Black Lagoon Season 1 Box Set - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 300
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon Season 1 Box Set

By Bryce Coulter     July 15, 2009
Release Date: December 30, 2008


Black Lagoon Season 1 Box Set
© Geneon Entertainment

The good, the bad, she’s the chick with the guns!

What They Say
Rokuro Okajima is meek, mundane and metropolitan. His business trip to South East Asia turns from pleasure cruise to festival of pain when modern-day pirates board the ship and take him hostage. Revy, Dutch, and Benny are merciless, maniacal and mean. Together, they make up the crew of the Black Lagoon. They are the exact opposite of Rokuro in every way but one... A mercenary group out has targeted them to steal the data disc that Rokuro had, and with it, classified information that threatens the peace and security of the entire world! Amen. Hallelujah. Peanut Butter.

The Review!
Audio:
As with the previous releases of Black Lagoon, we are still treated with an awesome English DTS 5.1 mix that will beckon all audiophiles to listen.  Of course, there's the standard Japanese and English stereo mixes, but they don’t hold a candle to the DTS 5.1 mix which comes across at 1.5 mbps. The DTS 5.1 mix is superb and ranks up there with mixes that you often find on Blu-ray discs.  The across the forward soundstage is fantastic with a lot of kicking bass.  There is quite a bit of directionality usage that makes you feel like you are right in the gunfights and battle scenes.  There were no noticeable dropouts or distortions in the audio. 

I will make on note in that the English cast uses copious amounts of colorful metaphors.  F-bombs are common expletives that I’m sure help define the raw nature of this series.  It was noticed that the English subtitles of the Japanese soundtrack do not contain these expletives.  Of course, it takes quite a bit of interpretive skill to translate Japanese swear words, so it is understandable why there are not many within the subtitles.  Nevertheless, the English audio does stand out and is highly recommended as the English cast does a great job, colorful metaphors and all!

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The animation was assembled by Madhouse, which means that one should expect a high degree of animation quality.  Black Lagoon looks spectacular and the animation quality is very good.

The colors in this series are great.  There are a lot of dynamic scenes where there is transition from bright and lively to dark and drab. Overall, there was little color distortion, aliasing, or blocking.  It is a very solid video production overall.

Packaging:
The packaging for this collection remains exactly as it did when it was first releases as special edition by Geneon.  The steel case design is very fitting for Black Lagoon as it features Revy’s 9mm Berreta’s on a brushed gunmetal grey background.  The Black Lagoon logo is prominently placed in red on the center.  The keepcase is awesome and uses minimal shelf space. On the inside, the front panel contains a two panel spread of Revy while the other side is just the logo in black with a red hue set against black.

Menu:

The menu for this collection is simple, yet very effective.  It presents well with the gunshot sounds.  The main menu uses a static image of the series logo set on a black background with a few bullets scattered about.  Also featured on the main menu is a large red logo for the series.  The navigation is simple and effective.  When you click on a selection it appears as if someone is shooting the menu.  There is nothing spectacular about the menu system, but it is effective and fits the overall theme of the series very well.

Extras:
There is a good selection of extras in the collection.  The first extra is a “behind the scenes” feature.  This primarily focuses on the English dub staff.  Here we are introduced to James Corrigall (Director), Jiro Okada (Assisting Producer), Stephen Hedley (English Adaption Writer), Brad Swaile (voice of Rock), Maryke Hendrikse (voice of Revy) and Dean Redman (voice of Dutch).  What really struck me was Maryke Hendrikse.  It was just hard to look at such a sweet lady knowing that her mouth was capable of spewing out those Revy-like expletives.  She does a great job portraying Revy, but thankfully is not at all like Revy in real life, or is she??

The music video for Red Faction was interesting to say the least.  The music video of the opening theme tune, which literally hits you not only with its weirdness, but the fact that it is actually in English.  A very cool extra as I always like to get a glimpse of the music associated with my favorite anime.

Other extras include clean openings and closings along with some promo clips.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Black Lagoon is a manga series written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe, and published in Shogakukan's Sunday GX since 2002. The first season was adapted into anime series in 2006, totaling twelve episodes.  The story focuses on a group of mercenaries known as Lagoon Company.  They specialize in smuggling goods in the seas of Southeast. Their base of operations is located in the fictional city of Roanapur, which is supposed to be somewhere in Thailand.

Lagoon Company makes use of a World War II era PT boat, the Black Lagoon. Running a modern day mercenary outfit is not without its issues, especially when one of your best business associates is Russian crime syndicate known as Hotel Moscow. Lagoon Company is well known for the ability to take on just about any type of mission, whether it’s smuggling contraband, taking out a specified target, or kidnapping.  Money is the name of the game and there is no job too tough as long as the pay is good. 

As interesting as the premise for the series sounds, so are the four main characters.  Revy packs a lot of heat and is the ‘heavy’ for the Lagoon Company.  Talk about a girl with guns; this chick can operate just about any firearm, but prefers to use her custom-made stainless steel 9mm Beretta M92F "Sword Cutlass Special" pistols. Her nickname, "Two Hand," reflects her ability use both pistols simultaneously.   Her demeanor is just about like her two guns. She goes off on a hair trigger and would rather shoot you instead of talking to you.

Rock is a young aspiring Japanese salaryman.  He reluctantly joins the crew of the Black Lagoon when he gets caught up in scheme by his employer. This betrayal leads him to join the Black Lagoon as he wants nothing more than to “stick it to the man.”  He’s not a fighter, but is genius at negotiations and is a good translator.

Dutch is an African-American who heads up the Lagoon "trading company". He also captains the PT boat Black Lagoon.  As the steady, cool-headed leader, he seldom participates in battle.  All the same, he is a very deadly and skilled combat veteran.

Benny is a former post-graduate student at the University of Central Florida. He is of Jewish descent and serves as the Lagoon's technical expert. He is the brains of the team, especially regarding electronics, and he is always ready for the most difficult of tasks.  He is very dependable when things get in a pinch.

There is a lot to like in Black Lagoon as the story is very engaging.  The use of those colorful metaphors can sometimes be over the top, but it really sets precedence for the hardcore environment for which the main characters are in involved.  A lot of this collection focuses on Revy and Rock.  Their relationship is raw and jagged at first, but appears to soften near the closing of this collection of episodes.  You will find that there is a lot of solid character development for the entire cast.  However, the episodes really hone in on Rock and Revy. 

In the midst of all the action, and there’s tons of it, you will find quite a bit of existential themes.  You will find this very evident in Rock’s journey to join Lagoon Company.  His views of the world are explored in the changing light of what he thought was the ideal lifestyle.  This theme is also evident in Revy if you can find it between all the swear words and take-downs.  There are a lot of layers in her persona and time will only tell if she can really come to terms with it, or it ends up destroying her as evidenced in her semi-psychotic, berserker-like outbursts of rage. 

Black Lagoon’s cast of characters behoove you to see their side of the story.  This is what makes this collection of episodes unique.  It’s not completely defined by action, explosions, and body counts.  It is actually a complex story that makes you think about what really motivates you in life and what really matters.  There is nothing like staring down the barrel of a gun to provoke an epiphany about life. 

Summary
Black Lagoon is a great action series with lots of guns, girls with guns, and even more guns.  The action is intense and the plot is very engaging.  In the midst of the smoke, carnage, and rubble, you will find a gem of a story that hones in on what really motivates the human spirit.  Whether it is a good choice or bad, each of us has to live with the consequences.  This series is one of those rarities that won’t let you take the action for granted.  Highly Recommended!

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 DTS Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Behind the Scenes, Music Video, Production Video

Review Equipment
Samsung UN40B6000V 40” LED HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA 2.1home theater Sound Bar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer

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