Spinning Bird Shotgun
I was reading ghostlightning’s post on the Black Lagoon OAV and the idea of how over the top the action scenes in the series can get before they become too over the top came up. While he didn’t necessarily feel that way, it was brought to mind that Fabiola’s aerial gunplay style crosses that esoteric line and becomes gratuitous rather than true to the style.
I’m gonna have to disagree with that. Not only is Fabiola’s style not over the top, her fighting style is playing right into the very style that the series wants.
Black Lagoon isn’t just an homage to “action movies,” it’s a deliberate attempt to recapture a very specific era of action movies. That being the mid to late 80’s through the mid 90’s. Before then action movies were the stuff of westerns, war and cop movies, and James Bond. After that they were the stuff of Matrix clones, super hero spinoffs, and computer-generated spectacle. The action movie from that relative ten-year period is a completely different beast. It covers everything from the heroic bloodshed of John Woo and the muscle-bound machismo of Stallone and Arnold to the sarcastic antics of Willis and peaks of Jet Li and Jackie Chan’s careers.
What’s also a part of that era is a certain little greatest video game of all time: Street Fighter.
Street Fighter’s attitude is just as much a product of that era of movie-making as any of said movies and actors. It’s realistic-yet-cartoonish aesthetic matches the attitude of these movies: While they may be about hard-boiled badasses, supertough martial artists, and gun-toting supersoldiers who hit, kill, and blow up stuff without nary a hint of remorse, there’s a certain degree of ridiculousness to it all. Acrobatic gunfights where dudes dual-wield pistols with supreme accuracy just isn’t realistic, but it’s presented as if it were real. No winking, no exaggerated special effects– there’s nothing to hint that a sumo wrestler in Street Fighter or a dude toting a machine gun bigger than himself is something that can’t happen in reality.
That brings me to Fabiola. Just as Roberta is a tribute to the T1000 from Terminator 2, I think Fabiola’s something a tribute to Chun Li from Street Fighter.
Watch the way she flies about in the air. She isn’t just jumping and spinning around, she’s doing a goddamn Spinning Bird Kick! That’s Chun Li’s signature special move where she helicopters across the screen upside down and kicking away. She even wall jumps before doing it. And while her hair isn’t done up in dual buns, she is sporting a hair cover that’s very reminiscent of Chun Li’s.
It isn’t nearly as overt a reference as Roberta’s unstoppable killing machine persona, but I think it’s all deliberate. Street Fighter is just as much an artifact of the era that Black Lagoon wants to symbolize, so it makes perfect sense for a character to rift on its stylings. Fabiola fits into the series perfectly in that regard.
Also: The actual OAV episode was pretty cool. Too much set-up/reminder/whatever and not enough getting down and dirty, but whatever. Can’t wait for the US release, since the English cast is way more fitting for the story. Doesn’t make a lick of sense for peeps in Thailand from every country in the world to speak a language that only one of them really knows. Not that the Japanese cast is bad or anything, but English just outright sounds “right” in the context. And the swearing comes off better in English too.