Log in

No account? Create an account
23 May 2009 @ 11:04 pm
Anime review  
Black Lagoon

In South-East Asia during the mid-nineties, Rokuro is a salary man on a mission to deliver a CD containing important data when he's kidnapped by pirates looking to blackmail his enterprise and ransom him. However Rokuro's boss would rather kill everyone to cover all tracks - including Rokuro. Shocked by this ruthlessness, the now renamed Rock decides to join the pirate crew of the Black Lagoon rather than go back to Japan - which is the start of a whole new life for him in the crime-riddled city of Roanapur in Thailand.

The crew of the Black Lagoon, from left to right: Ben, an American Jew from Florida who handles hacking and all stuff related to communication and electronics on the ship; Rock, our Japanese former salary man who is good as negotiation and social skills in general and the occasional crazy awesome plan; Revy a Chinese-American gun slinger who is more that a little bit hot headed and violently inclined; and Dutch, also American, the leader of the team and pilot of the ship.

Black Lagoon is a dark, morally ambiguous show filled with so much over-the-top action it's almost parodic (and a LOT of a pop culture references). One of its major point of interest is how it depicts characters who are not good guys and know it (in a way which reminds me a lot of the roleplaying game Shadowrun although without all the cyberpunk and fantasy elements) and more broadly an interesting take on violence and what it does to people. It kinda manages to deal with both action as fun entertainment, while always having this little note of downer ending which allows it to point out that you have to be pretty broken to be enjoying and dealing violence without seeming too much hypocritical. It's got quite a bit of fanservice, is honestly pretty trashy and possibly offensive - however I must admit that I adored it. It's wickedly funny, action packed and sometimes surprisingly deep at the same time. It also got a whole lot of extremely badass women with interesting relationships with one another, and even the few female characters which are not scary motherfucker you don't want to piss off and are well rounded and have a lot of agency. Obviously, not to everyone's taste, but for those who like high ended action, don't mind dark subject matters and a not always very earnest or in-depth use of dark subject matters, and enjoy badass female characters, it's pretty much awesome.

The women from Black Lagoon : they are scary and you do not want to mess with them. Srsly.

I pretty much fell in love with Revy right away (by now you guys should be aware how much I love tough female warriors with a bad temperament and near self-destructive bad ass attitude...); but all of the main characters are pretty interesting and compelling in their own way. Besides the crew of the Black Lagoon, you've got Balalaika, a face-scarred Russian Mafia boss and Afganisthan war veteran who frequently hire our heroes protagonists; Eda, a nun from the weapon smugglers Church of Violence and Revy's best friend (which doesn't stop them from threatening to kill each other pretty regularly); and Shenhua, a Taiwanese mercenary who prefers to use edge weapons and is very good with them. There's a few other regulars, but I'll live you the pleasure of the surprise.

Rock and Revy is one of the most developed relationship on the show and is indeed pretty interesting. While they are not a couple, they definitely have this little spark of mutual interest which neither is pretty good at following through for various reasons. They've got this nice gender-role reversal a la Aeryn/Crighton with the guy being the big softie with the social skill and the caring for other people and the girl being tough and psychopathic more willing to be radically violent than to show emotional vulnerability - so I kinda see the appeal of the ship although I would just as much see Revy femslashed with any of the wonderfully scary female characters listed above.

I do have one big grip with the series is that for a show supposed to be about modern day pirates of the South-East Asia it's got no South-East Asian characters. It's got, like, characters from all corners of the world and identified as such, but none from local area? That kinda weirded me out.

Anyway there's two series of 12 episodes each, with a third planned for soon; and is adapted from a manga which is a bit farther along.

By the way since the show got recced to me over at RPG.not, I made a log of my watching every episode if anyone's curious about reading it (obviously has spoilers as I go along the episodes).
Tone: pleasedpleased
Tune: EDISON - Don't Let Me Join Now
(Deleted comment)
Anne-Elisa: *g*etrangere on May 23rd, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of guns in Black Lagoon. A whole lot of guns. ♥
(Deleted comment)
Anne-Elisa: not impressedetrangere on May 23rd, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
The fact I have three new icons from this show is a sign of how much I liked it!

Edited at 2009-05-23 09:30 pm (UTC)
the artist formerly known as pojymatitablu on May 23rd, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
Aw, here's another series I started watching on Mtv and lost track of. Must torrentize (ok, I made that up) this as well, sooner or later...
Anne-Elisa: *g*etrangere on May 23rd, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
Torrentize it is :D
baseball with elephants? bah!: back offkeelieinblack on May 23rd, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
This is one of my favorite series ever, and the kick-ass women are a big part of the reason why. I'm honestly still a little surprised that something that falls so heavily into the guns'n'action genre could avoid 90% of the sexism that's part of the genre. Or that it could actually have proper philosophical moments without turning them into something much too cheesy. Or that it could go to very dark places without feeling clumsy and gratuitous...okay, now I'm just babbling. Sorry. XD
Anne-Elisa: creepy anthyetrangere on May 23rd, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
I was pretty much amazed by how good the women are given how much of a trashy action show with fanservice it is, yes! But all the women are really awesome. And, yeah, I didn't always think the philosophical moments were not clumsy, but they sometimes were really clever. I was really impressed by the 'Fuck You' to Nazis as guilt-free gratuitous targets in action stories, for example. So, yeah, much love for it ♥
☂ Internet trickster: Velvet / royal crimsonrainmage on May 23rd, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
Funny you mention it, because I watched the first episode this week on an anime screening at my faculty and thought it looked promising.
Anne-Elisa: chagalletrangere on May 26th, 2009 09:34 am (UTC)
Hope you can get to watch more of it and you like it! :)
ontogenesis: orangeglow_grellwhomeontogenesis on May 25th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
Wouldn't Shenhua count as the SE Asian character? Looks hot, anyways.
Anne-Elisa: not impressedetrangere on May 26th, 2009 09:35 am (UTC)
I hadn't thought of Taiwan as being in SE Asia but it's not like I can place it on a map, so... >_>;