Reviewby Theron Martin,
Garcia's family maid Roberta has come to retrieve him, but she quickly proves to be a far cry from any ordinary domestic. With a shotgun umbrella, a machine gun in her armored suitcase (and that just for starters), and skills that can give even Revy a run for her money, she has no compunction about luring the Columbian cartel into a shootout. Caught in the crossfire, Black Lagoon must scramble to flee with Garcia in tow, but the tenacious Bloodhound of Florencia has no intention of letting them get away. Ultimately Balalaika must get directly involved to settle the matter, but can Revy and Roberta let it go once their face-off has started and their professional prides are at stake? Later, a delivery errand for a Triad runs Black Lagoon afoul of terrorists, forcing Revy to rely on help to retrieve a captured Rock and the critical documents he carries.
With each volume Black Lagoon just gets better and more fun to watch. And what more could you ask for from an action series?
Last volume ended with an implication that the maid Roberta was no one to be messed with, and here she proves so badass and unstoppable that it takes two full episodes to resolve the action sequences involving her. She truly redefines the “combat maid” character type; you gotta respect a woman who walks around with grenades up her skirt and has the moxy to single-handedly call out a Columbian cartel. As Rock comments himself at one point, it's almost like watching the Terminator in action. For all the thrills of watching her chase down Black Lagoon, however, the arc hits its peak when Revy and Roberta finally face off mano-a-mano. Such a degree of professional pride lies at stake between the two that even Balalaika's entrance onto the scene cannot stop it.
The final two episodes, which play out an independent story arc, offer no letdown. We finally get to see the kind of man even Revy respects, and the hallucinating druggie driver provides additional color, but the true treat is the verbal repartee between Revy and Taiwanese knife specialist Shenhua. For all the bad-mouthing and high-energy action, though, the character study of the intelligent, aging Japanese revolutionary Takenaka elevates the story arc to another level. If you've ever wondered what happens to revolutionaries on the lam after their revolution fails, Takenaka provides your answer.
Breakdowns in the quality control of the artistry happen slightly more frequently in this volume than in the previous two, but otherwise Madhouse continues to deliver the appealing visuals – both in background art and in character designs – that initially helped sell the series. Revy remains as sexy as ever, though this series rarely flaunts her sex appeal as much as Witchblade does for its lead heroine, and the way simple things like the way she sits reflect her personality and confidence is still noteworthy. New characters consistently get interesting appearances, especially Shenhua and Chang. As before, the animation moves smoothly enough to support the action scenes well without resorting to visual gimmicks.
The episodes involving Roberta still use some of the light Spanish guitar themes first heard in episode 8, but otherwise the soundtrack returns to the driving hard rock numbers which formed the backing for the series' earlier action scenes. The kick-butt metal number which serves as the opener and the deceptively melancholy synthesized sounds of the closer remain unchanged.
Some dedicated sub fans may still prefer the original Japanese vocals, but that doesn't change the fact that the English dub, courtesy of Ocean Group, is an outstanding effort which ranks among the year's best. Creative accents are rampant; longtime veteran Saffron Henderson gives Shenhua a distinctive and convincing “native Chinese speaker speaking in English” affectation, while Tabitha St. Germain affects a mild Spanish accent and speaking pattern with Roberta and Trevor Deval makes Leigharch sound like a loopy Scotsman. The appropriately snappy deliveries and on-the-mark portrayals of temperaments, especially by Maryke Hendriske as Revy, impress more, as does an English script which modifies some of the insults (and outright changes the password in episode 11) but generally stays fairly tight. It continues to be foul-mouthed fare in either language.
Like many of Geneon's recent releases, the regular version offers no Extras beyond company previews. (But given recent news announcements about their status, it's no wonder that they have put no more production effort into these releases than they have.) The LE version contains oversized metallic trading cards of various series characters.
Geneon had licensed the sequel series Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage and intended to start releasing it in late November, but news of their recent demise strongly suggests that it might be quite a while longer before any more comes out. That's a disappointment, since this series has established itself as one of the better pure action series in recent memory, as well as being a tremendous amount of fun; it even finds room for minor amounts of levity throughout these episodes. The Next Episode preview at the end of episode 12 also suggests that the second season will get off to an interesting start, but we'll have to wait for that. For now we must just take advantage of what we have.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : A-
Art : A-
Music : A-
+ Great action, visuals, and English dub, sharp verbal repartee.
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