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Black Lagoon
Black Lagoon vol01.jpg
Manga cover of Black Lagoon released in Japan
ブラック・ラグーン
(Burakku Ragūn)
Genre Action, Adventure, Crime fiction, Black comedy
Manga
Author Rei Hiroe
Publisher Shogakukan
English publisher Canada United States Viz Media
Singapore Chuang Yi[1]
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Sunday GX
Original run April 19, 2002 – ongoing
Volumes 9 (List of volumes)
TV anime
Director Sunao Katabuchi
Studio Madhouse
Licensor Australia New Zealand Tokyo Night Train, then Madman Entertainment
Canada United States Geneon Entertainment
United Kingdom MVM Films
Network Chiba TV, Gunma TV, KBS Kyoto, Sun TV, Tochigi TV, Tokyo MX, TV Kanagawa, TV Nagoya, TV Saitama
English network Canada G4techTV Canada
United States Starz Edge
Original run April 8, 2006June 24, 2006
Episodes 12 (List of episodes)
TV anime
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage
Director Sunao Katabuchi
Studio Madhouse
Licensor Australia New Zealand Madman Entertainment
Canada United States Geneon Entertainment
United Kingdom MVM Films
Network Chiba TV, Gunma TV, KBS Kyoto, Sun TV, Tochigi TV, Tokyo MX, TV Kanagawa, TV Nagoya, TV Saitama
English network Canada G4techTV Canada
United States Starz Edge
Original run October 2, 2006December 18, 2006
Episodes 12 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
Black Lagoon: The Third Barrage
Director Sunao Katabuchi
Studio Madhouse
Released 2010 – ongoing
Light novel
Author Gen Urobuchi
Illustrator Rei Hiroe
Publisher Shogakukan
Demographic Male
Imprint Gagaga Bunko
Published July 18, 2008
Anime and Manga Portal

Black Lagoon (ブラック・ラグーン Burakku Ragūn?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe, and published in Shogakukan's Sunday GX since 2002. An animated television series based on the manga aired in Japan from April 8, 2006, to June 24, 2006, totaling twelve episodes. A second season, subtitled "The Second Barrage", ran for twelve weeks starting on October 2, 2006. A third season was announced on the cover of the first volume of the novel adaptation.[2]

The English language version of the manga is distributed by Viz Media, and the first volume was released on August 12, 2008. On July 3, 2008, Geneon Entertainment and Funimation Entertainment announced an agreement to distribute select titles in North America. While Geneon Entertainment will still retain the license, Funimation Entertainment will assume exclusive rights to the manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of select titles. Black Lagoon was one of several titles involved in the deal.[3]

Contents

Plot

The story follows a team of pirates/mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, who smuggle goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia in the early 1990s.[4] Their base of operations is located in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand, and they transport goods in the 80-foot (24 m) Elco-type PT boat Black Lagoon. When on land, they move around and conduct business using Benny's 1968 Plymouth Road Runner, although in episode 24 he's seen driving a 1966-67 Pontiac GTO after his Roadrunner is blown up in episode 17. Lagoon Company does business with various clients, but has a particularly friendly relationship with the Russian crime syndicate Hotel Moscow. The team takes on a variety of missions—which may involve violent firefights, hand-to-hand combat, and nautical battles—in various Southeast Asian locations and when not doing much, the members of the Lagoon Company spend much of their down time at The Yellow Flag, a bar in Roanapur which is often destroyed in firefights.

Characters

Black Lagoon features a wide cast of characters, many of them involved in the criminal underworld and its dealings in and around Roanapur.

  • Rock is the main character of the series. He is a Japanese salaryman who joins the crew of the Black Lagoon after they kidnap him. Rock does not fight but is an excellent negotiator and translator, and apparently does the accounting for the Black Lagoon Company. He is often scared by the methods Revy sometimes uses to achieve her goals.
  • Revy is the female protagonist of the series. She provides the muscle for the Lagoon Company. She is of Chinese descent and grew up in New York City. Revy is exceptionally skilled with using firearms in battle, but is not much of a people person. She enjoys killing her enemies and seldom stops to negotiate. Despite her usual calm demeanor, her tendency to enjoy taking the lives of others is a result of her internal emotional instability, as evidenced by her more conflicting interactions with Rock. Her signature weapon is a brace of custom-made stainless steel 9 mm Beretta 92F "Sword Cutlass Special" pistols. Her nickname "Two Hands" reflects her ability to use both pistols simultaneously.
  • Dutch is the leader of the Lagoon "trading company". He captains the PT boat Black Lagoon, and coordinates his crew. Although he seldom participates in battle, he is still a deadly adversary, stemming from his time as a soldier in the Vietnam War.
  • Benny is a former post-graduate student at the University of Central Florida. He is of Jewish descent and serves as the Lagoon's technical expert. Like Rock, he is not a gunfighter and does not have the capacity to kill in cold blood. However, he is hardened to the job and willing to overlook almost anything to get the job done.

Media

The first season of Black Lagoon consists of episodes 1 to 12. The second season consists of episodes 13 to 24 and is labeled Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage. The second season focuses less on character development than the first season and more on the jobs they do. A third season has been announced on the cover of the Black Lagoon light novel.

Six DVDs containing episodes 1–24 have been released, completing the first and second seasons. The first DVD of The Second Barrage was initially scheduled for a November 20, 2007, release, but was canceled. However, the first volume was eventually released in August 2008.[5][6][7]

After being released individually, with volume one having a limited edition version containing a steelbook box that comes with a bonus disc with slots for all 3 volumes, the boxset of the entire first season was released December 30, 2008. The fourth extra feature disc, available in the season one box set or the volume one steelbook edition, has a 15 minute behind the scenes with the English crew and voice actors, the "Red Fraction" music video performed by Mell, promotional videos, the creditless opening and ending, and Japanese opening. The Second Barrage volumes were released in the same manner, with the box set released in the United States on April 14, 2009, case with episodes 13–24 on three discs with English/Japanese audio and English subtitles. The box set/steelbook version bonus disc includes promotional videos and the creditless opening and ending.

Black Lagoon began airing on G4techTV Canada on Friday, October 26, but it is currently off the channel's line-up.

Starz Edge began airing Black Lagoon on Friday, February 29, 2008, to American audiences.

Sci Fi Channel began airing Black Lagoon for Australian audiences. Madman Entertainment released the entire series up to date on Region 4 DVD.

Design

Black Lagoon includes a considerable amount of graphic violence, often involving violent gun fights and spectacular physical feats in battle. Many of the characters who are most skilled with weapons (mainly guns) are women, thereby bearing a similarity with "girls-with-guns" genre with the six strongest women in the series adhering to some type of stereotype (dragon lady, maids, nuns, etc.). Some of the scenes and dialogue are within the realm of dark comedy, as humorous moments occur or are mentioned during and after many violent battles. Examples include Revy making fun of Garcia about Roberta, as she is a maid, until she finds out the hard way that Roberta is what Garcia claims. Also, Revy intentionally starting a gun battle between Fabiola and the Cartel, in addition, laughing at Bao and a Cartel member playing tug-o-war over a telephone while a violent gun battle is exploding just on the other side of the bar counter. Another moment is Shenhua and Revy playing a game of Rock, Paper, Scissor to see who will kill first; Revy then whines like a child when she loses.

The character concept, gritty atmosphere and violence blending with black comedy depicted in Black Lagoon pays a homage to the films by Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. The Yellow Flag bar and Mexican standoff scenes in the anime and manga pays a tribute to spaghetti westerns; Tarantino is known for making references to spaghetti westerns in his films. It also make references to Tarantino's favorite films, such as The Wild Bunch poster (titled The Wild Punch) seen in Revy's bedroom in Episode 11 and Revy mentioning My Bloody Valentine in Episode 24. One of receptions of founders of a serial - plentiful citing of films of an adventure genre (specifically the films from the era when the anime was set).

The "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" arc showed that most of the characters throughout the series actually speak English, with the Japanese simply being[3] done for the audience. While the English voice acting in the anime is heavy in Japanese pronunciation, nearly all occurrences of English lines in the manga are accurate. However, the instances of Cyrillic script tend to be less so.

Themes

Throughout the show, many existential themes are present. Early on, Revy makes a speech in which she asks Rock to explain what she is holding in her hands. When he attempts to point out that they are a medal and a skull, she attacks this notion, calling them "just objects," and goes on to say that people merely choose to give them value, and that they do not have any true innate meaning. This is very similar to many of Jean-Paul Sartre's views, and relates to the existential belief that there is no set meaning in life, and that people must choose to find, create, and assign their own meanings. Many of the characters also express atheist views, a common feature of modern existential thought, especially that of Sartre who said that God is just an attempt to put false meaning on things without the responsibility of choice.

As well, important minor characters throughout the show display character traits ideal to the Übermensch of Nietzsche or Knight of Faith of Kierkegaard, that being a person who acts not simply for logical reasons, but rather because it gives them meaning in life. A key example of this is Masahiro Takenaka, who though realizing the inevitable failures of any revolutions he participated in as part of the defunct Japanese Red Army failed, he continues to be a rebel as it gives him meaning in life. As well, this can be seen in Roberta, who like Takenaka has seen the betrayal of her own communist revolutions in Colombia, but instead chooses to find meaning in being a maid for an aristocratic family. Garcia Lovelace is a blatant example of a Knight of Faith (one that puts faith in that which he/she wants or believes, even if it is not logical), made so by Rock's comment on Garcia's belief that his maid will come and save him: "I don't know if it'll come true or not, but you must have a great home if you can have such strong faith."

A distinguishing motif of the series is that no distinction is made between the moral question of right and wrong, which ties into the existential belief that "values are subjective." Rather, it shows the events from the different perspectives of the characters and how they justify their beliefs in what is right and what is not, just as how existentialists believe that every person chooses their own values for their own subjective reasons.

A review of this moral conflict expressed the matter in this way: "There is only a case of perspective, and how one justifies his or her actions to be the morally correct one. It's like trying to define which grey is blacker than the other."[8]

While Revy is depicted as being the tough, uncaring gunfighter, Rock is almost the exact opposite, and a central theme in the series is Rock's struggle for deciding whether he should remain with Lagoon Company—a criminal organization—or return to his ordinary life of a law-abiding citizen. Especially in the first season, this conflict between Rock's and Revy's views on crime and moral is important. Many of the "villains" in the series look at Rock as "unique" and refer to him as a "rare" individual as he is able to connect with others, even Revy. On many occasions, Rock's personality is demonstrated to be stronger than any weapon or organization imaginable as he is able to connect with not only Revy, but with people as innocent as Garcia Lovelace, as ruthless as Balalaika, or as psychotic as Hansel/Gretel. Even Chan, leader of the Triad, is unsure where to classify Rock as a person.

Alienation is present as well, as the characters are alienated from regular society. As pirates, they spend most of their time at sea, or in a city very much alienated from "regular" civilization. As well, they often are alienated from one another, as can be seen in the conflicts between Rock and Revy.

Free will relates to all of this, especially seen in Rock, who actively chooses to leave his stable life in Japan because it has lost meaning to him. At the same time, he does not want to fully accept his circumstances, or make a true choice as regarding to his own meaning in life, causing him much conflict with Revy, and later another "existential hero" in Yukio Washimine (who chooses to continue fighting an inevitably lost battle with the Russian mafia, and is a reader of both Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre). Yukio confronts Rock with his lack of "choice," over what his own meaning is, trying to stay neutral and not choosing sides in conflicts throughout the series, which she views as laziness and an unwillingness to accept his own individuality and values, and thus a personal alienation. She argues that this is an attempt to just conform to his surroundings and give his meaning away to others, rather than realizing his own choice in the matter. This is the same critique as Sartre, who said that one who is a "being-in-the-midst-of-everything" (as he phrased it) is merely living a false consciousness, since they are pretending that their being has no effect on its surroundings and so it can be a partial observer, which is simply not the case.

Along with free will is the struggle between Giri and Ninjo. Giri is the uniquely Japanese form of social obligation. It makes many appearances in the series as internal strife within the characters. It forces them to act in manners they would normally find unacceptable. In episode 7, Rock and Revy are told to do errands for the company. When they arrive at the Church of Violence, they have a confrontation with Sister Yolanda. During the confrontation Rock implies that they could turn the church in for trading drugs outside the normal routes. This implication brings about a sense of Giri, or social obligation, and she ends up giving him the firearms Black Lagoon needs. The important thing to understand is that the sense of Giri felt in Japan is unequivocal; Yolanda did not pay back the obligation by giving Rock anything physical, instead she paid it back by giving him the proper consideration he deserved and by following through with her original deal. Ninjo, on the other hand, is the idea of compassion and true feeling that springs up in contest with Giri. In episode 7 it makes its appearance during the confrontation between Rock and Revy. During this bout, Rock states that he is done apologizing to Revy. She takes this as a challenge of sorts and tries to push it aside in order to avoid a confrontation. Rock continues to push and Revy reacts in a typical violent outburst. What follows is an argument, which expresses their attempt at understanding one another on the deepest level. Their feelings interfere with their sense of duty towards one another and the tension becomes immense. They have at it until the police interrupt them. The episode ends with the two of them in the back of a police cruiser making amends for their outburst, and they show a sign of true understanding and camaraderie.

The series also touches on other themes, like modern Nazism, the power struggle between various criminal syndicates, and outright sadistic killing. Communism plays a major role for almost all of the characters as well, with a connection to almost every protagonist and antagonist in the show, though in most cases due to some conflict or alienation from it (e.g. Dutch fighting in Vietnam, Mr. Chang originating from China, the Russian Mafia originally being a Soviet paratrooper brigade, Hansel and Gretel being orphans under an ex-Communist dictator, etc.).

Reception

As of October 2007, the manga series has sold over 3 million copies in Japan.[9] The anime series has received positive reviews at both Anime News Network and Anime on DVD.[10][11] With Chris Beveridge, the reviewer at Anime on DVD going so far as to say:

“To my surprise, knowing practically nothing about the show beyond a two minute clip at a convention, Black Lagoon manages to kick all kinds of ass. In English no less. The draw of a full bitrate 5.1 mix got me to watch it in English only to find that with most of the characters being western and in settings outside of Japan it works very well.”[11]

DVD Verdict also gave it a good review.[12] About.com's Deb Aoki lists Black Lagoon as the best new seinen of 2008 along with Gantz.[13]

References

  1. ^ "New Licenses". Chuang Yi. http://www.chuangyi.com.sg/new/licensese.php. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  2. ^ "Third Black Lagoon Anime Project Confirmed". Anime News Network. 2008-07-16. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-07-16/third-black-lagoon-anime-project-confirmed. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Anime News Network (2008-07-03). "FUNimation Entertainment and Geneon Entertainment Sign Exclusive Distribution Agreement for North America". Press release. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2008-07-03/funimation-entertainment-and-geneon-entertainment-sign-exclusive-distribution-agreement-for-north-america. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  4. ^ In the El Baile de la Muerte arc, the tombstone of Diego Jose San Fernando Lovelace showed that he died in the year 1991. Also, in the same arc, American soldiers are seen using EO Tech holographic weapons sights, which were not developed until the mid-to-late 1990's.
  5. ^ "Black Lagoon DVD 2 (Hyb) Limited Collector's Edition". Right Stuf, Inc. http://www.rightstuf.com/1-800-338-6827/catalogmgr/V151GjasJsnBqy2jCg/browse/item/74363/4/0/0. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  6. ^ "Black Lagoon DVD 3 (Hyb) Limited Collector's Edition". Right Stuf, Inc. http://www.rightstuf.com/1-800-338-6827/catalogmgr/QWUhH93cZU-ND6hLoI/browse/item/74052/4/0/0. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  7. ^ "Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, Vol. 1". Amazon.com, Inc. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001CFQNVW. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "Black Lagoon Review". Whai's anime blog. 2006-06-30. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. http://web.archive.org/web/20080212101308/http://renkinjutsu.animeblogger.net/2006/07/30/black-lagoon-review/. Retrieved 9 June 2007. 
  9. ^ The Obi strip of the manga Vol. 7.
  10. ^ Theron Martin (2007-05-18). "Black Lagoon DVD 1". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/black-lagoon/dvd-1. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Chris Beveridge (2007-05-22). "Black Lagoon Vol. #1 (also w/limited edition)". Mania.com/Anime on DVD. http://www.mania.com/black-lagoon-vol-1-also-wlimited-edition_article_79113.html. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  12. ^ Rob Lineberger (2007-06-04). "Black Lagoon: Volume 1". DVD Verdict. http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/blacklagoonvol1.php. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  13. ^ Aoki, Deb. "2008 Best New Manga". About.com. http://manga.about.com/od/recommendedreading/tp/2008BestNewManga.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 

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