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Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 11, 2013 by  



“Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail” will more than likely entertain fans of the TV series.  It’s darker, much more violent and not as humorous due to the darker nature of the storyline centering around Roberta, the psychopath killer maid.  But if you enjoyed the TV series, it’s an OVA series definitely worth watching! Recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail

ORIGINAL OVA RELEASE: 2010-2011

DURATION: 5 Episodes (125 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

RATED: M for Mature

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: August 6, 2013

Originally Created by Rei Hiroe

Directed by Sunao Katabuchi

Series Composition by Sunao Katabuchi

Music by Jun Nishimura

Character Design by Masanori Shino

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Mechanical Design by Masahiro Kimura

Anime Production by Madhouse Studios

Featuring the voices of:

Daisuke Namikawa/Brad Swaile as Rock

Megumi Toyoguchi/Maryke Henrikse as Revy

Hiroaki Hirata/Brian Drummond as Benny

Mami Koyama/Patricia Drake as Balalaika

Tsutomu Isobe/Dean Redman as Dutch

Kazue Ikura/Cathy Weseluck as Garcia

Michie Tomizawa/Tabitha St. German as Roberta

Satsuki Yukino/Shannon Chan-Kent as Fabiola

Shinji Ogawa/Ron Halder as Shane Caxton

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Trevor Devall as Chang

Deadly assassin-turned-maid Roberta returns to the criminal’s paradise of Roanapur, dead set on revenge – no matter the cost. In a backdrop of violent chaos, the smugglers of the Lagoon Company team up with Roberta’s employer to save her… or at least to stop her bloody rampage.

The members of the Lagoon Trading Company are back in a five-episode OVA series.

This time, all hell has broken loose when US agents set off an explosion at an event for the emerging left-wing party in South America.  Killed in the explosion is Diego Lovelace, the head of the Lovelace family, one of the 13 prominent South American families.

With the young Garcia Lovelace in mourning and in pain, former FARC terrorist and psychopath and current-Lovelace maid, Roberta (who had shed her killing ways to devote her time to her master and Garcia) has now lost it and now this powerful killer is out for revenge.

So, Garcia along with his bodyguard, another killer maid named Fabiola Iglesias, head to Roanapur and gives them a job offer to the Lagoon Trading Company to please stop Roberta before she causes an international mess. But with Dutch not interested in getting involved with conflicts with the U.S.A., the two are more interested in asking for the help of Rock.

But will Rock be able to locate Roberta before she causes massive casualties and create a major international conflict?

Find out in “Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail”!

What is “Black Lagoon”?

In 2002, Rei Hiroe (“Gunparade March”, “Phantom Bullet”, “Blade Guns”) would create his latest manga “Black Lagoon”. Featured on Shogakukan’s “Monthly Sunday Gene-X” and still an ongoing series today, the manga series would receive an anime adaptation by Studio Madhouse in 2006. The first “Black Lagoon” series featured 12 episodes and several months later, the second season titled “The Second Barrage” would air in Japan. And in 2010, the OVA series titled “Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail” was released in Japan via OVA.

Both seasons were released on DVD in the U.S. back in 2008 and 2009 from Geneon Entertainment and FUNimation Entertainment and aired on television via Starz Edge. And now the series will be released on Blu-ray as a complete set (not including the OVA’s) in December 2012 courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

“Black Lagoon” is a series that has a strong following in the U.S. According to Rei Hiroe, the series was inspired by James Ellroy, John Woo, Quentin Tarentino and Stephen King and also the piracy cases that took place in the East China Sea back in the ’90s. A big Tarentino fan, “Black Lagoon” pays homage to films by Quentin Tarentino but also films from the Coen Brothers.

The series revolves around a group known as the Lagoon Trading Company working within the criminal underworld. The group is led by Dutch, an African American who captains the “Black Lagoon” boat and wonderful at firearms. Joining him is a Chinese woman named Revy who is not very social, a killer that is exceptionally killed with using firearms and Benny, a Jewish American who is the tech expert on the “Black Lagoon”.

The group are pirates or mercenaries for hire that operate around the Thailand area and have a relationship with the Russian crime syndicate known as Hotel Moscow. They work with their leader Balalaika, a former captain of the Soviet Army who is wonderful with artillery especially the sniper. And is known for her burns all over her body that she suffered in Afghanistan. Joining Balalaika is her second-in-command, Boris.

One day, while on a mission, the group take a Japanese salaryman named Rokuro Okajima a.k.a. “Rock” as hostage. But while being taken hostage, he finds out that his boss at Asahi Industries plans to abandon him and have him declared as dead in order to cover up a smuggling operation. With nowhere to go, he offers to work with the Lagoon Trading Company as he will be responsible for account management, negotiation, interpretation and running errands. He also is a skilled in geology and linguistics. But it’s his personality that tends to win over people that the group end up dealing wiht.

While on various hired missions, they must watch their step while operating in the underground with the Russians, the Chinese Hong Kong Triad, the Columbian Cartel and other organizations.

But as much as the Lagoon Company, especially Revy, want to take part in the action, kill some people and enjoy the action, because of Rock’s good nature, he is able to irk his teammates to the point that he makes them see things differently. But for a good man that has joined a group of criminals, will this kindhearted individual continue to be the same person, the more corruption he sees, or will he toughen up and settle into the ways of the criminal underground?

“Black Lagoon” has the group dealing in missions involving the Neo-Nazi’s, the Church of Violence, the Columbian Cartel and the Roanapur Triad. Meanwhile in “Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage”, the group finds themselves coming into contact with murderous vampire twins known as Hansel and Gretel and what happens when the Lagoon Company find themselves in the middle of a war between Hotel Moscow and the Washimine Group?

And now, in “Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail”, Rock is hired to locate Roberta, who has switched back to her psychopath murdering ways after her employer is killed by U.S. agents.  In danger of starting an international conflict, Garcia Lovelace, son of Diego Lovelace (who was killed) and his bodyguard Fabiola Iglesias come to the Lagoon Company, specifically Rock, to help them locate Roberta before she causes major trouble and gets herself killed.

VIDEO:

“Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail ” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ration). It’s important to note that this OVA series is newer than the TV series, features higher production value and looks much better on Blu-ray compared to its TV series counterpart.  A lot of detail on character designs, art backgrounds and much better animation.

On Blu-ray, I will say that the series looks much better with bolder colors, better line detail and I wasn’t detecting any major banding or artifact issues while watching this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO:

“Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. And as one can expect from its lossless 5.1 soundtrack, there is better dynamic range due to the plenty of action in each episode, the 5.1 soundtrack utilizes the surround channels effectively, especially with LFE. Explosions, gunshots, this is an active anime series that sounds great on Blu-ray. But I also want to add that the English dub track was very well done! For a series that features a diverse group, the writers for the English dialogue knew they could make the storyline feel like a seedy underground environment and that is too have your characters become the bad asses with profanity and all.

Where the Japanese soundtrack is very good, “Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail” has an edgier, more mature English soundtrack that works effectively because of its profanity and nature of the main characters. Revy is featured as a loudmouth, a person who can easily cuss up a storm and the writers took advantage of that. Especially making the characters feel real thanks to casting. The English dub track has is made better by its more mature dialogue.

So, if you are sensitive to a lot of profanity, just know that this OVA series features plenty of it!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail ” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Closing Song – “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

EXTRAS:

“Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail ” comes with the entire OVA series on both Blu-ray and DVD.

Much more death! Much more carnage! Much more violence! And much more profanity?

“Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail” is the continuing adventures of the Lagoon Trading Company in a five episode OVA series and while dealing with the underground element once again, what makes this OVA series so exciting is the fact that it centers around the psychopath Roberta.

For those who watched the TV series, this woman who seems so restrained in her maid outfit while with the Lovelace family has a twisted and dark side.  Not only is she a murderer (of many people of different ages including children) but is even deadlier and crazier than Revy.  And having restrained the violence, she has now been pushed over to the edge when U.S. agents kill her master.

And now, the deadly psychopath has been unleashed!

Featuring a dark, grittier, violent storyline, much moreso than the TV series, all familiar characters from the TV series (who are still alive) show up in this series and for the most part, all hell breaks loose in this OVA series.

While people can watch this OVA series without watching the TV series, I do recommend watching the TV series to help understand the characters.

You have characters who have come from terrible childhoods or backgrounds and had to compensate by becoming a criminal.  Revy is a Chinese American who has lived in poverty and will do all it takes to never ever be poor, but at the same time, not many have tried to calm her anger.  There is so much pain, so much hatred in her character but no one was brave enough to stand up to her, that is until we meet Rock.

What is interesting about Rock is that he’s not great with fighting, nor is he great with artillery.  He’s a smart man who knows his geography, linguistics and sees himself as a dead man with no strong ties to his past, he moves on as a new man with the Lagoon Company.

But he is also a man who has morals, a man who finds it difficult to think why criminals do the things they do.  Why men, women, children get killed.  But as his fellow associates don’t question their jobs, Rock is there to challenge, to question them.  And it becomes very difficult for a person like Revy, who has lived her life hating or fighting for what she hates.  She has taken on the worst of the worst with her gun but yet this one man, without a gun, fights back with his words.  Not afraid to upset her, not afraid to get in her face and tell her how he feels, knowing that he will get hurt by her.  He doesn’t care, as long as he gets his word out and hopes he can make a difference. But does he make a difference?

This time, he, not the Lagoon Trading Company is asked to locate Roberta and stop her.  But with Roberta going all killer psychopath, will he be able to help Garcia Lovelace?

And “Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail” not only offers a deep and clever story, it also offers a lot of action and violence.  What would you expect from an anime series that was inspired by Quentin Tarentino films?  Suffice to say, it’s the action that gets viewers all pumped.   Along with “Hellsing”, “Black Lagoon” is an anime series that shows crazy violence, gun wars, explosions, people being impaled.  But it’s what makes “Black Lagoon”so popular is that it delivers in action and storyline and also for its time, Studio Madhouse really created a series that looked amazing.

As for the Blu-ray release, the animation is much better. Made and released in 2010-2011 and most OVA’s are not rushed like TV series, Studio Madhouse really put a lot of detail into the clothing and the art backgrounds.  The voice acting is also fantastic, moreso in the English dub because of the grittier and much more mature language.  There isn’t so much in special features but a closing theme song and trailers.

It’s also important to emphasize that this is not an anime series for children to watch!  The OVA series features people getting shot to death, a lot of blood, a lot of violence, plus a lot more sex and nudity is featured in the OVA series.

Overall, “Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail” will more than likely entertain fans of the TV series.  It’s darker, much more violent and not as humorous due to the darker nature of the storyline centering around Roberta, the psychopath killer maid.  But if you enjoyed the TV series, it’s an OVA series definitely worth watching!

Recommended.






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