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Black Lagoon Volume 1

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe, published by  Shonen Jump / VIZ Media

Black Lagoon Volume 1

© Rei Hiroe

The Bottom Line

Black Lagoon is full of all the things that make Hollywood or Hong Kong action flicks so much fun: big guns, big explosions and big cleavage. The bad guys gets blown to bits and the good guys usually win. Nevertheless, it's exciting, smartly written and witty enough to not take itself too seriously.

It's not high art and the characters swear like sailors with Tourette's Syndrome, but Black Lagoon is a high-octane thrill ride that is pure entertainment from start to finish. A Rated-R pirate fantasy adventure for readers who've outgrown One Piece.

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  • Rip-roaring, high-octane action and adventure served with wit, intelligence and style
  • Action-packed, cinematic artwork that reads like a Hollywood blockbuster
  • Entertaining high seas pirate adventures for readers who have outgrown One Piece
  • Weaves in lots of historical, political and munitions details to satisfy military otaku
  • Lots of interesting characters who spout off some winning one-liners


  • The fanservice can be a bit far-fetched, with the gun-toting maid and hot pants-clad assassin
  • Romanticizes the big guns, big explosions and big breasts trifecta of Hollywood action flicks


  • Original Title: Burakku Raguun (Black Lagoon) (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Rei Hiroe
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1421513829
  • Cover Price: $12.99 US / $15.00 CANADA
  • Age Rating: M – Mature, Age 18+ for violent gunplay and sexual innuendo
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: August 2008
    Japan Publication Date: December 2002
  • Book Description: 216 pages, black and white illustrations

Guide Review - Black Lagoon Volume 1

An ordinary Japanese salaryman gets caught up in industrial intrigue in the South East Asian seas and is taken hostage by a band of mercenary couriers. When his bosses tell him that they'd rather see him killed than surrender their secrets, Rokuro Okajima makes a fateful decision. He gives up his 9-to-5 life to join the motley (and heavily armed) crew of the Black Lagoon. Rokuro is then reborn as "Rock," a refugee from Tokyo's corporate grind who uses his combination of brains, guts and dumb luck to help his new crew out of some tight spots.

And what a crew it is: Revy is a hot-tempered two-fisted gun slinger who favors hot pants, tank tops and a heavy metal soundtrack when she's wasting a boat full of rival mercenaries. Benny is the tech and weapons specialist who's on the run from the FBI and the mob. Dutch is the savvy and cool-headed Vietnam vet who leads the Black Lagoon crew as he trades weapons and gunfire with a United Nations of rival cartels.

Black Lagoon is a manga that even non-manga readers can love, because it's scripted and drawn more like a Hollywood or Hong Kong action flick than following the pubescent girls and giant robots formula that's usually associated with manga. Black Lagoon features loads of non-stop, high-octane action, with big guns, big explosions and some big breasts and booties just for good measure.

Hiroe goes to great pains to weave in enough military and munitions details to make his story plausible, while including enough fantasy and good-natured fanservice to keep it fun and readable. Yes, that's a maid and yes, she's carrying a very big gun.

It ain't high art, but Black Lagoon is tightly crafted, exciting and entertaining storytelling. It's a fun fantasy for readers who've outgrown the high seas hi-jinks of One Piece but are still pirates at heart.

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