Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Black Lagoon

It isn't very often when I watch a show and wonder whether or not I liked it or I loved it. It's difficult to say because I literally just got through watching the finale of the show. I will say that it certainly has all the elements of a show that I would love: kick-ass scantily-clad dames, guns, violence, and enough swearing to make the mother of the Sopranos blush. A lot of shows typically avoid the dirtier words like "fuck" and "goddamn" and even "cunt," but Black Lagoon really keeps it coming with the colorful metaphors. Not for the kids. 

The story is thus:

Rokuro "Rock" Okajima is your typical Japanese hard-working lackey. He does what he is told and works for a shitty boss and one day he finds out that he's become an expendable dodo and finds himself being held at gunpoint. The ones holding him at gunpoint are Dutch and Revy. Revy is one of those kick-ass scantily-clad dames I mentioned and her nickname is "Two-Hands." Dutch is an African American Vietnam war vet who runs his own little shipping company known as the Lagoon Company. Revy is an employee of the Lagoon Company and she serves more or less as the brutal enforcer while Dutch is typically the man behind the scenes even though he is perfectly willing to get his hands dirty from time to time.

I don't want to spoil the hows or whys, but Rock eventually decides to stick it to his boss and actually joins the Lagoon Company. Since the Lagoon Company is made up of three Americans in total (I haven't mentioned Benny yet), Rokuro is given the name of Rock and a permanent place on the crew assuming he can earn his stripes.

But this won't be a walk in the park. Roanapur (a fictional harbor city located in south Thailand) is a place of blood and vendettas and it is far different than the world Rock was so accustomed to. It's one thing to say that Rock didn't like being pushed around by his bosses, but can he really stand side by side with people who could pop lead into a motherfucker at the drop of a dime?

From left to right: Benny, Rock, Revy, and Dutch

The Lagoon Company takes on a variety of jobs from a variety of dishonest clients. Neo-nazis with a fetish for Aryan artwork? Check. The Russian crime syndicate Hotel Moscow? Check. Church-going nuns who happen to wear some serious firepower? Also check.

Frequently, Rock finds himself on that thin line between good and evil. He tries to help people in his newfound role as one of the brains for Lagoon Company, but... who is he really helping? 

There really isn't a hero in all of this. Our main characters are sympathetic to a point and they even seem amicable and amusing when they aren't giving some poor guy a third eye in his skull (actually they do seem amusing even while they are doing that, too), but they are villains and that is what they do. 

What I think really ties this series together is that it references pop culture in a way that I think makes everything seem more believable. Two characters sit down and talk about books and authors like Stephen King and Anne Rice. There's a poster of The Wild Bunch on Revy's wall. There are mentions of films like My Bloody Valentine and The Terminator. It just gives it more of an authentic feeling because these are things that everyone does. Not everyone goes batshit and kills an entire building full of people using a samurai sword. 

The locations, although animated, feel real, too. 

This show really is more of a down to earth Cowboy Bebop now that I think about it. Not quite the same, of course, but there are similarities between them that should be fairly recognizable. 

It's an homage to action and Quentin Tarantino and John Woo. It is an obvious ode to the "girls with guns" genre as well. The most badass characters here are the women. There's part of the show that seems like it is right out of a Stephen King or an Anne Rice novel, too. The vampire twins are just about my favorite villains of the show next to the unkillable killer maid and if that doesn't intrigue you then I don't know what will. 

Even though there is nudity in this show there really is a downplay on the sexual content. Like it's something repressed. Even Revy (who seems to have a thing for Rock at times) doesn't discuss sex or even seem to have it. I find it very hard to believe that a character as good as she looks doesn't get laid. 

There is just little sex going on here. The tits and pantyshots in this show are just part of the scenery. Nothing special and no different anything else. When Revy catches a certain woman watching a dirty movie she says, "Is that woman taking it up the ass?" as if she had never heard of such a thing. Revy kills people with no hesitation and seems to get off on it most of the time... but a video featuring a dude ramming his rod up some chick's butt throws her for a loop. Something backward about that. 

I think that could be a subtle observation about Americans in general, though. We're violent motherfuckers and we can take buckets of blood and guts, but God forbid you show too many tits or even some full frontal. 

At the end of the second season (each season has only twelve episodes, btw) we aren't really left with a lot of clarity or closure. Rock's personal demons and Revy's relationship with him aren't advanced enough to make it feel like I witnessed some genuine growth. Instead, it feels like another mission ended and it is back to business like usual. Only the show is over and we won't see the next mission so fuck us. Rock remains undecided and in the "twilight" (as he put it) and Revy won't say anything on her progress (if any) with Rock. 

There really needs to be a third season. Until I know these things I'm "undecided" as to just how much I dig this anime. You must watch it, though. Unresolved as it may be, it's still superb. 

But there is an OVA set to be released this year so there is that. 

1 comment:

  1. I see this on the netflix list of dvds (no streaming for this one). I'll have to check it out.

    The title makes me laugh though. Not because it's funny but anytime I see a title somewhere close to The Blue Lagoon, I always think of the porn movie title, "The Pink Lagoon." (I didn't see The Pink Lagoon but I saw the name on a list of funny porn titles)