Thursday, 4 August 2011

Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail - Episode 5 (Completed)

It's taken far too long (and perhaps taken some of the proverbial sting from its tale in the process), but at last we reach the conclusion to Roberta's Blood Trail, and the final test of Rock's carefully planned but ultimately high risk strategy.

As this episode begins, Rock himself seems in buoyant mood to the point of near complacency as he outlines the final stage of his plan to Garcia with something approaching a sneer on his face - just as Roberta has descended further and further into darkness during the course of this OVA, so it could be said that Rock has had a similarly radical personality change on his own.  Meanwhile, Revy and Fabiola's only little contrestemps sees the former surprisingly upset, as she storms off to feel sorry for herself and her own neglected, disturbed childhood in light of all of the talk of family spouted by Fabiola.

Eventually of course, we come to the final face-off of this series, with Roberta playing a game of cat and mouse with the remaining US army forces using every trick at her disposal - traps, booby traps, hostages, and some decidedly nasty pieces of weaponry.  While Roberta's abilities and deranged, frenzied attacks seem set to see her to victory, it's Garcia's intervention that turns the tide, eventually leading to a tense and dangerous stand-off between himself and Roberta.  Ultimately, all of this goes just as Rock planned, but the same cannot be said for our anti-hero's wider plan - as he reveals his dream to free Roanapur from the clutches of drugs and destitution it currently resides in by using the US army to reach this end, so he also fails to realise that even greater forces are at work in the background to ensure the status quo remains the same...

It's actually a little difficult to get a real feel for how well this OVA achieved its goals given how widely spread my viewing of its episodes were - by the time each new instalment had come around, many of the complexities of the last outing had been lost, and that was particularly important in the case of this story where various machinations were at play.  Setting that aside, Roberta's Blood Trail was a bit of a hit and miss efforts for me - some of its action scenes were typically sharp, graphic and absolutely what we've come to expect from the franchise, but on the other hand its characterisation and character dynamics didn't quite hit the mark more often than not.  This left important moments like Rock's shifting into a darker, more devious and even malicious role a little harder to accept than it maybe should have been while also reducing Revy's impact more often than not - not a complete disaster by any means, but it just felt a little "off" in the way it was played somehow.

Ultimately, this OVA wasn't Black Lagoon at its best for the most part, but it was still most certainly Black Lagoon, and that definitely isn't a bad thing at all.

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