The Lagoon Company is back, and ready to kick ass for fun and profit. Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage delivers three more action-packed sagas – twelve episodes of gangs, guns, and explosions. The first two sagas span three episodes each, and follow the precedent set by the original series. Benny and Dutch tend to be more passive roles this time around, while Rock and Revy take the forefront. And no, Rock still won’t wear the goddamn Hawaiian shirt Revy bought for him (What? It’s a nice shirt!).
To balance for the reduction in characters, Eda – a character that appeared in two or three scenes in the original series – takes a more active role. She adds an interesting dynamic as she works with Revy, since the two are clearly on the same wavelength. At the same time though, they have a similar personality, which leads to a few entertaining disagreements through the course of the series.
Balalaika becomes a far larger role this time around. While she was portrayed as a calculating businesswoman in the initial series, viewers get a view of Balalaika’s truly vicious side in Second Barrage. Under the surface, Balalaika is a cold, calculating bitch that relies on her military experience to strengthen her stranglehold on the city. She becomes the driving force behind two of the three sagas, which both tie to Hotel Moscow – Roanapur’s branch of the Mafya.
The series’ three arcs dart in completely different directions, from the depths of the dark, to borderline outlandishness. The first arc covers three episodes, and revolves around a pair of psychopathic Romanian brats that are hired to target Hotel Moscow. Balalaika is obviously pissed by the sixth kill, and offers a $50,000 bounty on the kids. Eda, Revy, and just about everyone in the god-forsaken city find the offer one that is impossible to refuse. The sight of the city in arms is particularly spectacular, as it can be likened to a festival of blood. Shit constantly explodes, bullets fly, and general chaos reigns supreme as the hunt for the brats begins. The Triads and the Russkies provide tension as they close in on the enemy, and try to avoid being slaughtered by their mark. At the same time, Eda and Revy push themselves right into the front lines, eager to claim their fifty large. Revy’s acrobatics combine with Eda’s love of the fight (and her love of cash) to provide a truly amazing display of gunplay. It truly is a spectacular sight that will leave most viewers on the edge of their seats.
The second arc is arguably the weakest, since it lacks the drama of the final saga, and the pure adrenaline rush of the first. the main focus of the new arc is a girl called Greenback Jane – a mistress counterfeiter that was hired to make a perfect copy of American bills. Jane’s perfectionist streak has gotten the better of her, and her employers have become impatient. They waste Jane’s partner, and force her to seek the help of the Ripoff Church. One thing leads to another, as Eda and Revy come into protecting the woman from the whole city… for a price. The arc doesn’t have the sheer visceral brutality that was present in the previous episodes. However, the bullets still fly, and the renewed partnership between Eda and Revy lead to a few truly funny moments. In particular, episode four sees the two arguing over which gun Jesus would drag with him through the valley of death as they get plastered in the chapel. The comedy quickly gives way to gunplay, as the city’s denizens close in, including a chainsaw-wielding kook that communicates through an electrolarynx, a Chinese assassin that’s mastered the blade, and some fatass that looks like he stumbled out of a ’50s sitcom and wields fire with impunity. The situation quickly escalates to an epic shootout in the Lagoon Company headquarters, The slow, building excitement is a definite change from the rest of the series, but it works in the favor of the plotline.
The final arc is arguably the most substantial to grace the series. It’s a six-episode epic that places Rock, Revy, and Hotel Moscow into the heart of Japan. Rock is hired as an interpreter for Balalaika, who (despite proving otherwise through the course of 18 episodes) doesn’t speak a lick of Japanese. Revy tags along as a hired gun, mostly to keep Rock out of trouble. Of course, this opens the door for a ton of unintentionally entertaining Engrish, and rarely fails to deliver on that end. However, the arc isn’t about enjoying badly pronounced English phrases. Rather, Hotel Moscow has been contracted to assist the Washimine yakuza clan in destroying the Kousa Council – a rival clan. During his stay, Rock encounters a high school girl named Yukio, who happens to be successor to the Washimine Group, and a hulking, katana-wielding fellow named Ginji who is somewhat of a protector for her. One thing leads to another, the two heads of the Washimine Group wind up dead, Hotel Moscow ends up supporting Kousa and Yukio is somewhat forced into the position of head of the family. Rock, meanwhile, can only watch as Yukio, a formerly innocent girl, slowly descends into the darkness that has overtaken those around him – Balalaika, Revy, even Dutch. The events escalate to a final showdown that is simply not to be missed.
Lightning struck a second time with The Second Barrage. Unlike most sequels, the series managed to take the momentum that the original Black Lagoon amassed, and run with it. If this author were to point out a possible flaw, it would be said that the whole experience feels like it’s over far too quickly. Even as the final credits roll, one can’t help but hope that there will be another chance to sink into the tropical hellhole known as Roanapur in the future.