Anime Reviews: Baccano!
CAUTION: Contains minor spoilers.
Steven Spielberg once said, “People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end anymore. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.”
I don’t know about you, but I side with the words of late 90’s alternative rock group Semisonic—“every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
And assumedly, so would light novelist Ryohgo Narita.
Baccano! is a sixteen-episode (13 TV + 3 OVA) series which adapts the first few chapters of Narita’s eponymous award-winning series, from the director who gave us three seasons of Hell Girl and would later go on to the much-acclaimed Princess Jellyfish and the anime adaptation of another Ryohgo Narita creation, Durarara!!.
The first episode sets up the format of the series: there is no one plot; there are in fact several. There is no one central character; there are in fact about twenty. Let me introduce some of them to you:
- The Gandor brothers, Keith, Berga and Luck, who run a small-time mafia operation in New York City;
- Firo Prochainezo, an executive mafia man who falls in love with Ennis, the quite literally soulless assistant of sinister medicine man Szilard Quates;
- Isaac and Miria, a pair of clueless, happy-go-lucky bandits who dress up in different costumes for every heist;
- Extremely shy bootlegger Jacuzzi Splot (*pffft*) and his childhood friend/love interest Nice Holystone, an explosives expert;
- Eve Genoard, a young lady who is trying to track down the whereabouts of her older brother Dallas, a small-time hoodlum and professional asshole;
- and Ladd Russo, a mafia hitman with an uninhibited passion for killing people.
All of these characters and more besides are connected in some way to an incident with two rival gangs aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, a transcontinental steam train running from California to New York, in 1930s America during the rough-and-tumble days of the Great Depression. They also throw in some alchemists from the early 18th century who discover the secret to immortality and the mysterious “Rail Tracer”, a monster of urban legend who kills people aboard moving trains.
With so many characters and so many subplots, it may appear that there is a lot to take in. It might be a little confusing to newcomers, a show that takes place from the multiple points of view of its cast and jumps around from character to character, place to place and year to year, but I’ve always thought that some of the best anime have rewatchability—as in, you can watch them again and again and STILL notice stuff you missed the first time.
And with a cast like this, you’ll want to see it more than once. Jacuzzi (*hnnggk!*) and Nice are the most endearing couple on the show, particularly in the OVA episodes, while the antics of Issac and Miria are hands down the most hilarious parts of the show. Meanwhile, you have characters like Ladd who blissfully throws caution to the wind like a child standing in front of a mountain of Christmas presents. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a series with such a feel-good vibe to it since Vandread. The dub is also one of the funniest and also one of the best dubs that I have ever watched—you can tell that FUNimation’s English cast had a lot of fun working on this one.
In conclusion, GO WATCH BACCANO!. In fact, why are you still reading this? Stop wasting time and see it already. It’s got everything that anyone could ever want in an anime. It’s got a great cast of heroes, villains, anti-heroes, anti...villains, it’s original and multi-faceted, it’s hilarious, it’s suspenseful, it’s engaging, and most of all it leaves you wanting more.
Besides, it’d have to be good to justify having a character named (*snrrkk*) Jacuzzi Splot.
Diverse cast; multi-faceted plot; genuinely heartwarming and/or hilarious moments
Switching from story to story may confuse first-time viewers