Aboard the Advenna Avis in 1711, a group of alchemists summon a demon in the hopes of gaining eternal life. The demon gives them an elixir of immortality and the method of ending their existence by "devouring" one another. Soon after, one among them begins to devour his companions. Realizing the danger posed by staying together, they scatter across the globe.
Centuries later in 1930's America, a certain federal investigator tries his best to combat the rise of organized crime during Prohibition, send a particularly infuriating terrorist to Alcatraz, and catch an outrageous thief duo. Meanwhile, the transcontinental train, the Flying Pussyfoot, begins its trail of blood across the country.
In 2002, a small group of the original Advenna Avis alchemists are on a journey to find the rest of their fellow immortals. However, there is one companion they did not expect to meet again.
Seemingly unrelated events, from a sleepy Italian city in the early 1700's to a modern luxury cruise ship traveling across the Pacific, reveal themselves to be far more connected than anyone could imagine...
PSA: Yen Press has officially translated this manga into English, and each chapter is available digitally for $1.99 on Kindle and other locations.
If you consider yourself a Baccano! fan -- if you in any way at all consider yourself invested in the characters and/or want to be 'in the know' - do yourself a favor and buy the first five chapters of the manga right now.
That's right, the first five chapters. They are a must read for any fan, and I say this without reservation. Why, you ask?
The first five chapters provide fans with a never-seen-before mini-arc -- the 1927 arc, or as some might say, the San Gennaro arc. This is all completely new information (accompanied by a brand-new character), revolving around the 'kidnapping' of a certain character and others' efforts to find him (with a couple much-appreciated childhood flashbacks thrown in). The arc is exciting, and frankly, a treat.
What of chapters six through twenty-two? The remaining seventeen chapters are an adaptation of the first Baccano! light novel, The Rolling Bootlegs -- you know, the events of November 1930 that were covered in the 2007 anime.
Yes, I know. For long-time fans of the series, 1930 is old hat. We know the plot backwards and forwards, and backwards again, and you have every right to wonder why bother shelling out money for a story you're already familiar with - not to mention, a story that's already been adapted into a visual medium.
The most compelling reason is this: it is the most faithful visual adaptation of The Rolling Bootlegs (TRB) we have had to date. The 2007 anime is marvelous, but as an adaptation, less so. In the case of TRB, the anime fiddled with the chain of events and changed some scenes while left others out entirely - not to mention, it marginalized quite a few characters relevant to the novel's plot.
I cannot tell you how unequivocally overjoyed I was to see some of my favorite scenes in the novel (scenes that had been changed/left out in the anime) spring to life visually, after years of bemoaning the absence of a faithful adaptation. God, it was gratifying. Not to mention, we got to see what certain characters looked like for the first time -- with one quite significant revelation in particular.
The manga's illustrator, Shinta Fujimoto, is a self-professed major fan of the series -- and if you didn't know that he was a fan beforehand, you'd likely come to suspect it when reading the manga. He puts small, personable details into characters in the background and the backgrounds themselves - details that he didn't have to go to the trouble of illustrating, but did so anyway. His respect and care for the material pours out of every panel, not to mention that his art is very, very nice.
If you're still on the fence about the manga as a whole, buy at least the first five chapters and proceed from there. The manga is a labor of Fujimoto's love (he had his own manga to work on as well!), and he made every effort to produce something of excellent quality, both art-wise and detail-wise (Narita himself notes that the manga was what motivated him to churn out 1935-D, and how Fujimoto includes all these little extra background details).
I can only hope that Young Gangan decides to eventually approve future manga adaptations of the novel - certainly, Ch.22 was billed as the final chapter of the manga - but technically it was just the final chapter of the 1930 adaptation, and the manga sold fairly well. Narita at one point tweeted that no final decision on potential future adaptations had been made...well, we'll see.
(There's also a heckuva bonus image on the last page of Ch.22, which has delighted every single fan I've spoken to thus far -- so, keep an eye out for it!)read more
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