Writer/Artist: Rei Hiroe
Translation: Dan Kanemitsu
Adaptation: Dan Kanemitsu
What They Say
Roanpur turns into a war zone when Balalaika and Hotel Moscow team up with the Triad to hunt down the psychotic Romanian killers Hansel and Gretel. The bloody climax leaves Rock scarred by the grim reality of the underworld he's become a part of. But there's no rest for the wicked. A terrorist organization makes a move against the Triad, and the crew of the Black Lagoon once again gets pulled into the line of fire as an echo of the past comes back to haunt the present. Cock the hammer, it's time for action!
The past couple of volumes of Black Lagoon have gradually been transitioning the series from a short-form episodic one to one that relies on longer, more involved story arcs. As part of this evolution, Volume 3 only includes two distinct stories -- and even then, neither constitutes a complete arc, since the first one was started in Volume 2 and the second ends in a cliffhanger.
The closing three chapters of "Bloodsport Fairy Tail" stay about as distant from the Black Lagoon crew as the parts in the last volume, at least until the very end. The focus here is still predominantly on the two child assassins and Hotel Russia, mostly dealing with the way the Russians exact revenge on the children. This revenge plotline left me with mixed feelings; even though there's arguably a sort of poetic justice to way things turn out for the twins, at times it feels like Hiroe is just being cruel for cruelty's sake. I'm also disappointed that he didn't follow through with the gender-related plot twist that was introduced in Volume 2, excluding one quick reference late in the story. It's strange to introduce a twist like that and then just throw it away -- it gives a haphazard, incomplete feel to the story, like Hiroe planned to make something more important out of this plot point and then decided to drop it at the last minute.
In "Goat, Jihad, Rock 'n' Roll", the Triad's Chang hires Dutch to take part in their plan to extort Hezbollah by delivering the organization's bioterrorism plans to CIA operatives in the Philippines. Whether or not the idea of the Black Lagoon crew being chased by heavily-armed Arab villains bothers your sensibilities, it's at least a good excuse to bring back some of that over-the-top action that made Volume 1 a lot of fun. As a neat bonus, Hiroe introduces a couple of new minor characters who act as escorts for the Black Lagoon crew once they land in the Philippines; the driver's coked-up delusions and his partner's repertoire with Revy add some much-appreciated comic relief after those grim "Bloodsport" chapters.
Volume 3 of Black Lagoon still isn't quite up to the standards set by the first installment -- blame this volume's portion of "Bloodsport" for that -- but it at least ends on a very strong note.