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. Be careful though, because you'll actually notice the review for the third volume was done prior to this one for the second. That means you'll most likely spoil some things for yourself and we don't want that, do we?
Picking up after the events of the first installment of Second Barrage, this volume starts with an episode called "The Roanapur Freakshow Circus". This is a high action episode that follows the last one from the previous release. The introduction of Greenback Jane provided the crew of Black Lagoon with an interesting adventure. The counterfeiter has gotten herself into some hot water and she attempts to hide at the Church of Violence. This leads to an all-out chase as one of the nuns, Eda, attempts to use Jane to flush out some bad guys, and boy does that work. Rock, Revy, and Eda have to rush to Jane's protection when a flood of enemies follows her. They are backed into a building and in good Black Lagoon fashion there's a rather flashy gun fight.
The Jane storyline continues as Revy, Rock, and Eda all fight to save her and her counterfeiting tools. More colorful bounty hunter characters show up to lay them to waste, but naturally they are no match for Revy's appetite for destruction. This leads into the return of the Black Lagoon ship and Benny and Dutch enter the fray. I won't spoil the ending of this story arc for you; let's just say there are some fun and rather surprising moments. The remaining two episodes on this volume throw Rock back into his old element with a trip back to Japan. Rock gets involved with the Japanese underworld and the storyline leads to events that take place in the third volume which catapults the series towards its grand finale.
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. It took a while to get my hands on the second volume, but I'm so glad I did. This series is so much fun and it's the kind of shot 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 second volume brings the series closer to its end, and what a finish it is. This is one of the most solid, well-rounded action shows I have ever seen and in all honesty it never skips a beat. If you appreciate addictive anime with lively characters and over-the-top action you owe it to yourself to pick this up.
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