Black Lagoon

Genre: Adventure, girls with guns
Length: 24 episodes
Rating: 15 for violence, death and slaughter
Score: Good

Okajima Rokuro is a Japanese salaryman… in a town full of Japanese salarymen. His normal day consists of social drinking with clients and being kicked around by his bosses. He finally gets a breakthough when he’s sent by his company to the tropical seas off Eastern China to deliver a disc. Unfortunately, his boat is hijacked by a band of mercenaries hired by the Russian Mafia to steal it. However, the disc turns out to be more trouble than the captors bargained on which rather complicates things for both Rock (as he’s dubbed by his captors), and the mercenaries known as Black Lagoon.

At first, this looks like classic Stockholm Syndrome stuff, and to a certain extent it is. But it’s a lot more than that. By virtue of being written off by his company, Rock finds himself in a strange town with strange people – everything in his life he’s known to be true up until this point no longer applies. As he grows more accustomed to his new surroundings, he finds new purpose in his life and breaks apart the stoicism within Black Lagoon. Essentially, his presence opens up all those around him, and they all become more interesting characters as a result. Through his interaction with the other members of the team, we learn about their past, their dreams, and what made them what they are today.

Rock never fully immerses himself in the criminal way of life – throughout the series he’s walking a fine line between the civilised world on one side, and descent into complete criminality on the other. The series portrays his constant fighting between these two extremes as he struggles to stay on the tightrope beautifully.

Black Lagoon is actually 2 series, each with 12 episodes. There isn’t really a “season 1” and “season 2” in terms of the plot, so you’re best off watching them as one longer series.

Anyone who enjoyed other adventure/guns series like Noir, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, etc. will almost certainly enjoy this. Like Noir and Trigun, it works on many levels: there’s the surface action series (which is good fun, well choreographed, etc.) and the deeper, more emotional series (which is serious and thought-provoking). It really works.