I’ve spent the past few days binging through Black Lagoon. And it was marvelous time spent. Actually really pissed that there aren’t more episodes but to be fair I feel that the series ended where they should have. They ended in one of those places that allows the viewer’s imagination to run wild with speculation about what might possibly happen next.
Black Lagoon is an anime about a lawless outpost of criminal activity in a fictional Thai harbor city called Roanapor. The city is teeming with the hardest criminals who find their way at the edge of the civilized world. The people aren’t just criminals. They are those people who fell into the pit and began enjoying the fires of hell.
The story begins with Okajima Rokuro being kidnapped by Lagoon Company, a delivery company of sorts. Lagoon Company runs off the books type transportation services for hire. And one type of delivery service would be kidnapping someone and delivering them to whoever hired them to do the kidnapping. After the kidnapping which ends successfully from all points of view in terms of the characters we come to care about during the series, Rokuro ends up joining Lagoon Company and taking part in all sorts of crazy and ultra violent adventures. Lots of graphic scenes in this one. And through a spectacular triumph in world building they all fit so well into context that they almost go unnoticed.
Rokuro, who is referred to as Rock as the story goes on, is immediately emboldened to leave behind his Japanese salaryman life after his kidnapping experience to go play outlaw but he soon finds himself questioning his carnage intense new criminal life and the people in it. I really liked this aspect of the story. He spends most of his time trying to play nice guy within this world. He never truly allows himself to be absorbed in it. This gives him some sort of twisted sense of superiority throughout the episodes. He views himself as a bystander, quietly observing the mayhem going on around him but it proves incredibly implausible for him to do as Lagoon Company is almost always directly involved in the worst of the worst dealings. In fits of trying to prove he is the good guy he thinks himself to be, he attempts to intervene in various situations as the voice of reason but invariably he either makes them worse or his intervention turns out to be inconsequential as events reach the same conclusion they would have had he not even been there. But watching him try to reconcile his life with how he would like to perceive himself was very entertaining. However from time to time he can seem like that chick in the action movie who gets someone killed because she is squeamish about what needs to be done.
My favorite character on the show is Revy or (Levy), a Chinese American girl from New York who found herself in this life via a past of harsh circumstance and an even harsher emotional response. Her character is rancid to the core with the exception of her attitude toward certain people which requires me to recant the beginning of this sentence in that she can’t be rancid to her very core if she does have some soft spots. She and Rock develop a close yet awkward friendship that always borders on the edge of making you think she has fallen in love with him. But they never explicitly say in the series. Granted they do show her being jealous a couple of times. Revy is from the gutters having lived a hard life and even among the worst of the worst she has made a name for herself as a feared gunman. For her skill as a gunman able to shoot with both hands simultaneously she is known around Roanapor as “Two Hands”. While she takes a liking to Rock, she also butts heads with him due to his idealism in the heart of the grim reality in which they exist. She has some great lines about this in the series. Their relationship really makes the show for me because it creates a juxtaposition between the person who doesn’t want to say his hands are dirty in a mud fight and the person who just dove head first into the mud and says “Yo. I’m dirty.”
Not trying to be Mr. Philosophical here but I like this idea because I feel that it has a perfect parallel in life. Some things are inherently evil but we do them with an idealism that allows us to go to sleep at night. That’s what I feel like Rock does throughout the series… No spoilers. I’m not that guy.