Review of Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail

Here’s a general review of Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail right after I confessed that writing general reviews was my weakest skill!  But, my efforts to write an article about the references to St. Mary in Roberta’s Blood Trail felt rather contrived.  And so, writing a review piece on this splendid OVA seems best.

Roberta and Garcia Lovelace

By the end of the OVA, I was ready to give it five stars, but the excessive gore convinced me to dock it half a star.  Otherwise, the action was thrilling, even if somewhat unrealistic; but, without this suspension of reality, we would never see things like Roberta shooting a .50 caliber from the hip and taking out a handful of FARC spraying fully automatic fire at her from 20 yards.  The plot of trying to save Roberta from her self-destructive course, on which she propelled herself with hatred, anti-depressants, and alcohol, could move a heart of stone.  Might I add that the magnanimity of the American soldiers Roberta is trying to kill plays a key role in the good guys’ fight to save her?  The NSA gets a bad rap (as it probably deserves), but one enjoys seeing a positive portrayal of American soldiers in anime.

Army Paladin

 

Impressive Collection

Anyway, the events of the OVA are brought about through the NSA assassinating the head of the Lovelace family.  This ignites Roberta’s, aka Terminator Maid’s, decision to take up the Lovelace family’s flintlock heirloom in order to seek vengeance.  (Using a customized flintlock against modern weapons exuded more than a little panache.)  Her quest leads her back to Roanapur in order to take the last of the ringleaders’ heads.  The young Garcia Lovelace travels there with his maid Fabiola in the hope of obtaining Rock’s help in convincing Roberta to return home.  Rock’s past disappointments in trying to help the people who’ve attached themselves to him renders him a little diffident before he at last agrees to help them.  Along with the action, the manipulation and scheming Rock employs to offer the best chances for Roberta to bring Roberta back home keep the viewers on the edges of their seats.  But, will Black Lagoon‘s predilection for tragedy allow for the good luck Rock hopes for come to pass?

Fabiola has a FMA mood about her, perhaps because her personality and height are the equivalents of Edward Elric's.

Fabiola has a FMA mood about her, perhaps because her personality and height are the equivalents of Edward Elric’s.

Relaxing at a Restaurant

While I would argue that the original Black Lagoon is essentially religious with its focus on light vs. darkness, the fallen nature of mankind, and the ardent desire of many characters for salvation, Roberta’s Blood Trail focuses on these themes much more minutely.  The series uses the Problem of Evil to build a case for atheism and people’s inner hunger for goodness, purity, or justice to argue for the existence of Providence.  It is also interesting that three of the characters try to find God inside people: Revy in Rock and Roberta and Fabiola in Garcia.  Roberta is simultaneously the most damaged and most religious character in the show, as we see her engaging in lengthy prayer and invoking St. Mary before initiating battle.  So, is the luck which Rock hopes for the Providence Roberta places her trust in?

The State of Roberta's Soul

The State of Roberta’s Soul

A Familiar Scene

Can’t have a new Black Lagoon without a gun fight at the Yellow Flag. Revy knows the best spot to be.

The animation of the Blu-ray disc is spectacular!  I watched the sub, and the voice actors deliver a marvelous performance, especially Megumi Toyoguchi as Revy.  I love the inclusion of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” as an ending song, because that song describes the main hope of the series.  But, the main pleasure of watching the OVA is seeing the Black Lagoon team back together.  Definitely something one must see!

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15 comments on “Review of Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail

  1. Αγγελος says:

    Could Rei Hiroe explain us what exactly happened to Rock’s parents? Are they alive,or something horrible has happened to them?Their absence gives me the odd feeling that Kageyama might have orderd their murder,and that should look as “accident” just for a cover-up.Whatever happened we have to know,if the latter did will Rock find the truth?Will Revy stay on his side cementing and admitting her love for him?I want nice developments between Revy and Rock.Revy and Rock!I love them.
    Questions we ought to think,and Hiroe has to answer for:Were the Okajima’s told their son “was dead”?If so what was their reaction?Did they demand explanations about Rock’s “death”,and compensations as well?About how much far would the unscrupulous (and maybe trickster!)Kageyama go just to ensure the dirty deals and cover ups of Asahi industries?!Even ordering a murder that would seem as “accident”?!
    Hm,will the Iranians enter Roanapur?I don’t think Balalaika would be pleased to encounter Qassem Suleimani.He’s so Tough,so tricky!

    • I always got the impression that Rock was kind of a lone wolf. After all, his parents do not even enter into his consideration in deciding whether to join Dutch and his crew. Generally. anime loves using unattached characters because they’re more flexible. We wouldn’t have a series if Rock said: “Well, I’m worried that my mom will be sad if I don’t contact her.” One can only assume that he is estranged from his parents to a certain degree.

      I don’t know too much about Qassem Suleimani besides that it looks like he’s done some good work against ISIS in Iraq. But, he operates in clandestine missions, so I doubt much will surface about him until fifty years after his decease when certain classified documents are released by Iran or something like that.

      The entry of a character like Suleimani would certainly make the series interesting! But, we’ll have to wait for the mangaka to write that story.

      • Αγγελος says:

        I still think Rock should see his parents,to have their blessings for his future.You see,in the last episode of “Black Lagoon:RBT” he states that somewhere on this planet someone outdid him and that he can’t save anyone.That’s why he needs to see to them,for a “You have our blessings ,we love you son”.But if turns out they were killed in a tragic “accident” arranged by Kageyama?Guys like him say it so callously:“The cause justifies the means,and we have to save our company!”,” because he is estranged from his parents and the whole of Japan is our advantage for the final cover up.We ‘ill get rid of the pests Okajima’s.Rock will never know what happened ,and even if after years he will.. this won’t help him to gather evidence against us!”
        So Rock has to say it:“Now I know I am an orphan,like Garcia.Revy,if I don’t do now something to honour my parents memory- were I am healthy,strong,in one piece-then it will never happen”!
        As for Revy,what will happen if suddenly she recognizes the policeman who raped her?I guess she would kill him,and I am OK with that,but if he’s under the protection of the US government for “a great cause”.”Don’t you dare touch him,Revy!He’s an asset for the US interests”,Eda might say.
        We agree:The entry of a man like Suleimani(Al Quds Force) would make it so interesting,and would give the manga many new horizons!

      • Too many people don’t think like you do in regard to having one’s parents’ blessing, which is a shame. All the different ideas you bring up show some truly interesting possibilities for Black Lagoon’s world. We can only hope that the mangaka will touch on some of them. Might I ask if you’re a writer or thinking of becoming one? The way you approach the series gives that impression. I particularly love the idea of Rock getting back at his old company somehow.

        And I always respond to comments–unless it looks like my guest should have the last word. I want to be a good host on this blog!

      • Αγγελος says:

        Hello fella,remember my first comment?I sat down and thought about it…Oh my,what a baseless,stupid theory I brought in here about the Okajimas!!All had to do with my speculations,but no hard facts.Sorry.
        I suggest you could post a few new themes in your blog:
        a)Attrocities and conspiracies against Christianity.
        b)The things Christianity has in common with Shiites,and their(Shiites) fondness on Jesus Christ.
        For the latter you might be surprised,but don’t be for long.Because in mid 80’s Iran,with Khomeini’s order,published a nice stamp having Christ,in respectful manner.
        Such wonderful thing can never in Saudi Arabia.What do you think?

      • Well, your speculation proves that you’ve gone deeper into the mind of Black Lagoon’s creator and its world than most fans. The only remedy is to write a fanfiction exploring this idea or a story of your own critiquing the flaws you found in Black Lagoon’s characters. Readers have done the latter for hundreds of years, giving us works like The Lord of the Rings (critiquing epic culture), Don Quixote (critiquing chivalric literature), Orlando Furioso (again critiquing chivalric literature), and Ovid’s poetry (critiquing love poetry and epic), and other fine works. You just need to find your own characters and setting in which to explore this idea–or just go the fanfiction route.

        I sometimes mention atrocities committed against Christians, but usually only when relevant to my blog. I tend to prefer writing about spiritual topics and anime, after all. Then again, I have no great desire to write about Shiites. Some Muslims interest me as persons (Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent), and I generally wish for Muslims’ salvation; but, there is too much to learn for me on this topic for me to present a learned article on Shiites. That must be the work of someone with more experience. I do get the impression that Saudi Arabia is more anti-Christian than Iran; but, that is a superficial impression gained from reading certain news articles.

  2. Αγγελος says:

    Thanks for your reply.

  3. Αγγελος says:

    I think Rock’s parents must ‘ve played a great,influential role in his life,because how else did he acquire these great moral values and virtues(and the courage to stand for them as well)?There’s no such as “press the button and the values come in”!It demands great patience,time and cultivation to pass them to the youngster,or apprentice if you like.I don’t think he belongs to Asahi company,after all they betrayed him.I guess he has to spy on them.
    Because how else is he going to confirm or not how much sinister Kageyama might be?For how long and on what degree he has been manipulating?…
    Yes fella.Whenever I can I write down a story I conceived.I want to enter to comics business, to create my own comics and get them published(I love the great work of Stan Lee,of Louise Simonson,and the books of cartoonist Christopher Hart too).Wish me luck.
    I think the parents case,the warm reunion with them is great.Take a look at DC’s “Brightest Day”:
    a)Boston Brand,ex “DeadMan” has returned to life,now pays a visit to his grandfather.A joyfull reunion.Just a little before the great mission given by the Entity!b)The Hero Green Arrow alone,banished in a weird,spooky forrest …suddenly sees his mother:Her spirit-years after her death- has come to warn him,encourage him to deal with the “Dark things to come”.It’s an awesome scene!
    I keep something more:A retro greek movie “The Odyssey of an uprooted man” («Η Οδύσσεια ενός Ξεριζωμένου»,1969) with Nikos Xanthopoulos.It has so much in common with a Hayao Miyazaki movie,so it’s a peer.The long,tiresome quest for a man to find his long ago lost father ,somewhere in Turkey.Even though reason dictates that “Impossible!All are against you, you won’t find him !”And who‘s the mysterious Nyazit Bey,what secrets is he possessing in his home?And focus on 2:15:01,hear the song “begledim de gelmedin”.
    It’s a three hours long movie,and remains Great. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0Foc-hb8Is
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0pBLdUBigc this part with the hot four minutes,
    the reunion!

    • Sorry that it’s taken me so long to reply. You know, I’m working with a comics creator right now: Sean Bishop, the creator of Freeloader. Right now, he’s in the beginning stages of trying to get the comic published and an animation based on it, but it’s amazing how many people in the industry he’s met (Steven Jay Blum and Cristina Valenzuela, aka Cristina Vee). Hopefully you both can be colleagues someday. It just takes some perseverance in finding others interested in one’s originality–scratch that: it takes a ton of perseverance. 🙂

      Thanks for linking that film to me. I’ll see if I can find a version with English subtitles–I’d definitely want to watch it in the original language. Too bad that I don’t know modern Greek. 🙂

      • Αγγελος says:

        I hope you’ll find the proper application so you can wath it.Once you do tell me you felt about it.
        Do you know Hiroe’s personal contact e-mail? And I don’t mean a mere blog.

  4. Αγγελος says:

    I suspect that the reason for Rock’s estrangment from his parents has to do with his older brother.The older,as I suspect,must have abusing Rock by various means.Could ‘ve he discredited him openly,while taking all the applause for the one,or other work? “Rock ,why don’t you do it like your brother?When are going to learn something usefull from him?”!
    If yes then these must have been a great pain for Rock,and therefor never got over with.He’s such gentle soul.He’s not holding a grudge to them.
    Any one might say that all these I’ve wrtiten(my suspicions and questions) are mere speculations.No prooves for the one or other…yet.Well we ‘re waiting to see what’s coming.

    • You’ve thought this through much more thoroughly than even the mangaka likely has! He probably just wanted unattached characters for his action adventure. But, I will definitely be interested if you should ever write a stories with characters having complex relationships with their families.

  5. Αγγελος says:

    Sorry for my mistake.His parents called him Rokuro,not Rock.As for his brother I will call him “X”.

  6. Αγγελος says:

    So there are people thinking parents’ blessing “is a shame”.I think they should see: http://www.pentapostagma.gr/2015/04/%CE%B7-%CE%B5%CF%85%CF%87%CE%AE-%CF%84%CF%89%CE%BD-%CE%B3%CE%BF%CE%BD%CE%AD%CF%89%CE%BD-%CE%B7-%CE%B5%CF%85%CF%87%CE%AE-%CF%84%CE%B7%CF%82-%CE%BC%CE%AC%CE%BD%CE%B1%CF%82.html#.VTCM6vC4Rh8.It‘s in greek,on google translate will give the whole picture.

  7. Αγγελος says:

    Speaking about goodness I notice:Revy carries along the bitternes and all her Sadness about she’s been through,about hadn’t found anyone to care for her.Plus she has to say so much about the inadequacy of the “American Dream”.From the other side’s the nun Eda,she represents the Believe in this “Dream”,and as undercover agent of the CIA the obsession about the US Hegemony.
    Yes,the Strong Determination about the goals of the US System.
    With given how she spoke to Chang,even threatening him we see a bit closer her real attitude-and not the facade to all others.How little Does Revy know about her so called friend,Eda!!
    Does it occur to anyone how weird that she hasn’t seen Garcia,at least comfort him? So is Roanapur saved for good?Who knows what will come!
    And let’s keep in our mind about Balalaika,she certainly wants to attack on the Triad and take full control of the city.And who thinks can really trust these Russian Atheists?I keep in mind about how easily/callously she would kill Rock in the garage,how she scolded Revy.

Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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