Roberta, the terrorist-turned-maid that made her appearence in the first season of Black Lagoon, returns in this five-episode OVA series—and this time, all bets are off!
Roberta's benefactor, the patriarch of the Lovelace clan, is murdered during a political rally. The assassin's trail soon leads back to Roanapur—so now she has returned on a mission of vengeance! However, close behind her is the new patriarch, Garcia, as well as Roberta's apprentice (and maid), Fabiola Iglesias. As the body count of Roberta's bloody rampage mounts, forces from within the corrupt island (which includes the Lagoon Company), as well as overseas converge on what threatens to escalate into all-out war!
The move from that of a televised anime series to an OAV format did its fair share of good for the crew of Black Lagoon. By allowing them to work without worrying about censorship, they could get the violence as visceral and hyper-sexualized as possible and create a no holds bar bloodfest the likes of which anime has rarely had before. Going into this, it should be perfectly evident from the name what you’re in for: A tale of carnage caused by everyone’s favorite former guerilla warfare enthusiast maid, Roberta. And boy does it deliver.
Our tale starts with a public bombing orchestrated by a contracted
group of US Marines killing the head of the Lovelace family in Venezuela, leaving the family heir Garcia orphaned and under the care of his maids. At this point, we also learn of Roberta’s career prior to her joining the Lovelace family as a maid, where she was a revolutionary in a group that ruthlessly killed anyone that got in their way.
After the marines kill the head of the family, Roberta goes to Roanapur for revenge in what is easily the most entertaining OAV series to come out in recent memory.
Roberta’s Blood Trail follows the titular supersoldier maid on her quest for vengeance, involving everyone in Roanapur and several outside forces in a drug fueled battle that could escalate in an all out war to end all that Roanapur is. It’s not a complex story that’ll shake the very foundation of storytelling, but it has its fair share of intrigue, particularly with Rock participating and running the course of actions from the sidelines. Revy and co take a back seat to Roberta as far as plot focus go, and it ends up all the better for doing so.
If this OAV does have a weakness, and it has plenty of noticeable ones, it’s the constant shifts in perspective between the groups going after Roberta and Roberta herself. For two episodes, this creates a narrative that’s spread extremely thin, developing nobody and raising more questions than are answered. You have Roberta on her own, the marines and drug trafficking forces hounding her, Revy and the group of psychopathic mercenaries that she contracts to help her, Garcia and Fabiola on a mission to bring her back with them, Rock scheming while occasionally contacting Mr. Chang and berating him with passive aggressive language, Balalaika and her cohorts…
If you think that’s a long list, that’s because it is, and it gets hard to follow in some parts. Everything gets resolved, but many of the factions seemingly drop off before being brought into the game again just to be eviscerated by either Roberta or Revy and her group.
Even with Roberta as the main character, there’s effort made to characterize some of the bit players a bit more, which in the end does more harm than good. Roberta’s given plenty of time to develop, and that time is relished completely due to the utter insanity of Roberta (Even almost killing her master in a hallucinogen induced hysteria) being an utter treat to watch. However, it’s when they begin to delve into Fabiola’s hypocritical stance against unnecessary violence and Rock’s slow transition from victim to influential figurehead for Roanapur that the cracks start to form and widen.
In a story with such a large number of groups, you’d expect a lot of memorable faces to make appearances. And fortunately, you’re entirely correct. The only three noteworthy survivors of the manhunt for Jane are along for the ride (Za Uizaado, Shenhua, and Sawyer), Balalaika and her crack team join in on the hunt for Roberta, and Garcia is back from Season One to bring Roberta back. Even Eda the corrupt nun is along for the ride, reporting to her higher up as events unfold.
It’s a colorful cast that’s a delight to watch as they shoot, impale, slice, and run their way through Roanapur’s back alleys and slums to find the berserker maid. Even if none are characterized exceptionally well, they lay their parts well as far as entertainment and badassery go.
Black Lagoon has never been one to make a point, but has never been afraid to give the otherwise gleefully murderous cast the occasional moment of somber introspection. It’s these slow moments that really let the gravity of the situation sink in, from Revy’s monologuing about her past on the sunken sub in the first season to Fabiola arguing with her over her corrupt ways.
Even Roberta occasionally takes a break from her rampage to reflect on the ramifications of what she’s doing, or just how her past has caught up with her.
Despite how much they add to the series, I don’t think that these moments are always implemented properly. Very often they’ll follow an intense, engaging fight where the characters won’t even have a moment to clean off the blood that has sullied their outfits. It’s not much of a gamebreaker by any means, but in a show that’s almost fetishistic with the level of action that it uses, it can seem a bit out of place most times.
The only ones that ever really feel appropriate are when Fabiola and Revy butt heads over each others’ personalities. The two have a volatile chemistry that makes their anger fueled arguments a marvel to behold. What’s even better is these escalate each time as they learn that the other isn’t going to budge in their stance.
On the animation front, Black Lagoon’s always been a step above average. The environments always look lush yet sinister, helped by fantastic lighting and keeping things from remaining completely static. The characters are rarely off model and are animated very fluidly. It helps that the violence is done very smoothly, making the bloodbaths that give the fights life even more enjoyable than they would be if done even just a little more poorly.
Being an OAV and thus having a larger budget, things are done to even better effect. With the lack of censorship helping things out even more, the team finds itself able to do stunts with viscera of multiple varieties that would make even the most avid horror fan give pause.
The music is a hard bumping, hard thumping soundtrack of electronica and hard rock, each episode opening with a remix of the delightfully Engrish Red Fraction by MELL and each episode ending with an orchestra version of Johnny Comes Marching Home, pumping you up for the next episode of blood and butchery. The seiyuu cast is appropriate, well rounded, and excellent in almost every case, special mention going to Roberta and Lotton “Za Uizaado”.
The best, or least fortunate part depending on your tolerance for it, is the distinct lack of groan-worthy Engrish. It was amusing in Second Barrage, but ultimately came across as too clumsy to take seriously. By eliminating that entirely, Roberta’s Blood Trail lent itself an air of somberness that Second Barrage ultimately failed to attain in the last arc.
Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail is a competent, compelling, and superbly well coordinated OAV that does much to impress. It has plenty of flaws, particularly in the middle with all the different groups after Roberta and the violence never catching a break, but it ends on a very satisfying, open ended note that leaves enough room for more seedy goodness in a possible sequel.
If you like action series or have watched and enjoyed Black Lagoon before, Roberta’s Blood trail will be right up your alley. If not, as long as you have no objection to sexualization and violence in overwhelming amounts, Roberta’s Blood Trail will be well worth your time.
Of course some prior knowledge through the anime or manga will be beneficial to enjoying it, but I think the idea of a Terminator-esque maid making mincemeat of an entire town of criminals is an interesting enough premise on its own.
It’s a fun, occasionally nauseating watch with more than a little wit helming it, and I for one enjoyed nearly every second of it. And if you’re anything like me, you will too.
Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail
The third part of Black Lagoon eps. 25 to 29 after three years 5 OVA, 1 eps. every 2 months and a half, i can't imagine how the people watching at that time felt waiting so long for this, and for this big of a story, it should have been longer and better developed for the time they had.
Just a little better than the previous parts, focused on one single story rather than in three, a story with flaws but entertaining in some way, bloody and dark, sad and disgusting at times, this time focused more in Rock and
his little change to orchestrate a plan, a plan that i undestood completely in ep. 28 and i knew he wasn't transforming in the likes of Chang or Balalaika, it was a great plan that upsetted the ones involved, but it was the only way and i knew Revy admired and was attracted to Rock, when she gets an explanation from Rock himself about the plan, she got mad because she wants him to save her, just like Fabiola said, she knows he's not like them but he's starting to adapt to Roanapour and she doesn't want that to happen, but like Fabiola said, she's afraid to get closer to Rock because she doesn't want to lose her hope for him; (Eda asks again if they banged earlier in the anime, and she as before changes the subject because she is atrracted to him but part of her reaction is because of what happened in her past) The thing is that he saved people with that plan, something that Fabiola didn't understood or Revy, he planned the outcome of Roberta's outburst to a crazy full of drugs in her system Robot like, immortal (?) Roberta; Rock saved the day and he wanted to clean Roanapour too, happy ending for everyone, but it ended like a normal ep. just like previous parts for a path to a new season/part 4, very good story and Eda's identity and half of her goal is revealed, something that i claimed an answer in Second Barrage. This was a very good story.
Art & Animation
3 years has passed, but little changes been made, almost the same very good animation, but they could made something a little better, but i didn't care that much, more bloody and gorier than before.
Just like with the animation, still it's very good, great VA, great sound effects, the same OP song with a remix, it sounds amazing with a different video clip, great like before but i was expecting to pause at sec. 36 like in the previous ''seasons'' i couldn't see my cute Revy... oh and a different ED song, just normal, the sound in general is great.
Just like in every ''season'' some characters are missused but still, the ones that are there are interesting, like the comback of the kid Garcia and her new maid Fabiola is interesting and a smartass towards Revy and almost skillful as Roberta but obviosly not like her.
-Roberta comes back, the story is about chasing her to stop the revenge that Garcia never wanted, while we get her perspective too, my mind was changing towards her, because i liked her a lot in the first ''season'' and i wanted them to save her, but then i changed my mind, it was her own fault looking for a revenge that Garcia never wanted and what she was doing was too much, so i didn't care if she was killed later on, but because of Rock i still had hope for her to recover.
-Rock has a bigger role this time, he had to come with a plan that prevented a war requested by Mr. Chang because they don't want U.S. to find out about how things are in Roanapour, but that wasn't his only plan and because of that Rock had to use a different plan, he wanted the opposite of what Chang wanted, it worked but didn't have an effect at the end (that part of the plan at least).
-Revy has a minor role than before, but is there to be with Rock and help him, we even see one of her bewbs while she showers while Rock convinces her to help him, and Fabiola confronts her about stopping Rock's crazy ideas and starts sayig things that Revy doesn't deny but that makes her mad because it's true and then we get to see something that really made me a little mad, it was her flashback that appeared in ''season'' 1 and 2 about her like a kid, this time was complete, i felt more empathy with her and disgusted to see that scene, i was mad, poor Revy, she didn't do anything wrong or bad, that's why she always change subject ot gets mad at Eda when she asks if she and Rock banged (maybe not a big part of the reason) but i didn't wanted to know tho, since the beginning i knew it was a bad childhood, but this one, i wish i didn't saw that part, in other animes it bugs me not to know characters past, but i knew i didn't wanted to know Revy's past, now i hope not to associate that image with Revy.
-Eda is like a double agent, it was a little complicated to know where side she was more related with, but she is a great character now.
There are characters that comes back like that Lotton guy, who is in the wrong bussiness and lives together with the sexy Shenhua and the emotional Sawyer after saving them, they appear again to find Roberta, Mr. Chang is a bastard whose ideals were like Rock's ideals but now he's a bastard and we get to see why Balalaika is in debt with Black Lagoon, the thing is that they don't appear much, because there are little eps. to develop them more but for the ones that are there it was very good.
I enjoyed a little less this one but still i got a very good enjoyment from it, and this time more because of the story, i just wish it wasn't Madhouse the one distributing the anime, they tend to release only one season in a lot of cases and milk them releasing specials or OVA while people request second seasons, just like the animes that i have seen from them with endings without conclusion and screaming for second season, like Shigurui as a big example, for me that didn't have an ending just like with every ''season'' of Black Lagoon but that's a discussion for other forums.
This OVA concluded the Black Lagoon anime series exceptionally well. Phenomenal work of art. Its a bloody masterpiece.
And in this one, on all counts, the art also added to the overall ambience of this OVA - remarkably so, considering that the previous 24 episodes of Black Lagoon had great art but not as involving or as metaphorically spot on as is the case here. The character of Roberta (The Bloodhound) is developed really well and in fact is the crust of the story. So much so that she is able to bring out the fearful elements of her inner struggles so fluidly (because of the
art) that she makes Black Lagoon badass by association.
As for story, well... It is concrete, it is lucid, it brings the badass out of Rock, and it is one of those rare moments when you get to see Hotel Moscow be... well... FUCKING HOTEL MOSCOW!! And yet, all the story evolves to, is one of the most fluid endings I have ever come across. And when considering the way the whole anime brought about this conclusion, it is something I appreciate. I don't feel disappointed in the slightest by this anime because it had a damn good story. Especially how it fitted together previous episodes and in-universe elements into progressing the plot points. And it concludes all questions from previous episodes while doing so. Which is something that not only helps the story, but certainly kept my attention running.
The Sound... its awesome. It is simply awesome. And yet it is funny too. There were some moments which were meant to make me laugh because the sound chosen was intended for that purpose and it does that job perfectly.
Characters... Balalika, Rock, Dutch, Benny, Balalika, Chang, Roberta, Garcia, and even the US Army personnel all play their part and are brilliant when doing so. Taking the previous point of questions, all character arcs are concluded in this OVA, and the best conclusion that is made is of Rock - certainly the best I have come across for a character right up there with Top wo Narae! Gunbuster.
All in all, it was an excellent ending to an otherwise badass anime. It achieves top score from me on all counts. And I have no regrets giving it those top scores. A recommended anime and a definitive addition to the roster of anime which should be seen.
For me Black Lagoon and Cowboy Bebop are two of my favorite series. The mixture of interesting and human characters, excellent (if over the top) fighting, and underlying and hidden discussions and opinions about life, people, etc. When I first started watching Black Lagoon I fell completely in love with the characters, the differing points of view conflicting, the psychosis, the struggles to understand each other and dealing with a wide variety of backgrounds and histories. And to top it all of was that they felt real and believable. Characters didn't just do things because the story needed them to, but because its what they
would do based on their particular ethos.
The OVA felt like none of that. Well a lot less of that. Minor character spoilers ahead nothing particularly story related.
My biggest issue was that Rock suddenly seemed to jump off the deep end. In the beginning of the OVA he is still the same person from the series, trying to stand amongst the gangsters and murderers of Roanapur and trying to be a player in things, while still trying to hold on to his morals and ideals from his life as a salary man. Then he just suddenly switches to a mastermind role who has everything in his pocket and in several shots in the OVA is portrayed almost as a villain. Nothing wrong with the concept of an evil protagonist, Black Lagoon is full of them, but the change in Rock is so complete and he shows none of his usual motivations, is he doing this because of what happened in Tokyo in the last season? Is this to try and spite Chang? Or has he just suddenly snapped and dropped his previous ideals? They bring up what happened in Tokyo for a bit at the start and then it's never mentioned or alluded to during Rock's scheming. While the reasoning they provided at the end feels sort of hollow and pointless.
Apart from that Balalaika lost a lot of her bite and felt like a girl raging at the wind, none of her usual "I'll do what you want but I'm going to make sure it costs you". Chang went from being a sort of suave gunman, who had a sense of humor hiding the power and darkness he posses, to a character who just sort of sat in a penthouse smoking and looking pensively at things. Even Revy seemed to be like she was trying to redeem herself and let her ideals be easily run over. It felt like a different Revy than the one in the submarine or in Tokyo.
The main character was also a bit ambiguous. Following Rock at first, viewing the scenario from his point of view, to sort of abandoning him and following Garcia and Fabiola viewing Rock as evil or at least malicious.
This isn't to say that it's a bad series, the gun play is still excellent (and over the top), some of the dialogue and scenes are great. It also provides some good back story (although it didn't really do anything with it as a lot of it is revealed towards the end of the arc and it doesn't feel like the revelations have any impact on the story).
This feels like Black Lagoon light (ironic considering the added violence and sexuality, a good visceral addition that I would love to see more of in the series) the characters just weren't there.
Having the story drive the characters rather than the characters driving the story makes for an exciting series, but one that lacks the usual depth and intrigue of the regular series.