When you hear the title “Black Lagoon” set for a anime show what do you think of if you thought of a series that gritty, dark, and bleak then, the answer is correct. One word that repeatedly comes to mind is, ‘refreshing’. We have seen countless struggles between anime’s good and evil, but what about a show about the in-between or evil vs. evil struggling with one another? Take into account the plot, the characters, and the level of action provided in 12 episodes is enough to be refreshing. Now let’s take a look at a criminal underworld as Black Lagoon is only one of the darker animes ever to reach mainstream popularity.
Life as a salaryman in Tokyo was anything but amazing, as how Okajima Rokuro thinks; day after day, he had to put up with his dead-end job and bow to his superiors in the office. But all of that seem far away as he is now stuck on the tropical seas of Eastern China when his delivery shipment is overtaken by the Lagoon company, a group of mercenaries made up of ex-Marine team leader Dutch, technical expert Benny and the foul-mouthed gun-totter Revy. As Rokuro, or “Rock” as how his captors have dubbed him, gets to know them and discovers the lawless underbelly of the world, things take a turn for the worse when his company’s management board has decided to prevent a major scandal from surfacing by hiring a dangerous assassin to kill the mercenaries and him as well.
The animation clearly makes this series one of the best out there. Character motions are smooth and natural, even during the very fast-paced action scenes. Take the smoke from the gun that dissipates and the number of bullets holes being created shot after shot. Animation for many is not as high on the list to look for but it’s something to be appreciated especially When you have animators heavily investing efforts on the presentation.
When you move away from the great animation, you try to focus on the story. Unfortunately, there’s no central story to be followed other than what’s being presented. Black Lagoon is a collection of short stories that’s told rather good. Even during the second season (Second Barrage), the plot doesn’t exist. The fact that the characters are pirates delivering goods, illegal cargo, and possibly secret shipment makes the story interesting. While many of the audience would remember this show for the action, what makes it better is the core which is the cast. Being full of carnival of badass from gunslingers, the mafia, the triads, the war veterans, and the government agents, the Nazis, and others with their deadly weapons of choice will see the fruits of the show when they all come together in one way or another.
Aside from the story and sticking to the discussion about the characters is the in-depth character development and chemistry. The relationship between Revy and Rock takes center stage continually as the Lagoon company takes various jobs. And like other characters they experience friction between them from time to time given their personalities just being on a different side of the spectrums. Revy is the gunslinger of Lagoon Company. Her expertises in fighting can single-handedly eliminate every enemy, you can’t forget that she’s armed with twin guns. Despite her rugged attitude, she will often go out of her way to help others, especially Rock even though she express she doesn’t like his attitude. Rock is the newest member of Lagoon. He may not be the fighting type, but his negotiations and justice giving the company a sense of morality if that makes any sense given the profession. He’ll try to protect anyone and everyone which prolongs the relationship between himself and Revy. The supporting cast of Dutch, Benny, Balalaika equally adds a dynamic characterization to the show.
Despite the minor issue of the series abruptly ending the Black Lagoon is really good. It takes the unconventional route of having no plot, which allows the viewer to invest their focus on other aspects to enjoy. It’s unadulterated, it’s bleak and it’s really exciting with the fast-paced action as it pays homage to many movies of yesteryears. Madhouse will grab your attention with the action that you will want to rewatch it a couple of times for that alone.