Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe

Black Lagoon
Rei Hiroe

The story follows a team of mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, who smuggle goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia. Their base of operations is located in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand, and they transport goods in the PT boat Black Lagoon. Lagoon Company does business with various clients, but has a particularly friendly relationship with the Russian crime syndicate Hotel Moscow. The team takes on a variety of missions - which may involve violent firefights, hand-to-hand combat, and nautical battles - in various Southeast Asian locations.

Alternative names
Burakku Laguun



Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Fox, Manga Here

Rosy's scrawlings on Black Lagoon
This is yet another manga I learnt about from the social network grapevine. It came up a few times over the last year or two but I hadn't gotten around to reading. There was one failed attempt to but I must have been in the wrong mood, dropping it after about a chapter. This was a mistake, I admit, but then, the first chapter or so are a little lukewarm compared to those that come. What follows though, will have you hooked both for the ludicrous amounts of guns, blood and explosions, the roughness of the various women, the strange array of characters and the fast pace of the world in which Lagoon Company operates.
It is hard to describe Black Lagoon as it is a story that has many twists and turns, a wide range of characters to track and a series of connected mini stories. The best of stories often have such features and often require the commenter to begin rabbiting endlessly in order to explain the story, so it is no surprise that describing Black Lagoon has me facing the same issue. Suffice it to say that there's a group of misfits making an often violent living as traders/deliverers in a city ruled by equally or more violent groups such as the mafia, ex-Russian soldiers come crime syndicate, The Church Of Violence weapons traders (nuns with guns) and the CIA and other American secret service interlopers. The entire world they work within is corrupt and they fit right in, for one reason or another. Respectable lives for each of the crew members was either lost or never had and they each enjoy their life of violence far too much. The main pair of characters to follow are Revy Two Hand (a woman with severe attitude and a love for guns), and Rock the salary man from Japan who found himself at the mercy of Lagoon Company as one of the packages they traded in. Although saved by Revy, Rock still holds on to a more hopeful view of life. Revy, on the other hand is learning to put up with such optimism, at most. Together they fight for survival and sometimes a better outcome, but nothing much more except for pay.
The art of Black lagoon is a little unengaging for the first chapter or so, probably feeding the mild disinterest I felt with the first attempt. But soon enough the style settles into one that is bold and full of character. There's occasionally a very pretty or cute manga aspect to the illustrations but these generally focus on the younger characters. The action is fast paced and smooth, pushing the story forward and providing much that is visually interesting.  Otherwise, the only strange point is that everyone seems to always wear a set costume.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who love action with extreme violence, gun fights, stories involving the criminal and secret intelligence worlds and those who like to see their nuns and maids sporting big guns and bazookas of the explosive nature. Given the even mix of male and female leads this will appeal to men and women who fit the above but I wouldn't suggest this manga to the young and young at heart.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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