I did have a brief break from animation this week when I saw Harsh Times (good), but then I went and watched loads of fresh, hot anime as it's starting to clog my hard drive...
Black Lagoon is one of my favourite series from the current anime season, but unfortunately it's ended its 12 episode run.
Based on a group of smugglers I the seas of Southeast Asia, it follows Dutch, Revy, Benny and Rock as they deal with neo-nazis, triads, mercenaries the Russian mafia and a dangerous Colombian maid.
Full of nonchalant glimpses into the underworld and intense bursts of violence, whilst BL can'’t help glorify it also looks at the other side, that of regret and emptiness felt by those who lead these lives, Revy at once being the shit-kicking no-nonsense crack-shot and a woman with a horrible past that has helped fashion a cold hearted murderer.
We see through Rock'’s eyes; he was an everyday Tokyo salaryman until he was abandoned after a dodgy smuggling mission went wrong and he decided to throw in his lot with the Lagoon Company on their ship, the Black Lagoon.
In her uniform of tiny cut-off jeans and a midriff-baring tank top, you could be forgiven that Revy was designed to appeal to the typical male audience, but while she does technically tick the right boxes appearance wise it's hard to argue that there are artless aims at titillation when you see how scary her character is, how she has got to the point where human life means little and is easily dispatched if it makes the job easier.
Mostly it's a gung ho actioner but there is a little meat to be had on its bones.
But as every anime must come to an end, new anime will come to fill the gap.
A new series that has just started airing is called Flag. I would give a plot outline, but instead I'll quote from the Wikipedia one as I'm too tired to do a decent job. I did get almost 8 hours sleep last night, but this luxury has made me even more tired. Less woozy, more tired.
"Saeko Shirasu is a 25 year wartime front-line photo-journalist who became a celebrity after taking a picture of civilians raising a makeshift UN flag in war-torn Uddiyana. The image then became an instant symbol for peace. However, just before the peace agreement is achieved, the flag was stolen by an armed extremist group in order to obstruct the truce. The UN peacekeepers decide to send in secretly a SDC (pronounced as Seedac - Special Development Command) unit to retrieve the flag. Because of her connection with the "Flag" photo, Saeko Shirasu was offered the job of following the SDAC unit as frontline journalist. The SDC unit is equipped with a HAVWC (pronounced as Harvick - High Agility Versatile Weapon Carrier) Mecha robot tank."
The story is told through the viewfinder, so we seeShirasu lining up shots and the resultant still image, movies shot on video and via digital cameras and clips of websites and streaming movies, so it's safe to say that the presentation is unique, adding an extra dimension to the act of watching, experiencing a story second hand.
Whilst the focus would be on the perspective of a photojournalist, we also have that mecha element which is always popular in anime. Here, though, in just two episodes we glimpse hints of the psychological toll of piloting hardware that is so efficient in 'neautralising' the enemy.
It's pleasing to have another 'grown-up' anime with protagonists out of their teens, and even if it ends up as a glorified robot suit tale. There is certainly potential to develop into an engaging show, so I'll be keeping an eye out.
My only quibble would be that the innovative perspective and mostly successful CG integration shows up the basic character design even more, which err on the side of realism but still descend into physical caricatures that don't seem to suit the tone of the show.
As for Night Head Genesis, it is duuuuuuull.
I went for a check-up at the dentist on Thursday and was happy to learn that my teeth are okay. It was pretty alarming to hear that "8 is fully erupted" until I realised that meant my wisdom tooth has come out properly. Yay.