The first episode of Black Lagoon OVA Roberta's Blood Trail certainly did what it intended to in terms of reintroducing deadly maid Roberta to the fray, but despite that there was a certain something missing from that instalment and the way it was presented. Can this second part of this five episode effort do any better?
If nothing else, episode two of Roberta's Blood Trail certainly ramps up the complexity ten-fold - while Roberta's "young master" Garcia has come to Roanapur along with trainee made Fabiola to ask for Rock's help in tracking down their crazed servant before she ends up putting heads with the US forces who despatched of Garcia's father in a bombing, there's far, far more to it than that. While Rock is initially recitent to help he's eventually coaxed into agreeing, and sets about working on his theories on how best to get Garcia to Roberta before all hell breaks loose - a tricky requirement, given the numerous cartels and organisations with a vested interested not so much in Roberta, but rather the entire future of Roanapur; a future put at risk by a visit from over-zealous armed US forces with an eye towards finally ending the drug trade of the town.
With so many possibilities to consider, this second episode of Roberta's Blood Trail is very much a slow-burner, with Rock pondering over and weighing up the possibilities while the various Triads and cartels do likewise when considering their own response to the threat posed by the forth-coming one woman war Roberta looks set to bring. In a way, Roanapur itself becomes the main character for much of this instalment, as its seedy depths and dark corners, and the understanding of them, become central to the various parties and their plans for dealing with what is to come.
This instalment also takes a little time to add some further depth to the relationship between Rock and Revy, which proves to be as fascinating as ever - come the end of this episode, we come perhaps as close as ever have to the two of them acknowledging their reliance upon one another, with Rock in particular coneding that Revy is the gun to Rock's bullet in a conversation that finally brings around the reticent Revy to helping Rock with his seemingly suicidal mission.
I have to admit, I have a certain respect to this episode for adding so much depth to its surroundings, characters and the relationships between them - Black Lagoon may be most fondly remembered for its cartoon-esque villains and over-the-top action, but that has sometimes allowed its underlying complexities to be forgotten. This instalment works hard to bring them to the forefront, although in doing so it does lose any sense of the adrenaline-pumping excitement which can normally be had from watching this series, leaving it devoid of any action-packed set pieces at all. This does leave me with a certain empty feeling that has me torn in terms of this episode as a whole - my heart is disappointed but my head is filled with interesting thoughts to consider, which isn't what I was expecting from this OVA when I started watching, that's for sure. Then again, after two episodes of build-up it seems that we're nearly ready to unleash hell upon all parties, so beyond the more thoughtful tone on show here we still seem to be progressing to more visceral times featuring a drug-addled, blood-thirsty lunatic butting heads with an entire army.