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Monday, September 29, 2008

Black Lagoon Manga vol 1 Impression


Kidnapped by modern day pirates, Rokuro Okajima finds himself in a much different world than the day-to-day business grind he is used to. While being held by the crew of the Black Lagoon Rokuro quickly finds out that company loyalty is vastly overrated as his destruction along with the data he carries is much more important than one employees life. Faced with the new choice the newly dubbed Rock joins the crew of the Black Lagoon in their gun for hire contracts. Dutch is the brawn and the man with the contacts, Benny the brainy one and Revy Two Hand the gun-toting bad ass who is one lady that always seems to be in a pissed off mood. How’s Rock fit in, not that well but when faced with dying for his company or living on his own terms he shows to be a quick learner.

Facing off with mercenaries hired by his former company is just the beginning of this tale as the crew of the Black Lagoon takes on jobs from the Russian Mafia (one of their main clients and allies) including kidnapping a young boy with quite a bodyguard. The body count goes through the roof and the Black Lagoon through an attack chopper in this first volume of Black Lagoon from Viz.

With story and art by Rei Hiroe, Black Lagoon volume 1 delivers the same action and most of the storyline seen in the anime (from ADV, now FUNimation). This is a modern day pirate meets merc adventure that has been compared to Cowboy Bebop, which just is not fair. Due to the modern day setting Cowboy is not a great comparison, but the action does live up to that series. The crew of the Black Lagoon is an interesting mish-match of brain, brawn, sexiness, goofiness and everything in-between and around. The action is fast paced, worthy of any Hollywood script from the flying boats, girl-on-girl fights (could be featured on UFC) to the Russian mafia, Black Lagoon packs it in. The story is fun and leaves you wondering about each character past, pieces of which get revealed as you go, but not too fast to make you lose interest. Each character offers up something different and can be stereotyped, but these characters are done well. Revy of course is the headliner with her Daisy Duke jeans, ultra violent streak and looks to kill (much better looking in the manga than anime).

Speaking of looks, the art is solid with well crafted vehicles that are realistic, action that is believable and all the fun characters you’d expect from a pirate, merc, mafia manga. Hiroe has done well as the characters shine so much better on the printed page than on screen, there just seems to be more emotion in these characters. At its core the manga is what the anime is, a fast paced thrill ride with interesting characters with tons of action and no fluffy stuff. It’s this simple, like the anime, get the manga. Like action, get the manga. Like tons of shooting, get the manga. Looking for the next Cowboy Bebop, rewatch Cowboy Bebop. Black Lagoon is not Cowboy Bebop, it’s an excellent series whose manga blows away Cowboy Bebop’s manga, and stands as its own beast that you need to domesticate.

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