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Beginner's Guide to Black Lagoon

Girls, Guns, and Booze.

Black Lagoon premiered as a manga in 2002. The story is written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe. This isn't his only work but Black Lagoon is certainly his biggest success and the only with an anime to its name. The manga is currently up to 9 volumes (still on-going) and can all be found in English thanks to Viz Media. The anime debuted in 2006 with 12 episodes and followed up with a second 12 episode season entitled Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage. The first two seasons came out in a single boxset last year and is handled by Geneon and Funimation. Recently, a third season was announced and started airing in Japan. Lots of buzz has been made for Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail thanks to special guest appearances of the creator and voice actors at Anime Expo 2010.      

The Story

  The eccentric Lagoon Company
 The eccentric Lagoon Company
We begin with Rokuro Okajima, a Japanese businessman, doing a job for his company transporting a disc with confidential information. His troubles begin when Lagoon Company is hired to steal the disc and decides to take him hostage. After events transpire he takes on the nickname Rock and joins the scrappy and wild Lagoon Company. Lagoon Company is seen as being modern day pirates but primarily will take on any job as long as it pays good (be it legal or not). The bulk of the story takes place in modern times in Southeast Asia with their headquarters being in the city of Roanapur, Thailand. Roanapur was founded by Southern Vietnamese soldiers who survived the Vietnam War and grew from taking in fugitive soldiers to drawing in drug dealers, hookers, mercenaries, hitmen, gangs, and the like to become what could easily be stated as the worst damn place in the world. Cops are bought off and everybody's either got a gun or a disease. Black Lagoon is a very violent, but not over-the-top and mostly realistic, tale of crooked deals and trying to survive to see another day. 

The Characters

 
Rokuro Okajima is a simple, easy-going Japanese businessman. He doesn't like confrontation but it was his choice to join Lagoon Company. Rock doesn't carry a gun so he uses his education to get the job done as his experience in business proves to be handy for Lagoon Company. He constantly wonders where his life will go and just what to do. 
 
 
Revy aka Two Hands is the main gunner of Black Lagoon. She's of Chinese descent and grew up on the streets of New York City where she had to kill to live. Growing up on the streets provides why Revy isn't too keen on feelings, has a foul mouth, a short temper, and likes to drink. She wields two 9 MM Beretta 92Fs with deadly accuracy and won't think twice about putting a bullet between your eyes just to shut you up. But at least she isn't bad on the eyes with Daisy Duke shorts, a tattoo, and a short top. 
 
 
Dutch is the main man of Lagoon Company. Nobody knows much about this burly African-American man besides him being cunning, never losing his glasses, bearing a large revolver, and driving the torpedo boat Black Lagoon


 
Benny is the fourth member of Lagoon Company. Benny is a Jewish-American tech guy who always drives the land-based (getaway) cars. Like Rock he doesn't use a gun and was saved by Revy when he pissed off the FBI and Mafia while attending college in Florida. 
 
Balalaika is the leader of Hotel Moscow, a section of the Russian Mafia and a heavy hitter in concerns of control of Roanapur. She's also more dangerous than Revy on many levels. She is Russian and served as a Captain in the Soviet Army during the Soviet War in Afghanistan. She smokes cigars, is covered in scars, commands her war comrades (who are said to have the experience to fight and win World War 3), and is wanted by Interpol. Balalaika's battle experience and education are put to use as Hotel Moscow operates on a large underground scale. She frequently employs Lagoon Company for odd and dangerous jobs. 
Mr. Chang leads the Thailand Division of the Triad. He's easy-going, patient, and prefers that Roanapur be as "normal" as it can be. Mr. Chang is smart man and dresses such with nice suits, but, like Revy he uses two pistols when in a fight. Being a major player in Roanapur he is on friendly terms with Balalaika and employs the Lagoon Company as well. 

  


Roberta is the Lovelace family's maid and resident assassin-trying-to-do-good. Roberta is also known as the Bloodhound of Florencia for her work as a FARC guerilla in Cuba that made her internationally wanted. She wears a conservative maid outfit and glasses but don't let that fool you as she carries an arsenal of weapons and has formidable hand-to-hand combat abilities. Roberta is Revy's rival and Revy refers to her in many not nice terms. 

 


Yukio Washimine is a Japanese high school girl who becomes the head of the Washimine Clan of the Yakuza. She is headstrong and does not always think things through as she puts herself and her men in danger. Her dealings with Rock result in harsh emotional blows. 
 
 
 
Ginji Matsuzaki is Yukio's protector and confidant as well as the Washimine Clan's main muscle. His weapon of choice is a sword which he has great skill in using as he is another rival of Revy's. 

 
 
 
 
 
Why Watch?

Simply put, Black Lagoon is a down-to-Earth anime. There is lots of action but nothing too over-the-top and unrealistic except for a few instances. While Black Lagoon includes tons of swearing, violence, smoking, and drinking the series delves into characters facing personal and ethical dilemmas while providing adventure. Relationships are slow to grow and the anime has some ups and downs but the cast is very interesting and often complementary. Plus, who can forget all the badass chicks?! This is an adult anime and surprisingly rated at 16+ and not TV-MA. The animation is also well done while being mostly dark but also colorful when needed. As for whether to watch the subbed or dubbed version that is up to you, the viewer. The Japanese cast is full of well-known voice actors and actresses that are sure to be pleasing to fans of subs. The dub cast is scattered between notables and non-notables but the highlight has to be Brad Swaile (known for his dub role as Light Yagami) as Rock. 

Verdict

Black Lagoon is an entertaining series to sit and watch with its variety of characters and different story. It has its own special place in an anime fan's collection. If anything else the series can fulfill the need for rotten fun with some comedy, more violence then you can shake a stick at, gratuitous language, and plenty of booze to wash it all down.     
 
* This guide was written by Anime Vice member sotyfan16 *
SamJaz is online on July 29, 2010 at 12:17 p.m.
Are you crazy? The dub is infinitely better than the subbed version, and this is coming from a sub fanboy.
Brad Swaile was actually quoted as saying that his favourite line from any anime he has ever done was Rock's epic line towards the end of the second episode. I'm sure you can guess which one that is.
wwfunderakeron July 29, 2010 at 2:04 p.m.
I watched it dubbed and thought it was awesome. Great anime :)
lizcaton July 29, 2010 at 2:39 p.m.
Gah, I keep wanting to either watch or read this. Maybe I will now that there's a Beginner's Guide. 
sotyfan16on July 29, 2010 at 7:16 p.m.
@lizcat: 
lol Happy I could help. 
 
@wwfunderaker: 
Thanks. I think it's underappreciated.
 
@SamJaz:

Well I tried to keep a neutral view as I haven't watched much of the subbed. I love the dub and I hope Roberta's Blood Trail is done the same. Oh, and I'm gonna guess the line is, "You've been fucked!".
Netstrykeon July 29, 2010 at 8:22 p.m.
It was the dubbed that made me proud to be Canadian.  
I've seen it both way and the dub destroys the subbed version 
(OK, there are actually 256 reasons why) And I'm telling you it would be a motherf@#$ing shame if Vancouver didn't get the call by the time we are all typing this.
hitsusatsu11on July 29, 2010 at 8:32 p.m.
@Netstryke: Exactly, it made me proud to. Ocean studios FTW. Brad Swaile and the crew dubbed this very well. 
D34dM4non July 29, 2010 at 11:26 p.m.
@Netstryke:@hitsusatsu11: 
i have seen a couple of episodes of the anime and i liked the dubbed more than i've liked most dubs. now that i kno it's dubbed by fellow Canadians, i can understand why
hitsusatsu11on July 29, 2010 at 11:29 p.m.
@D34dM4n: Yes Ocean studios. 
 
Some of their hit shows include: 
 
DBZ 
Death Note 
most Gundams 
Inuyasha 
Escaflowne 
 
They have great actors to like Brian Drummond, Kirby Morrow, Mark Hildreth, and Scot Mcneil.
FoxxFireArt moderator on July 30, 2010 at 2:20 a.m.
@sotyfan16:  

" The manga is currently up to 9 volumes (still on-going) and can all be found in English thanks to  Viz Media. "

"Thanks to VIZ Media"?? Talk about a joke. I'd be laughing at that if it wasn't so sad. 
I was heartbroken when I heard VIZ was releasing this series. For the love of Pete, these people removed "God" from One Piece,  changed the entire cast of Detective Conan from Japanese to European, and switched Rock Lee's drunken fist with some other silly crap (I know I read about it, but think I mentally blocked it out.).
 
Who knows what kind of changes they are making to Black Lagoon?
 
How in the Bloody HELL, could the animes be TV-16?? These have blood, violence, cursing, and children involved in killing and snuff films. Even one of the twins is shot in the head? Were the DVDs censored??? FUNimation's website lists the trailers as TV-MA?.
sotyfan16on July 30, 2010 at 3:40 a.m.
@FoxxFireArt:
While I don't know what the manga is like I meant the thanks to Viz for making the manga into English, period, not if reference to how it was translated. I've taken notice of your findings on the faults of Viz and how it handles manga and I just hope the same hasn't been done to Black Lagoon. But not much can be done as Viz has a major hold on licensing manga in the US.
 
Now, I stated the rating as what it says on my Black Lagoon boxset (the Complete Series set that came out Fall of last year). And trust me that the DVDs are not censored and has every "fuck", "shit", and "pussy" as dutifully stated by Revy. What the trailer states is obviously true so I am not sure if there was some sort of mix-up with the packaging or something.
FoxxFireArt moderator on July 30, 2010 at 4 a.m.
@sotyfan16 said:
" @FoxxFireArt: But not much can be done as Viz has a major hold on licensing manga in the US.  "
I think it would be more accurate to describe it as a "stranglehold", or hostage taking. I was never able to check since the volumes I saw in stores were shrink wrapped. That would be just sadistic of VIZ to acquire the rights to Black Lagoon just so they could alter it.
 
Do the DVDs also keep the utterly disturbing parts of Hansel and Gretel, such as their twisted past and grizzly ends?
EvolutionxUKxon July 30, 2010 at 7:30 a.m.
I recently watched this, it was OK at best.
ninjadude853on July 30, 2010 at 10:13 a.m.
this looks badass
sotyfan16on July 30, 2010 at 4 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt:
It shows their past, the kissing, the kneecapping, the headshots, the switching of whigs and voices, and the flashing of genitals to Rock (no actual view of genitals though because that would be bad). 
 
As far as I know there is not an edited version of the DVDs.
Fabeon July 30, 2010 at 7:39 p.m.
@sotyfan16 said:
" @FoxxFireArt: It shows their past, the kissing, the kneecapping, the headshots, the switching of whigs and voices, and the flashing of genitals to Rock (no actual view of genitals though because that would be bad).  As far as I know there is not an edited version of the DVDs. "
And the Viz manga is full of just as much swearing and  violence as the anime Funi put out.
MrDirector786on July 30, 2010 at 8:18 p.m.
Sounds cool.
Waleson Aug. 1, 2010 at 6:22 p.m.

Hmm...I gotta say, afterreading this beginner's guide, I am more tempted to pick up the series since I believe it is being hosted on Hulu.
Animedudeon Aug. 1, 2010 at 6:27 p.m.
Awesomeness is how you spell these beginning guides
sotyfan16on Aug. 1, 2010 at 7:16 p.m.
@Wales: It's being put up on Hulu? 
 
@Animedude:
Well thanks a lot. I feel the Beginner's Guides should give insight not only to popular shows but to lesser known titles as well in order to expand our community's knowledge of anime.
reinon Aug. 1, 2010 at 7:56 p.m.
I watched the whole series today. Cigarette kiss FTW.

Dig Deeper into Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon is an action series based on the original manga series of a group of criminal delivery men called the Lagoon Company.

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