Anime Impressions: Black Lagoon (First & Second Barrages)

Hello and welcome to my Anime Impressions blog where I will informally review anime series that strike my fancy. Mostly, I’ll be looking at action oriented series, but you may find the occasional shoujo or sports anime looked at here. Hopefully you’ll find this an interesting read. There are a lot of blogs out there, and a lot of anime blogs, review sites, and galleries. I’m hoping that someone will stumble onto this and appreciate my opinion of these series. I’m always willing to take suggests about series or ways to improve this blog. It’s just a hobby for me, but I don’t mind learning from the experience of running a blog.


WARNING: SPOILERS!
I should warn the prospective reader that there’s definitely SPOILERs here! I consider myself spoiler proof. After all, if it’s ruined just by someone telling you what happens, then it couldn’t have been very good to begin with, right? However, there are plenty of people out there who’d be very angry if they read on only to find a series spoiled for them. So here’s the warning…read at your own risk.


I downloaded Black Lagoon a while ago, and have just recently finished the series. Now we are watching it in the UW Madison Anime Club (University of Wisconsin-Madison). We’ll watch the first season dubbed by Geneon, and the second season as a fansub, since Geneon has now gone under.

I’ll admit that despite shooting down a helicopter with torpedo in the second episode, I still had my doubts. It really wasn’t what I expected, and I didn’t think the art really matched the theme. I was looking for the more serious, squinty eyed look you find in a lot of action anime, and a more realistic character design, like that found Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Instead, Black Lagoon employs a medium-to-big eyed facial design, which matches the personality of Rock, the protagonist. However, it’s kind of strange when I saw it used on Revy, a cold, merciless killer. After the first couple of episodes, the character design for Revy becomes more cold looking, but the overall feel of the art is still cartoony. It actually reminded me of Hellsing. Yes, I think I have to despute Wikipedia’s reference to this as being a realistically drawn anime. When I think of “realism” in anime, I think of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and Claymore, both of which employ much more detailed art. But then….when is Wikipedia really right about anything? (lol…jk, I actually use it a lot to look up shows)

Examples of “Realistic” Anime:

Vampire Hunter D

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Claymore

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Examples of “Medium-Big Eyed” Character Designs:
Black Lagoon

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Hellsing
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Something else I noted, was that the violence seemed to be censored, at least in the first season. There were plenty of gunfights and the bodies did pile up, but a lot of the wounds were inflicted off screen. We then usually see dead bodies lying around in pools of blood. This is a very effective way of portraying violence. Since the earliest horror movies, violence and the fear invoked by it is best experienced through the audience’s own imagination. At episode 13, “The Vampire Twins Comen,” the on screen killings pick up, however there is still some censorship. This is evident when the twins describe their torture of one of Balalaika’s men, rather than actually showing a torture sequence.

Finally….I am going to get my hands on the soundtrack for this series, come Hell or high water. The opening and closing sequences are great, especially the ending, which uses an instrumental piece, rather than vocal. This is something that I rarely come upon in anime. However, it is one piece of background music in particular that keeps going through my mind. I don’t know the title, but it’s the piece that keeps running when the characters are in a dire situation. For example, it played in the background as Revy and Roberta stared each other down before their gun dual. It’s base guitar (I think) with and eerie wind instrument blown in behind the guitar. I love it! And eventually, I grew to love the series.

-Originally posted on the old Windows Live blog, then ported to Blogger site on 12-21-2007

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About romeomoon

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an Associates of Science and Art and a Bachelors of Science and Art. I'm the creative lead of the Lounge L33ts podcast, a regular guest on An Unearthly Podcast, write anime reviews and short stories, and create artwork in both digital and traditional media. I am a full time staffer for the Geek.Kon convention in Madison, WI. I am also an avid player of Massive Multiplayer Online Games and live stream various MMORPGs.
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