Hello again, peoples and peoplettes! Now I know what you’re thinking – “Ace, you misspelled ‘review’”. Ha! No I didn’t. Today I’m being that proselytising guy and giving you five whole reasons why you should accept Black Lagoon into your hearts RIGHT NOW.
1. The Plot
Black Lagoon begins with Rokuro Okajima, a Japanese office drone peon who gets kidnapped by pirates on assignment delivering a disk for his company. The pirates in question are mercenary delivery boys known as the Lagoon Company. Despite their initially rough treatment of him, Stockholm Syndrome (and/or Lima Syndrome, if you’re a pedant) eventually sinks in when his boss sends mercenaries to kill him and destroy the disk, forcing the newly nicknamed Rock to band together with the Lagoon Company to survive. Naturally, things only get more insane from there. Neo-Nazis, forgers, gun-selling churches, mob wars and killer maids are the order of the day for Rock and his new pals. Which brings us neatly to point two…
2. The Characters
The Lagoon Company consists of four exceptionally interesting people:
Rock, who you already know. He likes to wear a shirt and tie even to his unusual line of work and is generally a pacifist. But dare hurt a kid or a lady in his presence and you better not expect him to back down.
Dutch, the leader of the pack. He’s a Vietnam veteran and captain of the WWII torpedo boat Black Lagoon. He’s intelligent, strong, and knows how to use a gun, not that he often does.
Benny, the Lagoon Company’s mission control. He’s an expert hacker and awful shirt collector from Florida who likes to stay behind the scenes and away from the fighting.
And who better to do that fighting than Revy, poster girl for the series and all-round badass smokin’, drinkin’, cussin’ gunslinger. She doesn’t take crap from anybody, with a short fuse and an itchy trigger finger to match. They don’t call her Two Hands for nothing!
Along the way, the Lagoon company meet up with characters of all shapes, sizes and alignments in and around their scummy home base of Roanapur, including:
A drunk, perverse nun with a gun.
A hulking Neo-Nazi with a golden gun named Fritz.
A stereotypically Chinese lady with a penchant for knives and her stoner Irish boyfriend.
A fat Mormon with a flamethrower.
Creepy Romanian twin assassins.
A mad maid who is basically a Terminator.
A yakuza who can split a bullet with his sword.
And a teenage ‘cleaner’ with a chainsaw and a cancer microphone.
Among many, many, many more. And what better way to bring these characters to life than…
3. The Art
Everything in Black Lagoon looks vibrant, alive, and beautiful. From the neon lights and tropical skies of Roanapur to the shimmering waters that the Lagoon Company finds themselves in, to the jungles of south east Asia, to the gloomy greys and muted tones of Tokyo. Anime has never looked prettier, more appealing a place to live in (aside from the guns and death and stuff). Even the smallest of objects have intricate detail, keeping the world full of constantly fascinating things to look at. It’s sublime. It’s amazing. It’s gorgeous.
4. The Dub
The English dub for Black Lagoon is one of the best dubs of any anime I have ever heard. No, seriously. It’s almost perfect. Maryke Hendrikse sounds suitably psychotic as Revy, Brad Swaile is alternatively wimpy and a sudden badass and the rest of the cast of established Ocean actors including Brian ‘Over 9000’ Drummond and current pony-voices Tabitha St. Germain, Cathy Weseluck and Ashleigh Ball put in stunning performances. It’s arguably superior to the Japanese original version, which had moments of hilariously out of place Engrish. You see, the cast is canonically speaking English, but when they go to Japan there has to be a way to show the language barrier. It doesn’t quite work in the Japanese version, but in the English dub, everything comes together nicely to create a professional, well-acted aural experience from start to finish. Which leads me to…
5. The Overall
Yeah, cheating, I know. But still, the point stands. Everything I’ve explained comes together to form something truly special. Believable character arcs and motivations, character designs that don’t get samey, stale and boring. A world that feels alive, from the seediest bars to the grimiest cities. A tone that neatly toes the line between grindhouse and realism. Balls-to-the-wall thrillride action sequences that leave you breathless. Less-than-likeable characters who are somehow compelling. An adventure that deserves to be seen. I will say it once, and once only.
WATCH. BLACK. LAGOON.
You won’t regret it.
And if you do, you shouldn’t.
Consider this a public service announcement.
Got that? Cool.
Here’s a little something just for…