Binge-watching has its pleasures, but so does pacing yourself — especially when honing a critical mentality
After five years, volume 10 of 'Black Lagoon' — but was all that made this series great only an artifact of its moment in time?
A critical mind, once engaged, is hard to disengage — but needs to be counterbalanced by the will to be entertained
Here is a show that is, in the immortal words of Harlan Ellison, crazy as a soup sandwich. Its plot is risible, shot through alternately with goofus mysticism and eye-rolling coincidence; its storyline is crammed with more material and concepts than it can properly do justice to; it's peppered with silly anime-fandom baiting. But it has one thing that few other shows have, even genuinely good ones: the complete and unrepentant courage of its nutty convictions. Under the same roof in this show, and presented with a straight face, are: Tokyo being turned into a CO2 sink to offset global warming; a teenage leader of a terrorist group whose weapon of choice is a boomerang; a kid hacker manipulating the world's emissions trading market; a whip-wielding transsexual; a prison escape that makes the one in Papillon seem under-engineered by comparison; and a girl priestess who can kill liars with a glance. You can stop counting on your fingers now.
Last week, I wrote about how superlatives and the hype cycle are the enemy of good criticism, and in the long run the sustained enjoyment of things as well. What I didn't talk about completely enough, though, was how these things are twice as problematic for regular viewers as they are for people with a critical perspective.
If there's one adjective I can use to kill interest in a show more thoroughly than any other, it's the word slow. Audiences, it seems, have far more patience for something they might find offensive or obnoxious than they would for something boring. I'm not sure I blame them: if you're offended or repelled by a show, you're at the very least feeling something.
I don't say any of this as a way to scare people away from Noir, only to outline how tough it is for me to recommend a show that's certain to stick in many a craw by being so deliberately laid-back. It might not matter how much I bang on Noir being gripping and emotional and loaded with tragic power — not if people watch three episodes and bail because they can't keep their eyes propped open. More the fools they, I say, knowing full well that is no excuse.