On Friday, Adult Swim announced that Black Lagoon would air on the network’s Toonami block. The reveal was made via the company’s Tumblr, which revealed that the series would replace Soul Eater starting on March 22, 2014.
Black Lagoon is a title that, to be honest, probably should have been airing much earlier. The series, which made its western début in 2007, hit the market at an unusual period. The US was on the cusp of the financial disaster that would plunge the world into economic collapse. The market for anime was shrinking, and the single DVD was starting on its path toward irrelevance. In its early days, Black Lagoon did get a few TV runs in niche placements. The show ran on G4TechTV Canada in 2007, and on premium channel Starz Edge in the US in 2008. Unfortunately, this would be the extent of the show’s TV exposure. And, while the show was re-released several times over the years (including a pair of drop-dead gorgeous Steelbook sets), Black Lagoon seemed destined to fade away, like so many other titles.
This always struck me as a shame, as Black Lagoon is the type of show that certainly has the potential to resonate in the western marketplace. The show, which revolves around a ragtag group of mercenaries in the South China Sea, adheres to many of the same principles that brought Cowboy Bebop to prominence. By this, I mean that:
- The plots, while generally following a plot of sorts, tend to be episodic. This allows newcomers to jump in without needing to know the progression of events
- The characters are likable and well-written, with many of the antagonists being as endearing and charismatic as the show’s leads.
- The world itself is well-developed, with incredible detail and personality oozing from every nook and cranny. Every facet of the show’s universe, from the established landmarks, to the organizations that vie for power within it.
- The action scenes are always over-the-top, and simply exhilarating to watch. The choreography is top-notch, making each battle seem like a bloody bullet ballet, punctuated by satisfying explosions.
In short, it’s a cool show that doesn’t get bogged down in the tropes and bullshit that seem to repel the casual viewer. It’s accessible, it’s fast-paced,a nd it’s generally fun to watch the first time through the fiftieth. The action is crazy, the stories are over-the-top, and the characters are simply larger than life. The entire experience screams “awesome,” to the point that even non-fans will take notice of the on-screen action. It’s because of this, though, that the show’s become an pseudo-popular gateway show with established fans. It’s a go-to for many, who are asked about good anime titles for newcomers, and a popular choice for introducing non-fans to the hobby.
With Black Lagoon finally hitting Toonami, I can’t help but feel a bit excited. After what seems like an eternity of lurking just beneath the surface, it’s finally being pushed into the limelight. While I don’t see the series hitting the insane heights of shows like Cowboy Bebop or Bleach, I do hope that it will find an audience, both inside the core anime fan world and out. There’s great potential in the show, and this is arguably the best chance to see whether it will be realized.