The only show that I went into blind, and became a massive fan of. 2nd Barrage continuing into brilliance, with action, comedy, great characters, mystery, suspense - and even a little romance for the most unlikely character in the show.
What They Say
What's better than earning money? Making it! Revy teams up with sister Eda to save a brilliant counterfeiter from getting wasted. Of course they care less about her and more about the money they stand to gain for getting her to safety! Later, Rock makes a return trip to Japan with Revy as his escort and bodyguard. Japan hasn't changed but Rock is fundamentally different after a year aboard the Black Lagoon.
Contains episodes 5-8 (17-20):
The Roamapur Freakshow Circus
Mr. Benny's Good Fortune
Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise
For this review because of the setting and giving myself some variety, I chose to watch the English dub, as a show like Black Lagoon where there are multiple nationalities, it’s one of those shows you have to try in English (like say, Hellsing and Licenced by Royalty) – and in my case, be watching it a few times as the audio is excellent – accompanied by a strong English dub to counter the excellent Japanese, and despite the standard 2.0 format, it suddenly sounds at times like a Hollywood blockbuster at the cinema – the problems I had with the first test disc (almost a parallel with the Black Lagoon discs) again have vanished without a trace. There is some smart work in this disc in particular because in one episode, you get Rock playing interpreter for Balalaika, and in a unique twist, kept the original Japanese for Rock whilst Balalaika is speaking in English and Rock only speaks English when he’s talking to Balalaika. It’s a turn that I’ve never heard before so it was definitely a surprise and a pleasant one. The action sequences again showcase the audio quality, particular during the Greenback Jane saga where they say actions speak louder than words? Much louder in this case.
There is some great attention to detail as the vibrant colours hit you once you get into the show. The detail in showcasing some of the visuals such as the weapons and the hyper fast action during the gun fights are quite remarkable, as Black Lagoon seems to have a definite personality that shines through beautifully to the screen. The panning/wide screen effect seemed to enhance the video quality on my screen, which again, didn’t show any lack of effort from the animators and the transaction to DVD. With such complex action sequences, the way it flows has to be right on to make the subtitles and audio, and there are some excellent moments that showcase this, such as the Sawyer sequences (scary!), the battle between Eda, Revy and Shenyua and the ‘dream’ Rock has…
No packaging was supplied with this test disc.
A similar menu to the Black Lagoon discs has been used, scanning horizontal instead of vertical though is the Black Lagoon logo (with the words ‘Second Barrage’ showing on the bottom), with a scrolling horizontal background with the debuting characters Ginji and Yukio, decked in their attire you see them at the festival. The screens are easy enough to navigate, albeit basic from set up and extras. Again though, the languages switch is in the set up, which actually briefly confused me for a moment because I’ve been so used to the language section being separate – not a big deal in the long run though.
The extras are very basic – more so than last time as all we get is the same trailer from the first disc from Black Lagoon and some trailers for Shana and the Utena movie.
Black Lagoon and its ‘sequel’ Second Barrage continues to establish to be one of my favourite series I’ve had the pleasure to review. A combination of hot action, great (if different) lead characters with an excellent supporting cast, a superb dub to match the excellent Japanese original and as this volume pops up, Black Lagoon can be more than Revy going guns a blazing. Heck, she can even be quite cute as this disc proves…albeit for a very brief moment…
We start off following on from the previous disc as Greenback Jane has been given an escape route by Eda as long as she’s smart enough to follow it away from the trail of bounty hunters. Eda is quickly becoming my favourite of the non Black Lagoon cast, as she’s basically all about herself and has a great relationship not just with Revy as they are so alike, but also with Rock, as her flirtatious nature is something that both Revy and Rock have to groan at, Revy more so, and the fact as Jane is escaping, Eda calmly offers to help her out…for a price. The haggling on the road was so unintentionally funny, but the comedy stopped quick as the action began to heat up – many of the bounty hunters from the previous ep are on their way to find Eda and Revy, and Shenyua points out where to go from her own dealings with Revy from Black Lagoon to a two point plan where a variety of hunters from Shenyua with her blades, Sawyer with her chainsaw, a large arsonist, a poser and the cowboy Russell all descend onto the Lagoon. It’s quite an epic battle where teamwork between Revy and Eda, Jane and Rock, and Shenyua and Sawyer shows three completely different teams, ideologies and strategies all have to work to save their own butts.
In the end, it turns into a mini blood bath as Eda/Revy kick ass, injuring several hunters (including Shenyua) but Sawyer corners Rock/Jane on the roof as it begins to burn to the crowd, much to the non-amusement of a returning Dutch. Sawyer is a very creepy girl, perhaps more so than the Hansel/Gretel combo, with her chainsaw ready and her slit throat combined with Ultra voice that when she loses it and drops to a panicked state, it catches you by surprise as that was the way she was going to be defeated – very unexpected however as she survives along with Shenyua and a funny poser like gunman named Wizard, you get the feeling they will be around sometime in the future. Jane has to escape with her information, and finally they get on board the boat, and in a surprising turn of events, Benny finally gets his moment to shine when after a mini-argument that Jane can’t touch any of his machinery, but maybe he can help get what she wants, it becomes a strange combo of a battle on the boat involving Dutch’s driving, Revy vs. Torch, Eda vs. Russell and a surprising romance possibly developing between Benny and Jane shows why Black Lagoon is a top show, combining pretty much everything into something that not only makes sense, but thoroughly enjoyable to watch. We even get a bit of development for Eda as Russell seems to recognise her and indeed her past, but maybe that’s for another time…
Anyway, whilst Benny is enjoying a new internet relationship, Rock heads into a new arc and returns to Japan and Revy tags along as his bodyguard. Balalaika requested Rock’s linguistic skills to cut a deal with the underground boss Tsugio Bando of the Washimine group, where Balalaika’s methods strike a nerve with the Japanese. After Balalaika’s methods have been put on display, Rock and Revy take some time off to enjoy a Japanese festival. Here, Revy points out that Rock may be missing his life here, and the solemn moment is quickly ruined by Revy accusing the shooting gallery vendor to rigging the game in true Revy style, however she is stopped by a rather large man accompanied by a young school girl. They are introduced as Yukio and Ginji, and whilst Yukio is being happy talking to Rock, Revy immediately notices that Ginji, who seems to be a vendor, smells of blood…
…it turns out in the final ep that Yukio is a legitimate heir of the Washimine group, which Balalaika is dealing with. There are some interesting points both in this and the previous ep of this arc – the Rock/Revy is definitely a lot more solidified, Revy is a lot calmer around him and Rock seems to have found his place in Black Lagoon and despite returning to his home country, he’s solidified in it. A perfect example is when a playboy type guy named Chaka who owns a strip club where Bando hosts a meeting with Balalaika is interested in Revy, and when Rock intervenes (to avoid Revy causing trouble) he is beaten up badly, however he takes it and Revy doesn’t stop it, knowing how things work around here, Rock has toughened up physically and mentally and adds to his already excellent character. The mysterious past of Ginji looks set to be unleashed in the next disc as Rock has an almost prophetic dream about Bando and Balalaika, and when he and Yukio bump into each other, you can sense the moment that Yukio learns that he’s siding with Hotel Moscow, that she’s caught between two worlds…something to look forward to for the next disc.
Black Lagoon 2nd Barrage I feel is a series that expands from the first season and gets even better. This is mainly because the establishment of the relationships have got to a point that Revy and Rock understand each other and they do their things their own way, no questions ask, as long as the job gets done. Revy protects Rock in her own way and his concern for him in all the eps shows just how much has changed from that infamous first episode. The arc to arc nature doesn’t affect the series that much because whilst there are different characters in each arc, it all comes down to Rock and Revy, and when others get involved, it gets more fun. Along with Dutch and Benny-boy, Eda and Jane get their moments in to say the least and Balalaika is her usual self, sinister but always with a plan. The characters of Yukio and Ginji are beginning to be explored, and this sets up for a potential explosive final disc.
Oh, and one more thing – episode 7? Revy is being cute. Yes, you heard me – the scene in the park and when Rock catches what she’s doing…it’s worth the price just for THAT scene. Just trust me on this one.
Black Lagoon has always been good based on the strength of it’s characters, it’s action and it’s vocal and visual work. However, this disc adds a little bit more. Despite it being split into the end of one arc and the start of another one, it doesn’t lose any steam as the trip to Japan gives a new perspective on Rock’s life and Revy’s role in it – whilst previous characters are still in the back of our minds as Jane, Shenyua, Wizard, Sawyer and in particular Eda, are more than just episode cameos, you wonder when, not if, you’ll see them again because they’ve become part of Black Lagoon’s world whether they like it or not. The action, the comedy, the characters, the voices (in both languages) added with a little bit of development for characters both main and minor, and even a bit of romance makes this disc a good all-round action packed cluster of fun…and it somehow fits. And fits REALLY well. Highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, US Trailer �" Black Lagoon Season 1
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV �" Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers �" Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.