Roberta’s Blood Trail is the anime follow up to Black Lagoon and Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage. This five part OVA tells the continuing adventures of Lagoon Company, a group that specialises in smuggling goods out of the Thai city of Roanapur (it’s a fictional place, so please don’t waste your time trying to locate it on an Atlas.) As you may have gathered from the DVD’s title, this particular story arc focuses on Roberta, an ex Colombian terrorist who has since settled down in Venezuela where she now works as a maid for the wealthy Lovelace family.
Unfortunately for Roberta her life of tranquillity is shattered when a team of American soldiers assassinate the head of the Lovelace family (wow I’m surprised, I thought that these days they left such tasks for unmanned drones.) Anyway, Roberta is understandably miffed and decides to come out of mercenary retirement to make her master’s killers pay. Using her famed tracking skills, that have earned her the nickname Bloodhound, Roberta finds out that the US troops responsible for the slaying of her employer are now based in Roanapur. She sets out to enact her vengeance and maybe marvel at the lady boys Thailand is renowned for.
For those of you not acquainted with the Black Lagoon franchise, Roanapur is a hive of scum and villainy that would make Han Solo blush. The harbour city is populated with weapons dealers, whores and Mafiosos who are not exactly thrilled by Roberta’s appearance. If the homicidal maid succeeds in executing her targets Roanapur can expect a visit from an irate Uncle Sam, who will undoubtedly disrupt their illicit operations. Thus the stage is set. Roberta is pursuing the Americans whilst everyone else is out to stop her. Lagoon Company are drafted into the whole mess when the new head of the Lovelace family, a thirteen year old boy named Garcia, hires them to rescue his head maid before things escalate out of hand.
As you would expect from the series, once things kick off the OVA erupts into a carnage filled orgy of action and profanity that wouldn’t look out of place in a Robert Rodriguez movie. The early episodes are however surprisingly quiet, doing a good job of setting up the story and reintroducing viewers to the show’s main players. Dutch the head of Lagoon Company and Benny the tech wiz are largely shoved into the background so it is left to Revy and Rock (not to be confused with the Herculean wrester who has a twitchy eyebrow) to share the limelight.
Revy is the foul-mouthed femme fatal who steals the show during the action sequences, which highlight her gun-totting prowess. Rock on the other hand sits on the sidelines orchestrating the whole operation. It’s fascinating to see how Rock’s character has developed over the course of the series. He started out as a fish out of water office dweeb and has slowly morphed into a tactical genius that delights in seeing how his masterful plans unfold. Perhaps his exposure to Roanapur’s toxic environment has corrupted him or maybe it has unearthed a dark side that was always bubbling under the surface?
My final score for Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail is a solid four stars out of five. Although many viewers will be attracted to the series by its visceral combat showpieces the story is surprisingly clever and filled with a cast of anti-heroes who, despite not being the nicest chaps you will ever meet, have enough redeemable qualities to make you root for them. Even though the action sequences look cool I wouldn’t accuse Black Lagoon’s creators of glorifying violence. Once the dust settles you have to deal with the aftermath of broken bodies and shattered lives, which make you feel guilty for cheering on during the times when the drug fuelled Roberta was laying waste to her enemies. It’s been four years since Second Barrage was released and I am happy to report that the wait was well worth it. Roberta’s Blood Trail is an excellent addition to the on-going Black Lagoon franchise.