Black Lagoon: Complete Set
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Price: $54.98 – Available Here
Black Lagoon is a series that many anime/manga fans may be familiar with thanks to the fact that it has had a rough time over the last few years. The manga which the anime is based off of has been in hiatus for the last three years and the original licensor of the anime series, Geneon, left the anime business years ago. However FUNimation saved a number of anime licenses from Geneon and one of these happened to be Black Lagoon. Now FUNimation has chosen to re-release the series for the first time on Blu-ray and have combined the two Black Lagoon seasons, Black Lagoon and Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, into one release. Is this complete set worth your time? Let’s find out.
Rokuro Okajima has lived his life as a standard Japanese office worker who has always rolled over for his boss and did everything that he could to please his superiors, even if this meant demeaning himself for their amusement. However when he is trusted with a special disc and sent on a business trip, his life takes a sudden turn when a group of pirates/mercenaries not only steal the disc but decide to kidnap Rokuro and ransom him off because they feel like they haven’t been paid enough for the job.
However when his company abandons him and tells him to go die, Rokuro adopts the new name or Rock and settles down as a member of the Lagoon Company which happens to contain an extremely violent woman who seems to kill with no remorse. Her name is Revy and she has been nicknamed “Two Hands” thanks to her style of using two guns at any time and thanks to Rock’s idealistic outlook on the world, he often finds himself on the bad side of this ruthless woman.
The other members of the crew are Dutch, an ex-Marine who leads Lagoon and a Jewish-American by the name of Benny who handles the group’s technological affairs. Lagoon bases themselves off of a torpedo boat and the story of Black Lagoon follows this group of mercenaries as they take various contracts from employers around the world, though the work never takes them to far away from the Indian Ocean or various locations in Asia and Japan.
It is worth noting that Black Lagoon is a series that isn’t afraid to move into dark territory and there are multiple story developments, usually involving backstory, which truly feel evil or horrifying and at times the morality of the Lagoon Company and its members can be called into question as the group operates in a gray area where their enemies are evil, however throughout the series the morals of Revy especially can be called into question just as much when it comes to her actions and love of bloodlust.
However throughout the two seasons that are combined in this release, we do see some decent character development with Rock as he grows more confident in his abilities and starts to become accustomed to the actions the group has to take, essentially changing from your standard Japanese businessman into a sharp-witted member of the group. As the series progresses, Revy’s complex past and terrifying nature are explored. As one would expect, with Rock and Revy butting heads so often initially, the violent tension between the two dies down as the series progresses while other tensions rise as their complex relationship progresses throughout the series.
Black Lagoon’s story works well with its focus on a small cast of characters, and even then most of the attention is paid towards only Revy and Rock as they tackle various contracts and learn from one another. It also helps that the story is laced with loads of black humor and thrilling gun battles that keep the show moving at a steady pace even as each story arc progresses.
One thing that is instantly noticeable about Black Lagoon is the colorful color palette used for the show. Many action anime try to keep a mundane, gray and brown color variation but Black Lagoon manages to keep things fresh with a wide-range of colors even in many of the action scenes where blood and bullets are being sprayed all over the screen.
The bloody gun battles and action sequences have been given first-class animation making every blood bath a thrilling experience. As for the character designs, each cast member has a unique look to them and it is interesting to note that many races are represented in the show which is something of a rarity for anime. Also it is worth noting that the basic art work of the show actually improves over time and the visuals make a small jump in quality when episodes of Black Lagoon: Second Barrage roll around.
Despite being recorded back in 2007 and 2009 for the second half of the series, the voice work for Black Lagoon remains impressively violent and satisfactory. Though if the subtitles are anything to go by, the English cast seems to have worked in a lot more swear words than the series was originally meant to have. However this use of foul language manages to fit the images of the characters and the voices provided by the actors/actresses meaning that this shouldn’t be an issue unless the viewer happens to have issues with such language.
As far as background music goes, Black Lagoon does a decent job providing a few memorable tracks that play alongside some dramatic moments in the show but otherwise most of the background tracks are forgetful. The opening song throughout the entire series is actually an Engrish style song sung by Mell called “Red Fraction.” Despite not sounding as great as a native English singer, the song matches the style of the anime well and works a great intro for the series. The ending songs are more basic however as they all aim for dramatic impact with mostly instrumental songs such as “Don’t Look Behind” by Edison throughout most of the series and two special tracks played for episodes 15 and 24.
As far as bonus features go, Black Lagoon: Complete Set may appear like it actually has a lot going for it, however most of these bonus features are limited by the fact that they are almost entirely promotional material. We have a CD Commercial, three promo videos and trailers for other FUNimation shows all of which fall under that category. Outside of that there are two clean versions of the opening, one of which has a couple of “uncensored” parts which don’t really show much extra, as well as a clean textless version of each ending sequence, including the special endings featured in episodes 15 and 24.
Beyond that there is also a special “The Crew” bonus feature which takes viewers behind the scenes at the recording studio where the English voice cast worked on providing the dub. In this fifteen minute video we hear from a decent amount of the English cast and it is a nice look at how things were handled back when it was originally recorded while Geneon was still around.
This Black Lagoon: Complete Set hits the HD scene with a bang with plenty of fast paced action and beautiful animation which will keep viewers coming back for more as the Lagoon Company takes on increasingly violent and strange contracts which see them facing off against many of the underworlds worst members all while trying to earn enough money to eat.. even if it means leaving a pile of bullet-riddled bodies in their wake.