By Rei Hiroe. Released in Japan by Shogagukan, serialization laughably sort of ongoing in the magazine Sunday Gene-X. Released in North America by Viz.
If everyone has in fact forgotten about Black Lagoon, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. I wondered why I’d never reviewed it here, then realized the last volume came out in 2010, before I started blogging manga. Rei Hiroe’s past series have not so much ended as stopped, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this one may do the same. The end of this volume has him a) apologizing to readers for this volume taking so long to come out, and b) adamantly insisting the manga was not on a hiatus. This despite the fact that after putting out this new volume of Black Lagoon, we seem to be in the midst of another drought. Sunday GX’s website has a Black Lagoon section, but it’s mostly about a new game, I believe. In other words: enjoy this volume, but expect to forget it all over again soon.
Of course, enjoying this volume may be difficult in any case. Not because of any real quality issues, but because the author is deliberately reminding readers what sort of world Roanapur is, and how deep Rock is now embedded in it. The last volume had Fabiola calling Rock out on his ambiguous morality, even if he did manage to save the day. Here he seems to still be taking that to heart, to the point where he’s gotten too jaded to actually be himself – much to Revy’s annoyance, as a cynical and bitter Rock is not something she likes to see (or finds attractive). Then there’s the return of Greenback Jane, who was played for mostly light relief in her debut arc but now is pretty much horrible. She cheerfully leads a woman into a deathtrap for her own means, justifying it by the woman’s inability to have a successful cover story. And her sexual activities with Benny have become almost constant, to the point where, after hearing a suggestion that she might drag Rock into them as well, Revy pulls off one of the best threats in the entire series.
But let’s talk about the woman I mentioned above, Feng Yifei, who if pretty much deliberately introduced to be Rock’s female counterpart, and succeeds in that she’s likeable and we are rooting for her, as opposed to most of the rest of the cast where we just sit back and watch the catastrophe. She’s clearly drawn to Rock, and he to her, but my biggest interest was in how Revy saw her, and I was very pleased. I think there is a bit of jealousy in there, though Revy would never admit it. But more to the point, Revy not only sees in her what she saw in Rock, but actually wants to help her as a means of helping Rock out of his funk and getting him to be the moral guy again. It’s terrific character development, really.
There’s a lot more I could talk about here, including the hilarious and disgusting appearance of Sawyer the Cleaner, the Chinese politics that mostly passed over me but seemed serious enough, or the appearance of three goofy assassins for hire who call themselves the Four Brothers (you’ll see). But basically: Black Lagoon 10 is much like 1-9, only you really get it rubbed in your face here what a scummy, amoral world this is. Even Gangsta seems lighter and fluffier in comparison. Despite that, it’s still a good read, especially for action fans. Just… don’t expect Vol. 11 anytime soon.