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Black Lagoon 009 by Rei Hiroe (A J!-Ent Manga Review)

August 9, 2010 by  

“Black Lagoon is a high intensity, gritty action series full that’ll keep you reading nonstop. Chicks, guns, and most importantly… action! An awesome read!”

© Black Lagoon image courtesy of Rei Hiroe, Shogakukan Inc., VIZ Media

MANGA TITLE: BLACK LAGOON 009

STORY AND ART BY: Rei Hiroe

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: By Shogakukan on October 19, 2009 (ISBN 978-4-09-157189-2)

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media

RATED: M for Mature (Parental Advisory – Explicit Content)

PAGES: 272 PAGES

Lock n’ load with the baddest group of mercenaries ever to hit the high seas of Southeast Asia! Aboard their World War II torpedo boat, the Black Lagoon, Dutch the Boss, Benny the Mechanic, Revy Two Hand, and Rock, the salaryman from Japan, deliver anything, anywhere. In the dangerous underworld of the Russian Mafia, Chinese triads, Colombian drug cartels, crazed assassins, and ruthless mercenaries, it’s hard to know who to trust. But if you’ve got a delivery to make, and you don’t mind a little property damage along the way, you can count on the crew of the Black Lagoon!

Roanapur explodes as Roberta’s vendetta against a top secret U.S. Special Forces team brings out the city’s heaviest hitters. Balalaika and the ex-Soviet military troops of Hotel Moscow face off with Major Caxton’s Grey Fox unit as it tries to fight its way out of Roanapur.

Meanwhile, Rock, Revy and Garcia Lovelace continue their pursuit of Roberta, hoping to catch up to her before the Killer Maid’s own demons run her down. But if they do find her, Roberta’s thirst for revenge may consume more than just those who wronged her…

“Black Lagoon 009″ puts you into the action as soon as you turn the first page. Black Lagoon is a high intensity, high energy, gritty action manga featuring a group of 4 mercenaries: Dutch the Boss, Benny the Mechanic, Revy Two Hand, and Rokurou “Rock” Okajima. They travel the waters of Southeast Asia in their World War II style torpedo boat named the Black Lagoon and make dangerous deliveries that most people wouldn’t even think about attempting. On their journeys, they face various syndicates of the Underworld including the Chinese triads, drug cartels, and numerous assassins. But if you need something dangerous delivered (weapons, top secret papers, people…), the crew of the Black Lagoon is who to call.

This particular volume is the continuation of the “El Baile de la Muerte” saga of the series. Rock, Garcia, Revy and her party are still after Roberta who has gone off the deep end. Meanwhile, Balalaika and her troops face off with Major Caxton and his unit while they’re trying to get out of the war zone and trying to get away from the crazed Roberta. Garcia wants to save Roberta from her insanity at any cost but finds himself with the people responsible for killing his father. Will he take the path of revenge and be the next to join in on the dance of death? Will Garcia be able to save Roberta in time before she completely loses herself and harms even more people? Find out in “Black Lagoon 009″.

This particular volume concentrates on the following characters:

Rokurou “Rock” Okajima: Rock is a former Japanese salaryman, whose real name is Rokurou Okajima. Abandoned by his company after the crew of the Black Lagoon abducted him, Rock later joined his captors. He is quite intelligent and usually handles the diplomacy, negotiations, interpretations, and account management for the crew in Black Lagoon. He is also quite lucky it seems as he has made it through various wraths and outbursts of many of the female characters.

Revy Two Hand: The Black Lagoon’s top gunslinger, nicknamed “Two Hand.” Her foul mouth and extremely short fuse usually get her in lots of trouble. Revy definitely acts before thinking, especially if she is mad(which is all of the time). She is a very skilled fighter and gunslinger with a very terrible temper. She doesn’t rely too much on emotions and doesn’t really care for morals. She will kill someone without really thinking about it twice.

Dutch the Boss: Dutch is the skipper of the Black Lagoon and leader of the crew. Dutch stays cool no matter how bad things get. His background includes military service, including a tour in Vietnam. However, in this volume we find out that his past may not be what it seems.

Benny the Mechanic: Benny is the man in charge of the high-tech electronics on board the Black Lagoon. Benny escaped from the U.S. and is on the run from both the FBI and the mafia.

Balalaika: Balalaika is the boss of the Thai branch of “Hotel Moscow”, a noted Russian criminal gang. Balalaika once was a captain in the Red Army of the Former Soviet Union.

Garcia: Gacia is the next family head of the Lovelace family, one of the 13 families of South America and he is the son of Diego Lovelace. Garcia was brought up in a rich family, however he is rather grounded and cares very much for those around him. He is very fond of Roberta and will do whatever it takes to get her back.

Roberta: Roberta is the Lovelace family maid. Ex-FARC terrorist and once feared as “The Bloodhound of Florencia.” Roberta is a very skilled killer while also being the Lovelace family maid. Due to the death of Diego Lovelace and losing everything, she went berserk and is now a creature that is solely out for revenge. She is skilled to begin with, but now that she is in this berserk crazed state, she is almost superhuman strong.

Fabiola: Fabiola is another Lovelace family maid. She is Roberta’s subordinate. Just like Roberta, Fabiola is a trained fighter as well and cares for Garcia quite a bit. She helps Garcia in trying to get Roberta back.

Shane Caxton: Shane Caxton is the leader of the U.S. Unconventional Warfare Special Forces Unit Grey Fox. He is the one responsible for Garcia’s father’s death… however he is someone that actually believes very much in doing good. He is conflicted at times with his job as a soldier.

“Black Lagoon 009″ features 12 chapters. Here is a spoiler-free breakdown of each chapter:

Chapter 65: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXII: Revy and her party continue their chase of Roberta…

Chapter 66: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXIII:Garcia wakes up realizing he’s in the hands of those who killed his father.

Chapter 67: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXIV:Garcia tries to decide if he should take revenge or not when he’s suddenly reunited with Roberta.

Chapter 68: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXV: Revy’s chase after Roberta is interrupted by the Americans and Russians.

Chapter 69: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXVI: Caxton and his men are finally able to escape the war zone… and Roberta gets aide from a mysterious source.

Chapter 70: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXVII: Shane and Ray revisit their past in Vietnam.

Chapter 71: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXVIII: Garcia and Fabiola decide that they will save Roberta, no matter what it takes.

Chapter 72: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXIX: Fabiola and Revy discuss their differences and the Americans come aboard the Black Lagoon.

Chapter 73: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXX: Garcia sets up a plan to save Roberta with Caxton and his men.

Chapter 74: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXXI: Caxton’s men head into the jungle to carry out their operation, however they are ambushed by Roberta.

Chapter 75: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXXII: Roberta tracks down Caxton’s men in the jungle.

Chapter 76: El Baile de la Muerte – Pt. XXXIII: The final showdown with Roberta begins… will Garcia be able to save her?

Black Lagoon is an action packed intense series that provides endless action, violence and maids… with guns. Right off the bat, this series is definitely not for little kids. That is the first thing that comes to mind. There’s a lot of cursing and quite a bit of violence… that and in general, I don’t know how much little kids would enjoy this series. The subject matter is rather serious and dark (but there is still some humor in the series… just dark humor). I remember as a kid, I didn’t enjoy “Lupin the 3rd” (which isn’t that serious and was actually quite funny and now that I’m old enough to understand it, I love it.) because I didn’t really get what was going on. This is definitely a series that is aimed for an audience that is 17 and up. In a way, this series reminds me of a much more dark and violent “Cowboy Bebop”.

People who will probably not like this series: kids, people looking for romantic series, and people who don’t like violence or excessive cursing. I say all of this but I have quite a few positive things to say about this series so I’m getting the few negatives out of the way. On the other hand, this series will definitely appeal to a male audience. I mean… bad-ass chicks with guns and tons of action? I think we have a winner here. Not to mention… MAIDS with guns (as silly as this sounds, it seriously works out so that it’s not so ridiculous in the series). Yep. Guys are set. As for girls… I think they may like this series too, but probably only a select audience. I personally love it. I love series that have beautiful art, is full of action, and has powerful female characters. This series and especially this volume, is chalk full of them. Actually, the majority of the assassins in this series seem to be female.

The art in this manga is absolutely gorgeous. There are so many action scenes and Rei Hiroe draws them wonderfully. Some of the action scenes can get a little chaotic to the point that I don’t know what just happened, but it’s not so bad that it’s consistently distracting. The backgrounds are great and the character designs are awesome. There is a tiny bit of fan service, but nothing major. I believe that the character designs would appeal to both male and female audiences. I don’t think that the art is so stylized that it looks anything like a shojo manga, however the art isn’t careless either.

I emphasize that there’s a lot of action in this series and gun-wielding maids, but this series is not without a plot. One of the strongest points in this series I believe is some of the strong personalities of the characters. Despite her lack of emotions and morals, Revy is probably one of my favorite characters in the series. Also, the fact that Garcia, despite being a rather young boy was so determined to save Roberta no matter what the cost, was touching. Also, the evolution of Garcia’s feelings of hatred toward Caxton change into a rational feeling of not wanting to participate in the “Dance of Death” I thought was rather impressive.

Overall, I highly recommend this series to people who love action. Just be warned that the language is crude throughout and the subject matter may disturb some. Otherwise, it’s an amazing series!




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