December 03, 2014

First Episode Writeup #1

While we're waiting for the Kantai Collection anime to finally come down the pike, I'm going to try something different for a while.  Since there's only a month or so until the Winter season begins, I probably don't have enough time to do a writeup for an entire series worth of episodes... but I can do single episodes with no problem!  Take the first episode of a show, inflict upon it my own special kind of love and kindness, leave it broken and bleeding in the dirt, and move on, laughing at my own callousness.  Unless, of course, there's an outpouring of feeling demanding I do the rest of the series, in which case I'll consider it.  Then leave it, too, broken and bleeding in the dirt whilst I do the evil laugh and twirl my mustache like Snidley Whiplash (kids, ask your parents).  I dunno how it'll work, but I think it has the potential of being kinda fun!  Heck, why not, let's give it the ol' college try.

Say hello to Skippy.  That's probably not his name, but as we've yet to be told what it is, Skippy will do for now.  Skippy is pretty much your average to slightly-below-average salaryman cliche.  He works long hours for a huge multinational corporation in an unrewarding job, has no time for a life outside of work, and tends to wear a lot of gray.

His direct superior treats him like whale snot on the bottom of your shoe, and why not?  That's how his boss treated him when he was just starting out in the company, and if it was good enough for him, it's good enough for Skippy, only doubly-so.  After all, now HE'S the boss and he's got to make sure the underlings know it.  Skippy meekly bends over and takes it, because that's how it's done in Stereotypical Salaryman's Life, and hopes to someday move up in the world, into a position where he might be able to make someone else as miserable as he is today.

His appears to be a crapsack world indeed.  Nowhere in it is there room for things like zombies, bento fights, technomagical girls with kickarse scarves or happy gambling paradises.  All is gray, and that's the way it's always been, and that's the way it'll always be. 

So how the hell did it come to this?

Well, that's a funny story, actually... it seems that Skippy's big multinational corporation sent him out to Borneo to make a delivery of a supersecret package.  A package that contained...

...a DVD.  OMG Half Life 3 confirmed!  Well, no, actually Skippy doesn't know what's on the thing, he's just the delivery boy.  As one can imagine, this doesn't particularly sit well with the two individuals pointing guns at him, so they decide to question him further.

After giving Skippy's nose a workout by running it around his face, Dutch (the big one) gets a radio call from someone named Benny (not pictured in this shot, because he's on the radio) saying that the Philippine Navy has sent a ship out to investigate the shenanigans and goings-on.  Well, that's torn it.  They shoot Skippy, dump him over the side and disappear with the disc, never to be seen again.  No, wait.  Instead...

...they don't shoot him, dump him over the side and onto their vessel, what we later discover is an Elco 80' PT boat of WWII vintage, with working and armed torpedo launchers.  At this point, we also discover that Dutch and his merry band are a delivery company (ahem) that sometimes skirts the letter of the law.  Pirates, in other words. 

Pirates A delivery company that has a working relationship with a woman named Balalaika with a scarred face and a penchant for nice suits and oversized books.  Uh-huh.  I have no idea what that means in this case, but uh-huh.  Anyway, Dutch lets her know the disc is in his hands, and she's pleased, and everything is right with the world.  After hanging up with our pirate captain, she places another call... to a particular multinational corporation in Tokyo.

Sometime shortly thereafter, said corporation's head honchos meet to discuss a little problem.  Seems Balalaika is the head of the "Bougainvillea Trade Company."  A pleasant little name, full of lush visions of South Pacific islands, fair breezes and palm trees.  It's actually Russian Mafia.  Oh swell.  Balalaika is willing to trade them the disc for access to some of the company's less... savory... business aspects.  I love the smell of blackmail in the morning.  A decision is made to intercept the disc before it gets into Balalaika's hands.  Meanwhile...

...Dutch and the female pirate, who's name is Revy, discuss what to do with Skippy.  She's all like "ransom, duh" and Dutch is all "O RLY," and Revy goes "YA RLY", at which point they stop talking in owls and it's pointed out that they don't really have a bank account set up to receive a ransom and who's gonna negotiate it the first place, her?  Puh-leeeeeze!

She's not fond of the turn the conversation took, not at all.  She immediately says, fine, we'll just kill Skippy and pumps a whole buncha lead into his skull.  Wa-hey, problem solved... feisty one we've got here.  It cost us a Skippy, but there's always more where they came from.

Skippy looks so natural like that.  He would have wanted it this way.  Turns out every shot missed, but in a way that made it incredibly obvious that Revy was missing on purpose.  Not to Skippy, though... he nigh on peed his skivvies, and rightfully so.  Anyway, Dutch's plan is to eventually contact the multinational corporation and get Skippy, who's real name is Rokuro, back to them, but getting the disc to Balalaika comes first.  Meanwhile, back at said multinational corporation...

...Skippy's boss is catching hell, but it all pretty much ends with resignation and some faint amount of sorrow towards our erstwhile Skippy.  Seems the company has an... agreement... with some special contractors who are on the case.  Back in the piracy gig...

...they've reached port in Roanapur.  You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.  It's the sort of place where the bar is armor-plated, guns are on every table, and death is in the air.  Where anything is for sale, life is cheap, and cliches fall fast and heavy upon the ground.  It's a bad place is what I'm saying.  While Dutch calls Balalaika, and finds out that Skippy's company have sent mercenaries after them...

...Revy and Skippy get into a drinking contest.  She calls him less than a man because he drinks beer instead of chugging rum, and he shows some spine and stands up in the name of karaoke-singing, binge-drinking Japanese salarymen everywhere.  This will not end well.

See?  Told ya.  Grenades are never a sign of things ending well.  Though, to be fair, in Roanapur, grenades are usually how you say "hello."

Ah.  These would probably be the aforementioned mercenaries.  Or the Roanapur Girl Scouts and their enthusiastic cookie sales techniques.  One of the two.  A roaring gunfight breaks out, but the pirates and Skippy all somehow make it to cover.  As the bullets whine and ping off the front of the bar ("Rated up to .50 caliber!"), Dutch suggests that this might be a good time for Revy to show why she's called "Two Hands."  I can think of many reasons why someone might be called "Two Hands."  Some of them are even appropriate for a family blog.

"Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds."  I don't usually feel bad for animated mooks, but I suddenly feel awfully bad for the mercs.

Yup.  I was right.  She's suddenly everywhere in the bar, pistols barking, and with every pull of the trigger, another merc bites the dust.  And the entire time, Revy's got a huge grin on her face.  While the slaughter goes on, Dutch comes flat out and says to Skippy "we're not gonna be able to trade you... how about we just part ways now?"  Skippy has some problems with this idea and goes so far as to point out that it's their fault he's in this mess.  Well... um... he's not entirely wrong, I guess.

Everybody makes their way out the back door, pile into the car, and they zoom away into the night.  A few hours later, out at sea on the PT boat, Bennie makes contact with Skippy's boss.

Considering everything that's happened to Skippy, he thinks it's only fair that Skippy knows the truth behind it all.  That disc?  Well, as a hedge against a downturn in sales, the company decided that it would be a good idea to help a "wartorn country" develop nuclear weapons.  The disc has the plans for the bombs on it.  Of course, there's no way the news about this could be allowed to possibly get out in the media.  So, the next batch of professional ruffians and neer-do-wells will be showing up any moment.

But on the bright side, Skippy's gonna be promoted two grades to Assistant Manager!  Also, the president of the company and his family will attend Skippy's funeral.  So the company won't forget him, and he'll be a hero amongst the employees of the company.  A moment later, there's a loud sound outside...

Oh, you have got to be kidding me.  Unguided rockets, missiles, flexible cannon, the whole works.  A few strafing runs, a couple of rockets, and Revy shooting back with a 20mm anti-tank rifle, and...

...Skippy finally snaps, and who can blame him?  A couple of days ago, he was an average salaryman in a multinational corporation in Tokyo.  Since then, a ship he was on was taken by pirates, the very same pirates that ohbytheway took him hostage, he was nearly murdered by the bloodthirsty wench standing behind him, then caught in a firefight, his company has decided to throw him in the trash, and now he's being attacked by a helicopter.  The wonder isn't that he's snapped, but that it's taken this long!  He picks up a random assault rifle and...

...*sigh*.  Way to be effective, Skippy.  Way to be.  Slow fade to black, roll credits and cue creepy end theme.

This is easily the best show I've ever considered for a writeup, and now I know why I tend more towards bad shows.  Sunuvabeetchmartin, this was tough!  It was really difficult to make my usual jokes and sarcastic comments... the show was too good, too tightly crafted, and waaaaay too dark to let me josh and jape with it the way I usually do.  In fact, it's that darkness that prevents Black Lagoon from ending up on my "favorite shows of all time" list.  Once it gets rolling, it's unrelentingly grim. 

Which, I'll admit, the series has to be.  If you tried to lighten it up at all, it'd go right into the crapper.  Honestly, when a girl wielding a chainsaw that wears gothloli clothing and needs an electronic voicebox because her throat had been slashed in the past is your comedic relief, you know your show is dark.

Do I recommend it?  Yes, actually I do, with the understanding that it is NOT for everybody.  Hell, it's not even the type of show I'd normally like, except it's so damn good.  Quality goes a long way, don'tchaknow?  I give it a rating of  5.0 out of 5.0, and at least half of my readers that haven't seen it will hate it.

Next Episode: more zombies!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 04:30 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 1933 words, total size 14 kb.

5.0 out of 5.0
at least half of my readers that haven't seen it will hate it.
De gustibus delenda est, or something.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 03, 2014 04:47 PM (2yngH)

2 I didn't get very far into the show. Maybe I should try again, but I think it might just be too much of the grimdark for me to fully engage in the long-term.

Is it masterfully produced? Oh hell yes. Is it really my cuppa? Probably not entirely.

Posted by: GreyDuck at December 03, 2014 06:49 PM (3m7pZ)

3 5 out of 5.

I passed on this show for 5 years, finally watched it in 2011. Glad I did, but it's a difficult watch.

Now it sits on the shelf next to "Grave of the Fireflies", another difficult 5 out of 5.

Posted by: skyhack at December 04, 2014 01:03 AM (wa1Z/)

4 De gustibus delenda est

That *needs* to be the motto of a particularly bad fast food franchise.  Maybe Taco Bell?

Posted by: Mitch H. at December 04, 2014 10:14 AM (jwKxK)

5 Wait, Grave of the Fireflies?  This is as hard to watch as Grave of the Fireflies?  That puts a different spin on things.  I thought people meant it was difficult to watch like Gantz is Elfen Lied is difficult to watch.

Posted by: Ben at December 04, 2014 12:12 PM (DRaH+)

6 It's not that way at all.  I mean, sure, the Hansel & Gretel arc is tough, but it's Elfen Lied "wow, that's a lot of blood" tough, not "watching your sister die from malnutrition" tough.

Posted by: Wonderduck at December 04, 2014 03:53 PM (jGQR+)

7 One of my favorite animes - I've watched the DVDs a couple times now.  In a later episode, Rok and Revy get into an argument that ends in gunfire (of course), and it just felt so right  for those characters at that time to have that fight.

Posted by: Siergen at December 04, 2014 05:10 PM (r3+4f)

8 Ok, I'm back off the ledge now.  Ultraviolence rolls off my psyche like...umm, you know.  Psychological torture of my soul vis-a-vis the realities of the consequences of war doesn't really roll anywhere.

Posted by: Ben at December 04, 2014 05:17 PM (DRaH+)

9 I liked Black Lagoon. I mean, sure it's dark and violent, and sure there's plenty of unreliable associates out in the world. But on the whole, it's pretty much a show about working together with people you _can trust, even when the rest of the world either doesn't care or is against you.

Posted by: at December 04, 2014 09:45 PM (ZJVQ5)

10 Psychological torture of my soul vis-a-vis the realities of the consequences of war doesn't really roll anywhere.

Then you're okay for the first 12 episodes, no problem!  You might want to watch out when you see a pair of very young blonde siblings appear, however.  That arc is ugly in all senses of the word.  It's also really, really well done... which is why it's ugly.

Posted by: Wonderduck at December 04, 2014 10:29 PM (jGQR+)

Hide Comments | Add Comment

Comments are disabled.
37kb generated in CPU 0.0122, elapsed 0.1407 seconds.
47 queries taking 0.121 seconds, 233 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.