Reviews: Black Lagoon

Desperate to be cool.

Black Lagoon is an odd one to watch. The anime makes every effort to portray realistic machines/weapons and reference real world historical events, only to completely screw them over with absurd action sequences. The climax of the second episode (involving a face off between a helicopter gunship and a WWII torpedo boat) is so ridiculous that it will raise the eyebrows even the most forgiving of action movie fans. This climax makes or breaks the series for new viewers; some tropers will see it and scream "awesome!" This troper audibly groaned in disappointment. You see, action movies rely on the Rule Of Cool to get away with things that would otherwise strain the willing suspension of disbelief. The fact that I am getting irritated by realism in an action movie of all things is indicative of Lagoon's real problem.

Black Lagoon tries so very hard to look cool. Case in point is the existance of "Revy", A Chinese-American hood who provides both the brawn and the eye-candy for the series. The writers try every trick to make Revy stylish; smoking, shooting, saying the word "fuck" an awful lot, and giving lectures in pedestrian Nihilism. Charismatic characters, like those portrayed by Samuel Jackson, can make all those things look effortlessly cool, but in Black Lagoon it feels so forced that it ultimately looks insecure. Anything that appears to be trying to look good will undoubtably fail.

That is not to say there aren't some genuinely cool moments in the show. Any scene involving the John Woo inspired character, Mr. Chan comes to mind. Mr. Chan is one of the better "homages" to action movie classics which appear regularly throughout the series. Most of the time though, the shout-outs just remind me of how much better (and cooler) the original movies were.

Black Lagoon will captivate some viewers for sure, but this troper was really hoping for something more. There was a lot of wasted potential, and I couldn't help but feel that all the ideas could have been put to better use. This could have been a rare anime gem. With it's original concept and settings, this show would have better strived for a realistic, gritty portrayal of modern day piracy. Instead it let itself down by persuing cheap action gimmicks. As it stands it is a failure, even be an action show.

Tarantino With An Infinite Budget

Okay, so Black Lagoon is a loving stealth parody of every action movie ever made. Simply put, you can fill up your lulz and win quotas simultaneous for the day just by watching a couple of episodes. On the other hand, it also features some really interesting character dynamics considering its source material, including the curiously virginal Revy. Yes, I said curiously virginal. I really enjoyed the anime, and I really recommend it for fellow Tropers. I'm not sure I'd show your mom, or your significant other, but as long as you can chant the MST 3 K mantra a couple times without flinching, you'll probably find this to be a really enjoyable series.

Brace for flashes of GrimDark, and hold onto your britches.

Badass with an extra topping of badass

Black Lagoon is pure Bad Ass, plain and simple, but some people complain about the unrealistic plot elements, which is something I can sympathize with, realistic and human based shows can be ruined by the addition of impossible stunts and improbable goings on. But where the hell did Black Lagoon ever claim to be realistic? In the second episode, Revy breaks the fourth wall and tells us "This is way better then anything Hollywood has ever made". This show is an homage to stupid action movies, from both sides of the Pacific, and it revels in its stupid action movie fun. I'm not saying its only tits, guns, and explosions, it has some likable characters and intriguing plot twists, but at its heart its a very silly, very fun popcorn flick.

Its technical aspects cannot be praised enough, it may seem trivial in this era of excellently crafted and well funded shows to point this out, but Black Lagoon is consistently animated throughout and shows off some well designed and unique character models. The voice acting is enthralling, if a little forced and hammy at times, but Maryke Hendrikse does such an excellent job voice acting, the flavor and character make the scenes more then a Freudian Excuse, they show how much of a horrible broken life she has, and how unhealthily she's reacted to it. Don't be impressed by her nihilism, pity her for it.

Calling the series unrealistic is silly, you could call it bad, you could call it poorly done, you could even say its the worst thing ever fucking manufactured, but don't say it bad because it breaks the laws of physics. Bitching about Revy leaping into the air to waste dudes, when talking about how awesome Simon was when he destroyed an entire armada of Gunman (Don't think that I'm knocking TTGL, I love Gurren Lagann, and for many of the same reasons I love this show). It's hypocritical to say a Wizard Did It, but scoff when the exact same thing is done without a Hand Wave.

Oh yeah, the opening is one of my favorite pieces ever, its opening refrain is enough to get my blood pumping every time, and the hilariously Engrish lyrics and awesome riffs fit Revy so well.