up every time again.

What impressed me a lot here was the animation. You can really see that Madhouse paid a lot of attention to it. The character-models may not be the most crisp here, but I hardly spotted any still frames. There really is a ton of movement, along with a large number of creative poses and camera angles that at the same time don’t try to overdo it. The action itself was also really well animated and coordinated.

overall though, an excellent start. I’m not yet sure whether the story will work out, but at least we’re certain of one hell of an action-packed OVA. This episode provided enough hints for that. But hey, there actually was quite a bit of build-up in this episode, so we might indeed be in for something awesome here.
Rating: ** (Excellent)
OP: A remix of the first OP. Again, part of playing to the fans of the series.
ED: Clever. You start with the first notes of the first ED, only to turn to something completely different. works really well.

Oh, and on a side-note: I’m glad that Dutch and Bennie seem to be playing a bigger role again

Shoutbox

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:20 AM)
    @Bam: Adaption, Nicholas Cage =< a guilty pleasure actor to watch for the most part and little more.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:12 AM)
    @Bam: The more you mentiom Synecdoche, the more interested I get. Malcovich was a creative idea for a film and Eternal sunshine was a good spin on the romance genre which gave Jim Carrey a film worth acting in.
    Riki-oh if anything is just a heck of alot of fun.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:05 AM)
    So I naturally offsetted the mentally strenuous movie with a healthy dose of Riki-Oh, which I also just watched for the first time. I think it goes without saying that it was magnificent! This is late 80’s gold condensed into two episodes. What’s weirdly jarring about it is that it tries to add depth to the absurdity by including some serious, and still relevant, themes about the private prison complex which made it an even better popcorn flick for some reason.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 05:58 AM)
    Charlie Kaufman is also responsible for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, so it goes without saying that his works are atmospheric and thoughtful. Synecdoche is by far his bleakest story yet, and it was a tough pill to swallow; although if you watch it you’ll see that sincerity regarding death is actually a crucial point of the movie.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 12:52 AM)
    Well in the case of Samuel Jackson playing nick fury, I never truly gave a crap about the comic book character. But I have never taken Jackson seriously as the head of shield. It hard to see him as a dependable leader.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 11:29 PM)
    Synecdoche, New York:
    What a great film. Charlie Kauffman’s directorial debut is a post-modern surreàl piece about fear of death and mortality. There are few editing and pacing issues which a more experienced director could’ve ironed out, and the very nature of the movie begs to be called pretentious and boring by shallow viewers. Yet this is still an honest and meticulous piece of artistic filmmaking which shouldn’t be missed by those who enjoy the craft.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:56 PM)
    I did think some of the outburst though in death parade 04 were verging too far on the melodrama though.
    Still like Garo this week, still a very watchable episode.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:35 PM)
    Come to think of it In kingsman they changed the villain to be black also. Of course all this I consider pretty minor. Moreso I’m tired of seeing Samuel L Jackson playing himself in everything.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:28 PM)
    But in the case of the Marvel stuff, with Nick Fury and Human torch, I know its a crap complaint but for me its a case of “He doesn’t look close enough to the comic”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:16 PM)
    @Aidan: They think they are promoting diversity but all it ends up being is completely tokenistic to the core.
    The fantastic 4 have always struck me as characters that were too difficult to get right/write.

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