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 finally came out a little while ago thanks to FUNimation, and it more or less picked up right where the first season left off. If you want a summary of the series or what happened to this point, then check out some of the prior reviews. For the purposes of this review we're looking at the third volume of the Second Barrage, but the second installment wasn't available for review. Thusly recapping the events from the last time around would be rather difficult.
Presumably this installment picks up right where the last one left off. The first episode here sees Rock and Revy teaming up to come to the aide of Yukio, the current head of a Yakuza family. The situation isn't as cut and dry as you'd imagine and when Balalaika and Hotel Moscow step in to battle Yukio for control of Japan things get nasty. Revy and Rock are put into the thick of things by their own choosing, but events quickly get out of hand. To make matters worse, Yukio gets kidnapped during the turmoil and allegiances lie in question.
Right up to the end, the battle between Balalaika and Hotel Moscow, and Yukio and the Washimine Group continues. Like we saw with the prior volumes of the show, these episodes contain straight-out action that never really lets up. A lot of the story is told from Rock's perspective, but many events happen around with other characters so there are many other facets to the story. What exactly is Balalaika up to? Can Yukio hold her own against Moscow? Or will Washimine crumble under pressure? By the end of the volume you'll realize that failure simply isn't an option and honor still plays a big part in the world's events. This story was a solid way to end the show and it tied up many loose ends, which is always a plus.
I'm so thankfully that FUNimation was able to rescue this show from certain death. Throughout it all the characters and stories have been a blast, and right up to the end it remains an enjoyable guilty pleasure. This volume brings the series to a close, sadly, but Black Lagoon is the kind of show you go back to time and time again. If you haven't checked it out yet then you're missing on a fun anime that deserves more mainstream attention than its getting.
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.
No bonus features are available for this volume.
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's third volume brings the franchise to a fitting close. These four episodes embody everything that is to love about the series and the action never skips a beat. Consider this show highly recommended and if you only saw the first season, don't hesitate to get Second Barrage.
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