Fairy Tail has an interesting place in our anime-watching history. It was an anime we watched in Tokyo without subtitles on the television in our hotel room. We were entertained enough to check it out when we returned home, and actually kept up with it for the first 48-50 episodes. Since then it’s been officially on hold. It’s nothing we’d ever blog weekly, but it’s by no means horrible.
We’ve always liked its optimistic outlook, bold, colorful characters vaguely Celtic soundtrack. The production values are pretty awful though, as many characters are poorly or inconsistently rendered. Like many long-form animes, it also takes a while for anything to actually happen, so we were lucky to pick this random episode in which everything is wrapped up in a nice little package.
We got a little of everything: a climactic battle in which Natsu punches the bad guy in the face a decisive 496th time; other Fairy Tail members contribute a powerful attack of their own, after a stern scolding, the villain’s life is spared and he’s sent on his way (Fairy Tail aren’t executioners), and the guild heals, rests up, and celebrates a job well done. If only it took 5-10 episodes to get to these points, rather than 50.
Roberta’s blood trail ends in one final bloody stand deep in the golden triangle. With help from the team of American soliders, Garcia confronts his maid – riddled with bullet holes and almost entirely mad – and persuades her to stand down. Rock gets the ending he wanted, Revy is as angry and bitter as ever, and Roberta returns to Venezuela with her master and Fabiola, where the physical and emotional healing can begin.
I always assumed that Roberta’s story would end pretty much like Scarface’s…propped up by drugs but eventually without enough limbs attached to her or blood left in her veins to maintain life. That’s how this last womanhunt initially goes down, as the soldiers are able to take little bites out of her here and there in exchange for their lives. But it’s his lordship, Garcia Lovelace, who finally grows a pair and takes a gun – and matters – into his own hands. He doesn’t want revenge anymore…he just wants his maid back.
Due to the time between installments of this OVA, a lot of the stuff Rock was talking about and his bet with Chang escaped me, so I pretty much ignored his increasingly annoying ramblings (though I liked how both Revy and Fabiola got in his face about it). No, I focused on the excellent action, in which military discipline and precision clash against the wild animal that was Roberta, prior to being snapped out of it by Garcia. I’m pleased that a relatively happy ending was reached that didn’t feel like a cheat, without anyone major dying.
Roanapur has become a great big sopping sponge utterly saturated by blood, a lot of it Roberta’s. Since taking ALL THE DRUGS IN THE WORLD, she’s gone from redlining the crazy-o-meter to liquifying the needle. She probably spent her few off-camera moments licking windows. But the one wild (literally feral) card Rock can’t predict is unquestionably the crazy-ass core of this OVA series. Some want her. Others want to be her.
While I’m aware of the mission, Rock has a loftier scheme in play. He’s spewing virtually nothing but metaphors at this point, and he’s developed an evil smirk. Garcia and Fabiola want to get Roberta back, but at this point that seems pretty unlikely. Their Roberta was lost a long time ago; they’ve been chasing an ideal that doesn’t exist.
Interesting too how Fabiola seems to have Revy totally figured out. Revy is chasing an ideal too; her ideal of Rock. The raving Rock of this episode is a completely different person from the squirelly salaryman of yore. Yet Revy has to believe he’s still the same ol’ innocent Rock. If he isn’t, he’s no different from all the other maniacs in her life. Revy’s had too rough a life to know that much about love, but she seems to have been in love with Rock for some time. She just can’t or won’t acknowledge or act on it.
While he goes on about ridding Roanapur of “troublemakers”, I’m left wondering if Rock even cares about the conclusion. Right now the journey seems to be all he cares about; the process; not the result or destination. As Lagoon Company heads up into the Golden Triangle with a cargo of army dudes, Roberta is hot on the trail on a jetliner. The endgame draws near. Rating: 4
Things take a turn for the bloody(er), as Garcia and Fabiola – aided by Rock and Revy – finally catch up with Roberta. And as the title denotes, she has left quite the blood trail. Both FARC and US Army soldiers square off with her, but she won’t be killed, and she has no problems dispatching the vast majority of them. But what follows the multifaceted showdown proves that if she wasn’t mad before all this began, she is most definitely mad now, perhaps even irreversibly so.
Everything she is doing is in the name of Garcia Lovelace, but when he finally finds her, he crumbles from the spectacle before him. Roberta’s sensei (so to speak) manages to subdue her, but he lets his guard down when she offers her body to him. Her belt buckle is a gun (brilliant!) and he’s out for the count. Garcia hears and sees it all, including her extended stomping in of her enemy’s skull. When he begs her to stop, she loses it even more (as if that were possible).
This segment ends with a cliffhanger, as Roberta believes Garcia to be just another figment of her imagination, and pulls a gun on him. We hear a gunshot, but see nothing. Is the one person she swore to protect – the one person she would never hurt – now dead by her psycho hand? If not, after what Garcia has seen – and what Roberta has let him seen – can there be redemption? The meeting has occured; it would seem Lagoon’s job is done, but what is left for them to do? Rating: 3.5
So yeah, it’s been a while since this first episode of Roberta’s Blood Trail aired – I had actually learned about it from a billboard in Akibahara more than a month earlier. I knew another Black Lagoon was forthcoming; I just didn’t know it would take the form of an series of OVAs and not a third 12-episode anime. That said, I just haven’t gotten to it until now. The fact that many anime on this winter’s list are being delayed for obvious reasons means now I’ve gotten to it…and I liked it.
Black Lagoon’s two seasons were always good for some ridiculous bloody action, and made for really quality underground crime action, as long as the characters laid off the Engrish. Roanapur is a thick, rich, and highly-seasoned setting, and it’s great to return there. It’s like Durarara’s Ikebukuro, only far seedier and more dangerous. One reason I hadn’t gotten to this was, I was never a huge fan of Roberta. I liked it more when the episodes focused on Revy, Rock, Dutch and Benny. Roberta is kind of a one-dimensional monster. Yes, she’s a great fighter (and the various standoffs and fights are a key part of why I enjoy Black Lagoon), but there’s just not much else there.
Fortunately, this first installment has her only on the fringes of the frame, where she’s most interesting. She’s hardly in the half-hour at all, rather her fellow maid Fabiola Iglesias has a prominent role, serving as her master, Garcia Lovelace’s messenger. They’re looking for Roberta, whose revenge against those who killed her Master, Diego, is leading to the titular blood trail. They seem to think Rock can find her. Of course, she’s already in Roanapur. Rating: 3.5