Every so often an anime comes along that isn't afraid to challenge the conventions by which a story is told. Too often, despite being noteworthy or groundbreaking, these shows can fail due to poor animation, lackluster characters, or a marked failure in plot development. In other words, they get so caught up in being unconventional that they sacrifice the other, more important aspects.
Thankfully, Baccano! is not one of those.
Baccano! maintains a very high standard of animation throughout its entirety. Brains Base made good use of color to heighten the effect of the more dramatic moments in the show. The animation quality is particularly noteworthy considering
the fact that Brains Base is one of the smallest studios in the animating business. The fact that Brains Base managed to achieve a level of animation to match many of the larger studios and maintain that level of quality for the length the show, especially during the action sequences, is a credit to their effort and skill.
Baccano! opens with the excellent (and very appropriate for the setting) track "Guns N' Roses" by Paradise Lunch. The jazzy theme of the OP fits perfectly against the backdrop of 1930's America, in which the majority of the show is set. This jazz themed music continues throughout the entirety of the show and adds a certain authentic flavor which is often lacking in other shows. The only true downside to the music is the ED, which is a stereotypical J-ballad. However, this is only a small detraction from the otherwise great music though and can easily be skipped over.
Another area where Baccano! excelled was the voice acting. The talented VA's for each role managed to breathe life and individuality into the large and diverse cast of characters. The most singular achievement of the voice actors is that each of the characters can be easily identified by voice alone, as each actor has brought a different timbre, a different nuance, sometimes even a different accent, to each role.
From the marvelously hilarious Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent to the psychopathic Ladd Russo, all the characters are very well designed and as unique as their voices. Isaac and Miria are without doubt the most memorable members of an excellent cast of characters. The duo effectively serve as a glue that holds the story together. They dance through the series's multiple time lines like a giddy gyroscope on acid, occasionally colliding with one of the other cast members at random (usually by fluke).
There is one minor downside regarding the characters. Baccano! is a 13 episode series, with a cast of approximately 12 main characters. Though they all receive a certain amount of development, some critics would argue that it is not enough. However, the quality of the overall show is of such a high value that any shortcomings in development had no impact on enjoyment.
The story in Baccano! is very straightforward. Usually, it is the style of in which the story is told that receives the most attention. Baccano! adopts a non-sequential storytelling style. While this may not be anything new (the TV broadcast of Haruhi and the movie Pulp Fiction did the same thing), it adds to the enjoyment by removing the need for the universally derided "down time" episodes. Baccano! has multiple individual storylines, all of which intertwine into a larger story. At first, the events and characters may be confusing. But once you're past the initial surprise of leaping feet first into the middle of the story, you find yourself immersed in an unusual, fast-paced and entertaining style of storytelling that whets your appetite for more.
Baccano! contains a nice mixture of drama, action and comedy. This, coupled with some amazing characters and a good short story, makes Baccano! one of the most enjoyable romps in recent years. The absurd, comedic moments serve as a perfect counterweight to the action and tension that builds throughout the show. Nothing is too dramatic or depressing, and both the humor and the violence aren't forced. The most enjoyable thing about Baccano! is that each character's actions feel natural to that character and this comes across to the viewer in a big way.
Baccano! is one of the rarest types of anime as it successfully merges comedy, suspense, action and even a little romance, without sacrificing animation or sound quality. It is a gem that will appeal to fans of many different genres and it is one of the few animes that can be watched again and again without suffering any loss of enjoyment.
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
Archaeon - Wrote the review
Lowell - Who contributed to and edited the review
Megadedhed - Who contributed to and edited the review
Here are their individual scorings for the show:
Category - Archaeon, Lowell, Megadedhed
Throughout my childhood, I wasn't really much into movies or the whole moving picture theater idea when I was young. I was more into video games and playing outside. All that changed when i watched a certain movie called Reservoir Dogs. At first, I was only into it simply because of the blood and violence. But further throughout my multiple viewings, I realized that the story and acting was also a big part of my fascination to this particular film. Then a few years after that another movie created by the same person came out called Pulp Fiction. This was done in the same
style as his first movie but on a much bigger scale, involving so many more characters and following more stories stumbling toward one goal. During one of my multiple viewings of that movie throughout the years, i had a friend tell me to watch a movie by a man named Guy Richie named Snatch. Why am I taking the time to write 169 words about actual movies? Watch them to find out.
It's because you see, Baccano is very heavily influenced on these western movies made in this style. From the opening theme (Snatch) to the storytelling (Pulp Fiction) to even the coolness (Reservoir Dogs/Godfather) oozes western-style. Therefore, it's practically pointless to explain the plot of the show since they show how the show ends in episode one. That's the hook, the viewer isn't supposed to understand what they are seeing at first. Instead, they are enticed to want to know how did a 'mess' such as this happen in the first place. After that giant hook of showing you how it ends, it all unravels almost perfectly into a story involving over a dozen individuals. For the most part they are all complete strangers but through a little luck, chance, and happenstance their stories will cross paths most definitely.
...with a little anime flair of course.
The art is something of perfection, from the minor details in the shadowing and brutal violence left on victims, to major details like the painted streets of 1930's New York City. You can tell there was a large team summoned to make this 13 episode epic. Where it shows the best though are all the action scenes, where the movements are fast but smooth at the same time, and gun shots come complete with flash and gun smoke. Blood splatters in all different directions, teeth and bones can be torn apart and you can point them out as they're flying in the air. It's all just simply amazing. Art would be a perfect only if they wouldn't add some poorly placed 3D backgrounds in some spots, and if certain parts weren't so overly dark. The darkness ruins some of the beauty of a few scenes and its a shame since this is a show where everything it shows is a visual treat.
The sound is second to none. The op is classic, and I love how they meld the last episode synopsis with the opening theme. But this show would definitely not be as cool without the jazz styling, piano solo's and everything else in between. Every scene has an amazing amount of environmental sounds running at the same time and definitely sets the mood. If you watch it a few times I swear you'll hear something different every time. This is easily one of the few shows best enjoyed on a good surround sound system on high.
The characters are out of this world. Some plucked off of gangster flicks, some plucked out of action flicks, and some straight out the anime stock. With a cast of characters this large, you're bound to find a favorite one or have fun pointing out what RL actors they resemble or portray. Their voice acting is also top notch, I even enjoyed the annoying characters voices as well and thats rare. The crazies were my favorite overall though, just how they managed to sound so insane without it being annoying but rather fun was rather cool. My only gripe is the "comedy relief" of the show. Why do 'serious' shows such as this require comedy relief? Sure its fine to have to relieve the viewers from all the masochism throughout the show. But i don't think they should have given so much air time to the comic relief as they did.
This show is basically a 4-hour Tarantino-esque movie, if you remove the credits and extra recollections that get the viewer back on track. Overall its a perfect sized anime for a Tarantino-esque story. Any longer and the viewer will get tired of the mixed up style of story telling especially with the attention span of people these days. Think of it as "it will get exponentially complicated if this series went to 26 episodes. Although i would be all for a brand new story if Narita Ryougo made it. But only time will tell. It would have been cooler if they kept anime without all the anime 'hoodoo' and tried to make it a serious anime. But like the Japanese say, "It can't be helped."
Baccano! has a great reputation among many American fans, who lauded its boundless energy, larger than life characters, and unconventional narrative style. As I eventually watched it, I discovered that Baccano! indeed has all that stuff and could understand why so many people love it. And yet, curiously enough it never ascended beyond a mildly entertaining show for me.
The feature often mentioned first in regards of this show is its non-linear narrative, so let’s address that accordingly. I don’t find it significantly confusing, for one; while certainly disorienting at first, Baccano! is pretty easy to follow once you’ve focused on these key questions: (1)
what’s up with some of these guys who just can’t die?; (2) what happened to the sad woman’s missing brother?; and (3) what happened on the train journey? Thing is, there is really not much point in the non-linearity either: it’s basically nothing more than a gimmick. There’s only a single instance where it did something interesting with the structure (episode 8, in which a certain pair of characters committed the same schtick in three different timelines and circumstances), but most of the time it simply hopped between all these small chunks of timelines going simultaneously for no good reason. Honestly, I don’t think the show’d lose anything significant by telling its story like a normal person would, and in fact it’d probably help to cut down the momentum kills and a bit of time inevitably needed by the audience to recall what happened last in Plot/Timeline B as the show zipped back to it after some development in Plot/Timeline A and C.
A much bigger problem for me than that: I don’t find the characters nor the dialogue endearing at all. Once I’ve finished it, I didn’t and probably would never get the urge to re-watch Baccano! just to hang out with this bunch of characters, who are either irritating dorks, nonsensical bastards, okay-ish but ultimately forgettable, and psychopaths that the show clearly wanted us to love (it’s sort of Ryohgo Narita’s thing, as I’ve discovered later). I really respected the huge amount of research by the show’s creators to re-create the setting and atmosphere, but as it is I just don’t have much nostalgia for Prohibition-era America, and the authenticity is dented anyway by lines of cliched shonen-esque dialogue (to be fair, I’ve watched the subbed version. As I understand it, the dubbed version is lauded as being remarkably good and more setting-appropriate, so it’s a fair possibility that there’s a tangible difference in dialogue quality and/or delivery).
All that said, I’d still recognize the level of energy and playfulness that made Baccano! so popular and recommend the show to those with certain sensibilities. Fans of 1930s gangster movies might be able to appreciate the setting and atmosphere it’s trying to evoke, and lovers of long-running superhero stories would also find plenty to love, what’s with the cartoonish ultraviolence, people keep coming back from dead, and inconclusive ending. While it doesn’t amount to much in practice, I at least appreciate its explicit willingness to experiment with narrative structure and the notion of main character.
Baccano! is a series with a huge fanbase who see in it as a wonderful ensemble of colorful characters, complex web of interwoven plots and wonderfully jazzy soundtrack.
If nothing else, they’re right about that last part.
To the series’ credit. It’s certainly ambitious and refreshing. A story taking place in America during the Prohibition Era and juggling the stories of around a dozen different characters spread across no less than 3 separate time periods, spiced up with alchemy, magic, urban legends and immortal gangsters. Definitely something you don’t see every day.
Ultimately though, the greatest concept still needs to stellar execution to really shine. It
needs a compelling narrative that knows where its headed and why, it needs to be inhabited by characters worth caring about and the content generated from a combination of those 2 needs to be presented in a properly thought out fashion.
‘Baccano!’ fails miserably in those areas.
The first major failing is the narrative. Baccano! is a series that presents its events in a non-linear fashion while at the same time jumping between the points of view of several different characters. This is a style of narrative that some works have used to great effect. Baccano! doesn’t. There’s no rhyme or reason to the way the series juggles its narrative threads and it soon becomes obvious that the answers to the major running questions will only be answered towards the end while everything leading up to it is pure stalling. Bottom line is that Baccano! is convoluted for the sake of it rather than having a fitting thematic reason for it.
This is made worse by the characters. They’re all, to be blunt, horribly written one-dimensional caricatures whose entire personality and motivations can be deduced from their first 5 seconds of screen time. A handful of them gets something resembling a back story and rather forced attempts at development but the majority of them is there to demonstrate their 1 defining quirk only to prance off again while the focus shifts to another character ad nauseam. Worst offenders are Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent, an eccentric couple of energetic thieves whose every conversation follows the exact same pattern. Made all the worse by Miria’s awful shrieking voice. Jacuzzi Splot, a shy ‘gangster’ who cries over anything and everything, is yet another example of such a terrible character. Made worse by the fact that he’s eventually made to look ‘badass’ in a way that’s so forced it’s impossible to believe, seeing as there was no character arc building up to it.
What further hurts the characters is how interchangeable many of them feel. What fundamental differences are there between Clare Stanfield, Dallas Geonard and Ladd Russo? All 3 are violent nutcases who’ll murder someone for no reason at all. What fundamental differences are there between Chane Laforet, Rachel, Lue Klein and Enis? All 4 are emotionally subdued women whose role in the story is defined by an obsession over a single guy. Isaac and Miria? For all intents and purposes, a single character. The series’ blatantly covers up a lack of depth with sheer volume. Similarly to how the narrative constantly shifts focus to prevent viewers from realizing how bland most of the content really is.
The third and final major issue with the series is the way it presents its content. Its portrayal of gangsters is so offensively glamorized that it puts ‘The Godfather’ to shame. It becomes outright laughable when the series introduces us to a character named Dallas Geonard who we’re supposed to view as a villain even though other characters acting the same are portrayed as slick badasses. Violence is used with such frivolity and frequency that it’s devoid of any narrative significance.
In contrast, I’ll briefly discuss a scene from the movie ‘’Pan’s Labyrinth’’. There’s a segment early on in that film where the main villain smashes a man’s face in with a wine bottle. It’s a powerful, important scene on several levels. It not only establishes both the character of the main antagonist as well as the tone of the film, it’s also shot in a chilling yet explicit manner that underlines the brutality of what is shown.
Baccano!, by contrast, is loaded with violence that is much more extreme than what is shown in the scene I just mentioned. There’s even a scene similar to the aforementioned one where a character beats a man to death with his fists. Only in this case there’s no impact seeing as we’ve seen him commit violent acts before. And that’s not even getting into the almost comical way that it’s presented. There’s no dramatic significance to any of it due to how frivolously it’s portrayed. This is made worse by how characters will opt to use violence for the vaguest of reasons. Many characters get hurt and killed over the course of the story but there’s never a reason to care. And once again the anachronic storytelling serves as a way to cover it up.
One can’t deny that the series has a unique style and a refreshing setting. The soundtrack is also wonderfully jazzy while animation is very solid with a number of fun action sequences. This, however, does nothing to remedy the glaring flaws: the non-linear storytelling is a cheap gimmick, the characters obnoxious and 1-dimensional, and the glorification of gangsters is downright offensive. There are powerful stories that feature non-chronological narratives or extreme violence. But these elements alone aren’t what makes them great. When taking an unconventional approach to a story it’s imperative that you think about how to best make it work. This is something the creators of Baccano! fail to realize.
Dictionary.com defines the word ‘ruckus’ as ‘a noisy commotion’. That’s a perfect way to sum up ‘Baccano!’ (merely the Italian word for ‘ruckus’). A ruckus that attempts to pass itself off as an opera.
Novel, Manga, Anime: Baccano! was originally a light novel series authored by Ryohgo Narita, with art done by Katsumi Enami. The series was published by Dengeki Bunko, at it currently stands at fourteen collected volumes. It also won the Ninth Dengeki Novel Prize.
A manga series based on the second storyline of the novel series (basically picking up where the anime leaves off) began running in February of 2007, with story still done by Ryohgo Nartia, and art done by Ginyu Shinjin. It is currently being published by Media Works and is running in Dengeki Comic Gao!. At this point in
time, it has one collected volume to its name.
The anime series itself was directed by Takahiro Omori (famous for directing both seasons of Jigoku Shoujo) and produced by Brains-Base (well-known for their work on KamiChu!). The anime is thirteen episodes long and ran from July 26th to November 1st of 2007. It has yet to be licensed Stateside.
Story: It's really hard to describe this anime, because the plot in and of itself is extremely complicated. There are three storylines: one that revolves around the mafia and an elixir of immortality in 1930, one that involves a hostage situation aboard a train called the Flying Pussyfoot in 1931, and a girl's search for her missing brother in 1932. For one episode, the show jumps back to a ship carrying alchemists headed for the New World. Each episode contains multiple jumps from time to time, but the main focus is the Flying Pussyfoot in 1931. And all of these plots intertwine.
You think that's complicated? Add into this a cast of about twenty main characters, along with another ten side characters that are still equally important to the story, and you've got about thirty people to handle. Initially, these characters are introduced with one-note personalities, but each and every character gets development, along with advancing the intertwining plot lines. You are guaranteed to find at least one male and one female character that you like in the cast.
And they did this all in the space of thirteen episodes.
There's not a lot more that I can say about the story for Baccano!. Just my description above should give you a sense of the epicness that the writers undertook for this. And the fact that they managed to pull it off and pull it off well is absolutely amazing, as there was plenty of chances for it to pull a Rozen Maiden and not adress anything, or a Nishi no Yoki Majo: Astraea Testament and try to rush things and fall apart. But by the end of the thirteenth episode, everything is completely settled; you will know what's going on and how everything is connected to each other.
WARNING: There is some gore in this series (blood, limbs getting cut off, things along that line), but it's nothing compared to Elfen Lied.
Art: Brains-Base shows the same amount of detail in this production that they did in KamiChu!, only in a different way -- each character design is different, and you can easily recognize a character when they come on screen, and this is really important, with the sheer amount of characters. The animation is fairly-high quality, attaining Victorian Romance Emma and Elfen Lied-level beauty.
In short, excellent work.
Music: The show's set in the thirties, and appropriately, there's a lot of jazz-themed numbers for background music, all of which is fairly well done, and makes me want to find the OST. This includes the OP, which is done by Paradise Lunch, and is pretty good, too. The ED is the stereotypical female J-Ballad, and is really kind of a letdown.
Seiyuu: There are a lot of new talent that was used on this show, and they all do a great job. Sanae Kobayashi (famous for voice work on Daedalus of Ergo Proxy and Nyuu/Lucy of Elfen Lied) plays one of my favorite female characters in the show, Ennis, so that's always a nice touch.
Length: See my rant in Story to see how amazed I am at what they were able to do and do well in the length that they were given.
However, the story covered in the anime only covers the first four volumes or so of the novel. And while the manga is covering another storyline, it would be nice to see an adaptation of the rest of the material, just to see what they can do with it.
Overall: This anime manages and develops thirty characters in three different times/storylines that all intersect with each other, and manages to wrap it all up and do it well, all in the space of thirteen episodes. And it's got pretty music and great seiyuu. In short, made of bloody genius.
Baccano! Is a Shounen, Supernatural, Action, Adventure, Comedy series with a very attention-grabbing and peculiar story style that’s entertaining to watch. There’s plenty excitement and laughs to be had however prepare to be lost, at some point, in the numerous, connected storylines. ^_^
Baccano! is set in 1930’s America and revolves around different characters and their stories, which involves several unrelated plots intersecting and crossing each other. The way the series is portrayed is very interesting however first time watchers will easily get confused and lost, as it constantly switches from story to story or moves between different timelines. But for those able to
concentrate for long periods of time will be able to handle it easily. It is then that you can truly appreciate the story for what it is.
The characters of are also another important element seeing how this series has a surprisingly large cast of characters, so remembering them may become a problem. However there will be some that stand out to individual viewers, be it for the character traits, personalities or eccentric behaviour (Isaac & Miria). These will be the ones you’ll enjoy.
The animation is superb in the way that everything and everyone moves fluidly, from their little gestures to the action sequences. There’s also a fair bit of blood and gore, which is used appropriately and the environments including buildings look authentic. The only real downer is with the lack of detail in the character designs. The music of this series goes for the Jazz theme, which suits perfectly with time period it relates to.
Overall Baccano! strangely felt like Quentin Tarantino’s classic “Pulp Fiction” not only for its non-linear storyline but also for its ironic mix of violence and humour. The story is one of the best aspects of the series as it tells a bunch of random events that later on piece together to make a whole story. Not only that but it was incredibly enjoyable to watch the characters go through their own stories, with plenty of mafia action and hilarious comedy. Some may be turned of by the gore and the confusing aspects of the story but all in all this is a series worth checking out.
Never before has so much madness been crammed into so short a series.
STORY - Surprisingly, Baccano!'s story -- or really, I should say stories -- is very straightforward. It's just takes a while to realize how simple it is because of its crazy non-linear storytelling and ridiculous onslaught of characters. Indeed, this is definitely one of those series that I'm going to have to watch a second, or even third time, in order to pick up all the connecting threads that run through the thirteen episodes. I'm a big fan of things told in a non-sequential fashion though, and while the scenes change frequently enough
to be incredibly confusing, it serves to move things along quickly, insuring that there's rarely a dull moment (and even if there is, it won't last long at all). It definitely won't appeal to everyone, but I think it's worth it to have to rewatch something like this a few times if needed -- after all, that only means that its definitely got your attention.
Storytelling and pacing aside though, the story itself I found to be a very exciting and unique blend of genres. Prohibition era (or approximately so) America is not a common setting for an anime, nor is an entire cast of American characters. Alchemists and the mafia don't generally mix either. It's a very eclectic bunch of subjects to say the least. Other reviews have likened Baccano! to a slew of film noir and pulp fiction films, but I've personally not seen very many of them (not because of lack of interest though) and thus can't compare very well. Still, there are similarities in style that I can pick out between the series and the few I have seen. Sin City comes to mind rather quickly, what with its multiple casts of characters and heavily exaggerated/stylized violence.
"Baccano" has been translated into meaning "noise" or "commotion" in Italian, a very fitting title for this series. Dozens of perspectives spin several stories, coincidentally connected. The only real downside to this chaotic presentation is that it makes room for a lot of plotholes and unresolved subplots and subsubplots. A lot of secondary characters' stories feel unresolved or completely useless at the series' conclusion. I have mixed feelings about this mostly because the lack of a solid conclusion contributes both to a sense of realism and the way the stories are "packaged" within the series (a newspaper company is recollecting it). It's interesting, but it definitely means you'll be left with questions. That said, I would not vote to lengthen the series. Thirteen episodes might seem a little short when there's so much going on, but it's actually the perfect length to me -- any longer and it would have felt drawn out and forced. Ironic, I suppose, but this series breaks a lot of traditional boundaries and so traditional expectations don't really apply in a lot of cases.
All in all though, you're definitely in for one hell of a train ride.
CHARACTER - Oh, man, where do I start? The characters in Baccano!, more than anything else, make up a large part of the series, especially considering how closely they're all connected to the overarching story. Because of their sheer number, and because of the varied genres that have been tossed into the mix, there is an incredible range of characters. From outrageously outrageous thieves to badass mafia under-bosses to conniving, immortal old men to beautiful, mute women to traumatized little children, there is a character for everyone to take an interest in, to sympathize with, to cheer on, and to hate. Some of the characters are perfect representations of their archetypes, and others are far out in the left field. It's crazy (and most of them are crazy too).
Unfortunately though, while almost all of the characters are fun and amusing to watch, I would venture to say that there are just too many of them. I could not count all of the "main" characters on my ten fingers, though, of course, "main" is difficult to define in a series such as this. But really, having more than a dozen characters running around, each with their own story, gets very confusing, very fast, especially when you factor in the arbitrary-seeming jumps in time, space, and story. Names and faces become difficult to remember, especially the tangle of mafia families and their relationships to each other. It also becomes hard to keep track of who knows who and when since groups of characters meet at different points in the timeline (you see why I say this is probably a series you'll need to watch more than once to understand all of).
Finally, once again because of the sheer number of characters, very few of them seem to show real depth or development throughout the series. Some of them overcome obstacles or face setbacks and challenges, but their personalities and core beliefs don't change. I suppose its probably an impossible wish for a series such as this, and it may even be a distraction that would unbalance the even plain all the characters stand on, but a well-developed character is one expectation of a traditional series that I'm finding difficult to discard. But yes, since this is a rather unconventional series, its an unreasonable expectation for me to have, and I hold nothing against it.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION - At first glance, there's really nothing exceptional about Baccano!'s art style, but after a while, after you see a few of the gorier scenes, you kind of notice that they treat the raw violence a little different than usual. While people seem to lose limbs and body parts too easily to be realistic at times, the rendering of their injuries is incredibly sophisticated and impressive. Seriously, a severed arm never looked so good! Additionally, the backgrounds and character costumes for the entire series show demonstrate the wonderful depth of research that went into the series' creation -- New York of the early forties is wonderfully convincing with appropriate fashions adorned on characters and so on. The interiors as well are pleasingly accurate -- the insides of train cars, bars, and mansion homes are all fantastic. For an anime set in an unfamiliar time, it's really great to see that they did indeed take the time to look stuff up.
Also, it was really awesome seeing them weave the previous episode (or episodes) sypnosis into the series opening. It's refreshingly creative and lengthens the amount of time devoted to the actual episode, which is significant considering how much happens in every episode.
MUSIC - I love Baccano!'s music. From the very first time I heard its opening theme, I knew it was going to be one fantastic soundtrack. Since Cowboy Bebop's foray into jazz, I don't think I've seen any other series utilize that unique music choice. The jazz in Baccano! is energetic and upbeat, perfect for the mood of the series, not to mention wonderfully appropriate for its time period and setting. Beyond the opening song, Baccano! employs some really awesome Psycho-esque violin tracks that heighten suspense and drama, not to mention thrashing pianos with tension-filled broken chords abound. The ending theme is notably different from the rest of its music being a more traditional-sounding Japanese song, but its slowed melody and contemplative mood works well as you should definitely devote some time after each episode to sorting out and processing everything you just saw.
VOICE ACTING - With such a formidable cast, it would be incredibly difficult to have outstanding voices across the board. Still, Baccano! seems to do a pretty good job -- none of the voices are shoddy by any means, though yes, some of them are quite normal and unspectacular. (I was most impressed by the fact that none of the female characters seemed to have that characteristically annoying voice. You know what I'm talking about.) Of those that do stand out, the voices for Isaac and Miria are at the top. This is probably due in part to their incredibly eccentric personalities, but their voices just fit them perfectly. Baccano! has yet to be licensed Stateside, but I'd definitely be interested in watching the dub should one ever be produced, especially since all of the characters are indeed American.
OVERALL - I won't lie. Baccano! presents itself as a very confusing and complex series, and at times, it can be frustrating trying to decipher what exactly was going on and to remember who the hell everyone was. Despite this though, it somehow remains very entertaining to watch. There is a perfect balance between action-packed and "cool-down" scenes, and there is rarely a dull moment in between the crazy characters and crazy storylines. I'm going to go watch it again now.
“Don't let nobody tell you there's no future in a life of crime, because some rackets can last forever. But we'll get around to all that immortality jazz later. A mafia turf war is raging on the mean streets of the Big Apple, a place where regular joes bounce between backdoor booze joints and the breadline. But this caper ain't about a simple gangland brawl. It's about hoods who can't seem to die proper after catching a bullet or five between the eyes. Sadistic hit-men and the dames they love, mad bombers going boom, monsters going bump and soul sucking alchemists bootlegging an elixir of
eternal life. Just remember, Baccano! ain't about beginnings and ends. It's about the twists and turns, bub. Paths don't cross in this story - They collide. Every Dick and Jane plays the lead and it's gonna be a bumpy ride.” – The description of Baccano on the back-of-the-box set, and probably the best back-of-the-box description there’s ever been.
A few years ago, before I became enlightened and engrossed by anime in general, I would have said that for a show or film to be good it needed to have a linear narrative that was both intriguing and well-executed, good character development, and an ending that tied everything up nicely that the audience could all understand and enjoy. Fast forward to today, and I sit here wondering how I was so foolish and simple-minded back then; ignorant of other methods that stories could be told. Overtime those beliefs I had about what fundamentally makes a show good were challenged and proven wrong as I started watching more anime, but no other anime had an influence on these thoughts more so than Baccano. Because Baccano had almost none of those initial beliefs, yet was praised by so many anime fans. So, I watched it, and what Baccano did was it took those beliefs, and shredded them till they were unrecognizable, splattering them with animated blood before burying them six feet into the ground. Yes, it is that good.
Baccano is a 2007 anime adaptation of a series of light novels, made by Studio Brain’s Base who were behind the making for shows such as Durarara!!, Blood Lad and the Natsume’s Book of Friends series. Baccano is made up of 13 episodes (16 including the OVAs) and revolves around alchemists who have learned the secrets of and gained the power of immortality… but the show is about a New York turf war between rival Mafia families… as well as a group of madmen who hijack a train… and it also includes a girl searching for her lost brother. As you can see, Baccano is not your average run-of-the-mill anime. Baccano is made up of numerous plots that are crammed into 13 episodes and the show bounces between these different storylines taking place at different times and places. It is told in a non-sequential style and because of this, one could easily imagine this show turning out as a massive clusterfuck. Thankfully, Baccano is clearly no clusterfuck; all the individual stories told intertwine to create a larger, overarching story. And the way Baccano juggles both the characters and subplots matches the ridiculous tone and energy of each of these arcs, leaving us with an insane, mental and downright fun show that is as well-written as it is enjoyable.
With how much is going on in Baccano, between all the plot line the premise throws at you and the scattered timelines, it would not be difficult to see how this can make the show difficult to follow and understand or even want to give the show a try at all. However, to counteract these issues one might initially have, Baccano’s first episode is used as a guide to help viewers comprehend what the show is all about. The first episode looks at two characters who are looking at the different storylines that take place within the show, acting as both an introduction and a spoiler to each storyline as it practically tells you how each one ends. They show initially how the overarching story looks to outsiders under first impressions; a clusterfuck, full of action, black comedy and violence that are all pretty entertaining on their own, but are meant to entice one how such a clusterfuck ever happened. Looking at this deeper, the first episode is used as a means to challenge conventions through most stories are told, questioning why audiences should believe that the beginning of a story should take place at the beginning of the timeline. It is after the first episode where the show unravels the initial mess shown at first into the numerous plot threads and characters Baccano contains. And overtime, common plot threads emerge and confusing pieces to the puzzle come and fit together to tell the eccentric masterpiece that is truly what Baccano is.
Baccano is usually known as the Pulp Fiction of anime and it is clear why. Both have non-linear narratives that exude this essence of coolness about them, all while being packed with dark humour, violence, guns, blood, wit, grit, slick dialogue and more that make these kinds of shows break the mould and stand apart from every other story told. One could think of the show as a 4-hour flick directed by Tarantino; it’s a good time. It’s filled with many references, cinematography and directing techniques you would have commonly found in the West before the turn of the millennium. In fact, Baccano overall feels more American than Japanese, and for someone like myself, who has watched many Western works throughout my life, this show is definitely one of the more relatable works in the anime industry. It’s actually surprising to me that to my knowledge the West has not even attempted to adapt Baccano into a live-action TV show or a series of films. Oh well, this is already great as it is.
Another great thing about Baccano it that it has great pacing throughout the entire series. No episode in this show feels like it wasted time that could have been used elsewhere more effectively or that it should not have been made in general. Everything that happens in the show is of crucial importance to the many subplots this show contains. With only 13 episodes that this show originally had to work with, the lack of filler and overall quick pace matches the overarching tone of the show and the unique style of storytelling Baccano has even further. The show is dense, yet continues to be this high-octane ball of fun that is appealing to many diverse types of anime fans. The writing continues to stay tight and fast-paced as opposed to a similar show, Durarara!!, a 24-episode TV series that attempted to recreate what Baccano brings to the table, but ultimately failed to do so due to falling apart in the second half. Baccano is initially 13 episodes long and stayed compact and intricately woven all the way through, with the show being so large and successful, that it was allowed 3 more episodes to follow up on some of the subplots. These are commonly known amongst fans as Baccano Specials, which will be brought up later.
If you were to ask someone who has been Baccano what the show’s biggest strengths are, they would probably tell you either it’s non-linear storytelling or cast of characters, and what a great cast this show has. You see, for a show like Baccano, a show full of stories barely connected, that jumps from story to story, it would be difficult to properly establish a main protagonist and it would not make sense to have one in this show. Baccano does away with another common element of conventional storytelling by having no proper main protagonist and instead being composed of over a dozen main characters, where each are given enough focus and development for all to be considered fully fleshed-out. Rarely any show that runs this short is able to pull of such a large cast of characters so well, but Baccano, of course, pulls it off to near perfection. Every aspect these characters have, from their personas to their dialogue are all executed exactly as needed for this show.
The cast is a mishmash of all kinds of personalities and tropes found throughout Western entertainment. The only characters that are able to transcend the different arcs in Baccano are Isaac and Miriah, two burglars that are in love with each other. Both are oblivious to a lot of what happens around them and are the comic relief of the series that surprisingly never got old. From the New York turf war is Firo Prochainezo, member of the Martilla family mafia who is incorrectly dubbed the main character initially, due to possessing many traits that make up your average shounen protagonist. There’s also Keith, Berga and Luck Gandor, in charge of the Gandor family mafia. Moving to the Flying Pussyfoot (the name of the train), we have Jacuzzi Splot, who leads a gang that also doubles as bootleggers with girlfriend Nice. Jacuzzi is basically a whiny bitch that develops into a likeable badass by the end. There’s Chane Laforet, a silent assassin who leads a group of men in black suits whose motives are unclear until later in the show. Ennis, a homunculus that has no freedom of thought or emotion until she begins to understand human emotion. Of course there’s Ladd Russo, over-the-top psychopathic hitman of the Russo family mafia that happens to be the common favourite character amongst many Baccano fans and it is not hard to see why, as his love for killing and monologues make him one of the more interesting personalities. There’s also Vino, an assassin who I won’t say any more about due to spoilers. There are many more characters I could mention here, but this should be enough for you to understand that this show is abundant of interesting and likeable personalities. The only character I disliked in this show was Graham Specter as he is more or less a weaker version of Ladd Russo, however he is still entertaining to watch and does become important towards the end of the OVAs so there is no really need to complain. All in all, Baccano gives every main characters depth, a back story and a little bit of flair that makes them all so great!
Because there are so many important characters to the overall story of Baccano, putting names to faces can be a difficult task despite the difference in character designs, especially when the show jumps around stories so often. Thankfully the show’s opening renders that problem nearly obsolete. The opening lists of the names of 17 (I think) characters that are considered main characters in the show, which is useful in remembering who some of the characters are when starting an episode. The OP also show characters together as the opening twists and turns its way using clever transition through the cast, sequenced in a way that is as fun and blood-pumping as the actual show is. The insanely catchy jazz tune that is played alongside it matches the scenes so well and makes this opening on of my favourite and one you will never want to skip. Only problem I have with it however is that it gives too much attention to characters that barely matter to the characters, whilst giving next to no introduction to other, more important characters. But other than that, it is excellent. As for the ED, it is nice to listen to but honestly you are probably going to skip it every time to get to the next episode since this show is like a drug.
The overall soundtrack continues the vibe the opening gives off, comprised of a number of Western-themed and jazz-inspired tracks to fit both the historical setting and the upbeat tempo the show always has. Probably the best jazz soundtrack in all of anime, second only to Cowboy Bebop. Baccano no Theme in particular is a great track on its own that is played many times throughout the anime and never got dull, being an anime OST that I believe everyone should go out of their way and listen to at some point. The sound of this show overall is just excellent, especially the English dub. Personally, I prefer dub over sub when watching, but also understand that a lot of dubs are terrible. But in the case of Baccano, it is must-watch for the same reasons that Hellsing Ultimate and Cowboy Bebop need to be watched dubbed. All the voice actors give a terrific performance that match the New York setting as well as both enhance and distinguish between the personalities of every main character in the show.
The animation for Baccano is like a perfect fit for this show despite being almost a decade old from the time that this is being written. Colour was used very well in this show, from the bleakness of the alley streets of New York to the bright, colourful and lively environment inside with characters as joyous as they are insane, to even the most minute of details on the faces of Ladd Russo’s victims. But the action is where the animation it at its best. Gun shots are authentic, teeth and bone break and fragments flying across the screen, character movements are fast yet fluid and blood splatter is everywhere… it’s great. While there were a couple moments where the animation was off-putting, like with a couple of 3D backgrounds and at times the scene was too dim, overall it is another part where Baccano is fantastic.
Regarding the Baccano Specials specifically, these extra episodes picked up on some of the plot lines from the original series that, despite being wrapped up well, were not properly completed helped to further explore these stories and introduce some new characters, whilst further developing other characters that were already established. The specials did not measure up to the quality of the original TV series, with the non-linear storytelling being almost non-existent in these three episodes. However, the cast is still strong and the trouble they get into after the fallout of the TV series is still entertaining, keeping these episodes worth the watch and a nice addition to the franchise in general. These specials also show more cool interactions between characters and clues as to where the stories will go from there. Sadly, those hints are nothing but cliff-hangers as nothing from the light novels was ever animated after the Baccano Specials ended. The anime only covers 4 of the 21 released novels. But the Specials did give some resolution to the anime, conveying how the stories in this show do not necessarily end. While other shows would try and create an ending that brings closure, Baccano just throws these incredible characters into the audience’s faces that makes one want to imagine what would happen to them. While it may not be the ending that most people wanted, it is an ending that suits Baccano, complementing the blurb of this show: ”Baccano ain't about beginnings and ends. It's about the twists and turns, bub.”
Baccano is a non-stop action thrill-ride and is a shining example of the kind of exhilarating narratives that anime is capable of. Both the plot and characters are enough to make this show stand out from the crowd, but the way it blends all the craziness that takes place throughout the show so soundly that makes Baccano one of the greats that this medium has to offer. It is a masterpiece of storytelling that proves that pure quality entertainment can be just as influential to viewers as thought-provoking shows with deep themes and messages.
It bothers me to say I took a while to realize the quality of “Baccano!”. Aside from boasting no less than 18 main characters, the Pulp Fiction-esque narrative would constantly fracture and leap back and forth in time. I didn’t like that I had to make an effort to constantly focus and be forced to remember so many names and faces; three episodes in, I was feeling frustrated and close to losing interest. Something needed to be done and in a last ditch attempt to salvage the series, it became clear I’d have to wait it out, build up the fansubs and spend a long
weekend working my way through each episode; allowing time to fully immerse myself in the story. And now that weekend is past; the end result is? What the hell did you expect? Awesome!
Many desire immortality, yet the key to eternal life has forever eluded man. The story of “Baccano!” begins in 1711 when a group of sea-faring alchemists capture this most desired of gifts. Nearly all of them become immortal there and then, yet, as fate would have it; only one is granted the knowledge to recreate the potion. Of course, he quickly decides not to tell, wisely realising the folly in allowing such power to leak out into the public domain, but his brave decision quickly incites murder and ultimately, a struggle that’s raged for over 200 years. We join the story as it reaches its climax during prohibition-era North America; this was the absolute height of organised crime in the US, a violent and cruel time to live, or indeed, die.
Despite its frequent lapses into light comedy, squeamish readers should be warned that this is a deceptively violent (and often, sadistic) series. Without going into too much detail, lets just say that bones break, arms get sliced, faces explode and children are tortured. Of course, this refreshing lack of moral compunction inevitably climaxes in some breath-taking and unpredictable action scenes, including several sequences of beautifully animated hand-to-hand combat, fought on the windy carriage-roofs of a moving train. Just so you know, it turns out that knives, guns, grenades and even flame-throwers aren’t much of a match for blood-thirsty gymnasts. “Baccano!” is a lot like “Black Lagoon”; it has that same delirious hunger for gruesome carnage.
On its own, the action wouldn’t be enough, but as I’ve already mentioned, this is hardly a conventional series. Aside from the fact that the narrative will regularly interchange years and events in a matter of seconds, many of the characters provoke empathy and romance despite having splattered the brains of an adversary all over the wall minutes earlier. I loved the playful dialogue, and the character interactions are remarkably fun and natural; you believe in their fear, sadness or anger. You can see a love affair unfolding and it’s almost heart-breaking. By the end I was completely riveted by the story, lost in the characters.
There is so much to say about “Baccano!” but I’m afraid I’ll lose your concentration if I keep going. I’ve already had to completely scrap the first version of this review since it degenerated into a bloated rant. Obviously, I absolutely loved this series, and if I ever get around to writing a review of 2007, it will easily make my top 3 of the year. The best decision I made was to push through it over a quiet weekend; as expected, the jumbled jigsaw of a plot and all those unique characters are so much easier to remember this way. The only problem is that now I’m having trouble letting go, I’m still stuck in the world of immortals and trying to fathom out the few remaining mysteries. Hints are made at characters and storylines beyond the anime narrative and quite frankly, I’d die for a sequel. If you’re yet to watch “Baccano!”; I envy you.
Stories associated with criminal groupings are always very popular with the public, as they usually arouse interest in all age groups, from teenagers to mature people. The creators that touched this theme, usually win, at least in marketing, because lure the viewer is not difficult.
So, as far as I know, inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, the Japanese writer-programmer starts work on his own criminal composition – Baccano!
Initially, Baccano! - is a series of books in the format of light novel, authored by Ryohgo Narita, with illustrations by Katsumi Enami. Later, in 2007 in Japan studio Brains Base released an
anime adaptation, on it we will stop in detail.
Of course, the unusual format and criminal atmosphere of America of the 20th century beckons the viewer, but more importantly, how the creators will work out very important details. Much more important is that inside this beautiful and inviting “shell”. After all, it is very important to create an atmosphere that is original and memorable for the viewer, while avoiding banalities and repetitions.
Well, Baccano! - a really strange phenomenon. 30th years, the United States, the Great Depression. America of the 30's is a separate universe, with its unique fashion, music, good and bad guys, morality and worldview. A train approaches New York, on board which strange people started bloody showdowns. Gangsters walk on streets of the city, a young girl is looking for her missing brother, who in conflict with the mafia. All this is extremely confusing and catches the viewer suddenly. Story begins to show from the middle, after, it gradually complementing with elements from the beginning and ending. The first few series of the series are difficult to watch, as the viewer does not understand much, but here help atmosphere and style, mentioned above. Thanks to them, Baccano! still looks interesting.
Baccano is a wonderful absurdity on the verge of reality, where immortality is not surprising. Here, a whiny and cowardly lad became the founder of a dangerous and influential gang, and a crazy killer who has need for endless murders has the purest romantic feelings. That a couple of rustic talkative thieves in fact, without knowing it, bring good and positive to the whole world. And this is all told in the first episodes. The viewer is simply a participant in the turmoil, like a journalist. This series boasts a variety of different characters, with individual stories, interlacing in one place. The characters are worthy of special attention, so about them in order:
Isaac and Miria - inseparable and comical a pair of thieves, always falling into the woes, the basis of all humor in series. They, without knowing it, carry only good and joy with their actions. With confidence I can say that this is one of the best, or even the best of the duets of characters in general. Even the not very interested viewer will remember this couple first. A pair of cheerful, eccentric amateur thieves, their actions and charisma will remain in the memory of anyone for a long time.
Jacuzzi Splot is a shy and polite gang leader. He is easily frightened, but he is capable of exceptional courage and leadership abilities when the situation demands it. The second most important character, in my opinion. The manner of his actions causes a lot of questions, at first it is not quite clear who he is, so he becomes even more interesting.
Firo Prochainezo is one of the young members of the Martilo family. The boss of the family Martilo takes him to the family. Firo is a handsome and proud guy with his own principles and views of the world. He plays a very important role in the series.
Ladd Russo is a sadist, a mafia killer. At first glance it seems that Ladd is a white-haired psychopath who knows nothing but how to kill, but it's not. Ladd is very fond of Lua and expresses it through a promise to kill her, slowly, after he slay everyone else.
About the characters can talk for a long time. Listed the most memorable, in my opinion characters, I want to say that the of these characters and is a small problem of the series. On the screen flashes a huge number of people, and the story is narrated as a puzzle, it is very easy to get confused, which can cause rejection to the series. Patience and memory are required from the viewer, since the whole picture of the story will only take shape in the final series.
The atmosphere of criminal America of the 30s, of course, is best conveyed by music and soundtracks to the series. The theme is chosen perfectly, so it's easy to choose sound compositions, they fit perfectly and reflect the entire character of the series. Noisy and rhythmic compositions perfectly express the hype around. And of course, can not do without jazz. At certain moments, on background is played by a magnificent and melodic jazz, perfectly conveying the atmosphere of the bar or restaurant. Give people mafia hats, restaurants, Thompson guns and add to it great music - the effect will be stunning.
No less important is animation in the series. Art made is executed at a high level and in especially important moments of the series you can see its beauty. Characters are made in an original style and each one stands out. The movements of the heroes are bright and dynamic. The surroundings are shown beautifully and reliably. The poor, criminal neighborhoods of America, bars and restaurants, mafia mansions and so on, all this causes a pleasant sensation in the viewer's soul.
So, what is the result? Baccano! - is a cocktail of genres: action, fantasy, mystery, adventure. And I will not say that it's bad, everything turned out pretty well. Bright and interesting characters, a dynamic and unpredictable plot, as well as a lot of good and smart humor.
Baccano! Definitely has its charm. This, at least, can surprise and worth your time and your viewing, you will not regret it.
*WARNING* Here review end, and below will be a lot of spoilers. This is a brief description of the plot, perhaps someone missed something, because to understand everything is difficult enough.
As I understand it, the story begins on the ship, in 1711 a group of alchemists using a spell summon a demon to get the elixir of eternal life. The demon gives them it, as well as a way to stop their existence (those who have received the gift can "devour" each other) and gives the caster of Maiza the formula of the elixir. Maiza and most alchemists decide that what happened must remain between them, only Szilard opposes. The next night, people on board begin to disappear, devoured by Szilard, realizing that, to stay together can not, the alchemists scatter around the world.
In New York in November 1930, Szilard recreates the elixir, but it is stolen by Dallas Genoard. The elixir is constantly moving around the city because of Dallas, the Gandor brothers, the two eccentric thieves Isaac and Miria, Firo and the Martilo family, but almost none of them understand what it is. Szilard makes Dallas incomplete immortal (he is still getting old, but can not be killed) to get the elixir. However, the Gandoras, Firo Prochenso, Martilo, and Isaac and Miria accidentally drink an elixir. Firo falls in love with the daughter of Szilard, the homunculus Ennis. After she betrays her father and tells Firo how to defeat Szilard. The Gandors roll Dallas into cement and throw it at the bottom of the river to punish him for killing family members.
At the end of 1931, the Gandors struggled with the Runoratas family to manage the same area. In an attempt to resolve the situation, Luck Gandor asks his foster brother Claire Stanfield, the legendary murderer, to come to New York. Claire agrees and settles on the transcontinental train as a conductor. The train is captured simultaneously by Russo and Lemure gangs, between which there are fights. Meanwhile, the Jacuzzi Splot, and his gang is trying to protect the passengers (by the way, I still do not understand how Jacuzzi and company have appeared in a train), while Clare portrays a monster that kills train passengers. The last remaining members of the Lemures are defeated by the Jacuzzi gang. The train arrives in early 1932.
Meanwhile, Eva Genoard is looking for her brother, Dallas, talking to Luck Gandor, who is still angry because of the murders committed by Dallas. However, later Luck secretly tells Eve where the brother is.
I’m sure most people are fully aware in this decade that Baccano is a tale of three stories told in different timelines that are told all at once through a combination of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino’s styles. Each story is largely self-contained, but some of the same characters are present in each story (ex. Isaac and Miria in the 1930 and 31 stories) and/or related to characters from a different story. As the first half of the introductory episode states, Baccano is a story with no beginnings, no endings, and no main character. It’s just pure undiluted chaos the entire way through, constantly jumping
from different points of the three stories in order to showcase this fact. So style-wise, it works really well in showcasing that. It’s when you actually start looking at the substance that more cracks start to show in Baccano’s perfect presentation than your mother’s cooch when she hits her 50s.
Even with Baccano’s overall message being a big “fuck you” to traditional storytelling, it is still an anime at the end of the day, and still has to following some basic rules less it turn out like a Kawamori product when he gets it in his head that he can write. My overall way of judging an anime – and other products – at the base level is the reason why I ditched the traditional scoring system: because numbers are not a good way to judge whether something successfully balances the three key aspects simply known as context, pacing, and fan-pleasing. They may seem like separate categories at first, but they affect each other in big ways when you look at them closely and it really depends on the individual product. For example, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an anime praised as a masterpiece for its rich universe and it’s true that context-wise, few products can match it in general. The problem is that it’s a 110-episode series that is said to not get “good” until the 20-episode mark, so that’s a big mark against its pacing. However, said pacing level could potentially be counter-balanced if the fan-pleasing elements – which are partly provided by the context – are at a good level. That depends wildly on the individual and how much they like lore and space battles and such, though.
Instead of giving my own opinion on LoGH, I’m going to move on and apply that ranking system I just described to Baccano. And even back when I adored it as a masterpiece in late 2009, I found the context kind of meh, the pacing kind of slow, and the fan-pleasing turned up way too high. That time-jumping gimmick that people love about the show so much came off less “clever” early in and more like a way to pad out the 1930 and 32 stories so that they’d end at the same time, and it doesn’t help that the 1932 story is incredibly dull on its own due to its simplicity, both in context and in violence. The fan-pleasing elements of the 1931 Flying Pussyfoot story was enough to sustain me in the past – although I always found it silly that Firo would be absent from the show for five episodes and how reliant the 1930 story was on cliffhangers that we knew the resolution of in its final stretch due to the first episode starting at the f*cking end of everything – but it doesn’t anymore. Why? Because as of present time, the 1931 story – and Baccano on the whole – comes off more to me as Saints Row The Third than Saints Row 2.
Despite the constant craziness happening every second, it fails to distract from the fact that the Flying Pussyfoot arc is as artificially padded as its brother stories, let alone Saints Row The Third. There are too many characters involved in what is ultimately a very simplistic mess – whether they’re on the train or not – and way too much time is devoted to showcasing each and every single one’s actions without really providing “context” to the overall situation, which prevents “as much plot as you can get from a disjointed narrative” from ever progressing. No matter what style it’s going for, I like character and plot story to go hand-in-hand, ala something more in the vein of Saints Row 2 if you ignore the requirement that you have to play diversion mini-games for 20-30 minutes where you spray poo at people’s houses. Instead, I have to sit through character actions that whilst cool to see at times in their comedic violence, add f*ck all to the plot, could have easily been told through 1-2 second flashbacks, and it doesn’t help that the 1931 story has to share time with the weaker stories that it doesn’t really have much in common with. So by padding out those stories, it ends up padding its own story as well. Can you spell irony? I sure can.
This problem gets fixed a little in the second half when things start getting revealed, but the connection between the three timelines still remains a little too loose to really fix the feeling of “artificial padding” I get from Baccano completely. And it also doesn’t help that the show has a bad tendency to jump to the actual aftermaths of each story really early on (especially the first episode), hoping the audience would care more for the destination than the end. I wouldn’t mind so much if it wasn’t for the fact that alot of time is devoted to the aftermaths before I have any real reason to care about the aftermath. Yeah, it’s nice that Claire is hinting at a later reveal by stating to his brothers that he has a woman waiting for him, but I barely got to know the guy. Why should I care what lady he’s wooed during his exploits? I’m having enough trouble caring for out-of-nowhere scenes “during” the entire mess where the context isn’t exactly at B-level, let alone A-level.
Which brings me to my final blow towards this show - and the final similarity it has to Saints Row The Third – and that is this: Baccano isn’t as over-the-top as it thinks it is. It may have crazy elements and cool aesthetics, but the substance underneath all of that is predictably shallow and lacking in bite. Even the more villainous characters like Ladd Russo come off more as an anti-hero fighting off people much more evil than him, and it doesn’t help that the truly evil people are not very charismatic. Szilard sort of is, but the way he gets taken out by surprise is just pathetic. See, I would have expected a climactic fight between him and the Martillos to be full of karate moves and gunshots leading to his ultimate weakening before he gets sucked up. But no, he gets surprised by a fire and then 1-hit KOed by a boy we didn’t get much focus on. At least SR3 ended with a protagonist we’ve known for so long taking down a fighter jet with nothing but a mini-gun. Not only was Goose not an interesting villain, he just gets tripped and tackled. That’s it.
So at the end of the day, whilst I can still enjoy Baccano for its rampant fun tone alone, it’s nowhere near being a favorite of mine and I honestly don’t have much motivation to watch it again in the future. The way all three stories end at the same time in a way that does connect them decently is cool, but the buildup to get to there is just too much of a mixed bag for my taste. I’m not even going to bring up those epilogue episodes and how painfully anticlimactic those were in tying up loose ends, nor am I going to expand on how I think the first episode raised my expectations too high because it gave me the impression that the story would be about immortal gangsters trying to survive in the 1930s rather than their origin story, because this rant is long enough as is. It basically is an old-school anime version of Saints Row: The Third at heart in that it has a lot of things that appeal to me, but it does it at the sacrifice of slowing the plot down too much and not providing enough support towards said things to make up for that. I wouldn’t say it does it as badly as Code Geass or its other “are you not entertained? Is that not why you are here?” imitators, but that’s like praising Ted Cruz because he’s not as evil as Ted Bundy. Or is it the other way around?
PS: Saints Row The Third doesn’t have the time-jumping gimmick, but given how you choose the order of when to do missions, it comes close enough.
It is said by many (Livejournal users), that everyone has a story inside them just waiting to be told.
Many action adventures rely solely on plot, letting the characterisation come second; inversely, many romances have virtually no plot to speak of, letting character interaction and reflection drive along the drama - while historical chronicles often rely on the setting and the carefully researched daily-living conditions of the characters to paint a rich saga of that time and place.
Baccano! - Italian for 'ruckus' - is a blend of all these genres, and yet, it fits none of them.
The 2007 anime, produced by Brain's Base (Spice
and Wolf II, Kuragehime) and based on a series of light novels, is something of an enigma. It is simultaneously infamous for its popularity and unpopularity, recieving nothing but praise from foreign fans and nothing but apathy from Japanese ones.
A possible reason for this is that it doesn't feel like an anime.
To be clearer, this feels solidly American, from the jazzy soundtrack to the character designs, from the trains to the accents (in the dub, at least). As a Western viewer, even if not as an American, this feels instantly relatable.
Of course, it helps that we get thrown straight into the action.
Speaking of, the first episode is something of a decoy. We immediately get two characters discussing a story who are never to be seen again (outside of the OVAs, anyway, Karyll~) and then a clusterfuck of spoilers for the next 13 episodes. Is that girl crawling up the train the rail tracer? Did that guy just lose his arm? Did someone just kill a kid? Did his fingers just..? It's messy, it's bloody, it's confusing.
It is hard to be original and compelling without being a mindfuck, but despite the fantasy element, Baccano! feels thoroughly grounded in reality. Perhaps it's the realistic setting; perhaps it's because the characters act so much like we would. Capturing the surprise we felt as children, watching the idle sketches in the corner of your notepad suddenly gain life as we flipped through, and audacious, like robbing a train for explosives with only your boyfriend and your two friends by your side.
After the first episode the story is a non-stop ride on the Flying Pussyfoot (if you need a minute to laugh that off, take it now), along Eve's search for her missing brother (who everyone hates), the clashing of the Gandors and Runorata families in what must be the longest cardgame in history, and the quest to recreate an immortality elixir, the panacea, the ultimate goal of the alchemist. The story slips in and out among the different times with graceful ease, and a title card with the year appears for a second as a transition. Tension is continually built and smaller revelations continue to break as we see other character's points of view on different incidents, overlapping, building up and foreshadowing.
Despite the seismometer of a plotline and the lack of clear protagonist, characterisation is never sacrificed. Characterisation comes first in this series, as everyone has their past and their reasons even if they aren't immediately apparent. Why does a crybaby like Jacuzzi have such a large tattoo on his face? Why is Chane so silent? A woman in a suit, in the thirties? And where the hell did Firo get such a snazzy hat?
The period setting is gloriously rendered, yet, it is not a setting that the series gloats about. There are hardly any scenes that pull back and focus on the environment as a pat on the back for all the research and effort put into recreating it. Though the series is very obviously set in the 1930s, we see it through the characters' eyes as their present - pressing, urgent, real.
I mentioned romance before, and, without giving too much away, the affectivity of the characters throughout all this constant turmoil is never sacrificed. Firm friendships are made from chance meetings and several canon romances appear, each one uniquely forming in ways that tug upon the heartstrings and ultimately feel very real.
Of course, I can't talk about the validity of this series without touching upon the English dub, produced by Aniplex. This is a dub that has been ranted and raved about in anime circles, and as someone who watched sub first and who genuinely prefers Japanese dubs to English ones, I was very prepared not to like it.
While the Japanese dub certainly isn't bad, the addition of accents and slang added so much to the characterisation and atmosphere that it was almost like the difference between 720p and Bluray HD: like watching a slightly better, sharper series.
However, this dub is no means perfect: the generic cute voice that sounds so natural in Japanese dubs came off slightly annoying with Maria (a general complaint of all English dubs, not this one in particular nor the voice actress herself), and the fact a few epic lines of Ladd's were changed. 'Thank you, fuck you, a villain has arrived' is one of my favourite things to say when entering a room, and its omission irked me a little bit - if memory serves, some other lines were changed, but it wasn't so obvious in their cases. However, I think this is a small price to pay for such perfect synching of, for a lack of a better term, the lip flaps. They were absolutely perfect, throughout it was hard to believe the animation wasn't made to fit this very dub.
The soundtrack, too, is absolutely top-notch. The OP is plain addictive, and while the ED is rather dull in comparison, it does grow on you. The OST throughout the series always adds to the scene and atmosphere, never feeling out of place.
The art in this series seems rather dark at first glance. There is not much use of bright colour in the series, but there is a deep saturation like the smog that clings to a city and fits the general air of the 1930s well. The character designs are on the realistic side and though many of the older, blonde men look alike, most characters have distinctive visual traits that set them apart and make it easier for the viewer.
The characters themselves are all enjoyable in their own way (except Dallas). Isaac and Miria are contenders for the most well loved character duo of all time, the most incompetant thieves ever, who spread happiness inadvertantly wherever they go. Isaac rather looks like Andy from Cowboy Bebop, don't you think? Other than Isaac and Miria, there is perpetually closed-eyed Maiza, estrogen brigade bait Firo, stoic Chane, surprisingly bishounen Luck Gandor, a guy who eats birdfood, an explosion fetishist, delicious shota, the Rail Tracer and enough psychopaths to keep you chugging along until anime does some sort of answer to Girl, Interrupted.
I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys piecing together a very satisfying plot or anyone who enjoys a cast of diverse and interesting characters. This is not a story for someone who wants to switch their brain off; nor is it for anyone with an aversion to animated blood or gore.
This review is about the story that is Baccano! It is a story can never really end. Why? Because it's enjoyable, of course.
Click. BANG! That's the signal! Grab your stylish hat, your most powerful gun, and employ your sixth sense (you'll need it!). What Baccano! confronts you with is exciting, fun, mildly disturbing and incredibly unique.
You're all ready to go? Well let me brief you first. Baccano! is a perfect blend of crime, action, comedy and the supernatural bound together in a beautifully wrapped, non-linear style of storytelling. You may be thinking. “That's a bit ambitious!” And it is! But Baccano! pulls it off so well that you'll be left wondering “what is linear even?”
If you're not captivated by the classy opening then the characters will surely
enthral you. With a diverse range of fascinating personalities – from the hilariously lovable to the psychopathic, you'll be watching them on the edge of your seat. However with so many important characters in only a 13 episode series it can feel as though the development of some characters was sacrificed (Yes Chane Laforet, I'm looking at you). But don't let that deter you cause other characters are fleshed out in full, and you will love them like an ice block on a hot day.
Admittedly, the first few episodes of Baccano! can feel a little daunting. It has multiple storylines and you're flung head-first into the middle of all of them. But pull that magnifying glass out of your pocket and get inquisitive! Here you get to play the role of detective as you piece it all together. Don't worry, it's not hard – rather, it's rewarding and adds to your enjoyment! Embrace it.
Despite not being a recent anime its animation holds up quite well, and is far from outdated. So don't let the fact that it isn't the newest thing stop you from giving it a bash. However a word of caution – there is a lot of blood. Like...heaps. So if you hate violence with a passion enter slowly and with caution.
Peculiar, quirky and oddly addictive. If you're ready for some supernatural viewing (pun intended) then Baccano! is begging to be added to your 'watching' list. Consider heeding its call.
Baccano! was outstanding for what it offered it'll hook you with the story, you'll want to know what's happening in the next episode and you will want to be careful and pay attention to the story, so you can understand more and more when you put the pieces of the story together and the way the story is told it's confusing at first but you will understand and like it.
The style of the storytelling in Baccano! is unique, there are more than 1 MC, around 15 in which the storytelling manages to cover them in sequences and then jumping to another character all of a
sudden, you can imagine the confusion and yes it's confusing but that's why it hooks you, you want to understand and put the pieces together for the story that you're watching make sense, and by having multiple individual storyline you will see how the characters met and how important the part in the anime is. It's outstanding.
[b][u]Art & Animation[/u][/b]
I wanted to score the animation properly, because even if it's from 2007 and i'm the one who watched Baccano! just now, i got to say that it was very good but it could've been better, but the art style and animations were very good and enjoyable in almost every aspect.
The music in Baccano! was accurate, the jazz from the OP was damn good, not everytime you stumble with an OP that you want to listen and see over and over and in the middle of the same it has scenes from the last episodes, the background music for the comedic and serious parts were just on point; The voice acting made the characters alive, it was amazing to listen to the characters they were unique and the ED song was good, it was a ballad, overall was outstanding.
What can i say more than, they were amazing, it has a mix of everything, there were like 15 main characters and not to forget the support characters, as i stated they are unique, some of them are psychopaths, some of them good people, bad people others were quiet, cowards who are brave inside,others were happy fools no matter what, i don't want to get into details because knowing them in every episodes is a part of the story so go watch it.
This is one of those animes that you could watch over and over and you won't get tired of it, the story of the characters is enjoyable and that is one of the best parts of the anime, the transition between the intrigue, the comedy, the violence, the storytelling, the music, it will give you a masterpiece, watch the OVAs too, those are the eps. 14, 15 and 16, other thing that i thought was that i couldn't decide if i didn't want a 2nd season because how it ended was great (but defenitly wanted more OVAs) or if i wanted a 2nd season because of what one of the characters said (The Subdirector) but this was a masterpiece.
After finishing Baccano!... I can't help but name it a truly mediocre and barely entertaining really obnoxious show.
To begin with, there's this annoying wannabe-cool atmosphere, a forced degree of "mafioso" characterization that only easily-impressed teenagers would come to appreciate.
The shallow single-quirk characters should work likeably if it wasn't for the utterly in-your-face "we're awesome"-factor they try to push upon the spectator that shamefully fails and comes-of as rather "we're retarded but lucky".
Truth is, both their simplistic themes and plot-line only truly interest due to the gimmicky "time-jumping" storytelling. The script I've heard called clever is actually something that would make Shyamalan's writing look well-constructed
It's only redeeming feature is the wonderful character design, but even then it is utterly raped by lazy animation directors that after episode one don't help the already terribly boring background design or the bad attempt at "bleak" coloring.
Baccano is not only a great example of what can happen when a series is based on a series of novels, but also a refreshing reminder of why I watch anime.
The story is centered around a group of immortal alchemists and their involvement with the Italian-American Mafia at various points from 1930 to 1932. There are three main, separate storylines occurring in parallel, one on the streets of New York in 1930, another on board the transcontinental locomotive "The Flying Pussyfoot" in 1931, and finally, a third one in New York in 1932. Throughout the show, this world really comes alive, thanks to the animation,
music, hairstyles, and clothes all contributing to a viewer's sense of what that era in American history was like.
The anime constantly switches from one setting to another at a moment's notice, has events occur wildly out of order, and, to add to the confusion, there are a couple dozen important characters to remember,each with their own back story. While this is completely normal for a novel, it's unusual for an anime, especially one with only 13 episodes.However, Baccano pulls it off, with everything from the art style to the opening theme making it all digestible for the viewer.
Each character, while not particularly deep, is likable, unique, and far from predictable. They're one-dimensional, but that dimension is interesting and funny, and in several cases, even receives development during the course of the series.
This approach to character creation is a strength here; "Baccano" moves at an extremely quick, frenetic pace, with a plethora of different characters. Choosingto make all the characters interesting instead of focusing on just one,to the detriment of everyone else, was a wise move on the part of the creators.
The story is remarkable for its repeated, constant use of deus ex machina plot devices. In every episode, a great deal of purely accidental events occur that completely change the course of the storyline. A man attempting a magic trick involving fire accidentally burns a house down, and it just so happens to be the secret lab of a character creating the elixir of life. Two characters steal a car and decide to get away, just so happening to hit the main villain right before he can kill one of the main protagonists.
In fact, two of the characters, Miria Harvent and Isaac Dion, are nothing more than agents of these bizarre, accidental circumstances. At first, they only seem like comic relief, being an idiotic, overly cheerful couple that commits crimes like stealing candy bars, fancy hats, and the door of a museum.
However, throughout the story, they come in contact with most of the other main characters, and through their incredibly stupid deeds,optimistic and sanguine personalities, and purely accidental physical acts, change everyone's lives for the good, defeat the bad guys, and save lives... without even realizing it.
Normally, I'd criticize a story for so many absurd and improbable events, but since random circumstance are a central theme of Baccano and is openly acknowledged as such, it becomes both a humorous and entertaining element of the plot.
The art and music of the show are used to enhance and highlight the characters and story. The opening theme is a catchy blues theme that also lists all the main characters by name. Throughout the series,we hear upbeat, 30's era jazz and swing, which helps immerse the viewer in the story's environment.
The animation style uses very unique faces for all the main characters,making them easier to distinguish. Everything besides the character faces is drawn with very indistinct, smoky lines and a warm palette,giving one the impression of hazy Mafia backrooms, with green felt,cards, huge cigars, and Jack Daniel's whiskey.
Overall, the pacing, humor, and action in the series is great, and the plot climaxes in the final episode, resolving most of the mysteries earlier in the series.
Now, for me, a "9" means a masterpiece classic, and I think Baccano deserves this title. However, there is one problem I have with the series.
As good as the show was, none of the episodes in the series were spectacular.Nothing I saw mesmerized me, or made me feel I had just witnessed a work of supreme genius. It was a good story, with good characters,excellent sound and art, directed well.
Before the hardcore Baccano fanatics go crazy, ask yourself; what episode here stood out for you, really amazed you with its brilliance?The last episode was the most satisfying because it answered all the questions, but what episode had something unexpected, magnificent, and fantastic in it?
Nitpicking aside, Baccano is among the top 10-15 anime I've ever watched, and highly recommended to any fan of the medium.
When was the last time that you were stuck in a traffic jam and looked around you, only to find all the other drivers’ expressions mirror yours exactly? The frustration, the annoyance and the exasperation plastered all across their faces, each telling a story of their own, as loud horns blare in the background. The irritated young fellow next to you might be rushing because he has a huge presentation to make in front of the office’s senior officials. The middle-aged woman in the minivan behind you might be furious because her son got into trouble at university and they were calling her over when
she was in the middle of her favorite soap opera. The old man just ahead of you could be on his way to the hospital and might be extra jumpy today because the doctors called to tell him that they finally found him a donor. (edit: word for this is "sonder")
Everyone has their own story. Baccano is an anime that realizes that all too well and decides to puppeteer different people with different personalities, ideals and aims into making one blockbuster series that will have you throwing roses on stage as the curtain closes. It’s anime like these that I shove down people’s throats when they say it’s a medium for kids.
Set in the 1930s Prohibition Era of America, it often shifts its focus to events that take place in New York and even unravels the mysteries that happened on a ship in 1711. The story, told through multiple points of view, revolves around the adventures and atrocities of the passengers aboard a Chicago train called the Flying Pussyfoot (yuuuup). Keeping up with the train's name, the characters are colourful - alchemists, thieves, assassins, landlords, mobsters, immortals, chemists, monsters, delinquents, information brokers and many more fascinating characters. Sheer ruckus ensues when their security is compromised and they all set out to carry out their individual missions. And so it begins - stories, with no clear ending or beginning and no specific protagonists, but just methodical mayhem.
The story starts off by giving you a glimpse into the everyday life of (most of) the characters and it does so all at once. And by that, I mean that you have a few minutes denoted to each of them and all this information at one shot can be confusing, if not a complete turn-off. This might be the major reason for people putting down this anime as the initial three episodes are an overload of what is considered “unnecessary” information. But, here’s the thing: Don’t.
Once it gets going, the show effortlessly glides from one perspective to another, seldom leaving you confused, weaving order out of the initial chaos. For an anime with twelve main characters and an assortment of side characters, that’s quite an achievement. The same goes for the time/place shifts. There is just something always happening on screen, be it a funny conversation or a deadly fight. Thus, the flow while smooth for the most part might be a little jerky due to the variation in character. Seeing a gun fight being interrupted by some comic relief is mildly frustrating, but upon retrospect, it seems like the kind of thing that makes the serious scenes more intense.
The characters themselves are truly refreshing. One of the most recurring characters in the show are Isaac and Miria, who are entertaining to say the least. Watching them prance about and mindlessly cosplay is hilarious. Initially frustrating, most of the characters do grow on you. We also have a Heath Ledger-esque Joker in Ladd Russo, a psychopathic hitman who's just unmissable. Just going through the varied type of characters must make you wonder how long it must’ve taken the producers to prepare the script, which happens to be very well done. Analyzing the characters (or even mentioning them!) any more would be a serious disservice for people who are reading this review without watching the show.
Brain’s Base spared no expense while producing this show. They sent their artists to America to study the locations so that they could recreate them as realistically as possible. And it was a wonderful investment indeed as 1930s America looks exactly like it should – dusty, grand and mysterious. The backgrounds are detailed very well and buildings in different areas look completely different from each other. The characters themselves are drawn neatly with light shades of water colors. When Ladd gets angry, you can actually notice the blood rush up to his face. The emotions of all characters are done very subtly and artfully. When one of the characters breaks his hand, you can see the bone fragments in the flesh around the forearm. That’s how good the animation is.
The soundtrack is pretty difficult to judge. The OP, Guns N Roses, is a jazzy piece of classical American music, which is pretty fun. There's even a tiny recap squeezed in the middle of the OP. I always love it when anime mess around with the OPs. Addition of some more thematic tracks could’ve definitely kicked things up a notch.
There is hardly any character development, but with 12 main characters squeezed into 13 episodes, what do you expect? The cast, which up until now was an asset, turns into a liability towards the ending. It’s hard to give all of them a decent epilogue and some of your favorite characters’ futures will be left unexplored. Thankfully, the 3 episode OVA wraps things up rather neatly.
Baccano is a bloodbath and its monstrosity rivals that of Elfen Lied. You will be subject to witnessing some horrifying and disturbing scenes such as a face thrust into the rail tracks from aboard a moving train and hot tongs being used to gouge a child’s eyes. Suffice to say, this ain't for kids.
[ THE WRAP-UP ]
Baccano is a 13 episode rollercoaster that will take you on the train journey of your life. The mood of the 1930s is captured perfectly and is presented in beautiful light-shaded animation that instantly transports you into the Prohibition Era America. The unique method of multiple-perspective storytelling is groundbreaking and very enchanting. The first couple of episodes are mildly infuriating because of the constant perspective shifts, however, this is all evened out in the next few episodes and you get into the thick of things really quick in this otherwise fast paced anime. There are the usual culprits, such as mood ruiners, an unsatisfactory ending (fixed in the OVA that follows) and bland soundtrack, but nothing that even comes close to ruining the overall experience. With an intricately designed plot and an intriguing set of characters, it does not fail to impress.
Masterpiece or classic? Eh, debatable.
Gives you a rush like very few shows can? Definitely.
In anime, we should automatically celebrate when something like Baccano is tossed away. We should revel in what a delicious candy we are gorging down... but also realize that its still a candy.
It's Toblerone, but still just a chocolate bar (no pun intended on how the title is used in the OP)
I've always seen the show as a tribute to gangster/crime tales; it has quite a bunch of gimmicks:
1. A Bonnie and Clyde
2. Multiple gangs that exist for character development/a place to rest.
3. Uncouth scenarios
4. Uncouth villains and hearty heroes.
5. Intentionally incomplete ending.
I could stop here and just call Baccano "fanservice", but since that word
has been commonly used negatively to describe shows like Madoka as lazy, I will call Baccano inspiring; especially for an anime.
To figure out things is beyond the point. At least for the first time you watch.
Yes, first time; its highly unlikely you'll retain any information at the rate the show gives it so you'd better just find something close enough to your liking or risk ruining the show by taking notes needlessly.
Why is it needless? Because the show is too short for any notes to really matter; everything that has to be said, is said.
...you just might see it differently the first time, get it?
To mention all the characters and how great all of them are would be a waste since none of them by themselves are that great, and collectively... well, go back to my previous point on "what to expect for your first time".
The best characters in the show are based on how they respond to the things that they are not used to, so at least characterization happens the old fashioned way (lol)
This makes the stand-outs a very short list, for better or worse.
Musically and aesthetically, the show is a tad jaded with character design, but smooth in every other aspect.
Brain Base is currently taking precedence as one of the best studios, with Baccano being the tip of the iceburg. For a mobster-esque show to be its stalwart symbol could be the shows highest compliment...
Plenty of jazz, plenty of suspense, and loads of intensity. I gladly put chips down on there being something for everyone... but perhaps not laid out equally.
I said before that it takes multiple viewings to get everything; a bad and good thing in Baccano's case.
Baccano doesn't have much besides fun which congregates that much attention being channeled again. For all of its craft, to be nothing more than an incoherent blast that we can replicate over and over again, only to pick out a few more details each time, doesn't beget greatness.
Stuff like Ergo Proxy and Neon Genesis juggle quite a lot despite being vague up until the end.
In Baccano's end, be it the OVA ending or TV, has things settle quite finitely going against its source spirit.
Hey, I know its unusual in anime but if you're gonna set the bar, you still have to make the jump!
So I don't consider Baccano to be new classic as some would put it.
It, as its name translates, is way too much ruckus. I could compare the entire series to an extravagant party where everyone has having a rockin' good time... except you're trying to hear what everyone is saying.
It's nice in Baccano's case that you can whip up the party at your leisure, but man's senses can only do so much.
Takahiro Omori did his best to translate the party from paper to... paper so that, again, is another good reason to watch.
Letter Grading Time (LGT)
Story: C+ (you're not watching it to comprehend)
Art: A- (captures America smartly and smoothly)
Music: B+ (works well, but doesn't push itself)
Animation: B (a bit stiff and sore, but mans up when necessary)
Characters: B- (Not everyone are chess pieces and when they are, they still blend)
Enjoyment: B (Is less boring than one would think given its atypical content, but its no Pulp Fiction)
Overall: B (Experimental, unstable, and crazy; mission accomplished)
I kept putting off Bacanno because the art really shouted out to me and, as vain a conclusion as this is, I thought the art was an insight into how good the show was going to be, and therefore put it off for when I was having a bad day and just wanted a really good show to pick me up. Ufortunately Bacanno doesn't reach that excellence for me, but it certainly isn't a bad show.
OK, starters, 1930s America. As with my Gosick review, I find it intriguing when anime teams pick pre-war 20thC as a setting for their shows as, for me, it's quite
a boring period and, if you're not a fan of war history, the 20thC probably won't interest you until the 1970s, but I digress. It's just an intriguing setting and does have all the staples of the era:- Brooklyn gangsters, shoot-outs, drive-by's, backstabbing, blackmail etc etc. What makes it more interesting, and what gives it it's supernatural tag, is about 3 episodes in, people who are presumed dead start coming back to life... They are immortal. At the end of the show, however, it overstays its welcome as, and I'm not exaggerating here, almost all the characters are immortal, and if not immortal they will only die by old age. Yeah, becomes stale.
I'll leave the pros to the end, so let me get this out the way - as with my most recent review, Serial Experiments Lain, the characters are a mixed bag, but unlike Serial Experiments Lain, it leans towards the bad side. The characters to me, apart from their being far too many for me to recount, is that thery're all cookie-cutter characters - the main people of the gangs act and sound so similar to the run-of-the-mill gangster, you have your shinji-esque character, your tsundere character... You name it, they're there. Except Isaac, Miriam and the psychotic dude the name of which escapes me.
The psychotic dude is just an ultimate bad-ass and dick, it's cliché, but you do love to hate him. His only love and want in life is to cool and, with one dodgy child-killing scene aside (not too bad however as said child is infected with this immortal blood thing), he's a joy to watch. If you like volience. I'm not a massive fan, but it's enjoyable in just how much he enjoys killing. It's an experience.
Isaac and Miriam are the comedy-relief characters, which is why they stand out because this does come off as a serious show. They are marketed as the protagonists, but the storyline splits into three for me, so they are only protagonists of their storyline. But yeah, they're enjoyable for the obvious reason - Isaac in particular for myself did a great job of making me smirk and laugh, and while Miriam didn't do as well (ESPECIALLY when she was a GODDAMN PARROT OF EVERYTHING ISAAC SAID!) she was certainly not bad.
OK, the massive pros - the art is absoluteley stunning, no more need be said other than just look it at. And the music, as with the era, is all jazz. And as a massive jazz fan (along with dance/trance and heavy metal/screamo) the music makes orgasm quite a lot, especially dat opening. Aaahhhh. It's great.
All in all it's not a bad show but it's certainly not worth priority on anyones list, and by that I mean if you have other shows you want to watch, you'll probably enjoy yourself more watching those than watching this and thinking you could be watching whatever else is on your list. However, if you're doing any work or even writing a review, sticking on the OST would not be a bad thing at all. Overall, Bacanno gets a fair 7/10.
Baccano is Italian for ruckus, and boy, does this show live up to its name. You'll be hard pressed to find a show more crazy, chaotic, and downright entertaining than Baccano. It is very much like a Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie film, with its western settings, focus on the gritty underworld, and distinctive characters. However, it takes the characteristics of these filmmakers and dials them up tenfold, with some extreme violence and piecemeal storytelling. The result is an exercise in pure unadulterated entertainment.
The show follow three different plots taking place in 1930's America. One revolves round an elixir that will grant the drinker immortal
life. Another is centered around a young lady's search for her missing delinquent brother. And the third follows the gruesome events that took place aboard the transcontinental train, The Flying Pussyfoot (yup, that's its name). Events from all three storylines are presented out of order and jumbled together. Now, it might sound like the show is a big mess, and it is confusing at first, but it is actually brilliantly constructed. It is kind of like Pulp Fiction, but taken to the extreme. The show knows just when to drop which plot point from which storyline to clarify things for the viewer, and connect the dots. It is left to the viewer to piece together this insane jigsaw puzzle. Since each story is really quite simple at its core, this piecemeal presentation makes the show much more engaging than if they were told in a straightforward manner, as it challenges the audience to use their brains while watching the mayhem unfold.
The out-of-order storytelling isn't the only thing Baccano has going for it, however. No, Baccano is also blessed with one of the best casts of characters in an anime ever. The cast is composed of gangsters, thieves, shady information brokers, ruthless cult members, and psychotic serial killers. Yet for being a collection of morally deplorable people, there isn't an unlikable character in the bunch. Mafioso like Firo and the Gandor brother have that certain charm to them that only slick gangsters can posses. The robber duo, Isaac and Miria, are hilarious in all their nonsensical glory. It is always fun to see the psychopath among psychopaths Ladd Russo off a few people, or even just glee over the prospect of killing. Heck, you'll even be cheering for the resident wussy, Jacuzzi Splot, by the end. This massive likability is shared by even the smallest of roles, really there isn't much more you could ask for in a cast of characters.
...Well, you could ask for more depth. Actually, that is what the show is missing as a whole. For all their likability, none of the characters are particularly deep. Sure, they have their own feelings, desires and such, but its all pretty simplistic characterization. Likewise there isn't any huge, mind-blowing themes here either; no questioning of morality, no off-hand philosophizing. Really though, this is almost inconsequential. Baccano's goal is above all else to entertain, and it succeeds with flying colors to that end. Baccano is just as entertaining the second, third, or even forth time (or however many times you decide to watch it) around as it is the first.
Looking at the art style, it is clear that the team behind Baccano did their research. The visuals do a great job of capturing 1930's America. From the busy city streets of New York to the lavish interior of The Flying Pussyfoot, all the backgrounds are marvelously detailed, and really give the viewer the feeling of being in the Prohibition era. The character designs do the same. The clothing they wear, and the presence of several different nationalities and races add to the settings. Another thing noteworthy is how violent the show is. Fingers are cut off, heads are blown to pieces, one character kills his victims by pushing them against the tracks as the train is moving; all of this is shown in gruesome detail The soundtrack is dominated by Jazz, one of the most prominent genres of the time, which really adds to the atmosphere. Not only that, the music near-perfectly captures the excitement of what is happening on screen. Whether it be the sound of beating drums as Ladd beats a man to death, or the blasting of trumpets as characters do battle on the roof of the train, the music enhances the experience.
Baccano is a show that never fails to entertain. Viewers will undoubtedly be thrown off by the shows unique storytelling at first, but will be sucked into the madness. The colorful cast of characters is insanely likable and the attention to detail regarding the time period is astounding. If you are in search for high quality entertainment that is not too heavy, then you should be watching Baccano. It is one wild ride you won't be forgetting anytime soon.