Monday, September 30, 2013

Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon

#2006 #Action #Drama

What sets this show apart?

To properly describe Black Lagoon, I need to talk about the opening and ending songs first.The opening song is raucous, with a driving beat, heavy bass, filthy lyrics, and an almost violent sounding guitar part.This song perfectly encapsulates the surface of the show, full of violence guns, drinking, and the kind of language you should expect from sailors.It is a show about criminals and pirates; it talks about drugs, prostitution, and pornography, in addition to less vulgar crimes like corporate espionage and counterfeiting.It is unashamed and unapologetic to what it is, and the opening song displays that.

When I first heard the ending song, it was extremely off-putting.The first episode ends in the middle of an action scene, so the sudden transition to a dirge-like string quartet is a bit jarring.The ending song represents the other, deeper side of the show.Ultimately, the show is about corruption, a loss of innocence, and a descent into darkness.As the show progresses, you realize more and more how appropriate the ending song is and how even the little details in the show reflect on these darker themes, especially in regards to the protagonist, who begins as an average Japanese businessman before everything is taken away from him and he is thrown into this darker world.

It is deceptive, appearing as an action-filled show full of impropriety, fun to the right audiences.However, philosophical points quickly come to the forefront, explored mostly in the conversations between the two main characters, Rock and Revy.Most of the storylines feature at least one other character that falls somewhere between these two conflicting characters, and the swaying of that character to one side or the other.Often, each storyline also serves to move Rock one step closer to the underworld that he has made his new life.

Does it use visual media effectively?

For the most part, Black Lagoon is nothing special visually.That being said, the art and animation are good in most regards.The fight scenes are well choreographed.The backgrounds are beautiful, detailed, and varied.The character designs are mostly what you would expect from shounen anime, with each falling neatly into its trope.With that being said, there are two things that I really appreciate about the character designs.First, it is unusual for an anime to include a character design like Balalaika, a female character with very noticeable and detailed burn scars.Second, the show does a good job using realistic hair colors, which is especially noticeable in a show featuring characters of various nationalities.

Does it use audial media effectively?

As I explained in the first section, the opening and ending songs are extremely fitting and powerful, as well as representative of the show's major themes.The rest of the soundtrack is just as good, fitting each moment well and driving the show emotionally.The English voice acting staff did a great job, covering everything from battle cries to moral debate with equal elegance.The dialogue is especially great, even if it has a tendency to be vulgar, as it fits the setting and seems natural amidst the pirate culture of Roanapur.

Best moment in the show?

While there are definitely some good action moments in this show, as well as a lot of great climaxes to multi-episode story arcs, I think that the best moment in the show comes at the end of Episode 7, "Calm Down, Two Men."This episode is the only story that does not span more than one episode, and the only story that does not include a real action scene.Most of the episode could be seen as funny hijinks between the contrasting Revy and Rock and their different sensibilities, almost a filler episode.However, the climax of the episode comes with the two of them having a loud and somewhat violent argument in an outdoor restaurant.What had been the subject of jokes during the rest of the episode explodes into a full argument, exploring the backgrounds of both characters and examining the ethics of each in turn.For me, this episode was a turning point in the way I looked at the show, when I realized what it was really about.There were moments that accomplished this point before this episode, but this episode puts such emphasis on it that it really comes to the forefront in a way it hadn't before.

Who needs to watch this show?

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this show and how fast it was done.It covers a lot of emotional ground, but mostly focusses on darker themes and humor.That being said, as usual, it is not for everyone.If you are easily offended by language or violence, this show is obviously not for you.The dark themes explored in the show can get pretty shocking at times, especially during the Vampire Twins arc at the beginning of Season 2.Also, there are some obvious, over the top anime tropes that could be disruptive, such as the well-armed contingent of neo-Nazis, Roberta the battle maid, and Ginji the yakuza samurai who can cut bullets with his sword.If you don't think any of these points will disturb your ability to watch this show, I would highly recommend it.
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