While incurring one of the lowest (if not in fact the lowest) eligible title count for a single month in awards history, August 2008 managed to retain a glimpse of an again wider field, which made all the difference. In moratorium for the previous nine months, the first Geneon title, among a handful of others which will be distributed through FUNimation Entertainment, made its long-delayed appearance on the ballots as Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage (Ocean Studios). Among the usual and still stiff competition in short months, notably from the finales of Genshiken OVA and Kujibiki Unbalance TV (both Headline Studios), as well Sasami Season 1 (FUNimation) and Death Note Vol. 6 (Ocean Studios), the only lasting challenge for a share in the three awards ended up from the first release of the popular Code Geass (Animaze.. iNC). The Best Male Performance award for Johnny Yong Bosch’s lead role there netted him his fourth award from three separate roles. Best Female Performance for Patricia Drake is her first, and with Best Dub for Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage Vol. 1 the first two awards for the dub, third overall including the Dubbies (and the fifth monthly award for The Ocean Group in the past year, powered by Lagoon and Death Note, after a previous forty-three month drought).
(To nominate performances and dubs in the current awards for September 2008, please visit this thread. Open through November 2nd.)
BEST MALE PERFORMANCE: Johnny Yong Bosch, Lelouch Lamperouge, Code Geass Vol. 1
Power. Code Geass, from Bandai Entertainment and dubbed by acclaimed dub production studio Animaze.. iNC, is all about power. Those who have it. Those who want it. And those who fall victim to it. Young Lelouche Lamperouge is not your average schoolboy. He is a young man with a mission: to destroy an empire. To voice such a character, the most important traits are confidence, competence, and an arrogance bordering on snide condescension. In the two volumes released so far of Code Geass, Johnny Yong Bosch ably manages to weave his way through the labyrinthine maze that his character inhabits. As Lelouche, he must appear to be something of a slacker genius to his unaware schoolmates. But as Zero, the secretive leader of a rebel movement set on liberating occupied Japan from the iron-fisted grasp of the Holy Britannian Empire, he must exude a confidence and menace that can overawe his enemies and inspire his followers. Though not an easy role to navigate, Bosch succeeds in his dual assignment: relaxed schoolboy by day, sinister rebel leader at night.
BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE: Patricia Drake, Balalaika, Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage Vol. 1
Patricia Drake has had by this point in the Black Lagoon story only juicy supporting roles available for her enigmatic Balalaika, ex-Soviet boss of the ruthless local Russian mob, Hotel Moscow. She has been engaged primarily in aloof actions around the main Lagoon crew, at times a curt client, at others a bemused interlocutor. But for the bulk of this volume she takes on the weight of the whole show, and the whole dub, producing a commanding performance that potentially shows up any in the dub so far, Marÿke Hendrikse's always simmering Revy Two-Hand included. Full of self-assured menace and brooding, coldhearted calm, Drake is superbly smooth and collected. Balalaika's climactic scene in the volume's central “Hansel and Gretel” arc, in which she reigns commandingly above even sadistic butchery and bloodthirsty greed, immobilizes the excited viewer into a chilling dread, never truly relinquished even by the end of the story. In the face of monsters, she is shown as the Devil: more sure of her evil and so more deliberate and exacting in her punishment. In a subtly and thinly employed Slavic drawl, Drake chastens the fiend, reduced to his base nature, "don't cry, you fool". Touching in its beleaguered cruelty as much in its delivery as in its words. Without the nuanced weight she puts behind it the moment may be mere villainous pretense--instead of the weary tragedy of evil, bloody deeds.
BEST DUB: Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage Vol. 1
The English dub of the Black Lagoon franchise from Ocean Studios has received a fair share of acclaim for its powerful and gritty and darkly humorous take on the misfit Lagoon crew and their criminal contemporaries. It received, cumulatively for the three volumes of its first season, Best Overlooked Dub in the 2007 Dubbies. For its second season, ADRA voters chose to recognize the effort from director James Corrigal up front. The Lagoon crew is: Dean Redman as cool-headed leader Dutch, Brian Drummond as gear-head Benny, Marÿke Hendrikse as sociopath Revy, and Brad Swaile as salary-man-turned-pirate Rock. Among their many villainous friends and enemies are Patricia Drake’s Balalaika, Female Performance winner for August, and a murderers row of popular veteran and new Vancouver talent. In the first volume of The Second Barrage, recognition falls especially to Ashleigh Ball and Jocelyn Loewen as two sadistic children on a murder spree, calling themselves Hansel and Gretel in a grim allusion to the tale. Their innocently inflected lines of butchery and blood sport log yet another delicious flavor to a dub filled to the brim with larger than life characters from the wonderfully campy to the shockingly twisted. The work employed in this volume illustrates as well the 13 episode of work that preceded it: balancing, or mitigating, the deservedly camp with the twisted undertones of the story, allowing the actors to drive all with a blood-thumping passion well tempered by Corrigal’s finely tuned direction (especially adept as it is at inflecting humor—a strong tenet of the Black Lagoon universe—into both action and drama) and Steven Hedley’s lively script (from Paul Baldwin’s savvy translation). Black Lagoon is back. Don’t miss it.