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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage
FUNimation // Unrated // April 14, 2009
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted May 13, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Series:
 
The second season of Black Lagoon picks up where the first one left off, continuing the story of salaryman Rokuro who ends up joining a small group of free-lance pirates.  This second set of adventures is a little darker than the first, but there's still a lot of kick-ass action, excellent animation, and multilayered stories that made the first season such a fun ride.  If you enjoyed the earlier releases, The Second Barrage, as it is billed on the cover, is a no-brainer.
 
Series Background:

Rokuro Okajima was a typical low-level salary man working for a large company in Tokyo.  He 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 however.  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", joins the Lagoon Company, and takes up residence in the lawless city of Roanapur, Thailand.

This volume:

This season is made up of three multi-episode stories, with the third being the longest.  In the first adventure things are shaken up in Roanapur.  A string of killings have taken out some of Hotel Moscow (the Russian mob) lieutenants, and no one is sure who is behind the assassinations.  There's a huge reward put on the heads of the killers, who turn out to be just a pair of kids.  A pair of kids who were abused in kiddie porn snuff films.  After being forced by their captors to kill other children, they eventually began to enjoy it and see no reason to stop.  After they take out their targets they turn on their employers and anyone else who gets in their way.
 
The second story is a little more upbeat, but not by a lot.  A world class forger is hired to make some printing plates to counterfeit American currency.  She's given the best paper, printing presses, and technology in the world and promises to turn out perfect copies.  That takes longer than she thought, and when her employers get antsy and kill her assistant to inspire her to work faster, she takes what she can and runs... straight into the arms of Revy and the Rip-off church.  Together they have to navigate through the back alleys of Roanapur and avoid the slew of assassins who have turned up to get the price on the forger's head.
 
Finally Revy and Rock take off to Japan to act as an interpreter (and body guard) for the head of Hotel Moscow when she's been offered some money by a Yakuza family to help shake things up and weaken a competitor.  Things don't go so well for the Yakuza who don't realize that they're hiring someone who works on her own terms.  In a sub-plot Rock doesn't want to see his family, even though they're in the same city.  Instead he meets a nice young girl, who just happens to be the next in line to run her dead father's crime family.
 
This season was a bit different from season one.  Revy was the main focus this time around, and though Rock was in quite a few episodes the other two members of Black Lagoon were hardly seen. 
 
In addition to that, these episodes were markedly darker in tone.  They dealt with snuff films, suicide, and innocents getting killed.  Several sympathetic characters end up being killed before the series is over, most of the time for no good reason.  It was almost like the season's message was "life is shit."
 
Even though it was dark and a bit of a downer at times, this season was still filled with all of the action and excitement that made the first season such an enjoyably series.  The anime is still very good and they continued to flesh out the backgrounds of some of the main and supporting characters.  This time we get to see some of Balalaika's history, although the flashbacks raise more questions than they answer.  

Like season one, this set of shows is a lot of fun too, but it's really hard to suspend my disbelief at times.  Some of the scenes are just too over the top for my tastes.  When two fighters run straight at each other, firing their guns the whole time and manage to miss each other at a distance of a few feet, I have to roll my eyes.  This happens time and time again, and viewers just have to sit back and go with the flow on this story, and if you can do that it's very enjoyable.
 

The DVD:


This complete second season comes in a single-width metal case with two overlapping discs on each side of the cover.  The final 12 episodes are on the first three discs while the extras are included on the fourth.

Audio:

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.  

Video:

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.

Extras:

This was a little disappointing.  Since they included an entire disc for bonus material (there are only a few Geneon trailers on the first three discs) I was hoping that there would be something substantial on it.  That wasn't the case.  The only items included are a promo for season two, the Japanese opening, and clean closings for episodes 15 and 24.  The whole disc has maybe five minutes worth of material on it.  Pretty lame.

Final Thoughts:

Though this season was a little more dark and depressing than the first season, Black Lagoon is still 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.  Highly recommended.

 
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