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Black Lagoon: Hidden Messages Concerning Modern Piracy

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Madigan Smith

FYRS

Packard

17 April 2018

Black Lagoon: Hidden Messages Concerning Modern Piracy

Many great pieces of pirate fiction are inspired by either other great pieces of fiction or real-life events of piracy. There is one piece in the animated world that comes to mind when modern piracy is mentioned, Black Lagoon. Black Lagoon is an adaptation of a Japanese comic, written and drawn by Hiroe Rei, which was aired from early 2006 until mid-2011 with two seasons in the show and a spin-off series, about a small group of modern pirates doing various jobs mainly around the South China Sea areas. Black Lagoon opens with and follows a Japanese business man named Rokuro Okajima. While making his way across the South China Sea on a business trip, his ship was hijacked by a group of pirates known as the Lagoon Company who came to steal his company’s information. After the Lagoon Company takes the information, Rokuro is taken hostage as a bargaining chip to get more money from his company. His company finds out that he has been captured for a ransom and has decided to leave him for dead while they send mercenaries to recover their data. Rokuro turns his back on his mundane life and joins the Lagoon Company as “Rock”. The series presents the main characters, Rock, Levy, Dutch, and Benny, generally doing many different smuggling and transport jobs for several crime organizations and the obstacles that come with it. All throughout the show, the audience gets small glimpses of the main character's lives before becoming pirates and how they develop because of it. Since the series was inspired by current events happening in the southeast Asian pacific region in the 1990’s, Black Lagoon will certainly have some moral truth or commentary behind its plot. The series questions morality, presents some background on the characters, demonstrates deep knowledge on common actions of crime syndicates and different types of turmoil in different countries. The way this series plays out is enthralling and produces questions about the characters and their situations that made them turn out the way they did. The big question of this paper is, “What are the underlying messages of Black Lagoon and why are they presented in the show?” Other factors in the show might give away what the author feels about the issues he presents and what the director decides to show in the television series. The main points this paper will focus on will be about uncovering events of history and morals of the real world that inspired the creation of Black Lagoon by exploring some of the characters’ backstories, analyzing the setting, music, and symbolism in the show, and learning the thoughts of Rei and Black Lagoon’s inspiration. Before getting into the evidence of the paper, some definitions must be presented first.

What is a pirate? When anyone hears this term, the first image they think of is a man with an eyepatch, a peg leg, and a parrot who likes to terrorize and plunder the seven seas for the sake of being a thief. They may even think of the famous series known as Pirates of the Caribbean and Captain Jack Sparrow. If an avid anime fan were to think of a pirate, they might think of the overly-popular series called One Piece with the eccentric Luffy wanting to become the Pirate King. However, not many people would imagine modern day pirates like the pirates of Somalia or, in this case, the fictional anime pirates of  Black Lagoon. There are many depictions and interpretations of what a pirate can be considered as and even what type of piracy it can be. In the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, the term pirate has two different definitions. The first is, “one who commits an act of robbery on the high seas”. The second is, “the unauthorized use of another’s production, invention, or conception especially in an infringement of  copyright or the illicit accessing of broadcast signals”. The first definition is the most common depiction of piracy. It definitely applies to most characters in the show Black Lagoon and. The first definition is vague and covers a broad spectrum, save for a few of the characters who could be further defined by the type of piracy. The second definition can only be applied to a couple of characters in the show as this type of piracy is more commonly seen as internet piracy or “the illicit accessing of broadcast signals”. Black Lagoon presents this definition in the show as “hacking” and accessing information from government agencies and intercepting communication of other pirates.

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