With the demise of Geneon, several series were abandoned in mid-run, much
to the dismay of otaku here in the states. Luckily FUNimation stepped
up and obtained the rights to many of the orphaned series and is now finishing
off these shows as well as making the earlier Geneon volumes available once
again. One such orphaned series is Black Lagoon, a rip-roaring
adventure show that has a lot of heart.
Rokuro Okajima is a typical low-level salary man working for a large company
in Tokyo. Rokuro was charged, unbeknownst to him, with smuggling some
data that implicates his company in some highly illegal dealings. Others
could profit from the data, so the Lagoon transportation company is hired
to steal it.
The Lagoon Company consists of boss-man Dutch, a muscular man who is as street-smart
as he is tough, Benny, an American tech guy who ended up getting in trouble
with both the FBI and the Mafia back in the States, and Revy, a tough as
nails young woman who is as deadly as she is beautiful. They're based
out of the (fictional) city of Roanapur, Thailand and mainly smuggle contraband
with their PT boat the Black Lagoon.
Attacking Rokuro's boat at sea, The Lagoon Company gets not only the data
the young man is carrying, but they take him as a hostage too. They
figure anyone carrying such important information must be worth something
as a hostage.
They thought wrong. When his company hears that Rokuro and the information
have been taken, they hire a team of assassins to destroy the data and the
young clerk. When that fails, and Rokuro learns that the company that
he devoted himself to was trying to kill him, he decides not to return to
Tokyo. Instead he changes his name to "Rock" and joins the Lagoon Company.
Though the basic plot, a team with guns running around shooting things up,
sound tired and trite, this series is actually much better than you'd think.
The difference is all in the presentation and while there is a lot of action
and some cool fight sequences, in between there's a fair amount of character
development too. Rock doesn't decide to join Lagoon on a lark, they
show how betrayed he feels after giving his all to the company. There's
a lot in Revy's background too, that has only been hinted at.
Mixed in with the action and character development is a fair amount of humor
too. The show is pretty funny at times, which balances out the more
serious aspects of the program nicely.
A warning for parents: While there isn't any nudity in this show, there
is a lot of swearing, with the F-bomb being dropped frequently and it is
quite violent. This isn't one of those shows where the villain is captured
and handed over to the police. The Lagoon Company, and especially Revy,
kill the people who cross them, whether they are armed or not.
This LE version of this disc (which is identical to the Geneon version in
every respect) comes with the regular volume one case and a very cool steelbook
case too. The steelbook has room for all three volumes that make up
the first season and also includes an extra disc of bonus material.
(More on that later.)
The show comes with the original stereo soundtrack as well as an English
dub in both stereo and DTS 5.1. I alternated tracks for the first couple
of episodes but ended up viewing the show with the DTS track. It really
rocks. The surrounds really come to life in the battle scenes with
the sounds of empty shell casings hitting the floor behind you not to mention
explosions that fill the room with sound. They make good use of the
soundstage, which makes this a blast to watch. The English voice actors
do a good job to, never resorting to high pitched whiney voices or fake accents.
While it isn't as impressive as a Hollywood blockbuster, this is one of the
best sounding English tracks on an anime series.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image looks very good also. There is some light
aliasing during camera pans and some minor posterization, but nothing to
get worried about. Lines are tight and solid too. The colors
are fine and the blacks are particularly nice looking. Overall this
is a very good looking disc.
The main disc itself doesn't have any extras, just a series of trailers for
Geneon discs. The bonus disc however has a couple of nice items.
There's a 15-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that focuses on the English
cast. They talk about their characters and the program shows them in
the studio recording their parts. There's also a music video for the
opening song, a Japanese commercial for the song's CD, the Japanese opening,
a clean closing sequence, and a couple of promo videos for the show.
All in all this is nice stuff to have, but not earth shaking.
This is a fun and exciting show that's really worth checking out. There
are few programs that mix action and personal drama so well. The show
never drags or becomes maudlin, but the characters really come to life over
the course of these shows. If you were one of the many people who didn't
pick this up when it was being distributed by Geneon, make sure you run out
and get a copy. Highly recommended.