East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Going through the Second Barrage

A lot of online reviewers were less than kind with Black Lagoon‘s second season – called The Second Barrage. Most lamented the absence of Dutch and Benny from many episodes, the excessive focus on Rock and Revy’s “relationship”, and the less frantic action. So I was rather curious to see what it would look like.
And to me it looks… quite interesting.

To recap, Black Lagoon is an early 2000s anime/manga series set in the ’90s, and focusing on the day-to-day lives of a team of mercenaries, the Black Lagoon Trading Co., operating in the South China Sea. The first season follows four successive narrative arcs, throwing in a lot of firepower and an ample cast of supporting characters – including an organization of gun-running nuns, a Triad’s boss that is obviously Chow Yun Fat from A better tomorrow II, and a formidable unit of former Soviet special forces, known as Hotel Moscow, now working for the Russian Mafia.

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Into the Black Lagoon

It was a very stressful day, the prelude to a week that promises – you guessed it – even more stressful. But not everything was bad, and as a recipe of my own devising was broiling in the slow cooker, I was finally able to get to the bottom of the first season of Black Lagoon.
That’s a good way to wash away some stress.

I found out about Black Lagoon a few years back, as I was doing a research on the classic Universal monster, the Gill Man, aka The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Google searches being what they are, I stumbled on this thing called Black Lagoon
Japanese anime. Does it feature a Creature? No, it looks like straight action.
Straight action anime, references to a movie I like… let’s check it out.

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Change the world with music

No, this is not a post about some 1970s disco extravaganza.
75168In a post about the late Robert F. Young a few days back I mentioned his influence on a Japanese anime called RahXephon.
I was first interested in the thing when it was described to me as Evangelion’s smarter brother.

Confessions of an Anime viewer: I was never able to get Neon Genesis Evangelion. I know it was a huge success and a smash hit and all that, but I tried it and I did not like it.
The fact that there were at the time self-styled otakus shouting ceaselessly about how the series was better than anything that had gone before and anything that would come afterwards sort of cooled my already not-very-hot enthusiasm.

But RahXephon came with that comment, the reference to Robert F. Young’s masterful short story The Dandelion Girl and the discovery that it was somehow related to Churchward’s work about the lost continent of Mu.

So I gave it a try, and while I still have some misgivings, I’ll admit I was positively impressed. I do not normally cover anime on this blog, but once in a while, during the Silly Season… why not? Continue reading

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Summer Wars

I took the afternoon off to watch a movie about a bunch of kids fighting inside a virtual reality to save a huge game-world that is sort of a global virtual fun-house.
Only I did not watch Ready Player One.
I watched Summer Wars, from 2009.


Summer Wars is a science fiction animated movie produced by the same team that gave us The Girl that Leaped Through Time, and it’s a great story with a colorful cast of character and just the right amount of over-the-top implausibility to make it click. Continue reading