Black Lagoon is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe. It has been published in Shogakukan’s Monthly Sunday Gene-X since 2002, and eleven collected volumes have been released so far. It was later adapted into an anime television series by Madhouse, that aired from April to June 2006 for twelve episodes. A second season, subtitled “The Second Barrage”, ran for twelve weeks starting on October 2, 2006. A five volume original video animation series, titled Roberta’s Blood Trail, was released from July 2010 to June 2011.
In North America, Viz Media began releasing an English translation of the manga on August 12, 2008. The anime was dubbed and originally licensed in English by Geneon Entertainment in July 2006. Funimation has acquired the distribution rights to the series since a distribution agreement with Geneon in July 2008. Funimation later licensed the OVA, which also was licensed by Kazé in the UK, for release in spring 2013.
Written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe, a pilot chapter of Black Lagoon was published in Shogakukan’s Monthly Sunday Gene-X‘s April 2001 issue and the main series premiered in the May 2002 issue. Chapters run monthly and are later collected into tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan. The first was released on December 12, 2002, and to date eleven have been published, the last in 2018. The series first went on hiatus in May 2010. It resumed in January 2013, before being put back on hiatus in January 2014. In the January 2017 release of Monthly Sunday Gene-X, it was announced that the manga will resume in May 2017; it went on hiatus again in September 2018. The December issue of Monthly Sunday GX revealed that Hiroe would resume the series in spring 2019, however the series did not resume its publication as planned. In June 2019, Monthly Sunday GX announced the manga will resume in September.
The manga has been licensed for an English-language release in North America by Viz Media. The first volume was released on August 12, 2008. Black Lagoon has also received domestic releases in many other countries; in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Mexico, Poland and Finland, by Kabuto, Carlsen, Jade Dynasty, Panini Comics, Chuang Yi, Haksan Publishing, Norma Editorial, Grupo Editorial Vid, Waneko and Punainen jättiläinen respectively.
As of February 2014, the first nine volumes of the manga had over 6 million copies in print in Japan. The first eleven volumes had over 7 million copies in print as of November 2018. About.com’s Deb Aoki listed Viz Media’s English release of Black Lagoon as the best new seinen manga of 2008, along with Gantz.
The story follows a team of pirate mercenaries known as the Lagoon Company, that smuggles goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia in the early to mid 1990s. Their base of operations is located in the fictional harbor city of Roanapur in southeast Thailand near the border of Cambodia (somewhere in the Amphoe Mueang Trat district, likely on the mainland north/northeast of the Ko Chang island or on the island itself). The city is home to the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Triad, the Russian mafia, the Colombian cartel, the Italian mafia, a wide assortment of pickpockets, thugs, mercenaries, thieves, assassins, and gunmen. The city also has a large Vietnamese refugee population following the Vietnamese refugees exodus after the Communist takeover of Vietnam in 1975.
Lagoon Company transports goods for various clients in the 80-foot (24 m) Elco-type PT boat Black Lagoon. It 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, even going as far as Phu Quoc island of Vietnam. When they are not working, 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.