It’s relatively common knowledge that the second season of Birdy the Mighty: Decode is better than the first. When I’d finished the first season I found that claim odd because although I echoed the sentiment of many people that it was good but not outstanding, I wondered how the second season could improve on the formula.
sees Birdy fight in a ruined city, bursting through crumbling buildings and trickling water mains with destructive abandon
Boy meets girl, boy ends up cohabiting girl’s body. It certainly feels familiar in the same way that any gender-bending situation is - Kokoro Connect, Ranma ½, Kämpfer et. al. - but here there is the quirk of the girl being an absurdly strong intergalactic investigator on the hunt for dangerous criminals on the “backwater” planet Earth. I thought I knew what to expect from that sort of introduction which perhaps explains why I stopped watching it when it first aired in 2008. It’s fair to say then that my expectations were challenged in the first season, then totally surpassed by the second.
The first two episodes of Black Lagoon are a carnival of ridiculousness. The climax of the opening story sees a boat use a ramp to launch torpedoes at a pursuing helicopter while the instigator of the plan flips off the doomed pilot. To say the series is quite silly would be an understatement. Even through two seasons it doesn't ever forget just how absurd a lot of it is, but tempering that craziness is a slick and very poignant look at villainy, existentialism, obligation and trust. What makes this mix so rare - gunfights, car chases and philosophising - is how well they meld together and crucially how entertaining the entire package is.
The duality between childlike abandon and adult seriousness is unique and gifts the series with sentiment that one wouldn't expect it capable of
The series starts atypically enough with a Japanese salaryman, Rock, being kidnapped by a mercenary company, the titular Black Lagoon, and opting to stay with them after his initial ordeal is over. The story follows him through the exploits of the company and his attempts to come to terms with his new life within a city a villains. The narrative is broken up into a collection of stories lasting anywhere from two to five episodes and involve a transport job gone wrong to an overseas gang war and all points in between. As well as the three other members of the Black Lagoon company, Rock collides with an eclectic batch of characters including combat maids, scarred Russian soldiers and pistol toting nuns.