Otaku Corner: Black Lagoon

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

Posted in Otaku Corner | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Otaku Corner: Black Lagoon

Anime Lounge: My Hero Academia Season 2

Series: My Hero Academia

Episodes: Season 2: 14 – 25

Premise: A young boy, Izuku Midoriya, from Japan lives in a world where at least 80 percent of society is born with some type of extra special ability, called quirks. Quirks are used by a segment of the population to fight crime, and Midoriya idolizes the world-famous All Might, the No. 1-ranked hero. After a chance encounter with his idol, quirkless Midoriya begins to train with All Might to gain his passed-down quirk One for All. Midoriya’s journey to becoming the No. 1 hero is chronicled as he joins U.A. High School and learns the true meaning of becoming a hero. Season 2 sees the students of U.A. High School show off their talents to the various hero agencies in a tournament setting and in anticipation of starting internships for their future hero careers.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. It’s gotten amazing in the second season with the insight into the Class 1A students, more of what it means to be a hero and the introduction of the overall series villain in All For One.

Breakout character: Izuku Midoriya aka Deku. Our main character has finally come into focus, and he’s beginning to look like a leading man in this season. With his short-term gains in mastering All For One, Midoriya is becoming a much more nuanced character and leading the series with aplomb.

Where it’s going?: We’re gaining more insight into the League of Villains and All For One’s master plan and watching Class 1A grow. Season 3 promises to show massive growth for all involved, which is exciting.

Posted in anime lounge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anime Lounge: My Hero Academia Season 2

Strip Talk #34: Let us heartily pontificate on WB’s implosion

Whew, where do we begin in the whirlwind downfall of DC in the past several months? Just as we heaved a collective sigh of relief at the Justice League Snyder Cut being … better … than its theatrical release, out of nowhere came news that Warner Bros. disowned Zack Snyder, cut Batgirl and instituted massive layoffs.

Sure, we’re still getting The Flash’s solo movie – maybe – because Ezra Miller just lost their mind completely. But the movie is finished – we think, don’t quote us – so it’s got to go somewhere, and Warner Bros. seems keen to keep Miller around.

However, we don’t have a clear-cut Batman with Ben Affleck up in the air. Some weeks he’s still going to play Bruce Wayne and the Bat and then some weeks, well, we just don’t know. Robert Pattison is still hanging out after the success of The Batman, but he, too, is a maybe.

And then there’s Henry Cavill’s status as Superman. It’s much like Affleck’s status: Sometimes he’s still Superman and then he’s not and he’s out and they have to start the search for the newest Man of Steel. As of press time, he’s officially back as the character, but it was weird and distracting and wholly unnecessary. Cavill is excellent as Superman, and it’s not a good look to leave him dangling.

You know what else isn’t a good look? Firing a bunch of people during a time of upheaval, sickness and death. No one should be worried about their jobs during a global pandemic. But guess what DC and Warner Bros. Discovery employees are doing? Worrying about who’s getting the ax next. They’ve cut the Batgirl film also, which is a lot of jobs also gone up in smoke. Nope, not a good look, especially during the still-going pandemic.
And let us not ignore the blight Warner Bros. is affecting at Cartoon Network. Messing around with that mainstay of cartoon goodness and screwing creators out of their work is definitely a bad look. Folks remember when you are trash to your talent. The trash business practices stick with folks long after you’ve managed to clean up your balance sheet.

We try to equally praise DC as much as we adulate for Marvel around these parts, but it’s really hard to do so when DC takes out the knife it constantly removes from its own back and replaces it with an even bigger broadsword of self-sabotage smithing.

Lyndsey Beatty is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Posted in Strip Talk | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Strip Talk #34: Let us heartily pontificate on WB’s implosion

Property Review: Street Fighter (1994)

Damme it, this isn’t Street Fighter

“1994 was a good year for coke but a bad year for Street Fighter and Jean-Claude Van Damme.” This is the prevailing sentiment around Gaming Insurrection, considering GI’s editors were teenagers at the time and able to remember exactly how that situation played out.

Street Fighter was riding high at this point with the superb Super Turbo (the subject of this issue’s feature) having been released earlier in the year, a movie with big names attached coming down the pipeline, and its maker Capcom flush with cash. However, all of that would soon crash and burn, thanks to the movie.

Let’s start with the basics: What exactly is the Street Fighter movie about? If you know anything about the franchise’s storyline, you can at least recognize Guile, Chun-Li, and Bison. Guile and Cammy are hunting Bison, a dictator hell bent on world domination. Bison is into some of everything: Drugs, human trafficking, murder, extortion, and illegal arms sales. The intrepid officers are joined by news reporter Chun-Li, former Sumo wrestler E. Honda and boxer Balrog, who are out for revenge against Bison for his various misdeeds. The ragtag crew eventually meet and work with Ken and Ryu, who are con artists trying to scheme against Bison enforcer Sagat. The rest of the World Warriors – Dhalsim, Vega, Dee Jay and Zangief – work for Bison while Blanka is Guile’s friend who is transformed into the beastly roller because of Bison’s experimentation.

For the uninitiated, this seems like a lot and silly. Even for those of us who play the series faithfully, it is exactly that. None of this matches the series storyline, except for Bison, Guile, and Chun-Li. In the games it’s eventually revealed that: Cammy is a clone of Bison; Charlie is not Blanka; Dhalsim, Dee Jay and Zangief don’t work for Bison while Balrog does; and, Ken and Ryu are not con artists. Ryu also doesn’t have a last name. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of inconsistencies in this film, and we haven’t touched on the fact that Guile and Cammy don’t work together, and Guile and Ken don’t appear to know each other despite them being brothers-in-law in the games (editor’s note: Ken’s wife, Eliza, and Guile’s wife, Jane, are canonically sisters.). You could explain this away by saying this is an alternate timeline, but Street Fighter hasn’t ventured into that territory as some of its competitors have, such as Mortal Kombat. There is no bright spot with this unnecessarily muddied storyline because all it does is make the characters one-dimensional and slightly easy to understand.

The only bright spot in all this mess is the late Raúl Juliá. Juliá, the incomparable stage great, shows up and carries the film on his broad shoulders in his unfortunate last role before his death in 1994. Bison is appropriately over the top and goofy, but Juliá does it with such aplomb that you kind of root for the dictator despite his terrible acts. Juliá inspires that, though it doesn’t hurt that we were already fans of the terribly missed thespian through the Addams Family films. Van Damme, Ming Na Wen and Kylie Minogue are there, but are they really, though? Van Damme was cast as Guile and made the star of the show even though that role traditionally falls to Ryu. And per the usual that we’ve come to expect from Van Damme, though he has the moves and skill set to pull off the fighting aspects of the character, he doesn’t have the acting chops and he looks nothing like the character. This version of Guile is nothing like the game version and that’s perhaps one of the weakest aspects of the entire thing. He simply wasn’t believable even when you’ve already suspended disbelief this far. The consolation is that everyone else – including Wen and Minogue – resemble their characters in at least façade.

Combining the stunning lack of foresight in Van Damme’s casting and the ridiculous script that doesn’t resemble the games gets you this muddled mess of a send up. At least the ending scene – with the remaining actors recreating their characters’ win poses from Street Fighter II – ties it back to the franchise in a tangible way.
Believe us when we tell you that this was not, in fact, perfect.

Like the games: 1
Acting: 5
Story: 5
Total: 11/30 or 3.6

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Posted in Property review | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Property Review: Street Fighter (1994)

Marvel character highlight #32: Captain Marvel

Name: Carol Susan Jane Danvers/Car-Ell

Alias: Binary, Warbird, Ms. Marvel, Catherine Donovan

Affiliation: Avengers, A-Force, Alpha Flight Space Program, Guardians of the Galaxy, Infinity Watch, Mighty Avengers, NASA, New Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Starjammers, Ultimates, United States Air Force, X-Men

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, speed, durability, agility, stamina, and reflexes; energy manipulation, absorption, and projection; human/Kree physiology granting resistance to toxins and poisons; “seventh sense” granting flash precognition; accelerated healing factor; and, flight

Background: Carol Danvers began life as a child of a human father and Kree mother. After joining the U.S. Air Force and piloting experimental fighter jets and working in intelligence gathering with Wolverine, Danvers joined NASA as their security chief. There, she became entangled in the adventures of the Kree Mar-Vell, who also was known as Captain Marvel. After Captain Marvel saved her a number of times, she grew to trust him and admired him. After a run in with the Kree Yon-Rogg, an experimental Kree device exploded near Danvers. She was seriously injured and disappeared. She later resurfaced with superhuman powers, christening herself Ms. Marvel. She later worked closely with the X-Men and the Avengers, changing power sets multiple times because of outside influences such as the Brood.

Relationships: Mar-Vell (Captain Marvel), close friend and mentor; James Howlett (Wolverine), close friend; Marcus Immortus, “husband”/son; Chewie, pet

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Appearances in other media:
Television: X-Men the Animated Series, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Avengers Assemble, Spider-Man, Marvel Future Avengers, Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight!, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron, What If …?, Ms. Marvel

Film: Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher, Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Marvels

Video games: X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, Marvel Heroes, Marvel Avengers Alliance Tactics, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel: Future Fight, Zen Pinball 2, Marvel Strike Force, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Avengers Academy, Marvel Power United VR, Marvel Battle Lines, Marvel Super War, Marvel Duel, Marvel Future Revolution, Fortnite, Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Posted in Marvel character highlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Marvel character highlight #32: Captain Marvel

Top 5 on The Strip: Bad SF cartoon edition

Akuma and M. Bison didn’t meet until the end of SF2
This requires some knowledge of Street Fighter lore. The only time that Akuma and M. Bison met was at the end of the World Warrior tournament in the second game. It’s canon that Akuma performed the Raging Demon on Bison and killed him. They didn’t meet in a cave and interact there. Ever.

Balrog isn’t a PC whiz
Balrog is canon to care only about getting paid while in the service of M. Bison. There is no way that he was doing any sort of IT monitoring or PC services for Bison. Also, there is no way that he could perform any sort of typing with boxing gloves on. It’s physically impossible.

Cammy and M. Bison weren’t lovers
OK, this is sort of confirmed to be kind of true because Bison had her brainwashed to believe that she was his lover previously. However, the ick factor that accompanies this also requires some knowledge of SF canon. Official word from Capcom is that Cammy is a clone body created for Bison. He’d be making out with himself.

M. Bison and Guile aren’t friends
There is never a time in SF lore that M. Bison and Guile were ever friends or helped each other. Never. M. Bison personally murdered Guile’s best friend, Charlie Nash, in Street Fighter Alpha 3, which takes place before Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Guile’s vendetta is solely based on this. This frame never happened.

Zangief never worked as a Bison minion
The only adaptations where Zangief worked for Bison was in the live-action movie and in Street Fighter II V, neither of which are considered canon. He usually is friendly with the other World Warriors, save Guile, who is one of his motivations to defeat. Given that the cartoon is based on the live-action movie, that’d be why, incorrectly, Zangief is shown to be a henchman.

Posted in Top 5 list | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Top 5 on The Strip: Bad SF cartoon edition

Otaku Corner: Great Teacher Onizuka

Great Teacher Onizuka inspires kids, otaku alike

In this issue’s Otaku Corner, we’re going to time travel back to the late ’90s/early 2000s to focus on an anime classic that is situated in a high school setting. Instead of having a student wishing for their romantic sempai to notice, the main character is an interesting fellow: A former motorcycle gang leader who barely graduates from a lesser-known university who tries his luck in teaching high schoolers. Who is this man? He’s Eikichi Onizuka also known as “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka.”

Based on the manga of the same name by Tohru Fujisawa, the anime takes viewers along Onizuka’s journey from former gang biker to game-changing teacher. Onizuka applies at Holy Forest Academy expecting that he would be teaching high school female students who would fall in love with him. Instead, he’s assigned to Class O, consisting of troublemakers and blackmailers. After saving a Class O student from committing suicide twice, Onizuka uses his skills of tough love to reach out to the students. After noticing Onizuka’s brave actions, the school’s Chairwoman offers Onizuka the teaching position, provided he would have to live in a school storage room.

As the anime continues, Onizuka befriends the class-o students who tried to get him kicked out and joins him in various typical anime situations ranging from helping a female student get her big break in acting, to keeping a promise to pay for a school field trip to Okinawa. Onizuka pulls through with his promises while driving the school principal Hiroshi Uchiyamada crazy with either Onizuka’s crazy luck or his precious Cresta sedan being totaled by Onizuka nearly every episode. In the anime’s last episode, Onizuka uncovers a sinister plot by a corrupt teachers union to pin a former Holy Forest student’s suicide on a Class O student. Onizuka takes matters in his own hands by taking the blame, exposing the teachers union’s actions and flees to America where he continues teaching at a California high school while showing his new students how he does things.

Let me state this: Onizuka is a teacher I wish I had in high school. Knowing when to dish out discipline and support to at-risk kids is an artform. GTO accomplish this goal as an anime high school series by showing that teachers can be among those who are major influences in kids’ lives. Noriyuki Abe, known for his work on “Bleach,” keeps true to Fujisawa-san’s original work – showing how Onizuka adds tough love and teaches life lessons to students while mixing comedic elements. I felt invested with each episode, which provided life lessons and fun along the way.

Credit goes to Tokyopop and its CEO Stuart Levy for maintaining GTO’s originality and casting impressive English voice actors such as Steve Blum to play Onizuka, Wendee Lee as school director Sakurai, and Onizuka’s love interest, Azusa Fuyutsuki. Levy showed excellent wisdom with additional top names such as Tony Oliver, Richard Epcar, Michelle Ruff, and the late Robert Papenbrook to play voices of various characters. Papenbrook gets special recognition for his role as Principal Uchiyamada whose beloved Cresta sedan is always either totaled or stolen during encounters with Onizuka’s exploits. The music for GTO is top-notch with the first session opening theme performed by L’ Arc-en-Ciel and the second opening theme done by Porno Graffiti. After seeing the complete series of GTO, I’m now in the hunt to acquire the manga volumes, if I can still find them.

“Great Teacher Onizuka” is a definitely among anime’s greatest series. For GTO to convince a non-high school anime viewer like me to take another look at this genre, I was impressed. I have a piece of advice for inspiring teachers-to-be: Study hard and follow the way of Eikichi Onizuka. And, for those current and former teachers who give their best to their students: Thank you for all you do. We at GI salute you!

Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Posted in Otaku Corner | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Otaku Corner: Great Teacher Onizuka

Anime Lounge #24: Street Fighter II V

Series: Street Fighter II V

Episodes: 1-29

Premise: Ryu and Ken are teenage martial artists looking for strong challenges in the world of Street Fighter. Along the way, they meet up with other characters from the fighting game series such as Fei Long, Guile, Chun-Li, Vega and Zangief and work together with their allies to take down the world-dominating M. Bison.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. It’s a great adaptation of the fighting game series with a few changes. If you know anything about the series, this will help fill in some blanks for the story if you’re missing some connections. Also, it’s a great starter anime.

Breakout character: Guile. The long-standing street fighter makes his grand entrance in Episode 2, where he completely demolishes Ken and Ryu in separate fights. Guile is shown to be one of the strongest fighters in the series as he should be.

Where it’s going?: There isn’t a second season since this covered all of the Street Fighter II games up to Super Turbo.

Posted in anime lounge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anime Lounge #24: Street Fighter II V

Top 5 on The Strip: Anime pop off edition

1. Avatar Aang vs. Fire Lord Ozai
Listen, we’d been anticipating the final fight between the Avatar and the Fire Lord just because it was built up and hyped for the entire run of the show. It didn’t disappoint, either. Aang finally mastering the Avatar state and absolutely obliterating Ozai’s bending abilities was epic. Specifically, seeing the Avatar state in a state of mastery for the first time is what did it for us.


2. Goku going super Saiyan for the first time
Goku reaching super Saiyan for the first time against Freiza was boss for so many reasons, chiefly because it was the end of a long-drawn out arc. But this was also ham because we’d been teased with it so many times in the first arc of Dragon Ball Z that you knew it was going to be beyond great when it finally did happen. Seeing Goku’s hair turn golden with rage for the first time and then demolishing Freiza was simply awesome.


3. Ichigo vs. Ulqiorra
Even though Bleach peaked with the Soul Society arc, seeing Ichigo achieve his Hollowfied form against Ulqiorra was one of the highlights of the entire Hueco Mundo arc. This signified that Ichigo wasn’t even in his final form, and he was suddenly more powerful than most of the boss characters that Aizen could throw his way. And the crazy part was, he STILL wasn’t done yet.


4. Midoriya reaches faux 100% One for All
My Hero Academia is great at pacing Midoriya’s steady increase in power and him reaching the faux 100 percent of One for All is a crucial development. Not only did he reach the max limit of his power with the quirk, but also he stayed in the state without adverse effects. That was only because of Eri’s quirk rewinding the damage, but it was fascinating to see what One for All could be capable of in the future.


5. Naruto turns into Nine Tails versus Pain
Naruto enthusiasts will point to this fight as the beginning of Naruto’s ridiculousness and a glimpse into his true potential as a Jinchuriki within the series. Pain was no joke and the fact that Naruto embraced the Nine-Tailed Fox’s ideology if only briefly meant that he was ready at all costs. He manifested all nine tails but was stopped by his late father. Imagine if had he manifested all nine and been allowed to keep manifesting them.

Posted in Top 5 list | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Top 5 on The Strip: Anime pop off edition

Anime Lounge #23: Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 1

Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Episodes: 1 to 20

Premise: The Avatar, a being who can channel the four elements – air, water, earth and fire – is missing, and the Fire Nation is dominating the world in their absence. Teenagers Katara and Sokka stumble upon the mythological teenage boy Aang, who had been thought lost 100 years earlier, and free him. He joins with the brother-and-sister duo to master the four elements and save their world from the Fire Nation’s tyrannical leader, Fire Lord Ozai. Along the way, they must dodge the Fire Nation’s crown prince Zuko, who struggles to regain his honor under pressure from his father.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. Avatar is stunning in its world building and investment in character depth. You’ll get hooked quickly on the mythology of the Avatar and how Aang will save the world.

Breakout character: Zuko. Though he struggles in a fruitless quest dealing with honor that he didn’t lose, you come to realize that the fire-bending master is not the true villain here.

Where it’s going?: Aang will learn to master all four elements and will struggle to save the world while dealing with the grief of losing his people. It’s a fascinating journey to see just how much all the characters will grow in bending and otherwise.

Posted in anime lounge | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Anime Lounge #23: Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 1