This show will kick your ass. The brainchild of Rei Hiore, Black Lagoon is violent, brutal, unrelenting in its action and atmosphere and has enough explosions and cussing to make both Michael Bay and Quentin Tarinino blush.
And it is awesome.
(Here there be monsters, bitch.)
This story follows possibly the unluckiest salary-man ever, Rokuro Okajima (AKA: Rock) as he is kidnapped by pirates, later learns that he was kidnapped for basically no reason, gets involved in a bar shootout before fleeing the scene before his boss calls him and basically just tells him to die in the ocean so he can be forgotten about before an attack helicopter starts trying to hunt him down and kill him. And this is all within the first episode mind you. It only gets more intense and crazier from here on out.
(♪One of these men is not like the others♪)
The animation is excellent especially when you consider the year the show was produced. The backgrounds especially are absolutely gorgeous. It’s a stunning backdrop to the violent and bloody life of the show’s main location, the fictional Taiwanese city of Roanapur. Speaking of the action, it is absolutely visceral and extremely satisfying, especially when coupled with the fact that nobody can stop swearing. Especially not our female lead Revy, who by all accounts is one grade-A badass and one of the craziest gunslingers on the planet.
(Does this loo like the face of mercy to you?)
Speaking of the characters of Black Lagoon there are a ton of entertaining and well-rounded characters. I’ve already mentioned the hapless Rock who despite being involved in such intense scenarios always manages to pull through in the end. Then there is also Dutch who is by far one of the coolest people in the show simply by virtue of being fucking awesome. Benny is the radio operator who provides fantastic comedy relief and is an all around cool character to boot. There are a ton of great and varied side characters in the show as well, from the terrifying mute Sawyer, to the world’s least pious nun ever Eda and the imposing leader of Hotel Moscow, Balalaika. The show overall has a lot of strong female characters, both figuratively and literally as a good portion of them are genuinely terrifying. However the most imposing I would have to say is Balalaika as she radiates an aura of confidence in both herself and her soldiers and takes absolutely no shit from anyone and is absolutely as charismatic as she is intimidating.
(Having your own army also helps too.)
Bringing these characters to life is an excellent cast of voice actors for the English dub and what I’ve heard of the original Japanese voice cast isn’t too bad either. Personally I would pick the dub as the quality is excellent and it feels more satisfying to have the characters scream obscenities in the language I speak.
The themes of the show seem to vary a bit. It can switch from being adrenaline soaked, blood-pumping action and excitement before slowing down and pulling back, showing how people become like this and what pushed them to do these things. It’s a solemn look and is genuinely depressing, especially when you reach the midpoint of season one and the twins Hansel and Gretel are introduced. They are simultaneously the most frightening and depressing part of the show.
The show does nothing but improve in its subsequent seasons, but therein lies the main problem. While the manga is still ongoing the show however seems to have stopped being produced after the Roberta’s Blood Trail OVA, which is personally very disappointing.
Overall I would highly recommend Black Lagoon to anyone who is looking for intense and thrilling action, a memorable cast and strong female characters beating the shit out of each other.