September 10, 2011
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Title: Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Rating: 9.4/10

Roberta's Blood Trail

Summary: The assassination of the head of the Lovelace family in Venezuela sets his maid, a former terrorist named Roberta, on a bloodthirsty quest for revenge at any cost. The search for the culprits leads her to Roanapur, causing a massive commotion in Thailand. Garcia, heir of the Lovelace legacy and someone who regards Roberta as a precious family member, also travels to Roanapur and wants to make a deal with the Lagoon Company.

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Review: Roberta’s Blood Trail has been the greatest installment into the Black Lagoon series. It created a new environment, brought better action, more in depth character development, and shined as one of the greatest action OVAs of all time. As a fan of the Black Lagoon series I couldn’t have been happier. Do I believe that this should be their final project? Not even close. With the creation of Roberta’s Blood Trail it is clear to me that the series has still got it. It has entertained me time and time again. Despite its general mini-story arc format, all of the events are tied together. Roberta’s Blood Trail was no different, if anything it showed such a format even more. The series explicitly refers back to the entire second season of the series. Although it can stand alone, I would suggest watching the original two seasons first. These jaw dropping five part OVA’s has me itching for more Black Lagoon.

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The series opens with some great visuals that were refreshing but held true to the series’ original style. With guns blazing and crazy acrobatics, Roberta’s Blood Trail was a brilliant watch from beginning to end. The first OVA had me curious how well the short season would look, having a few artistic faults and abnormalities. However, just as the story improved so did the art. The difference between the first and final episode is noticeable. The series takes into account a lot of lighting effects as did the full first two seasons. Minor details in things such as the light of a cigarette or illumination of the moon off the ocean’s waves were clear to see toward the end. It wasn’t the lighting that caught my attention. The action in Roberta’s Blood Trail was by far the best of the series. It came with the raw carnage anyone would expect from a Lagoon episode. I’m quite glad they decided to make this story into OVAs because it allowed them to leave things uncensored. The anime took advantage of that from sexual themes to skull bashing. Sometimes the two of them not so far in between. It wasn’t so much that I enjoyed such unfiltered bloodshed, but rather the impact it had on the me mentally. It brought out a whole new level of adrenaline that I have never felt before while watching an action anime. My eyes remained glued to the screen as my heart beat hard against my chest in pure excitement. Even the dialogue proved to be quite the intake.

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The problem with most action anime is the lack of character development and story. Most of the time the story isn’t very gripping and it mostly there to keep the episode moving. Roberta’s Blood Trail broke both those cases with brilliant character development and a rather heavy story. The story tied together the multiple syndicates, US military, and Lagoon company into one big mash-up. The characters that shined were Mr. Chang from The Chinese Hong Kong Triad, Rock and Revy from the Lagoon Company, and Eda from The Church of Violence. Revy, being one of my favorite characters of all time, had more of her past revealed this season. Instead of seeing simple flashes of a magnum and feathers flying, you finally get to see what exactly happened. These short yet effective flashbacks made me attached to her character design even. Hints of why she has taken a liking to Rock were also made clear even though I had my suspicions earlier. Rock, the strategist and gambler of the episode had quite a few changes. You got to see a darker sad to his personality. His addiction to saving as many people as possible started to resemble that of a mentally insane patient; kept himself under control only enough to get his point across. Seeing this devilish side of Rock really drove home the mental strain he received after the end of Second Barrage. Which again brings out the point that much of Roberta’s Blood Trail is tied in with the previous seasons. Even characters like Lotton the Wizard, Frederica Sawyer and Shenhua made a reappearance. What I was surprised with was the short, but crucial role Eda played. In past seasons she had always seemed like a background character, getting lost in the hussle and bussle of Roanapur. I’m glad that she had a time to shine in Roberta’s Blood Trail after getting multiple glimpses of her true identity. Now viewers can rest easy knowing who she is really working for, and why she is in The Church of Violence. The thing that particularly interested me this time around was how twisted this series had gotten. It wasn’t rare to see a blood stained grin or deranged psychopaths having a field day with a waging war. I can best describe it as a mix between the sickness of the Hansel and Gretel arc and story play of the Japanese arc in Second Barrage. Taking the series above and beyond, it was clear that everything had been very well planned out. Nearly every “fault” (I use the term lightly because I don’t consider them complete faults) I saw in the first two seasons were improved in Roberta’s Blood Trail. It is obvious that anyone who is a fan of the series will absolutely love Roberta’s Blood Trail.

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The soundtrack hadn’t changed from the first two seasons. The opening was more or less the same (with a few remix qualities) with a different animation. Songs like “Don’t Stop” were continuously played throughout the episodes over many fight scenes. This is probably the only part I would suggest an improvement on. Although I do like the soundtrack for Black Lagoon (enough for me to acquire the OST), they could have done a lot more with it. Don’t change it drastically, but at least spice it up a little. “Don’t Stop” can’t be the only jazzy rock song out there.

Final statements: This is a must see for anyone especially Black Lagoon fans. If you haven’t watched the first two season yet, what are you waiting for? Roberta’s Blood Trail should be reason enough to catch up. I’m dying for a third season, and after watching these OVAs I have complete confidence in a brilliantly done full season.

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