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Black Lagoon – 19/20 [Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise/The Succession] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome all, to another 2 episodes of Black Lagoon! This week kicks of the final arc of the series, taking us to a land we haven’t visited since episode 1: Japan! This is pretty interesting, a lot goes down, so lets dive right into it.

First up is episode 19, “Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise”. This episode starts us off in Japan right away and I have to admit, it was a little confusing. We went from escaping into the ocean with Jane to Rock landing in Japan with Revy almost immediately. Were it not for some of the connective moments, like Benny and Jane E-dating or Rock first waking up in Roanapur with Sawyer outside his window, I’d have felt like I had skipped an episode. As is, it just feels like a really awkward transition. Still, it’s not like I dislike Japan. It should be a really interesting setting for the series. One where Rock can show just how much he’s changed in the year he’s been away, as well as giving Revy a more… lets say “civilized” city to interact with. There’s a lot of potential here! Black Lagoon just needs to use it.

As for why Rock is back in Japan, that’s simple: He’s here to translate for Balalaika while she works with some local Yakuza, with Revy tagging alone because she’s “concerned”. So sweet, and makes sense too! This isn’t the first time Balalaika has turned to Rock for this sort of stuff. Naturally however, Balalaika is a different breed of criminal to these Yakuza. They go on and on about “honor” and the “right way” to do things, it’s like they have no idea who they invited here. Meanwhile Balalaika is already in “War Mode”, bombing buildings, planning kidnappings and shooting people same day share arrived. Surely that won’t have an consequences, definitely shouldn’t unite the waring Yakuza clans against the “invading foreigner”. As you can guess, the conflict appears to be escalating quickly in Japan. And while that makes for a fun watch, Rock probably won’t enjoy it.

Speaking of Rock and Revy, these two were really cute. While I think Revy trying to push him back to a more normal life after everything they have been through is a bit ridiculous, seriously girl how many jobs does he have to do before you accept him, the intent behind it was sweet. She’s trying to get him to reconcile with his parents while he still has them, to leave a dangerous city like Roanapur where only “trash” like her can live. It’s clear she still thinks he’s too good/not cut out for the life. Juxtaposing that however is Revy playing with some local Japanese kids. Yeah, she’s talking about how men die and showing of how good she is with a gun. But she still seems to enjoy these moments of normalcy, even if she couldn’t find true happiness here in the long term.

Finally, this episode introduces our primary side characters for the arc in Yukio and Genji. These two are almost mirrors of Rock and Revy. A bookish, white collar sort dragged into a life of crime by factors outside their control, Rock his bosses, Yukio her blood connection to the Wasamine clan, and a brutal, dare I say legendary, combatant dedicated to keeping them safe while trying to keep them out of that life? Yeah, I’d say they are almost 1 for 1 copies there, in a good way I mean. I expect Black Lagoon to use them as foils for our pair, having Revy fight Genji while Rock and Yukio talk and really figure out if this life is for them. With how Balalaika is heading straight for war with the Wasamine, it’s the obvious outcome. Executed right, I think it work quite well.

Next up is episode 20, “The Succession”. This episode is all about escalation. Car bombs, kidnappings, betrayal, murder, name it and Balalaika is doing it. As I said above, she’s here for war, nothing less. And for her and her men? There is no honor in war, none of that civility, family is just as much a target as members of the Yakuza themselves. Naturally, this rubs the Wasamine the wrong way. They just wanted to push the other clans into a corner, to negotiate from a strong position, and then return to how things were. With how things are escalating though, that can’t do that. Recognizing this, the leader, Bondo, eventually takes his shot at Balalaika. This goes as you’d expect, he dies, and now our squad is at war with… Basically the entirety of the criminal underworld. With 4 episodes to go, I imagine this will be bloody.

As for Rock and Revy in all of this, they continue to sit on the sidelines. The only thing of note is that one of the Yakuza seems to have taken an interest in Revy and is trying to goad her into doing something by messing with Rock. It’s actually kind of funny, he’s bragging about “10 kills” while Revy commits more murders than that before breakfast. It illustrates just how different these Yakuza are from Roanapur, and just how different Rock has become from his other countrymen that he doesn’t even blink an eye at it anymore. In fact, we get to see some of that growth here as Rock correctly deduces they were being provoked, and not reacting. Sure he still can’t fight much, but he’s not that green kid who first joined the Lagoon company.

Rock also spends some time discussing philosophy with Yukio, the daughter of the Wasamine clan, but this doesn’t really go anywhere. It mostly exists to keep them interacting, to build up their relationship before the inevitably confrontation as Balalaika forces their two groups into a collision. It’s fine enough I suppose? I’ll admit I’m surprised both the JP and English dubs mention American authors like Anne Rice, can’t say I had Interview with a Vampire mentions on my bingo card. The main thing here though is just Yukio getting dragged into clan politics, saying this was always her life and she couldn’t/shouldn’t hide from it. I imagine there’s some parallels here to Rock’s life, and his refusal to meet with his parents and interact with his old life, but for the life of me I can’t quite connect the two. Not yet at least.

Anyways, this brings me to the one awkward bit of the episode: Bondo. Now on the surface it all makes sense, the escalation, why he tried to kill Balalaika, his reticence to pull Yukio into the life of crime. All that’s solid. But I felt the pacing of it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. One minute they are talking in a club, apologizing for the actions of stupid subordinates, the next Bondo is walking calmly off into the sunset with a knife, preparing himself to kill Balalaika. There’s no time allowed for the tensions to grow, for either of them to really plan or do anything. It felt like Black Lagoon just wanted to get Bondo out of the way so Yukio could take over and Genji could get to kicking ass. Which I get, Genji seems cool! But it could have been better paced.

So yeah, all in all these were a fine pair of episodes kicking off our final arc. Pacing was odd in places, but I like what Black Lagoon is going for. Juxtaposing Balalaika and Revy with the regular Japanese civilian lifestyle, giving Rock a taste of home and forcing him to make an active choice between which life he wants to lead, which is the true him. It also lets us see Revy in a more civilian environment, showing her a life she never got to have, and sets up a more… heavily policed environment for conflict to go down. Revy can’t just shoot up the street here, Japan has cops. I think this arc looks very promising, and with 4 episodes left Black Lagoon has plenty of time to make it work. Now we just have to sit back and see how it does.

The post Black Lagoon – 19/20 [Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise/The Succession] – Throwback Thursday appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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