Striking The Right Note: Black Lagoon

Oh, boy. Here we go.

Right, so, Black Lagoon is a 2006 series from, obviously, Madhouse. Really, I could just do a weekly series called “Oh, Look. Madhouse Again”, and it’d probably run for months. Because Madhouse does everything.

Now, we’re gonna get into some dangerous waters here, so I suggest you buckle up. This show is not for the feint of heart. It, and the characters, were inspired by a wide range of things, including Stephen King, John Woo, and Quintin Tarantino, just to name a few. It is insanely violent, with some of the most well crafted characters in manga or anime history, and not a single one of them are what you’d call the good guys.

The story initially follows mild mannered Japanese business man Rokuro “Rock” Okajima as he finds himself in trouble not of his own making, and is forced to team up with a group of mercenary pirates known as the Lagoon Company. Smugglers, assassins, or whatever else you need them to be, the Lagoon Company takes paying jobs, be if from the Russian mafia, the Yakuza, or anyone else.

Thundering around the South China Sea in their PT-boat, the Black lagoon, the Lagoon Company is made up of three very different people. The ex-Marine Dutch, who is as calm as hey come, even though he apparently stole the Black Lagoon from the U.S. Navy when he went AWOL at the end of the Vietnam War. Collage drop out Benny is a Florida native, who ran into some trouble with the FBI and mafia after he messed around with the wrong things. he’s a skilled researcher, computer specialist, and mechanic, who is also very much a pacifist, making him a very odd member of the crew. Finally, there’s Revy.

Damn. Revy.

Revy is possibly the single most complex, psychotic, violent, damaged and compelling character in the history of manga and anime. To put it mildly, Revy is a force of nature, a tempest that cares little for humanity, morality, or anything but the thrill of battle. Yet, there’s so much more to her, and she quickly became the stand out character of the series, drawing a multitude of fans for her devil may care approach to life, violent outbursts, and casual disregard for human life. She remains one of the most interesting female protagonists in any fiction medium anywhere, simply because she is Revy, and doesn’t give two flying fucks if you like her, case she’s probably gonna kick your ass and shoot you in the face anyway.

Naturally, madhouse picked up on this, and decided to have the opening credits be all about Revy.

The OP for Black Lagoon, like the show, is a violent and brutal affair. The music, “Red Faction” is performed by MELL, who also performed the vocals for Rideback a couple of weeks ago, and has done a number of other OP songs, including Shakugan no Shana, as well as providing vocals for some of the music in High School of the Dead.

“Red Faction” is a brutal, violent song, fitting in well with the imagery that is used, mostly of Revy shooting things, or not caring what anyone thinks of her. Special attention is payed to her customized weapons, which bear the pirate emblem made famous by real life pirate Calico Jack Rackham, who also appears, by the by, on the Starz series Black Sails. Calico Jack is considered by any to be the originator of the skull and crossbones design that has come to symbolize piracy, giving him a legacy that will likely endure long beyond tales of even Blackbeard.

Seriously, just go read up on Jack. He’s a fascinating figure, and if he could know what his contributions to modern day pop culture were, he’d probably laugh his ass off.

Right at the start, Black Lagoon uses an image of a dirty American dollar and Revy’s hand twitching on her gun to sell you into a story of violence in the name of the cold hard cash. More images of Revy sporting her one true love, her modified Beretta, follow, setting up that this is an action anime, but towards the end, there’s one scene that always stood out to me. Revy, in the distance, simply sitting on a box, surrounded by desolation. If anything can sum up her, and Black Lagoon, that’s it.

Then there’s long shots of white feathers just blowing away, invoking the loss of innocence and the absence of purity as they drift over a bullet casing. Together, they create some striking visuals

It isn’t just the violence, or Revy being a violent sociopath, it’s that deep down, all these people, and everyone they deal with, are deeply wounded people doing what they must to survive in a world that has taken everything from them. They aren’t heroes by any stretch, but the gang at Black Lagoon are certainly survivors.

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9 thoughts on “Striking The Right Note: Black Lagoon

    1. Purely from a writing standpoint, Revy fascinates me. A violent psychopath that is a compelling protagonist is hard to pull off. Making them sympathetic is near impossible. But, damn, if Revy ain’t all of that and more.

      One of the best characters in all anime.

      Like

      1. Agree, she is a Deep, crazy, person, who has reasons for acting the way she does. She is a strong woman, a bit damaged, but strong, and that also fascinates me. I hate weak women, so the reason I love Revy is because she is not, she may be vulnerable at some point, yet she is tough.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. No big surprise here: yet another Animeseries that I have never heard of. (Yes I know it is becoming a trend). You already had my interest by mentioning both John Woo and Stephen King. Ofcourse you realise that this has now been added to my “to watch book”, which has neen expanded with yet another five pages since last I mentioned this book. Great post, and as always thanks for sharing 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t feel bad. I’d been hearing people talk about Black Lagoon for a few years, but just never found time for it. Once I did, it blew me away, and I got when people had been talking about it.

      I’m slow on the uptake to great anime.

      The fun thing, for me, about anime in general, is that there’s so damn much of it, odds are I’ll never see it all. Hell, there’s shows I’ve come across that are twenty years old and awesome, that I’d never heard of.

      In other words, anime is like the mafia. Once your in, there’s no getting out, but always another “Uncle” you’ve never met demanding time from you.

      Like

  2. Red Fraction has a prominent place on my playlist, and I hear it most every day 😀

    Whenever my wife asks about my opinion on dinner options, I reply “It’s all up to you, no one lives forever.” I don’t know if she’s caught on yet, but I must have done it a hundred times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If she’s anything like my girlfriend, she has, and is just ignoring you. :p

      Red Faction is a great piece of music. It’s on a couple of my playlists for when I really need that intensity. One of Mell’s better songs, in my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

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