Saturday, 3 July 2010

Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail - Episode 1

Before we start, let me just get one thing straight - I might not have 'blogged about it here previously, but Black Lagoon is awesome. Now, with that out of the way, on to the TV edit of the first episode of Roberta's Blood Trail.

In essence, 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 of Black Lagoon, with Rock seemingly set to take centre stage in this particular operation.

For starters, I can only acknowledge how great it is to see Black Lagoon back on our screens - It's been a while, but the return of this fantastic franchise complete with its usual attitude and violent streak is most welcome. On top of that, it's hard not to feel a little excited at the return of Roberta, who provided some of the defining moments of the series previously, now complete with even more need for vengeance and what seems to be a bit of a pill-popping habit.

Certainly, in many ways the opening episode of this OVA doesn't disappoint - Rock is the usual puddle of humanity in a sea of apathy and worse, Revy's relationship with said male lead remains as fascinating as ever balanced as it is on a coin of love and loathing, and of course this series knows how to do over-the-top action, violence, blood, guts and death better than pretty much any series I can think of - and this is only the first episode....

That said, not everything is quite right in Roanapur this time around - It's hard for me to put a finger on, but something feels like it's missing here. Maybe it's a drop in animation quality, or perhaps it's just a slightly less sharp take on our main characters, but something just doesn't quite feel right here and I'm not sure why. That isn't to say that I disliked this episode (far from it, it has all of the building blocks of a very good OVA indeed), but perhaps my expectations have been set too high given what this franchise has brought us all before. I really hope I'm being paranoid here, but right now I get this vague feeling that Roberta's Blood Trail will need to kick things up another notch to really find its place alongside the first two series of this show.


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.

ahchiew said...

The Loveless maids are just unreal.......

But I kinda like how the OVA starts off. The way Roberta swings the gun and her monologue really shows her anger. It may fit the OVA title well. Roberta's Blood Trial