The story follows a team of mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, who smuggle goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia. Their base of operations is located in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand, and they transport goods in the PT boat Black Lagoon. Lagoon Company does business with various clients, but has a particularly friendly relationship with the Russian crime syndicate Hotel Moscow. The team takes on a variety of missions—which may involve violent firefights, hand-to-hand combat, and nautical battles—in various Southeast Asian locations.
Black Lagoon has been published in English by VIZ Media under the VIZ Signature imprint since August 12, 2008; in Italian by Panini Comics under the Planet Manga imprint since December 27, 2007; and in Polish by Waneko since April 2009.
One of the easiest ways to set up an interesting premise is to thrust an out of place character into a bizarre situation. Here we have a normal white-collar Japanese salaryman, Okajima Rokuro, unknowingly embroiled in a corporate scandal and ends up being held hostage by a band of seasoned mercenaries. Abandoned by his company and forced into a dead end along with his kidnappers, he faces a seemingly hopeless predicament.
What does he do? He joins forces with his kidnappers of course!
Rokuro is no more. In comes the new Rock (new nickname anyway) who saves the day using his quick wit and newfound bravado (though
he is still useless in combat). The story might be simple but it works surprisingly well. It is refreshing to see how a normal guy like you and me can fit into a team of battle-hardened veterans.
Set in a cul-de-sac city of vice called Roanapur, mobs rule the day and gunfights are everyday business. It is a place where outlaws of all nationalities come to party. Black Lagoon is one big package of thrilling action, fun, and a hell lot of fireworks that even John Woo would be proud of. It has the flair of Cowboy Bebop and the badassery of Hellsing. Quite a combination I daresay.
The greatest appeal of Black Lagoon lies in the characters. From the Russian ex-militants, Hong Kong triads, South-American drug-dealers, fanatical housemaids to trigger-happy nuns, there is a constant clash of cultures, ideals, and personalities. Watching them interact through witty dialogue is quite entertaining, though it can get a bit philosophical (or call it sophistry, depending on how you see it) at times.
Then we have the Lagoon Company, the main players in the story. Revy is arguably the star of the crew. Much like Haruhi (from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), Revy has attained sort of a cult status among fans. Nicknamed “Two Hands”, she wields dual guns and is extremely skilled, with a bad attitude to boot. This American-Chinese girl simply oozes charisma and you can’t help but love this little devil.
Rock, the new member, is caught in the grey zone between light and dark. As much as he wants to throw away his old lifestyle, he still clings to his civil values. His refusal to drop his businessman attire demonstrates this. Rock probably shows the most character development here as he struggles to find his place in the cesspool of crime and violence.
The rest of the crew receives less attention compared to Revy and Rock. Dutch is the boss of the team. He calls the shots and manages the business side of things. When called into action, he is a good fighter (also because of his muscular build) and teams up well with Revy. Benny is the technical expert who deals with the IT stuff and maintenance of hardware.
To sum it up, there is a great deal of chemistry among the characters and that is what I love most about this manga.
Story-wise, there isn’t really much of a plot as it goes by an episodic formula. This isn’t much of a problem for an action genre. The scenarios are believable and most of them are engaging, with the purpose of either introducing new characters or building up the existing ones, even if by a little.
The manga boasts pretty artwork and the character designs are great. Well, it’s good enough to let you drool at the smexiness of Revy, and possibly the nun, Eda. (Okay, I admit I’m one of them.) I have no problems with the paneling and the action is easy to follow.
Black Lagoon is a blend of highly entertaining action sequences, fun characters and a badass attitude. This is a must-read for action fans. Get yourself ready for a wild ride!