12 December 2018 | danielshillito
The quality present in the original Black Lagoon anime series is taken up to a whole extra notch with this no-holds-barred OAV series. What I first thought would be a casual revisiting of a character notable seemingly only for fetish fuel turns into an in depth look into why Roberta earned the name "Bloodhound." Blood has been spilled, and Roberta's out for revenge, and with no television censorship to worry about, this series is free to show Roberta's Blood Trail in all of it's violent glory. The entire crime ring of Roanapur, from the Hong Kong Triad to the Hotel Moscow, to the Italian Mafia and the Colombian Drug Cartel, rallies together in a rare display of cooperation to deal with the war Roberta attempts to start in Roanpur against the US Grey Fox Unit. Garcia, the new Lovelace family patriarch, along with a new gunslinging maid, Fabiola Iglesias, have arrived in Roanpur to find Roberta, and appeal for the aid of the Lagoon Company, and Rock specifically, whose misfortune in taking on lost causes is starting to wear heavily on his partner, Revy Two Hands.
All the famous characters make their return in this OAV series, and it even throws in a few new ones, including Fabiola Igelsias, whose impish, yet hot-blooded, tomboyish and proud personality strangely reminds me of Edward Elric from FMA. She brings a much needed, yet strangely believable cuteness factor to the Black Lagoon mythos. Not to be outdone, our protagonist, Rokuro "Rock" Okajima, seems to have caught his stride in the city of Roanapur. Rather than the stumbling and out of place businessman, he's reached a level of stoic compromise with the city he lives in, and manages to score a few badass points with some brilliant strategizing and planning. He stands in stark contrast with Revy, who lives in complete coexistence with the vice of her surroundings, and even craves the adrenaline rush of a good firefight. She stands in even greater contrast with Fabiola, who refuses to sink to Revy's level, and constantly butts heads with her. All of these characters are outdone, however, by Roberta herself, who undergoes a complete transformation (or perhaps the better word is "regression") into her old trench digging, rough and tough mercenary persona who can simultaneously no-scopes and pool-cue 50 caliber sniper rifle while standing on a street sign. Despite the badass exterior, we see her begin to fall to the depraved depths of her own personal hell, popping nervous system stimulant pills and speaking to the ghost of one of her former marks.
The artwork is everything I've come to expect from Black Lagoon - even the filler scenes are a bite above what the average anime series - even those with big studio budgets - have been able to produce. With all 5 OAV's played back to back, the whole series will seem more like a two and a half hour movie than a mini-series. As this is an OAV series, expect to see more blood and nudity than in the series, though in the scene with Rock and Revy in episode 2 in particular, this actually has a much more pronounced effect than it would have under TV censorship.
A remixed version of MELL's "Red Fraction" opens each episode, and ends with a marching band chorus of "The Ants Go Marching," and both have very different effects. While the familiar opening emphasizes the principle characters, it is the ending theme that harkens to Roberta's shadowy past (and really, a lot of characters' pasts) and how they are now marching to the beat of their own drum in a different world while still attempting to stay true to their former beliefs.
I've always been a Black Lagoon fan, so seeing the series get a kickstart such as this is thrilling. Viewers who are unfamiliar with the Black Lagoon series might not be able to appreciate the main characters or Roberta's backstory, but that should not take away from identifying with Roberta herself, or the motivation of the other characters to either stop her or help her. This is very much an adult show, however, and not just in a fan service kind of way - a good deal of scenes are gruesome and downright hard to watch at times, and I wouldn't recommend this show to viewers under the age of 16. But anyone who appreciates war movies, gangster movies, or any kind of shoot-em-up movie will definitely get a kick out of Roberta's Blood Trail.