Don’t mess with Hotel Moscow!
What They Say
A recent string of murders is the talk of the town. Not that murder is anything unusual, but the twin killers are targeting Hotel Moscow! The delicate balance of power held by the mafia leaders crumbles as the sickening slaughter escalates into a full-blown war of attrition. No quarter is given and none asked for as Balalaika and her soldiers are forced to recall a time when their deadliest enemies were children.
This limited collector's edition includes a bonus disc and a steelbook dvd tin with four hubs designed to hold all three volumes of Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage!
Contains episodes 1-12 (13 – 24)
Like 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.
Aside from the sometimes overboard swearing, the English voice cast is a real treat. This is definitely one of those collections where the English cast tends to outshine the Japanese voice cast.
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.
As with the previous Black Lagoon collection, you will find that the packaging for this collection remains exactly as it did when it was first releases as special edition by Geneon. The case is done in a gunmetal grey which comes across well with the front and back covers featuring Revy. The front and back covers looks as if it actually used an actual model posing as Revy. Of course, Revy has her 9mm Beretta M92F "Sword Cutlass Special" pistols in hand. The series logo spills vertically along the right side and is done in an off black color, which is more subtle than the first collection. On the inside, the front panel contains the logo. The other panel features Revy’s showing off the tattoo that she has on her bare backside.
Like the first collection, 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.
For the special edition release, an entire disc of extras is included. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot here, which is a huge letdown. There’s nothing worth noting other than the clean closing video for episodes 15 and 24. Of course, you get a promotional video for the series and the Japanese opening, but that is pretty lame for a disc of extras. Extra discs are supposed to have goodies in there that make you want to watch it! It sure would have been nice to have had more commentary from the staff about the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Black Lagoon: Second Barrage puts you right back in the thick of things with Lagoon Company. Black Lagoon was great in that it’s fast pace action balanced out with a great cast of main and supporting characters. The plot was easy, yet intriguing, to watch. It made me want to watch it all in one viewing. Second Barrage, is no different as it carries the same great traits that made the first season so successful.
The second season has a different format from the first as there three consecutive multi-episode stories. The first story takes place on the island of Roanpur, which is home to Lagoon Company as well as the world’s most ruthless mercenaries. A string of mysterious killings have been taking place. These killings seem to target many of Hotel Moscow’s lackeys. When it involves Hotel Moscow you can sure bet that Balalaika is going let all hell rain down on those who oppose her. A huge bounty is on the heads of the killers, who turn out to be just a pair of kids. These aren’t your normal kids. The arc does not invoke the supernatural, just two very trained very, very disturbed kids. Their psyche was destroyed by extreme abuse, exploitation, and child pornography. They were forced into killing other children to survive, and their mental state, at this point, is so twisted that they have developed a pleasure for killing and see no reason to stop. They relish in taking out their targets, and then proceed to turn on their employers and anyone else who gets in their way. This naturally includes Revy.
On a lighter note, the second story arc is a lot less dark than the first. Janet Bhai is a professional money counterfeiter from India. She leads a world-wide team via the Internet, to perform counterfeiting for the highest bidder. Her newest assignment is taking longer than expected. Her employers get antsy, lose patience and kill her assistant.
Janet makes an attempt to flee from her enraged employers. Which leads us to a running gag on Janet; with her clumsiness and poor luck, she is constantly the subject of a panty-shot (FYI - they aren’t very interesting to look at). Her flight from her boss has her literally running straight into the arms of Revy and Eda from the Rip-off church. There is nothing like watching a nun put the smacketh-down and many rounds of shells on the baddies in town. Eventually, the trio ends up having to navigate through the back alleys of Roanapur and avoid the slew of assassins out to make a dime on Janet’s head. Did I mention that Hotel Moscow is in on this?
You have to laugh at this story arc as all of the mercenaries on Roanapur end up finding about what is going on. It culminates in a showdown at the Lagoon Company Dock. The bantering between Revy, Eda, and Rock is a plus. However, the inclusion of the other mercenaries, like Sawyer the Cleaner (the chick with the chainsaw that speaks with the Ultravoice), and Shenhua (aka. Chinglish) makes for some great fun. The plot twist at the end is the perfect ending to all the craziness. Benny bonds with Janet over access to her account, and ends up in a relationship with her. Who saw that one coming?
The final story arc is the best of the series as it tends to focus heavily on Revy, Rock, and Hotel Moscow. Rock and Revy accompany Hotel Moscow on a trip to Japan. Rock serves as an interpreter for Balalaika. Hotel Moscow has been offered a sizeable amount of money by a Yakuza family to take care of some business. Of course, Balalaika uses the Yakuza like a play thing. It almost feels like the Russians are invading Japan as they plot, scheme, and lay waste to the poor Yakuza families.
A subplot of this final story arc focuses on Rock as he wrestles with the personal dilemma of facing his family again. Unknown to him at the time, this choice is a reflection of a deeper decision he is struggling to make. His choice or a lack thereof, causes him to become attached to a girl who ultimately ends up in the crosshairs of Hotel Moscow and the other Yakuza families. Rock’s persistence in the matter causes some tension with Balalaika, which of course causes Revy to stick up for him. As seen near the end of the first season it is apparent that Revy has become somewhat attached to Rock. Revy is unaware that her actions reveal an attachment visible to others, such as Eda, who rides her case about it time and again. Every show needs a swearing, drinking, and pistol-packing nun to bust up the monotony in a plot!
As it has been stated before in many reviews, what makes this show so great is the English language voice cast and a very solid plot. The roughness of the dialogue and good imitation of non-English speaking characters make this adaptation believable. The action sequences are fun and grab your attention, but at times seem just a bit too over the top. All the same, the roughness of the series really speaks for itself and does it well. The only downfall is that I want more Black Lagoon!
Black Lagoon: Second Barrage literally barrages you with some heavy action and heavy plot development. The elements that made the first season so successful continue on in the second. The plot is raw and unnerving, which is missing in a lot of anime today. A fresh approach to story telling is always a plus, and Black Lagoon brings it and then some. If you haven’t seen the first season, then go get it, and while you’re at it pick up this collection too. This is definitely a must have for a more mature anime enthusiast and deserves a place on your anime shelf!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English DTS 5.1 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Red Fraction Music, Second Barrage Promo Video, Clean Opening and Closing, Promo Video
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