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. The third season (an OVA) started July 17, 2010.
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. At Anime Expo 2010, Funimation announced that they have licensed Roberta's Blood Trail and will be released in 2011.
The story follows a team of pirates/mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, that smuggles goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia in the early 1990s. Their base of operations is located in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand, and they transport goods in the Script error 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 1965 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.
Script error 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 indifferent 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 M92 "Sword Cutlass Special" pistols. Her nickname "Two Hand" 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 Marine 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.
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, entitled Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail has been announced as an OVA, the first of 5 DVD/Blu-ray volumes of which is to be released in July, 2010.
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.
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.
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.
The "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" arc showed that most of the characters throughout the series actually speak English, with the Japanese simply being 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.
As of October 2007[update], the manga series has sold over 3 million copies in Japan. The anime series has received positive reviews at both Anime News Network and Anime on DVD. 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.”DVD Verdict also gave it a good review. About.com's Deb Aoki lists Black Lagoon as the best new seinen of 2008 along with Gantz.
- Script error (Japanese)
- Funimation's Black Lagoon website
- Black Lagoon (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
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