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Anime Series that Blends Great Action, Colorful Characters and Thought-provoking Existential Themes!

  • Apr 20, 2009
Rating:
+4


Based on the manga by Rei Hiroe, "BLACK LAGOON" is an anime series that was well received in Japan. This second season dubbed "The Second Barrage" aired in Japan around October, 2006 and lasted for twelve weeks with a third season just recently announced. Thanks to Geneon, U.S. audiences are finally able to have an official region 1 release with episodes 13-24. This second season boasts of some graphic violence and very cool anime action divided into 3 storylines--it also has very strong themes about existentialism, the moralities between right and wrong, choices and our own free will.

The second "Barrage" has been divided into 3 storylines that follows the adventures of mercenaries known as the "lagoon" company. Their base of operations is in the fictional town of Roanapur in Thailand and they transport good and does business with some shady characters. The first one being some killings occurring in Roanapur, being executed by children, twins to be exact. They are targeting the Russian crime syndicate called Hotel Moscow headed by Balalaika (voiced by Mami Koyama) and it is all out war with Revy (voiced by Megumi Toyoguchi) and Eda are caught in the middle.

           

          

The second storyline has Revy and Eda stumbling on a counterfeiter named Jane in a church--"The Church of violence".  Jane was being pursued by a gang of lowlifes who are after some plates. Rock (Daisuke Namikawa), Revy and Eda have to fight off the hordes led by knife specialist Shun Hua, a fiero-maniac and a creepy chainsaw wielding chick. The third storyline (which was originally done in English) takes us to Revy and Rock's journey to Japan to aid Balalaika's negotiations with the Washimine clan of Yakuza. Little do they know that the Russian crime leader has her own plans, that puts Rock and Revy in a very compromising situation with a young teenager named Yukio (Houko Kunashima) and her master swordsman called Ginji (Kiyoyuki Yanada).

The series is not your children's anime. "Black Lagoon the 2nd Barrage" is a thematic affair midst all the action and mayhem. The screenplay by Sunao Katabuchi expresses its themes through its very strong intelligent dialogue (if occasionally edgy) and even by its characters' mannerisms and actions. I do believe that this series displays some of the most effective definitions of existentialism as I've ever seen. Revy and Rock are opposites, Rock is more of an optimist while Revy sees themselves as "just objects". There are also quite a lot of atheist views as demonstrated by our characters as it is a common thought of existential ideas. According to existential viewpoint, "subjective values" are what drives people in their choices and in the belief that different folks have their own subjective values. As illustrated with the Yukio character, which saw her confinement to certain boundaries.

           

          

Cause and Effect also plays a part in this season's screenplay when it partly touches upon the origins of Balalaika. She was shaped by her experiences in the army when she served the Soviet Union. Some of the series' strongest point would have to be the conversation between Yukio and Rock as well as the origins of the twin murderers. They were powerful and quite disquieting. "Hansel and Gretel" the twins are very creepy and their experiences as abused orphans certainly got under my skin. Choices and familial duty are delved upon with the strong dialogue. Yukio wishes for something resembling a normal existence but she is inevitably shaped by her own circumstances. There are also some very sensitive issues in atheism, incest is mildly hinted at and alienation is definitely effectively portrayed. The last storyline also hints on rape and has a very strong graphic display of violence against women. (surprisingly the series has a mild amount of nudity) The dialogue is very sharp-tongued and mature, (has sexual references) please put the kids to bed when you see this.

The action is the series is nicely placed and keeps its very strong momentum. I thought the storyline with "Hansel and Gretel" (murderous twins) and the third with the Yakuza clans were the series' meat and showstopper. The storyline with the counterfeiter was entertaining but not really thought-provoking as the two. It was a welcome change in tone, as the series has a straight face; despite the doses of black humor. Also, "Black Lagoon" has a cast of awesome characters aside from Revy, Dutch, Benny and Rock. Shun Hua is a sexy assassin who uses an assortment of knives, there is one unstable killer who can't talk without her gizmo who uses a chainsaw, there is Japanese bodyguard who can slice a bullet with his katana and a weird oddball called "the Wizard". The action consists of fist fights, gunplay (as served up by Revy and Eda); and the encounter with Revy's two "sword-cutlass" custom guns and Genji's katana may be worth the price of the collection itself.

            

            

"Black Lagoon the Second Barrage" is one great collection and worthy to be included in any anime fan's shelf. The series has a very mature tone and while the animation by Madhouse studios may have some bits of anime conventions (over expressive facial expressions at times), the direction and screenplay was solid and methodical enough for it to avoid being a senseless display of action and mayhem. Chief director Sunao Katabuchi managed to keep the series grounded even with the assortment of directorial talent (different directors helmed different storylines). Revy and Eda represent a strong "girls with guns" attitude that can connect with all audiences and its thought-provoking undertones can satisfy those looking for "real meat" in the storyline. If "the Third Barrage" comes, then I am ALL in! The Second Barrage is one enjoyable anime experience.

Highly Recommended! [4 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
Note: Using the original Japanese Language track is advisable.

See review of Black Lagoon: Season One here.

See review of Season Three: Roberta's Blood Trail here

 photo BlackLagoontheSecondBarrage.jpg



Here's a preview:

Dvd steelbook cover Revy Gretel Revy and Genji Yukio Revy

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October 21, 2010
Indeed well done Sir Woo, my girl and I of course like this.
 
April 29, 2009
Great work! I try to review as much anime as I can myself and plan to get into this one later i nthe week. I'm working on Gankutsuou as we speak thanks to Fuimation's re-release and am finding it quite interesting.
April 29, 2009
Thanks, JRider! I love Black Lagoon, I think I should also review the first season here as well. This year, the best NEW anime series I've seen is "Shigurui Death Frenzy". just freakin' awesome. Gankutsuou eh? I will have to check that out.
 
April 21, 2009
Excellent review. I've seen season 1 of this anime and found it to be extremely well-drawn. Revy is so cool, and a lot of that coolness is very attached to the seiyu actress that does the original Japanese voice for her. So I agree with your note at the bottom of your review. I'll definitely have to check out Season 2. Thanks!
April 21, 2009
Revy is just soo cool. She makes me wish I was a cartoon so I can marry her LOL! How's about it...REvy vs. Lara Croft?
April 22, 2009
Something tells me Revy wouldn't make a very good housewife. ... Oh, and hope she's not a jealous woman, or you'd suffer more than a night on the couch. ;-) ... As for your question ... Lara Croft, but only because she's more resourceful, not because she has more fighting spirit. ;-)
 
1
More Black Lagoon: The Second Barra... reviews
review by . May 09, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
Cover art of Funimation's release
Black Lagoon is one of those rare anime titles that manage to combine a near endless succession of violence and gunplay with a gritty back-story that provides far more than just a catalyst to advance the action-sequences along.  What we're concerned with in this review specifically is The Second Barrage DVD box set released April 14th from Funimation.  Thanks to collaboration between Geneon Entertainment and Funimation Entertainment, the Black Lagoon series is one of several titles in …
review by . May 08, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Black Lagoon is one of those rare anime titles that manage to combine a near endless succession of violence and gunplay with a gritty back-story that provides far more than just a catalyst to advance the action-sequences along. What we're concerned with in this review specifically is The Second Barrage DVD box set released April 14th from Funimation. Thanks to collaboration between Geneon Entertainment and Funimation Entertainment, the Black Lagoon series is one of several titles in which while …
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Wiki

A recent string of murders is the talk of the town. Not that murder is anything unusual, but the twin killers are targeting Hotel Moscow! The delicate balance of power held by the mafia leaders crumbles as the sickening slaughter escalates into a full-blown war of attrition. No quarter is given and none asked for as Balalaika and her soldiers are forced to recall a time when their deadliest enemies were children.

Steelbook Box Set contains Episodes 13-24.

Bonus DVD loaded with extras:

  • Second Barrage Promo Video
  • Textless Opening & Closings
  •  
    The episodes of the Black Lagoon anime are based on the manga series of the same name by Rei Hiroe. The episodes of the first season of the anime were directed by Sunao Katabuchi, animated by Madhouse Studios, and produced by Geneon Entertainment and Shogakukan.[1] In the second season, known as Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, Shogakukan was not involved in the production.[2] The English adaptation of the episodes is licensed by Geneon Entertainment.[1][2] The plot of the episodes follows the adventures of a Japanese businessman, Rokuro Okajima, after he is abducted by the members of the ship Black Lagoon and joins their crew under the moniker "Rock".
    The first season aired from April 8, 2006, to June 24, 2006, on Chiba TV in Japan.[1] The second season began airing on October 3, 2006, on KBS Kyoto, TV Nagoya, TV Kanagawa, and Sun TV, and concluded its run on December 19, 2006.[2] The English adaptations of both ...
  • view wiki

    Details

    Genre: Animation
    DVD Release Date: April 14, 2009
    Runtime: 330 minutes
    Studio: Funimation Prod, Studio Madhouse

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