Black Lagoon is one of the few shows I marathoned in 2008 that I can still remember quite, well in spite of only rewatching half of it (and reading the first volume of the manga a couple times). I remember it because Black Lagoon was a turning point in the kind of stories that interested me, as well as in the kind of stories that I wanted to create.
The show had been recommended to me a number of times in the year before I watched it, but I was always scared to because it sounded ‘dark and gritty’. Back then, I couldn’t handle stories that featured extremely dark or violent situations and wanted to be taken seriously. Now mind you, I’ve always loved violence; but at the time, I was scared to get emotionally involved in it. In early ’08, two of my favorite anime were Mnemosyne and Baccano; both shows are ridiculously turbo-violent, but handle it in a lighthearted and fun way. (Not to mention half the cast of either show is immortal anyway.)
But Black Lagoon bridged the gap. On the one hand, it’s a fun, over-the-top action romp; but on the other hand, it’s got a lot of very human characters and real messages, and when characters die (often gruesomely), it can be heartbreaking or disturbing. (I will never forget the twins. That arc ruined me for an entire day. I loved every second of it, but I wanted to cry and puke afterwards.) Another show that showed me this type of thing was Texhnolyze, which is in no way fun, but tells a dark and very interesting tale with a horribly depressing ending that I couldn’t figure out why I liked so much at first.
I didn’t immediately feel that my stance on getting emotionally affected by violence had changed after watching those series. Shortly after watching, I did a post called ‘Violence Fetish,’ explaining my love of over-the-top violence, but also claiming that it was the only kind of violence that I saw in Black Lagoon. In that post, I also mentioned a script I was working on for a “two-part movie with influence from Gunslinger Girl, Texhnolyze, Black Lagoon, and Baccano.” That script (which never existed) was the original version of “Tales From the End of the World” – the novel series that I’m writing right now.
My feelings about violence only began to change in the time after watching those shows, because I started immersing myself in the subject. To quote the FAQ on my story’s yet-unopened site:
“In early 2008, I started to enamor myself with stories about big, dark cities, and the crazy people living in them. I’ve long been fascinated by human psychology, especially the minds of the abnormal. Not your typical suburban psychopaths, but the beastly terrors lurking only in the darkest corners of an alien city. Beings that are beyond human comprehension; whose existence is denied by our common sense. I want to see how these beasts are created, as well as what happens when they’re set loose.
Perhaps my biggest fascination is with the psychology of children. The experiences from a person’s childhood are what shapes their personality. Anyone can tell you that a ‘fucked up childhood’ will produce a ‘fucked up person;’ but what happens when you turn the gears even further, and produce a child who’s never encountered anything normal in their life? I want to see how drastically different the outcome can be from your garden-variety mentally imbalanced person.”
Through my research on snuff films and childhood sex abuse (both aspects of the backstories in Gunslinger Girl and Black Lagoon), I learned a lot of things that simultaneously interested and disgusted me, such as one article on the development of Multiple Personality and Disassociate Identity Disorder in children who suffer sexual abuse that literally left me unable to sleep that night. Through all of this, I managed to get used to those sosrt of disturbing stories, and got over my fear of them. (Incidentally, now whenever someone remarks about a news report on missing children or sex offenders like it’s a total shock, I’m just like ‘man where’ve you been? This shit is child’s play!’)
All this has little to do with Roberta’s Blood Trail, about which I have no comments except ‘it was awesome’, but I wanted to give context as to why this episode came at a perfect time for me. As I mentioned above, I’m currently writing the first book of my “Tales From the End of the World” series (Book 1 of the Scarlet City Saga, “Scarlet Zero-Nine” – Coming soon to a blog near you!) which was influenced by the four aforementioned shows, as well as light novels, such as Boogiepop and Kara no Kyoukai, as well as movies like Dark City, Snatch, The Dark Knight, and the collective works of Quentin Tarantino. You can probably tell that my story’s a very over-the-top, violent affair, and a jolly good time; but what I want to do with it most is to be like Black Lagoon. I want to write a fun and crazy story that still features interesting characters with real depth, and I hope to strike the perfect balance between serious and zany.
This was a great time to watch this OVA, as it rekindled some of Black Lagoon’s influence on me. Here we have an episode with serious discussions bookended by a loli maid dual-weilding automatic shotguns and firing them in mid-air, and I couldn’t possibly ask for something better when I’m writing a story that features a 12 year-old who runs the second-largest gang in the city, and characters running around wrecking shit up with reality-bending powers. Look forward to it.