Tuesday, November 3, 2009

DVD Review: Black Lagoon the Complete Series

It's not often that a series comes along that just grabs a hold of you and doesn't let go until the end. Even when that finale comes it's rarer still that you crave more. Such was the case with Black Lagoon. This show used to be in Geneon's hands, but they, well, you know. Thankfully FUNimation picked up the license and released the rest of the Second Barrage. Well, some time has passed between now and then and now a complete boxed set has come out as well. If you missed the show the first or second time around then consider this your best bet.

Black Lagoon was originally released in 2006. It came from the mind of Rei Hiroe who created the manga back in 2002. The series collectively ran for two seasons and woud up with 24 episodes before it came off the air (Though there's apparently a third season on the way in 2010! Naturally I'm excited about that one!). Black Lagoon: The Complete Box Set comes with eight DVDs and the whole kit and kaboodle. These are essentially the exact same discs that are already available, the only difference is that you get them in a nice little thin-pack (if you already own the steelbook cases there's little point in picking this up - after all the steelbooks are damn sexy).

Taking place in the seas of Southeast Asia, Black Lagoon features an eclectic group of anti-heroes operating their business in one big messed up world. The Lagoon Company is a team of hired guns who will snatch anything and deliver it for a price. When the show kicks off we're introduced to white-collared Japanese native, Rokuro Okajima, who lives a rather mundane life working in mediocrity at Asahi Industries in Tokyo. He's given an assignment one day along with a CD to delivery, but little does he know that Lagoon Company is coming for the CD and they're not afraid to kill or kidnap anyone who stands in the way.

Rokuro is brought into Lagoon Company's stead in an effort to extort money for his safe return. It's only then that Rokuro finds out exactly what his life is worth. Asahi Industries decides to let him take the fall for the loss of the CD and they essentially cut him loose, leaving him at the tender mercies of Lagoon Company. Fortunately for Rokuro he convinces the members of Lagoon that he's worth having around and he has nothing to turn back to. Revy, Dutch, and Benny reluctantly welcome him into their ranks and nickname him Rock, forever changing his life.

Black Lagoon primarily focuses on the exploits of Rock and how he perceives the events that unfold around him. In the opening moments of the show this is especially true, but as the other characters are developed I'd say that the attention span of the series is spread pretty evenly. Each of the cast members gets a chance in the spotlight and several of the story arcs in this series give them the opportunity for more development. Revy in particular steals much of the attention of the series. She's a balls-out guns-blazing kind of gal who isn't afraid to die or take a bullet as long as it means leaving a path of bodies in her wake. Naturally this is unsettling for Rock at the start, but he grows more accustomed to it and even rubs off on her a bit. Much of the show focuses on their development.

An incredibly strong support cast fleshes out the series and when you take the vast amount of villains into consideration it gets even more insane. There are crazed nuns, Russian mafia members, fellow rivals of their line of work, and all manner of crooked people out to get them. They say you can judge the mettle of a hero by the quality of his enemies, and if that's the case then Lagoon Company is in a class all their own.

Okay enough about the cast, what's the show all about? Basically it follows Lagoon Company from one job to the next and has them settling old debts along the way. The world is in shambles and it's kill or be killed, use or be used. Lagoon finds themselves smack dab in the middle and it's clear that they do whatever they can to live outside the law. It's non-stop action from start to finish and the atmosphere is cool as hell. Think Cowboy Bebop but with more attitude, more blood, and less music.

Black Lagoon is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The show is dead sexy to look at. Everything from the design to the transfer of the show is virtually pristine. There's some grain here and there, but it's nothing to write home about. The audio is damn good as well with Japanese 2.0 and English 2.0/5.1 tracks to listen to. The quality all around is fine, though the 5.1 doesn't quite pack the punch that it should. Two of the eight discs in this set are dedicated to bonus features, but in all fairness there isn't much to look through. The most interesting feature is entitled "The Crew", which is a finely produced look at the show from the perspective of the English cast members. Otherwise there are some light features such as promotional videos, music videos, and clean animations.

I can't stress enough how enjoyable this show is. At first it seems like mindless action, but the layers upon layers of background information and development that are poured into this show blew my mind as it progressed. Black Lagoon kicks all kinds of ass and is easily in my top 20 favorite shows of all time.

Maki Rating:

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