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Black Lagoon Vol. 1-4
Distributor Viz Media
Author/Artist Rei Hiroe
Last year our reviewer Mr. Reid had a permanent smile slapped across his face as he reviewed Black Lagoon for the entire year. Full of guns, violence and the hardest woman you'll ever meet, it was certainly one for both the action junkies and those that like their women to take charge. Viz Media have brought the manga that the anime was based upon into the English-speaking world, but does it match up with its anime adaption?
Rokuro Okajima is just your average Japanese businessman who gets stepped on by his bosses and lives his days working and getting no respect for it, until he ends up in the South China Seas with the business end of a gun pointed at him by freelancers Revy and Dutch. Now kidnapped and being held to ransom and the disc that he was transporting taken from him, it's becoming a really bad day that only gets worse when his company sends mercenaries to kill him and the Lagoon crew. It's a colossally bad day.
Generally, when companies release their manga in larger format than most traditional manga is released in, it annoys me - It takes up more room in my bag when I'm out reading it and just makes the shelf look untidy. But this time I’m glad that Viz Media decided to go with the larger book format as Black Lagoon is one of those manga that just has so much detail and so much going on it would be a disservice to the manga if it was sized down and released in the standard manga format. The larger book size simply makes things a Hell of a lot better. Yes it does increase the cost of the book, but I think it is worth it just for that alone.
As mentioned, there is an incredibly amount of detail in the artwork for Black Lagoon. Gun nuts will love that all of the weaponary has been carefully recreated properly, while the action junkies will love the non-stop balls to the wall action and the simple fact that the artwork does not fluctuate to any major degree throughout the opening volumes. Everything is drawn in such high quality; it is great to see that the anime didn't need to change much to fit the series into the televised mould.
But alas, that is also where Black Lagoon's problem comes in. Unlike a lot of anime that adapt their manga source, the high quality of Black Lagoon hasn't needed these drastic changes and as such if you have watched both series of Black Lagoon, you have already read the first four volumes of this manga. You're not going to find anything new that wasn't in the anime; though in saying that after reading the manga I actually ended up watching the entire first series on DVD again, so it's not all bad.
One thing the manga does contain are the usual joke stories at the end of the book. While these are commonplace in most manga, the ones in Black Lagoon are the only ones I can think of that are actually quite funny. It may be because the characters are taken so far out of their usual situations or just having Revy acting like a magical girl, but there is something about it that is just so funny.
Whether you pick up Black Lagoon is probably dependant on if you have already watched the series - Personally I've done both and I enjoy both the anime and manga. There is such a high grade feel to everything it would be a shame not to take a look at the first volume and see where the anime came from. If you've never watched the anime and are looking for some good action, then Black Lagoon is easily one of the best action mangas out there.
It’s got babes, bullets and boats. Everything the action junkie needs.