“This is more entertaining than Hollywood is ever going to be!” - Revy
Black Lagoon is one of Madhouse’s greatest works. In terms of action and seinen, we no longer have to frustratingly listen to long speeches before gunshots fire. Black Lagoon is well-known for its nonstop action and features one of the most memorable and merciless women in the anime industry: Revy (famously known as “Two Hands”), who is noted for her “kill first, ask questions later” style. Its depiction of Hollywood action films with the explosions, car chases, and gun-fighting at sea makes this entertaining to watch, especially with its mature dialogue and dark humor.
Black Lagoon’s cast makes up the entire story alone. The story follows the Lagoon Company as they take on paid missions and kill anyone who interferes. The dark humor and foul language are hilarious and bring out maturity. This brings along a fine set of characters, including mafias, Nazis, and war veterans for the fast and the furious. The four members of the Black Lagoon cast are unique amongst themselves: Revy; Dutch, the serious yet chill guy; Benny, the tech geek; and Rock, the Japanese guy who is trying to get used to the pirate lifestyle. Black Lagoon is mostly popular for their memorable and merciless female characters, including a Russian boss and killer maid, who shows no hesitation in fulfilling threats. The tragic and violent pasts of the female characters give them an ideal role for Black Lagoon.
Because of character development, I wouldn’t consider Black Lagoon to be episodic. New to the game, Rock started out unreasonably annoying, suddenly contributed clever schemes, and later went back to being a wimp again. He unchangeably grew some balls midway in the series, but his behavior seemed illogical how his personality kept going from scared to fearless back and forth in the beginning. Because of her rough background, Revy’s cold-heartedness made her appear childish and selfish as she uses torture and violence as her therapy. Her attitude lessens a bit as she balanced the ability to know right from wrong. Revy and Rock's relationship undergoes the most development, since they both come from completely opposite background.
One downside is the failure to follow up on deceased supporting characters' past. Black Lagoon also ends incompletely with a lack of explanation about some of the characters’ pasts and last minute questions presented in the last few episodes. As someone who watched all three seasons, I can confirm that the plotholes receive explanations within the two sequels. However, it would be better if it ended with some kind of conclusion. Since it continues with Episode 13 in the 2nd season, I found it useless to have Black Lagoon and Second Barrage separated.
Character designs were very distinct. Revy is popular for her daisies, but it’s honestly a turnoff. It’s possible to fight and jump long distances with short daisies. The background design and settings were realistic with the lights and character interactions, especially in a bar. The blood splattering was not exaggerated or excessive, so it is easily tolerable for one who is not a fan of gore. There were a few stills, but the visual effects were really good, especially the fight scenes.
Black Lagoon is one of the few anime meant to be watched in English, because it sounds more natural than the Japanese. The seiyuu do not nearly fit the character’s personalities as the English VA. Marÿke Hendrikse portrayed Revy’s tomboy personality perfectly. I’m glad Funimation chose Dean Redman to voice Dutch for his deep yet laidback voice. It was hard to hear Brad Swaile (voice of Light from Light Note) play a less villainous character, but he did a great job switching to Rock’s attitude changes throughout the series. Also, the seiyuu sound horrible when a certain scene to be in English. Their English sounds broken and slow, interrupting and slowing the action of that scene.
The music is wonderful, and both the OP and ED centers on Revy. The English OP “Red Fraction” by Mell sung has lyrics that fits the hardcore action. The scores, usually instrumental rock music, suits the fighting scenes, too. The ED “Don’t Look Behind” by Edison is fully instrumental. Although it's seen as a disadvantage with its slow tone after a hardcore episode, it actually has a smooth transition by not immediately jumping to the song. A calm setting moves away from the action and presents right before the ED.
Black Lagoon is a dream come true for one who craves a sense of maturity in an action anime. The pacing is good and doesn’t waste time with lengthy dialogue like other seinen. The dark humor and action mixes well together, and the characters are unique and memorable. I highly recommend checking out Black Lagoon if you’re into Hollywood films or just looking for a change of pace in terms of action. It was a wonderful experience for me, because every episode had nonstop action to look forward to.