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.
This is one of my top picks. Go watch it. NOW.
Overall: 46/50; 92% (A)