RAB: Black Lagoon and Feminism

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  I started this new job, and to be completely honest, there isn’t that much to talk about.  I’ve said my piece about the election this year.  It’s a farce, and I refuse to participate.  The whole thing is a joke, and the reality is that everything happening just proves that this country is doomed and pretending otherwise is just being dishonest.  But I thought I would write something about this new series that I have been watching.  I’ve made no secret how I think so much of modern anime is tepid garbage.  The worst thing to happen to anime was when it went mainstream.  Now it has to meet corporate standards of audience appeal, so most shows that could have something clever about them end up getting watered down to insane degrees.

Then I get shows like Black Lagoon.  This series is a marvel.  It feels like such a send-up to so many classic styles of both anime and film that have died so long ago.  It’s from studio Madhouse, who I hear has gone out of business.  Can someone confirm or deny that for me in the Comments?  I really want to know.  Because I have a theory about this series and how it “ended” which might go along with whether or not this place closed.  But I digress.  This series is just awesome.  Were it not for the fact that it has no ending, but just a point where it stops, then I would put it among my favorite anime.  The animation is awesome.  Sure, it’s got CG integration, but since the color palate is so bright and vibrant, you can easily miss it.

I think this series is so much fun.  It tells the story of the Lagoon Company, and the little family of complete criminals who occupy it, who our new protagonist, who comes to be known by the name Rock, is a part of after his ship gets attacked.  The series is basically a send-up to John Wu movies.  Every action sequence is so insane, hyper-violent, uses an absurd number of bullets, but you can’t help but love.  The characters are all so unique and their stories get flushed out in interesting ways.  However, my personal favorite, is Revy.

Rebecca “Revy” Lee is such an 80’s action hero.  She’s foul-mouthed in the extreme.  Her gunplay skills are borderline superhuman, and she is a complete badass virtually all the time who sees violence as her first, last, and only solution to problem-solving.  But more than just being badass, she’s also human.  This is why I have feminism in the title of this post.  Of course, feminists would think poorly of her character.  She wears a tanktop and short-shorts, with combat boots that are perpetually-untied.  The woman has zero fucks to give about how she looks.  Since she’s not ashamed of her body, the SJW crowd would NEVER see her as a likeable character.  Oh, and she’s hot.  But the series doesn’t play her that way.  They never shy away from her body, but the whole series treats how she looks as part of her attitude of zero fucks to give.  There’s a scene where she’s in her bed, in her tanktop and panties, musing about how hungover she is.  The series makes her sexuality seem like just some thing that’s attached to her.  Oh, and like all good 80’s action heroes, she smokes and drinks like the best of them.

But unlike modern SJW-approved heroines, she’s not some perfect person.  She’s not just badass.  She’s human.  Through the whole series. the growth of her relationship with Rock begins to show cracks in her armor.  Revy is emotionally broken.  Her entire life has been about killing, and it has left her virtually without a conscience.  The times that Rock has been forcing her to face that part of herself, it brings out the very worst in her.  Repeatedly leading to violent confrontations with Rock and her threatening to kill him.  I hate how you have characters like Katniss Everdeen, who is totally perfect and completely strong and can do no wrong.  She has no huge, glaring flaws to overcome.  She’s just swell.  And I guarantee, if her and Revy ended up facing off, Revy would shoot that bow out of her hands with her Cutlasses, then blow her head off.  Good!  I cannot stand these Mar Sues that I’m seeing be the symbol for strong female characters.

For the days when a good character was shown to be a human being!  Human beings have problems!  A good character in a story has to overcome some part of themselves in order to grow and save the day.  Since Revy is an 80’s action hero, let’s take a look at my favorite 80’s action hero – John McClane.  When we see him in the first Die Hard, he isn’t just some badass.  He’s an estranged husband.  He’s afraid of flying.  He has no shoes.  He’s all the Nagatomi Plaza has, but he realizes that he’s going into this at a disadvantage.  That’s awesome!  That makes a compelling character.  Same with Revy.  She’s emotionally broken, and not particularly well-adjusted.  She purposely brings a guy into her life, who has her finding parts of her empathy that hadn’t existed in a long time.  She doesn’t always handle this well.  Doesn’t that sound a thousand times more interesting than Rey in the new Star Wars, whose biggest flaw is that she is afraid of being all heroic, for about five minutes?

Another thing I love about this series is how maturely the relationship between Revy and Rock is handled.  The first time they bond is when Revy is bragging about her drinking talents, and he comes back at her that he has had to work up the corporate ladder in Japan, so he has developed a drink tolerance that she is woefully underestimating.  Their standoff leads to a hilarious line as they demand to see who can take more.  There are some ups and downs between them, but it isn’t handled like how most anime does, with the guy being all shy and demure and not able to handle the closeness.  Here, the two are like actual adults.  He gives her shit, she gives him shit.  When he barges into her room to get her ass up when the boss demands it, and he isn’t all awkward to see her in her underwear.  Instead, he tells her to get her ass downstairs, because Dutch can’t afford to wait.  I love that!

But my favorite moment is after the two of them have it out in a cafe.  Revy is pointing a gun at Rock, and the two are going back-and-forth about their respective places in the world.  Revy doesn’t want to admit that she’s warming up to him, because then she’d have to admit that she has a caring side.  Her instincts tell her to fight, but he doesn’t run from her.  In a stunning display of courage, he stands his ground and forces her to be an adult about it.  This anime is so great in how it gives the finger to genre conventions.  Once all is said and done, her and Rock end up in the back of a police cruiser.  The cops agree to let them go, but they’ll have to go back to the station for a while.  One of the cops lights a smoke for Rock, with Revy then asking him for a light.  He tells her that the cop lit his smoke, so he doesn’t have one.  To which she replies that he does.  For a second, he’s confused, but then looks down and realizes what she means – his smoke.  Leaning over, he gets very close, and she touches her smoke to his, which lights it.  Ladies and gentlemen, a metaphorical kiss!  For a series lacking in any form of subtlety, that was awesome!  I genuinely loved that moment.  Too bad the series never builds on it.

My theory is that, if Madhouse closed, this series died because of it.  Which, by the way, sucks.  I hear there is a four or five episode OVA third season made, but that means nothing to me.  How I wish a show this awesome could have gone on.  Or at least ended in a way that wraps things up.  But nope.  Like some of the best anime, it died before its time.  Oh well.  It is still awesome. A whole series that’s a John Wu film.  Down with that!

Until next time, a quote,

“Don’t be silly. This is way more entertaining than Hollywood’s ever gonna be.” – Rebecca “Revy” Lee, Black Lagoon

Peace out,

Maverick

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2 thoughts on “RAB: Black Lagoon and Feminism

  1. i just started watching Black Lagoon. I am on episode 11, and I think Revy is a woman, a real one, not a wanna be. She is badass, and does give a flying fuck about how she looks. She wears what she wants, and never wants to impress anyone. She just wants to kick ass.

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