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Film Friday- Black Lagoon

Film Friday- Black Lagoon

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.

Anime

An anime adaptation of Black Lagoon covering 9 arcs of the manga was produced by Madhouse, Geneon Entertainment and Shogakukan and directed and written by Sunao Katabuchi, with Masanori Shino designing the characters and EDISON composing the music. The series aired for the first time on Chiba TV from April 8, 2006, to June 24, 2006 (and later on 15 other terrestrial stations), for twelve episodes. A second season, labelled Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage and consisting of twelve more episodes, ran for the first time on Sendai Television from October 2, 2006, to December 18, 2006. The second season focuses less on character development than the first season and more on the jobs they do. A five-volume original video animation titled Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail that covered the El Baile de la muerte arc of the manga was released in July 2010.

In North America, Geneon Entertainment announced the license to the series in July 2006. In September 2007, Geneon announced that they had ceased in-house distribution of its series. On July 3, 2008, Geneon and Funimation announced an agreement to distribute select titles in North America. While Geneon would still retain the license, Funimation would assume exclusive rights to the manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of select titles. Black Lagoon was one of several titles involved in the deal.

The first season was released on three DVDs, each containing four episodes, between August and December 2006. The second season mirrored this, being released from January to June 2007. The Blu-ray Disc releases of the two seasons included a total of seven short omake specials, each no longer than five minutes, that depict the characters in various humorous situations. In 2010, the series was released in four, two for each season, boxsets from August to September.

Geneon’s North American dub was released on three DVD compilations, each containing four episodes, between May 22 and September 18, 2007. 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 bonus 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 North America 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. At Anime Expo 2010, Funimation announced their licensing of the Roberta’s Blood Trail OVA, which was later released in 2013. The first and second seasons were re-released on Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo pack on December 4, 2012. A Blu-Ray release of all 29 episodes was released on June 4, 2019.

Geneon USA’s English dub premiered on G4techTV Canada as part of its Anime Current block on October 26, 2007 and STARZ Edge as part of its Animidnight late Tuesday night/Early Wednesday morning late-prime Japanese Anime programming block, began airing it on February 29, 2008 to American audiences. The series returned to American television on the Funimation Channel on February 15, 2013. The series began airing in Adult Swim’s Toonami block on March 22, 2014. The anime has also aired in Australia on the Sci Fi Channel, in Italy on MTV Italy, in Russia on 2×2 TV-channel, in Sweden on ZTV, on Animax in Spain and Portugal, and in Germany on Animax and Tele 5.

Reception

The anime series has received internationally positive reviews. With Chris Beveridge of 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.”

Escapist Magazine contributor Tom Tonthat reviewed both seasons of Black Lagoon separately. Both seasons received a positive review with the stylized action scenes and the strong female characters’ being praised, while also criticizing the somewhat repetitive nature of the plot.

The Lagoon Company

The entire Lagoon Company. From left to right: Benny, Rock, Revy and Dutch.

The Lagoon Company is a mercenary/pirate group that is the main focus of the series, hired by the many criminal organisations operating in and around Roanapur to locate, acquire and smuggle items by sea.

Rokuro Okajima / Rock

the main character in the series. In the anime version, but not in the manga, he is also the narrator of the story.

He was a 25-year-old Japanese salaryman for Asahi Industries in Tokyo until he was taken hostage by the crew of the Black Lagoon during their raid on the ship he was on. He joined the Lagoon Company after his department chief Kageyama abandoned him (Kageyama declared him dead) in an attempt to cover up the smuggling operation in which Rock had been an unwitting participant. Rock is a caring and good-natured everyman despite being on the business end of guns from friend and foe alike, and often seems surprised at the dangers of the Southeast Asian crime world. He still wears his tie, dress shirt, and dress pants because although now a pirate, he still retains his business persona. He prefers to use words over weapons when interacting with others. Rock, after joining the Lagoon company, has wondered if he is experiencing Stockholm syndrome.

Within the Lagoon Company, Rock is usually responsible for account management, diplomacy, negotiation, interpretation, and the occasional errand. Having once worked in the resource investigation department of Asahi Industries, Rock is also skilled in geology. He is also a natural linguist, being effectively bilingual in Japanese, his native language, and English as well as being familiar with other languages, including Spanish, Romanian, and Russian. He also has a surprisingly high tolerance for alcohol, owing to the heavy-drinking lifestyle of a ladder-climbing salaryman. Rock’s charismatic personality has earned him the interest of several figures in Roanapur, including Balalaika, Mr. Chang, Rowan “Jackpot” Pigeon, Yolanda, Eda (who develops a crush on him), and young Garcia Lovelace. In many ways, Rock is the heart of the Lagoon Company, serving as a balance for his more callous teammates and as an average counterbalance in the world of darkness that is Roanapur. Dutch has stated that he believes Lagoon Company is complete with Rock not holding a gun, saying his bullets are the kind to ricochet back at them.

Despite his lack of combat experience, Rock has come through every adventure, kidnapping and firefight with only a few bruises, surviving personal confrontations with most of Roanapur’s most dangerous criminals at some point. Rock eventually begins to enjoy his life as a pirate and becomes even more comfortable with corruption. This comes to the fore when Mr Chang personally enlists Rock to locate Roberta before she is killed by US Special Forces, as he demonstrates a duplicitous, ruthless side of his personality clearly influenced by Revy and Roanapur. He devises a scheme to extract the US soldiers from the city to draw Roberta out, accounting even for Garcia’s loyalty, Roberta’s psychosis and the personal vendattas amongst the criminals, treating the entire plan like a gambling game. He is forced back towards kindness in the extra missing pages of chapter 76 after an angered Fabiola shoots him with a blank round. In “The Wired Red Wild Card” arc, he is last seen driving a car with Revy.

While Rock has a family in Tokyo, he does not have connection to them due to their somewhat cold attitude towards him. It was later revealed that he did not pass his college entrance exams on his first try, leading his family to lower their expectations of him. It is known that he has a father, a mother, and an older brother who was academically capable and thus attained a job in the Japanese government. He was born in the 49th year of the Shōwa period, according to the manga version, which corresponds to 1975-1976.

Revy

sometimes referred by her real name of Rebecca Lee, is the co-protagonist of the series. She does most of the fighting for the Lagoon Company. Very little is revealed about her past. Revy is a Chinese American approximately 20-22 years old from Chinatown, Manhattan, near Mott Street, who spent most of her youth as a criminal. Flashbacks throughout the series reveal that she may have honed her skills with firearms by shooting at cans, and that her first murder may have involved shooting her abusive father, using a pillow as a silencer. Revy is very confident, grumpy, aggressive, cynical, and emotionally unstable. Unlike Rock, she is undiplomatic, believing in the use of brute force and violence to get her way. In contrast to this, she is revealed to be highly ticklish. She is also a heavy smoker and drinker. Of all the characters in the series, Revy is recognized as the most foul-mouthed character, yelling constant profanity.

She is a sadistic killer without a conscience who will murder anyone at the slightest provocation, even unarmed civilians. She has a loving but bullying attitude towards Rock, the newest and most friendly crew member of the Black Lagoon; though she respects him later in the series, she is mostly threatening towards him, having nearly murdered him on two occasions and threatening him with death on several others. However, she does act to save Rock from critical situations, and later on she admits to considering Rock as family to Balalaika. It is likely that she is attracted to Rock, based on her reactions to Eda’s teasing, which appear to be jealousy. Her attraction is further suggested in the last scenes of Season 2 when Eda asked her if she had gotten anywhere with Rock, instead of denying it with a short comment as usual she said she rather not say causing Eda to laugh at her hopelessness when it comes to men.

Revy is also very protective of Rock. An example can be found in her anger and resolve to kill Chaka after he beats Rock. She has also lied or gone against her “nature” in order to save him; such as when he was kidnapped by Takenaka and she lied about him having the documents they required when she actually had them the whole time, or when she stood up to Balalaika when she held Rock at gunpoint after he opposed her plan to destroy the Washimine clan. She also went to Japan as his bodyguard (when Rock acted as Balalaika’s interpreter), but as pointed out by Benny the only real reason she went was to look after him because she was worried about him.

According to CIA agents on Basilan Island, Revy is still notorious in the NYPD (particularly at the fictional 27th Precinct).

Revy is one of the deadliest fighters in the series, whose skill with firearms and ability to dodge bullets is almost superhuman and unparalleled. There are only a few other characters, such as Roberta and Ginji, that can hold their ground against her in combat. In episode 11 of the first season Revy concedes to Mr. Chang that she does not possess his level of skill but hopes to attain it eventually. Her weapons of choice are a pair of modified Beretta 92FS’s; which are made out of stainless steel and had their barrels extended from 4.9″ to 5.9″ each (the 5.9″ is the combat MOD barrel) and also adapted for silencers. They are engraved with the words “9mm Sword Cutlass” on both sides, the Jolly Roger of the pirate Calico Jack (which is also inlaid into the ivory grips), and a manufacture inscription in Thai. Due to her ambidextrous marksmanship skills, she is nicknamed “Two Hands” by the denizens of Roanapur, which is based on Douglas E. Winter’s novel Run. Revy is also proficient in the use of other weapons, such as high-powered rifles and the M79 grenade launcher. Constantly living on the edge of life combined with the tragedies of her past, Revy has developed a rather bleak outlook on life, relying only on her own power, skills, and money.

Dutch

is the African American leader of the Lagoon Company and captain of the ex-U.S. Navy PT boat Black Lagoon. Age 30s-40s, he is a former Marine who fought in the Vietnam War. Shortly before the war ended (presumably in 1973), Dutch went AWOL, escaping to Thailand to work as a mercenary.

Dutch first appears where he scolds Revy for taking Rock as a hostage when she had no real plan for obtaining any ransom. Because of this, Dutch apologizes and tries to take care of Rock until they find a safe place to abandon him. As Rock later proves to be incredibly useful, Dutch allows Revy to invite him into the Lagoon Company. Dutch tends to stay away from the fighting associated with Lagoon Company’s activities. Instead, he gives orders and negotiates contracts with clients from the many criminal groups of Roanapur. However, Dutch is very capable in combat, skillfully wielding a Remington 870 Marine Magnum shotgun and a Smith & Wesson 629 revolver. Despite his amoral lifestyle, Dutch is polite and laid-back character, and most of the time, is very considerate. He has a close association with Balalaika of Hotel Moscow, having saved her life during one of Roanapur’s gang wars.

His body is heavily muscled, and he is always seen wearing a pair of sunglasses, typically dressed in camouflage pants and wearing a flak jacket. He appears to be in his 30s, but is most likely in his 40s, given his apparent military service in Vietnam given the setting of Black Lagoon in the 1990s. In the “Baile de los Muertos” saga in the manga, it is suggested that Dutch lied about his Vietnam service and could just simply be a mercenary with no past. However a U.S soldier advised Benny to be wary of Dutch, because a man like Dutch never lies without a serious reason.

Benny

is a dropout from a college in Florida where he studied until getting into trouble with the FBI and the mafia. About 25-year-old, Benny would have ended up dead if Revy had not saved him. He works as the Lagoon Company’s mechanic, computer specialist, and researcher. He also functions as the Lagoon’s driver and appears to be the owner of the 1969 Dodge Coronet R/T (later replaced with a 1965 Pontiac GTO) that Lagoon Company travels around Roanapur in. He is Jewish, or at least of Jewish descent as he puts it, and is often called “Benny-Boy” by Dutch. Benny joined the Lagoon Company two years before Rock after Revy rescued him. Benny has a level-headed and anxiety-free personality. He readily admits to Rock that the two of them are not gunfighters in any way, shape, or form. Unlike Rock, however, Benny is willing to turn a blind eye to Revy and Dutch’s barbaric methods. Benny also tends to be possessive of his computers and will not let anyone else touch them. In the second season, he met Greenback Jane and after impressing her with his computer abilities, began an online relationship with her. Jane returns to Roanapur following the teams completion of the Lovelace Incident and Benny meets up with her. Possibly based on Jake Adelstein.

 

Manga Monday- Black Lagoon

Manga Monday- Black Lagoon

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.

Manga

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.

Reception

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.

Plot

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.