Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Black Lagoon 001

Story and Art by Rei Hiroe
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: Nice explosions, bad panel to panel storytelling

Rokuro is having a bad day. Asked by his company to take a disk to Southeast Asia by a transport ship (what, suddenly there were no flights between Japan and Thailand? I thought there were Japanese businessman specials to there?) he ends up kidnapped mostly by accident when mercenary pirates in an World War 2 era PT Boat take his disk. Revy, a short tempered woman with a fondness for handguns and explosives decides to take him along, but it turns out that the information on the disk is more important to the company than Rokuro's survival, leaving him to join the mercenaries on the PT Boat including the crazy one Revy, and he now calls himself Rock. But you can take the salaryman out of the corporation, but you can't take the suit and tie away from the salaryman as Rock tries to find his place in the criminal and mercenary infested world of Southeast Asia.

First off, the manga is in a slightly larger format which is nice to show off the art. And the art is nice, but there are more than a few places where it is impossible to follow the action because the panel to panel transitions are just a mess and so are hard to follow. If I hadn't seen the anime episode based on a manga chapter, where Revy goes jumping amongst the pursuing boats, I would have had very little idea what was actually happening. The series is like an early 90s style action/shoot-em up, with Russian mafia and a love of random excessive and inappropriately used firepower (torpedoes that take out a helicopter!) that make my heart glad merely reading it. If only the mechanics of the storytelling were done better! Hopefully that will continue to improve, because I want to see if they can use a depth charge to take out a jet fighter in the next volume....

Black Lagoon 001 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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