Black Lagoon a fast-paced, fun action adventure
Pop quiz, fellow otaku. You have questionable items you need transported, safely and without questions; who do you call? I’d be flattered if you said Gaming Insurrection, but due to many legal requirements we have to abide by, GI CANNOT do these jobs. However, I can recommend a company that provide those services if you don’t mind a little damage along the way. They’re called “Black Lagoon.”
Written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe, Black Lagoon is the story of the Lagoon Company, a mercenary and courier service set in the mid to late ’90s running various questionable goods in and around Southeast Asia. Their main base is in the fictional city of Roanapur in east Thailand near the Cambodian border. Roanapur is home, alongside the BL crew, to various international crime organizations, pickpockets, mercenaries, contract killers and other residents with shady occupations.
The Black Lagoon crew consists of Dutch, the boss and captain of the Lagoon; Rebecca “Revy Two Hands” Lee, expert markswoman; Benny, mechanic and computer expert; and, Rokuro “Rock” Okajima, a salaryman from Japan who joins the crew after he was kidnapped by Revy during a job requested by the Russian crime group Hotel Moscow. At the time, Rock was working for Asahi Heavy Industries, which was able to broker a deal with a certain nation who could not legally obtain nuclear weapons technology under international law. Rock was assigned to deliver a disk complete with proposals to an Asahi branch in Borneo. However, Black Lagoon gets involved and takes Rock and the disk, resulting in Asahi calling a private military company to recover the disk without Rock. Learning of his employer’s betrayal, Rock sides with the Lagoon crew and helps take down the private military company. After that incident, Rock joins the crew and acts as the company’s front man in providing a legitimate face to Lagoon.
Another chapter finds the Lagoon crew in a set-up hitjob arranged by a former employer who’s angry with Dutch for working with Hotel Moscow. The third and fourth chapters find the Lagoon crew facing off with a Colombian mercenary who acts as maid to the heir of a Venezuela plantation owner. Revy and the maid settle their scores in a fistfight, resulting in a draw. There is a bonus chapter that follows a school manga setting, only this time the Lagoon puts their special touch on things.
After reading this first volume, I can say that BL did not disappoint at all. From the beginning, BL came, grabbed me by the collar and never let go. Hiroe-san ‘s writing and artwork was perfection from the first chapter to the last, ensuring that the manga did not lack in plot or art. I appreciated that some actual organizations such as Interpol and the Colombian mercenary group FARC were used in the manga’s third and fourth chapters. Hiroe-san created the perfect blend of fictional and non-fictional elements. The main sticking point that really caught my attention is that the Lagoon crew and their skills were given equal time to shine such as Revy’s fighting and marksmanship, Dutch’s background as a U.S. Marine and Rock’s expertise in office management and geology. Hiroe-san’s knowledge of music of the late ’90s was also on display, integrating Rob Zombie’s “ElectricHead Part 1” and Swedish Eurogroup Red Nex’s “Shooter.” Without doubt, I’m excited to do another review of this series in the future.
“Black Lagoon” is a rarity in manga where you can follow the storyline, and it has the right balance of Japanese manga action and Western pop culture. BL does have a anime adaptation, but I will cover that in future issues. Rest assured, if you need certain goods and services performed, contact Black Lagoon Company.
Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com