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Translations: Gintama 507 (2)
Title: Black Lagoon
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Seinen
Author: Hiroe Rei
Artist: Hiroe Rei
Publication: Sunday GX
Start Date: 19 April 2002
End Date: Ongoing
Number of chapters at review: 65
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 55
Taken from Baka-Updates Manga.
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)Quote:
The art in Black Lagoon is well done. The characters don’t look too shabby and the action scenes are pretty decent, whether it be gunshots, explosions, fire, etc. Furthermore, blood and guts galore.
Storywise, Black Lagoon isn’t a classic. I’m not saying that it has a bad storyline, just that it's nothing noteworthy. What really makes the story shine would be the characters.
Black Lagoon is a character-driven story. While it isn’t unusual to see minor characters spew rockets, bullets, etc. at the main characters, what characters spew quite a bit would be dialogue. And this is where the magic of the story lies in. Simply put, the dialogue sparkles with wit and humor. It’s through combining pop culture references, serious philosophical debate, and hilarious one-liners that produces some of the most interesting writing I have ever seen.
What I like so much about this series’ writing is how there is no distinction made between the moral question of what is right and wrong. Various events are shown with different perspectives and characters justify there own action. What we see is that there is only a case of perspective where individuals justify their actions to be the morally correct one. It's like trying to define which grey is blacker than the other.
The strong suit of the series because the characters is what make this series what it is, especially when dealing with themes and such. This is most evident between Rock and Revy. Tension between Rock and Revy appears throughout the series. It's the relationship between these two that's at the heart of the series, and gives events a centre of gravity. Revy is sadistic, maniacal, tough, and undiplomatic, believing in the use of brute force and coercion to get her way. Rock, on the other hand, is caring, honorable, nonviolent, and diplomatic, believing in the use of negotiation and blackmail to get his way.
As the series progresses, a problematic relationship forms between the two characters who are polar opposites of each other, leading to insightful conversation. One review wonderfully summarizes their relationship:
Another strong suit of the series. Themes such as Nazism, communism, racism, and atheism are touched upon in the series. Other themes would be free will and alienation. The core theme in the series, however, centers around existentialism thought.
Existential belief dictates that there is no set meaning in life, and that people must choose to find, create, and assign their own meanings. This is evidenced by the most distinguishing motif of the series: The lack of distinction between the moral question of what is right and what is wrong, which ties into the existential belief that "values are subjective." Many events are shown from the different perspectives of the characters, who in turn justify their beliefs in what is right and what is not, similar to how existentialists believe that every person chooses their own values for their own subjective reasons.
A second major motif would be how characters do the things that they do because it gives them a meaning to life. Several minor characters to even the main characters - Revy and Rock - aren’t necessarily compelled by logic, but compelled by the desire to give their life a newfound meaning, especially Rock.
I wouldn’t say Black Lagoon is exactly original. Still, the characters, action, comedy, etc. make this series enjoyable. This series possesses a clear-cut style.
Black Lagoon is an enjoyable series. It’s hilarious, action-packed, and the characters make for loads of entertaining conversations and fights. Black Lagoon may look like a mindless action series, but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a mindless action series. Furthermore, the dialogue spawns characters that extend beyond their cookie cutter clichés, which is especially evident with Rock and Revy. The two primary protagonists are well-developed and are fitting examples the manga’s primary theme of moral relativism.
Unless you have a problem with blood, guts, and all that other jazz, this is a series you will not regret reading.
Spoiler: Manga's images taken from earlier chapters to avoid spoiler, generally the art improves show
Added the images. ~ Luckas
Last edited by Luckas; September 10, 2008 at 08:43 AM.
Given that, as you say, the focus is on the characters rather than plot (and I agree with you), don't you think a 9 is a touch high for the plot score? The rest of the review is pretty good, though I would prefer your own thoughts over quotes pulled from elsewhere.