Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black Lagoon

Title: Black Lagoon
Genre: Black Humor, Action, Comedy
Length: 2 seasons (both 12 episodes)

Black Lagoon is one of those series that comes along and tosses you a curve ball in the way story. Really great story that grabs you first episode and takes you for a hell of a ride. Kinda like mugging some guy while you are drunk and riding him like a horse down the road- really funny but kinda messed up.
Yeah. just like that...
Anyways, story introduces us to mister Rokuro Okijima, a man who's work is the only lovin' he gets. He has been sent by his company on a business trip to somewhere via boat with a disk that contains some of the company's top classified secrets. Everything is peachy until Lagoon Company, who is employed by the Russian Mafia, shows up and rocks the boat, stealing the disk and taking Rokuro hostage. This does not make Rokuro's company too happy, so they employ their own mercenary force to hunt down Lagoon Company and retrieve the disk. After avoiding the first batch of mercenaries, Lagoon Company and Rokuro, who has been dubbed "Rock" by the leader of Lagoon Company, retreat via boat, and on the way to their next destination where they are to drop Rock off, contact is finally made with Rock's company where he is told to die for the honor of protecting the company's secrets and not to worry because they are going to give him a promotion and a very nice company funeral. Immediately after hearing this, a helicopter gunship armed to the teeth comes flying in and attempting to sink the ship. Long story short, the choppa gets destroyed by Rock's plan and instead of going back home, he joins Lagoon Company in their endeavors.
The way the rest of the show is set up really helps give it more impact, making the series into short, 3 episode story-arcs, allowing themes, ideas, and character progression to shine more than the story itself. The situations are short and simple, but really entertaining, which really helps the show stay interesting and involving, because in all honesty, I don't think you could make one huge story arc out of this show without screwing it up. The reason why you couldn't is because the series is about the characters themselves and what they have to deal with and how they change from it; adding a plot would take away from the magic of it all, not necessarily destroying it, but dulling it a noticeable amount.

Madhouse would really have to try to screw up a series they animated. With that being said, the animation is pretty great. Character design wise, hooo boy, character design. Perfect characters. You can look at Lagoon Company and see that they are pirates. The way they are designed and drawn really helps draw out that sort of freedom theme of the show with the idea of being a pirate. And besides, I don't think you are gonna find many women that look more kick ass than Remy in Daisy Duke's.

THIS is where the show is. I don't even know where to start. I guess number one I should comment on should probably be the social obligation vs free will, with the prime example being episodes 1 and 2. In Japan, there is unwritten moral binding of the people to their society, called "giri." In this concept, an individual is deeply tied into their society, as shown by the collectiveness of Japan as a whole, and in order to keep the society functioning properly for themselves and everyone else, a deep, self-sacrificing devotion is made by each person (or at least the people who want to, which is quite a few) to do their part in keeping Japan working well, which normally consists of doing what the hell you are told without any flak. There is no friendship in the workplace, and there are no big dreamers, either; in return for doing your job well, you stay employed. I personally think this concept is amazing and I have no idea how it was accomplished, but hell if it didn't work, because unemployment rates in Japan are pretty much nonexistent. But there is a point to where giri stops and choice beckons. This is shown by Rock's choice to join Lagoon Company as opposed to being a good little desk-jockey and getting gunned down in the middle of the ocean by his own company. To discuss this even further, I have to warn you of spoilers, so...
With that said, Rock's ongoing moral conflict with giri and the idea of choice really takes a toll on Rock in the last episodes of the last season with the death of Yukio. Yukio gets on Rock's case about how he is always the neutral party, refusing to take sides, causing him to only conform to the world as opposed to being distinguished from it. The truth is that he is scared to do so as he doesn't know what the consequences are, but as he witnesses Yukio's suicide after her entire gang is wiped out, he finally gets the picture. Yukio had made her choice to obligate herself to her gang, knowing full well that death would await her and her team, and from this, Rock realizes that even with death as the consequence to her choice, Yukio was still happy with her choice, more than she could have ever been had she remained a student and let her gang go to waste.

Other Factors:
Black Lagoon is a very existential show, playing a lot with subjectiveism and that things, ideas, and values mean different things depending on who witnesses them. This ties into the theme of choice, as people themselves choose to define what things mean to them, not the other way around where an object or act defines the person. To one world, a man could be a murderer, and yet another may herald him as a saint, but in reality, a person really is only a person and he is defined by the way he chooses to define himself.
Besides all that other serious stuff, there is always the comedy to discuss. Whoever though of this series knew what black humor was all about and made this series to be a perfect representation of it. Black humor itself is not meant to be really 'ha-ha' stand up comedy funny, but rather the situation where it is present is funny within the grand scheme of things. Revy is all laughs and smack talk until she gets the shit smacked out of her by the maid she was just heckling.

Life is fun and games until you make fun of a maid.
Watch the show, you'll get it.

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