Welcome back to season 2 of the Imouri Anime Review, where people vote for an anime that the Imouri team will review. The anime will be reviewed using these four criteria; Story, Animation, Character Development, and World-Building. Each category will be given of score (1-10), and then an overall score will be determined.
January focused on guns and girls in the anime universe. The users from the Secret Anime Club voted for their favorite anime to be reviewed and after voting ended, the anime that got the most votes was Black Lagoon for the January 2022 review.
In Thailand, there is a city where the most ruthless people gather. Some are there to escape the law, some to make a fortune, and some go there to make a name for themselves. Nonetheless, this place, known as Roanapur, is not for the faint of heart, even for the so-called toughest. Black Lagoon follows a group of individuals that run a business called the Lagoon Trading Company. The company provides a marriott of legal and illegal services, depending on how you look at the situation. Lagoon Trading Company is made up of four people:
Rokuro Okajima, aka Rock, a Japanese businessman, is now working as a pirate for the Lagoon Trading Company and its newest recruit.
Rebecca Lee, aka Revy, aka Two Hands, is a hot-headed, rude, loud, and deadly gunslinger.
Benny, the hacker, and mechanic for the pirate company.
Dutch, the Lagoon Trading Company leader and Captain of the Black Lagoon
The story starts with Japanese businessman Rokuro Okajima being dealt a terrible hand and left to die due to shady business dealings with his former employer. He is captured and held hostage by Revy and later decides to join Lagoon Trading Company. From here, the story is not a continuous, linear path. Instead, the story is broken up into sub-stories that focus on the job or antics that the group encounter. Some sub-stories are one to two episodes, while others are fleshed out into three or four episodes.
You are introduced to many more characters who make frequent appearances during the series. As the group completes more jobs, you start to learn about the inner dealings of Roanapur and the groups that run the city. The story focuses more on the group's situations rather than this overarching story with a grander impact. I did like this style of storytelling versus following a more complex plot. The problems the company gets into slowly reveal hidden secrets about some of the characters that border more on the character development or world-building side of things.
While I enjoyed the story, I felt the story lacked a bit in something more. Again, it doesn't have a grander plot, and there is telling of a passage of time. However, the story felt more like an action movie with very little substance and a whole lot of violence and action. Another downside of the story was that there were too many characters involved and only two seasons. Often times Black Lagoon felt rushed, and all of the new characters introduced did not get enough screen time or back story. Another disappointing aspect of the series. I will touch base on that in character development. Overall, it was entertaining, provided a wild ride, but lacked some substance to propel the storyline into something bigger.
Story Score: 7/10
Black Lagoon has some great animation, especially for the mid-2000s era of anime. The character models are nicely animated. You can tell that an incredible level of detail goes into the main characters. Another aspect of the animation I enjoyed was the fast-paced action scenes. Each action scene was animated smoothly. The gunfights were fast without taking away from the character animation. But in my opinion, one scene really stood out to help set you up for an action-packed ride. That scene is the boat scene in episode two. Just take a look for yourself.
Also, as I have mentioned before, the gunfights are well done. Here is a clip of one of the many gunfights in the series.
While the action scenes were great, most of the scenes where the action was not involved felt it lacked animation. Some of the background scenes of Roanapur lacked detail or were sometimes hastily animated. I can tell that the animation studio did the series justice in the action scene department. Still, the background scenes need more work when not in any gunfight.
Another animation aspect that I felt was strong and weak was the opening and closing sequences. The opening was fast-paced and over the top. I tend to lean against significantly over-the-top anime openings, but that is my opinion. The ending, however, was both great and not great. Let me explain. When the episode sets up the ending sequence right, it works well. It's excellent when Revy walks down the beach with the melancholy music. But other times, I felt that the ending sequence did not work well the way some episodes ended. Also, the last 5 or so seconds of the ending where the somber music ends, and it kicks up the tempo for no reason felt out of place. It takes away from the feeling of the ending sequence that ties a solid emotional aspect to the characters or situation. You can see the opening and ending sequence here.
Red Faction - Opening
Don't Look Behind - Ending
Overall, the animation is well done. The series centers around action, and it clearly delivers the action, but some aspects of the animation could be better.
Animation Score: 8/10
In my opinion, this is one of the weaker areas of the series. Now I am going to just cover the four main characters. The other characters in the series do have a bit of development; however, this series does suffer from too many potentially great characters and not enough screen time or episodes. Rock and Revy are probably the only characters that show some development. Revy talks about some aspects of her life and her worldview with Rock while trapped in a submarine during a mission. There are some instances in the series where Revy does try to open up to Rock, but they are few and far between. The best part of Revy's development has to come from the storyline where she and Rock are in Japan in the winter. But at the same time, it almost seems forced, and then Revy reverts back to her usual self.
Rock has the best development in the series by far. He was an innocent Japanese businessman turned pirate for the Lagoon Trading Company, exclaiming he remains in the twilight. However, due to Rock's appearance, we get a chance to see Revy grow a little. Rock is the catalyst to Revy's growth. In a way, they both help each other grow, albeit it is not quick, and often you don't see the development right away. Rock is trying to grow stronger to survive in the harsh city of Roanapur and the violence that comes with the territory. Very slowly opens to be a bit more compassionate, although it's in small amounts.
As far as the other two characters go, Dutch and Benny, very little are known about them. The series doesn't really detail Dutch and Benny, and this is where the series does a disservice to them. Dutch and Benny have so much potential, but none is shown. Four main characters have so much potential, but there is basically little to no back story. I can say the same for some of the side characters such as Balalaika, Mr. Chang, Shenhua, Roberta, Eda, and Yolanda, to name a few. The series does a great job setting up some of these side characters but doesn't go anywhere with them, except Balalaika. She does get somewhat of a backstory. Overall, character development is probably the weakest section of the series.
Character Development Score: 5/10
Besides the action animation, the world-building of Black Lagoon has to be my favorite part of the series. The studio must have done some serious homework to get the world-building pretty spot on to what could only be described as potentially possible. In Roanapur, we have the Russian mob led by Balalaika, Hotel Moscow. Mr. Chang runs the Triad Thailand branch. The rip-off church deals in firearms and drug smuggling disguised as a Christian church. Even the USA has involvement in Roanapur to some degree or another.
Black Lagoon does a great job of its world-building by immersing you into the criminal underworld. Each faction has different ties to the criminal underworld, and backstabbing or double-dealings often happens. There is both a sense of honor among some senior crime organizations and a sense of dishonor in how they handle enemies. But above all, you can clearly see that everyone is after money and will do anything to get it, even if it means backstabbing allies to a degree.
This series is probably one of the best representations of how to view the life of crime in an organized setting. The only downfall to the world-building is that I wish there would be a back story to Roanapur and the major crime organizations. It would be great to see how much reach Roanapur has worldwide. It is implied that organizations in Roanapur have a very long reach. Overall, the world-building was great, and I would have liked to see more of it with more episodes.
World-Building Score: 8/10
I hope you enjoyed the review. If you haven't yet, check out the secret anime club. It is a great way to interact with Team Imouri and learn about upcoming products and reviews. You also have the power to decide which reviews we do with our monthly polls. The next anime review will be Wotakoi: Love is Hard for an Otaku. See you next time!
*Images are from the My Anime List website and the Black Lagoon Fandom Wiki. Videos are from YouTube that the channel owners listed such as Funimation, My Favourite Scene, FrozenSpark12, and Light Yagami YouTube Channels. We do not own any of these images or videos. Credit to all artists of the images and credit goes to the creators of the anime series. The use of these videos and images is strictly for review purposes only.