When Geneon went the way of the dodo, anime fans everywhere bemoaned their fates regarding some favorite series. With stuff like Hellsing Ultimate and Black Lagoon dying alongside of Geneon it was definitely a dark day for otaku. Thankfully some time later FUNimation made an announcement that they would be taking over distribution of these now-defunct titles and more. The number one anime publisher in America expanded their catalogue and assured anime lovers everywhere that all was not lost in the cases of Geneon and ADV.
In case you missed it the first time around, the animated version of Black Lagoon originally landed in 2006, just four years after the release of Rei Hiroe's manga. Prior to being released here in the States Black Lagoon tallied up twenty-four episodes and two seasons. This was one of those shows that a lot of buzz surrounded prior to its arrival and when the first installment hit store shelves it proved to be an instant success. The no-holds-barred attitude of its characters, unique plot, and unbelievable action and animation quickly made it a cult-favorite. The first season had made it into circulation just before Geneon died, but the second was nowhere to be found; until now.
Black Lagoon: Second Barrage has finally been released thanks to FUNimation and this second season picks up where the first one left off. In the first season we were introduced to the Lagoon Company and the world in which they live. The show arguably focused on the adventures of Rokuro "Rock" Okajima, who is a white-collared Japanese native that used to work for Asahi Industries in Tokyo. He was sent on a business trip with a computer disc and was intercepted by Lagoon Company's pirates. Ultimately he was given the choice to join them, die, or go back to his boring lifeless world; naturally he decided to sign up. Along with Rock, Lagoon Company features the likes of cold-blood sexy killer Revy, computer geek Benny, and the fearless leader Dutch. The first season followed their exploits through the seas of Southeast Asia and the second follows suit.
In Second Barrage the action gets started with no introduction or refresher so if you haven't seen the first season then you're probably going to be lost. The first three episodes all follow a fluid storyline about a string of murders and how the Lagoon Company is brought in to resolve the situation. Basically Hotel Moscow is under attack and reputed gang lords are all being killed off in the quant villa of Roanapur. It takes some time and a lot of blood to realize that these events are actually being perpetrated by young sadistic twins.
These kids wreak a world of havoc in Roanpur and the Lagoon Company has their hands full to say the least. It's kind of amusing to see how Revy reacts to this situation considering how hardnosed she is, but the threat is credible enough for the twins to be taken seriously. Like I said this storyline lasts for three episodes and it provides plenty of what we grew to love about Black Lagoon. The action, the story, the characters, and the world they live in is so over-the-top and addicting that it simply screams Cowboy Bebop. The hip nature is definitely here in spades and fans of that revered series probably know what I'm talking about. Just before this installment closes out a new story starts about a woman named Jane who is a counterfeiter attempting to hide in the Church of Violence.
I can't express how happy I am to see Black Lagoon back on store shelves. I'm even more thrilled to finally be able to sit down with Second Barrage. This franchise quickly became one of my favorites and if you missed the original Geneon releases then by all means pick up the DVDs that FUNimation is selling. Black Lagoon is one of the best action shows out there right now and thankfully Second Barrage maintains that level of quality.
With the recent production date and the anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio, Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage is one slick looking show. The artistic style of the show is very attractive with a ton of detail and creative designs. Despite the layer of grit over everything the transfer here is absolutely stunning with vibrant colors, sharp detail, and virtually no artifacts to complain about. Even grain is kept minimal apart from a few scenes. Madhouse did a heck of a job putting this show together and this transfer was produced with great care.
Black Lagoon is presented on DVD with English and Japanese dub tracks. The original Japanese language gets a 2.0 stereo treatment while the English receives some 2.0 and 5.1 love. In terms of dub quality both tracks are decent though I felt the Japanese dub won out, but that may just be a matter of personal taste. I thought the original language track simply added a little more to the experience because sometimes the dialogue in the show can be a tad dry. Technically speaking the 2.0 tracks play out just like you'd expect and the 5.1 offers a nice sense of immersion, especially when the action starts to pick up. Some of the effects where a little more subdued than I would have expected and in a few were a little underwhelming.
This being the regular release for Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage Volume 1 there are no bonus features available on the disc. It's a shame really, but I suppose that's why you pony up the extra cash for the Limited Edition version.
I think out of all the titles Geneon had released back in the day Black Lagoon was one that I missed the most when it went away. It's such an addictive show that raises the bar constantly for itself and others that not seeing it would be a crime. The Second Barrage keeps the momentum going with four fantastic episodes that once again revitalize the experience offered by the first season. Go check this show out now and don't forget to write FUNimation some nice "thank you" letters for listening to what fans wanted. Highly Recommended
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