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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Still One of the Best Action-Anime that Touches on Existential Themes to Satisfy the Mature Audience!April 19 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Based on the manga by Rei Hiroe, "BLACK LAGOON" is an anime series that was well received in Japan. This second season dubbed "The Second Barrage" aired in Japan around October, 2006 and lasted for twelve weeks with a third season just recently announced. Thanks to Geneon, U.S. audiences are finally able to have an official region 1 release with episodes 13-24. This second season boasts of some graphic violence and very cool anime action divided into 3 storylines--it also has very strong themes about existentialism, the moralities between right and wrong, choices and our own free will.
The second "Barrage" has been divided into 3 storylines that follows the adventures of mercenaries known as the "lagoon" company. Their base of operations is in the fictional town of Roanapur in Thailand and they transport good and does business with some shady characters. The first one being some killings occurring in Roanapur, being executed by children, twins to be exact. They are targeting the Russian crime syndicate called Hotel Moscow headed by Balalaika (voiced by Mami Koyama) and it is all out war with Revy (voiced by Megumi Toyoguchi) and Eda are caught in the middle.
The second storyline has Revy and Eda stumbling on a counterfeiter named Jane in a church--"The Church of violence", Jane was being pursued by a gang of lowlifes. Rock (Daisuke Namikawa), Revy and Eda have to fight off the hordes led by knife specialist Shun Hua, a fiero-maniac and a creepy chainsaw wielding chick. The third storyline (which was originally done in English) takes us to Revy and Rock's journey to Japan to aid Balalaika's negotiations with the Washimine clan of Yakuza. Little do they know that the Russian crime leader has her own plans, that puts Rock and Revy in a very compromising situation with a young teenager named Yukio (Houko Kunashima) and her master swordsman called Ginji (Kiyoyuki Yanada).
The series is not your children's anime. "Black Lagoon the 2nd Barrage" is a thematic affair midst all the action and mayhem. The screenplay by Sunao Katabuchi expresses its themes through its very strong intelligent dialogue and even by its characters' mannerisms and action. I do believe that this series displays some of the most effective definitions of existentialism as I've ever seen. Revy and Rock are opposites, Rock is more of an optimist while Revy sees themselves as "just objects". There are also quite a lot of atheist views as demonstrated by our characters as it is a common thought of existential ideas. According to existential viewpoint, "subjective values" are what drives people in their choices and in the belief that different folks have their own subjective values. As illustrated with the Yukio character, which saw her confinement to certain boundaries.
Cause and Effect also plays a part in this season's screenplay when it partly touches upon the origins of Balalaika. She was shaped by her experiences in the army when she served the Soviet Union. Some of the series' strongest point would have to be the conversation between Yukio and Rock as well as the origins of the twin murderers. They were powerful and quite disquieting. "Hansel and Gretel" the twins are very creepy and their experiences as abused orphans certainly got under my skin. Choices and familial duty are delved upon with the strong dialogue. Yukio wishes for something resembling a normal existence but she is inevitably shaped by her own circumstances. There are also some very sensitive issues in atheism, incest is mildly hinted at and alienation is definitely effectively portrayed. The last storyline also hints on rape and has a very strong graphic display of violence against women. (surprisingly the series has a mild amount of nudity) The dialogue is very sharp-tongued and mature, (has sexual references) please put the kids to bed when you see this.
The action is the series is nicely placed and keeps its very strong momentum. I thought the storyline with "Hansel and Gretel" (murderous twins) and the third one with the Yakuza clans were the series' main "meat" and showstopper. The storyline with the counterfeiter was entertaining but not really thought-provoking as the two. It was a welcome change in tone, as the series has a straight face; despite the doses of black humor. Also, "Black Lagoon" has a cast of awesome characters aside from Revy, Dutch, Benny and Rock. Shun Hua is a sexy assassin who uses an assortment of knives, there is one unstable killer who can't talk without her gizmo who uses a chainsaw, there is Japanese bodyguard who can slice a bullet with his katana and a weird oddball called "the Wizard". The action consists of fist fights, gunplay (as served up by Revy and Eda); and the encounter with Revy's two "sword-cutlass" custom guns and Genji's katana may be worth the price of the collection itself.
"Black Lagoon the Second Barrage" is one great collection and worthy to be included in any anime fan's shelf. The series has a very mature tone and while the animation by Madhouse studios may have some bits of anime conventions (over expressive facial expressions), the direction and screenplay was solid and methodical enough for it to avoid being a senseless display of action and mayhem. Chief director Sunao Katabuchi managed to keep the series grounded even with the assortment of directorial talent (different directors helmed different storylines). Revy and Eda represent a strong "girls with guns" attitude that can connect with all audiences and its thought-provoking undertones can satisfy those looking for "real meat" in the storyline. If "the Third Barrage" comes, then I am ALL in! The Second Barrage is one enjoyable anime experience.
Highly Recommended! [4 ½ - Stars] Note: Using the original Japanese Language track is advisable.
Video/Audio: 1.78 anamorphic widescreen that looks very good. Clean, vibrant and sharp. Japanese Laguage/English Language 2.0 and English 5.1 DTS track.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Mature and matureJune 12 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
One of the more striking elements of this series, beyond the constant f-bombs and gushing blood, is the mature way the writing treats the characters and the audience. Now some anime can be mind numbing and others can be so deep as to be opaque, but Black Lagoon sets a balance, especially because it's character driven.
Sure, there's "why are we here" discussions, but it's more like the character asking "why am I here specifically". There's a difference. In the last plot arch of the second season Rock comes to some very profound realizations about himself in somewhat extreme circumstances. It's an interesting twist since Rock is supposed to represent an "everyman" in an environment that most of us probably couldn't survive in... but that almost exists in some parts of the world. Also in this story Rock and Revy get to delve deeper into their own relationship, although it's mostly co-dependent co-denial. For her part Revy considers herself "already dead" but she's not past the point of caring about what Rock wants or needs and putting herself in situations that are against her "principles" to support him. The writers never give away the advantage of making their relationship as complex as they want to.
Another refreshing element is simply the story structure. Four or five episode plot archs that are largely self contained. There are a few references to earlier plots and maybe a few flashbacks but most all of the story is fully within the arch. I wish more series, even live action types, worked that way. No instant resolution but no meandering road going nowhere.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Love it Awesome!!June 17 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage
I was fortunate enough to have watched the first one and loved the series. This second one is right up there with the first one. About the 4th episode the action really kicks in and off you go. Bullets, murder mayhem etc. The first few episodes were a little sick for me. (Hansel & Greta eps). But after that it was great. I am hoping for more. It comes in a metal DVD container. Just the cover is worth it.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Gritty, Action-Driven AnimeMay 8 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Black Lagoon is one of those rare anime titles that manage to combine a near endless succession of violence and gunplay with a gritty back-story that provides far more than just a catalyst to advance the action-sequences along. What we're concerned with in this review specifically is The Second Barrage DVD box set released April 14th from Funimation. Thanks to collaboration between Geneon Entertainment and Funimation Entertainment, the Black Lagoon series is one of several titles in which while Geneon retains the license, Funimation holds the rights to the manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution in North America.
In terms of the Black Lagoon mythos, The Second Barrage represents the second season of the anime (2006), which was itself based on a manga written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe.
Released across four discs and packaged within an ultra-cool steel book box set, The Second Barrage consists of episodes 13-24 (on the first three discs). The fourth disc contains a host of interesting bonus material including the show's Promo Video, textless opening and closings, and Funimation trailers. The show comes in at a total runtime of 330 minutes and wears a very appropriate TV MA (mature, 17+) rating.
Language options are standard Funimation fare with both an English dub and original Japanese soundtrack (English subtitled if so inclined to turn them on).
The show, for those who have yet to experience it, has a distinctly Asian-movie quality about it. While graphic violence segments are often retained from the manga source material, the core of the show's uniqueness comes in the form of spectacular feats of physical display during the intense and frequently occurring battles. Think slow-motion back handsprings to avoid a stream of dangerously spinning blades ala John Woo.
Fantastic visuals aside, the story shows several moments of gang-driven brilliance throughout. Rather than focus on a single character's trials and tribulations, the Black Lagoon saga is known for its penchant for popping around on several seemingly disconnected story arcs, which are ultimately tied together pretty nicely. The first season introduced viewers to the Lagoon Company, which was essentially a band of mercenaries who smuggled goods in and around the waterfronts of Southeast Asia in the 1990s. As expected with a group of pirates, the team were often placed into a wide variety of scenarios which included violent firefights, hand-to-hand combat (with gleaming blades a plenty), and nautical battles that would, of late, fit right in on the headlines of the news. When not involved in death-defying blood baths, the members of Lagoon Company could often be found scheming on the stools of The Yellow Flag, a shady bar in Roanapur.
I bring up events of the past because the first season made it quite clear that while Lagoon Company does business with a wide variety of clients from many nations, they are particularly friendly relationship with a Russian crime syndicate by the name of Hotel Moscow. The Second Barrage sets up the story of a string of disturbing murders taking place where twin killers appear to be targeting members of Hotel Moscow.
Without giving too much away, the plot this time around follows three story threads that delicately dance around one another but all progress toward the greater goal of getting to the bottom of the string of murders in question.
Often criticized for its violent content and heavy existentialistic-themes, the truth about Black Lagoon is that true enjoyment is often the result of zoning out and simply enjoying the nearly endless and incredibly cool action segments (one guy can slice a fired bullet in two with a swipe of his katana- it doesn't get cooler than that).
English dub work is solid although the emotion and intensity level is superior in the original Japanese soundtrack. The only problem with viewing the subtitled version is that reading the text can often distract from the lightening-fast action taking place at any given moment.
In all, Black Lagoon The Second Barrage is a solid continuation of a well-regarded franchise with enough new twists and turns to keep viewers (both experienced and new to the show alike) glued to the set. It's not for everyone, however, as the show is littered with adult-themes, violence, and gore.
Fans of action-driven story telling, scantily clad women with big guns, and action sequences that are often superior to big-budget Hollywood feature films, reserve a space on your shelf for Black Lagoon.
A great show from start to finish...Nov. 14 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
That demands more! I know that there will be more anime coming out next year in Japan, but sadly; it'll be a direct to video release. In regards to that...
Good: The violence will be closer to the Manga it was based on.
Bad: The show won't last as long as the tv show did with maybe only six episodes top!
But never mind my whining about the "third season" and I write about the package you should be buying right now instead of reading this. Simply put:
It has DTS! Audio! The sounds of flying lead is quite immersive and plays up every speaker in the room, of which you'd hear more often near the beginning rather then the quieter last episodes. The foul mouthed Rebby really fills the room with her nasty lips every time she decides to speak too. The overall animation dropped a bit unfortunately too, but when the bullets fly. It's all in the game!
If you bought -and loved!- the first season, this is a given in purchase to complete the in-complete story of 'Black Lagoon'.