Fun Times with Violence: Black Lagoon Roberta Blood Trail 01

black lagoon roberta's blood trail 01 pre-maid roberta execution

I’m not the biggest fan of Black Lagoon, but when people say that, they mean to say that they don’t like the subject; I actually mean I’m a fan of Black Lagoon. I just acknowledge that there are certainly bigger fans of the franchise than me out there.

Being such a fan, I’ve been waiting for this OVA for some time now, and now that it’s here I’m filled with much excitement. In this post I’ll share the context by which I watch the shows of this franchise. You may be surprised.

[NEEt] Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail EP 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.03_[2010.07.05_17.30.41]

As far as the plot and details of this particular installment, I leave you in the capable hands of Hanners, who covers what I feel are the important bits of the episode. An excerpt:

[…] the title of this OVA tells you everything you need to know – The crazed yet loyal maid-cum-killer Roberta we last saw in this franchise’s first season is at large once again. The reason for this is that her master, and the father of the boy she protects so dearly, is killed in a “terrorist” incident in his native Venezuela – An incident which clearly runs far deeper than that, taking us all the way to to the top in form of America’s CIA and beyond.

Needless to say, Roberta is going to allow this incident to pass her by, and so she goes on a predictable rampage of murder and torture in the name of vengeance as she hunts own those responsible for her master’s death. So, how does the Lagoon Company get involved in all of this? In short, this occurs via Roberta’s beloved “young master”, who is hunting for the wayward Roberta himself as the new head of the Lovelace family, complete with his own decidedly lethal maid at his service. So, the scene is set for the usual blend of violence and insanity which has become the hallmark ofBlack Lagoon, with Rock seemingly set to take centre stage in this particular operation.

I think the show upped the fanservice with the introduction of Fabiola, the disciple of Roberta – as if Roberta wasn’t already a particularly formidable warship of fanservice already. Fabiola covers the Azuma databases with her ‘genki’ demeanor, her diminutiveness, and earnest but naive mien. But yes, she’s a girl in a French maid costume that has impossibly big guns, a specialization in shotguns that she can wield like pistols, and impossibly acrobatic gunplay.

I took note of a comment on Hanners’ post:

DP said…
I had a similar reaction.

My problem with this – and with the other Maid episodes in the TV series – is that Roberta (and her co-maid) are just too ove the top.

Revi’s gunfighting is (marginally) believable, like a Hong Kong heroic bloodshed movie. Both of the maid’s fighting styles are not believable at all. Couple that with the maid element, and the somewhat gritty, vaguely realistic (by anime standards)Black Lagoon drifts off into superhero land. This lends any Roberta episode an air of unreality, and the addition of a second combat maid, who can virtually hover in mid air while firing, sends things off into la-la land… As a result, elements like Rock and Revy musing over people they’ve lost or their effed-up lives lose their weight.

I agree that the over-the-top elements of the battle-maids, particularly Fabiola’s aerial gunplay does detract from the possible gravitas of the show. I’m not certain as to how serious Black Lagoon wants to take itself, but my very good friend is a big fan of the manga and he takes it very seriously. He does feel that Fabiola’s aerial stunts at least, do take away from the experience of the show.

[NEEt] Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail EP 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.36_[2010.07.05_17.32.42]

Black Lagoon is fun. Personally, it doesn’t bother me so much; I am not as big a fan of the series to be disappointed by something like this. I do value Black Lagoon in that it is one of the three series that I’ve seen that have both breathtaking gunplay, and adult characters and stories. To tier them, I’ll put Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Cowboy Bebop on the top tier, then Black Lagoon below it.

Characters are adults, smoke cigarettes, presumably actually have sex, and kill people without having overwrought angst about it. Cowboy Bebop functions better as a comedy with its outright zany episodes. While the Ghost in the Shell manga is quite irreverently comedic, Stand Alone Complex limits its overt comedy to the Tachikoma, making it the most serious of the three.

In the end, I put it in good company, and I look forward to the next episodes with bated breath.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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26 Responses to Fun Times with Violence: Black Lagoon Roberta Blood Trail 01

  1. Shinmaru says:

    The over-the-top nature of the maid’s fighting styles doesn’t bother me too much. I like Black Lagoon’s depth and serious moments, but I appreciate it best as the most balls-out piece of action to come from the great tradition of crazy ass 1980s action flicks (the best decade for action movies, both in American and worldwide, I think).

    • Yeah, oh my the 80s. I remember how I couldn’t watch many of those movies then because they wouldn’t let me in the theater. Thank goodness for Betamax (LOLs), then Laser discs in the 90s. I got to watch so much Arnie, Sly, Bruce, Steven (don’t hate), and even worse mediocrities.

      I also got to watch lots of Hong Kong productions with Cynthia Luster, Cindy Rothrock, and a host of other mediocrities. I could always count on wild gunplay and sometimes awesome fight scenes.

      With BL, I do prefer how Revy takes out boatloads of Neo-Nazis Terminator style, compared to the Revy vs Roberta shenanigans. But guess what? What other show can have something as awesome as Revy vs Roberta?

      Fort this, I’m glad Black Lagoon exists.

  2. Celeste says:

    Man, I love Black Lagoon. Like you, I know there are bigger fans of the series than myself. But man, I love Black Lagoon. It’s a series that knows what it is – an action one. It does have a few deeper undercurrents, but it never lets them get in the way of a good gunfight – or if they do, it does it in a way that doesn’t piss me off.

    I was alright with Roberta in the first two series, but Fabiola bothered me animated. She seemed less diminutive in the manga, and hearing the archaic way she speaks (something which doesn’t come across in the subtitles or the translations of the manga, but basically she talks in the same was as Horo from Spice & Wolf does, which is just ridiculous – this is the 2000’s, I don’t care if she’s a maid.) made it hard for me to get sucked into Black Lagoon’s world, as I was during the first two series. But I may be jumping to conclusions, and both Rock & Revy get some awesome dialogue (as does Chang!) in this arc, so I’ll be following it eagerly.

    • Yes, Fabiola here is more otaku-friendly, which may seem too much for those who don’t care for such things.

      The way I see it, Fabiola as presented here would be a better fit for a show like Canaan than she would fit here. Hint: I dislike that show.

      Ultimately, I take comfort that this is Roberta’s arc, not Fabiola’s, so I shouldn’t be too concerned. I certainly hope not.

  3. Flags says:

    Do you know what the release schedule for these OVA’s are? How long do you think the wait will be for the next one? I’m still waiting with an excruciating patience for the third Denpa Teki na Kanojo OVA.

  4. Hanners says:

    For me, Black Lagoon has always (and I’m not quite sure how they managed it) walked the tightrope between over-the-top action and its more serious elements without any more than the occasional wobble – It’s always been full of over-the-top characters, yet you still end up caring about them no matter how “cartoonish” they sometimes are.

    Personally, I still can’t put a finger on what bugs me about the first episode of this OVA – It was enjoyable enough, but there was something about it which just didn’t feel right. Maybe it simply wasn’t as polished in its delivery?

    (Oh, and thanks for all the mentions of my own entry on the subject btw!!)

    • I realized immediately that I couldn’t set the show up as well as you did in your post so I saved myself the trouble. So thank you, for doing it as well as you did. Also, I found DP’s comment very relevant.

      I’m afraid I can’t help you put a finger on what bothers you about this ep. To me it felt very much the same (a good thing). I had aborted my rewatch of Black Lagoon last year, but made it up to the truly magnificent 7th episode.

      I don’t see anything here beyond what I already said that would give me the same feeling as yours.

  5. Jack says:

    “I agree that the over-the-top elements of the battle-maids, particularly Fabiola’s aerial gunplay does detract from the possible gravitas of the show. I’m not certain as to how serious Black Lagoon wants to take itself, but my very good friend is a big fan of the manga and he takes it very seriously.”

    I do agree that in the overall tone of Black Lagoon, those combat sequences are perhaps just a little bit too ridiculous.

    Most of the time, despite the fairly crazy action, the show tends to take it’s universe and mood fairly seriously. That mood is generally unpleasant and oppressive, but at least it’s consistent.

    However, when I watched that episode I wasn’t immediately taken aback. I was there to watch Black Lagoon because it’s fun. On reflection however, the “maid” episodes where my least favourite of the original show, and perhaps this analysis explains why they didn’t work for me.

    Somewhere, and it’s hard to say precisely, there seems to be a line in the Black Lagoon universe. Apparently, crazy maids cross that line.

    • Jack says:

      Nearly forgot, but I felt a bigger issues with this OVA episode was the opening few minutes.

      The way the scenes were edited together was very confusing for me, and it wasn’t till we arrived back with Rock that things started making any kind of sense.

    • Yeah, I watch this show for the fun factor first, so much so when it delivers a particularly robust moment — episode 07 is the best example IMO, I’m actually taken aback and blown away.

      I agree with the opening scenes; I had much trouble understanding what happened too.

      • Jack says:

        Just thought I’d say that the full version of this episode, with the extra five minutes, makes a lot more sense.

        The opening isn’t just a random series of quick-cuts, and characters actually explain what’s going on.

        Quite an improvement really.

        • Full version? I did not know the one I watched is abridged. I want to see this and I appreciate it if you could direct me where to find the fansubs. Thanks~

          • Jack says:

            Well, I really should have replied to this many months ago, and we’re many episodes (well, 3) past this point, but if you look for “Roberta’s Blood Trail Episode 1Blu-Ray/BD” you’ll probably find it. It actually makes sense, as opposed to the TV version.

            Well, you probably found it months ago.

            Although now that the maid-stuff has become super stupid you probably won’t be interested.

          • I can’t even finish the 4th ep once Roberta crushed a machete with her teeth.

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  8. Etrangere says:

    I do think the maids clash a bit from the most serious aspects of Black Lagoon. On the other hand I loved the Terminator parody during Roberta’s first appearance. I love Black Lagoon when it does trashy gonzo action + fan service and I love it when it does dark existential violence… but I admit it might be better if it picked one. Or was two different shows…. well I kind of also like that it doesn’t take itself all that seriously while still providing some pretty interesting and deep elements.

    Have you watched Michiko e Hatchin? It’s not a show with as much gunplay as Black Lagoon but there’s something about it which reminded me a bit of it as well in the way it brings its non standard setting alive and uses characters used to violence and with a lot of badass female characters.

    • Ghost in the Shell, both the films and the TV shows picked one and took the dark and serious tone as opposed to the dark and funny one from the manga and arguably this is why it became successful. Shirow’s manga was far more fanservice-oriented as well as blatantly humorous.

      Perhaps I’m inclined to agree with you that Black Lagoon should have done the same. I mean we can get our fetish kicks and database comedy elsewhere anyway. We can limit our gratification to an even more refined kind of gratuitous violence here.

      I have seen the first few eps of Michiko e Hatchin but I wasn’t able to sustain my interest for it.

      • Jack says:

        I have seen the first few eps of Michiko e Hatchin but I wasn’t able to sustain my interest for it.

        A pity, as I found it to be on the best shows in the last couple of years. But certainly not because of any similarities to Black Lagoon.

        The show is at it’s best just telling stories about characters, many of whom fall outside the range of traditional anime types.

        Clearly, you don’t enjoy what you don’t enjoy. Still, I’d recommend that people should at least see episode 7, perhaps because it is very pretty, but mainly for the slightly understated characters.

        • I may pick it up again, albeit I don’t know when. Someone interesting to me just finished the show and heaped tons of praise for it.

          I try my best to be precise with my language — you’ll rarely see me decry something as ‘bad,’ but instead I’ll acknowledge how I truly feel about such a show. Since I’m never really certain about first impressions, I may just pick it up again sometime.

  9. nikita199320 says:

    I am the shield that Rewi and Robert are two forces that can will be incorporated for the destruction of a great evil, I would like to see how these doublemindedness unechtozhayut the Nazis during the Second World it was probably a bomb would let Fritz will fall so the punishment would be if the war would have quickly ended when they all prechlopnuli natsiskih leaders of Hitler, Himmler, Gebelsa, Goering, Keytalya, Bor …

  10. Noel says:

    I’m not sure how to quantify my largeness as a Black Lagoon fan, but I certainly do enjoy the series very much. I don’t, however, take it nearly as seriously as some people do, as this article seems to suggest.

    I agree completely with ghostlightning in that I think that it’s completely fun. I did find the addition of the new maid to be quite odd, but fun is fun, and it didn’t bother me one bit. I’m genuinely looking forward to the next episode.

    • I do wonder sometimes, especially after James (mechafetish) explained to me the dark serious tone of the manga, that I maybe I should be taking the show more seriously.

      To me it seems like the opposite of Ghost in the Shell. The anime versions are almost wholly devoid of the light-heartedness of the manga.

      • Noel says:

        That’s a great observation! I find the comparison with Ghost in the Shell to be very apt. As for the recommendation, well, just read the manga for yourself if you feel inclined to.

        I personally just accept whether I honestly liked something on its own or not, and try not to overthink it.

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