Light Novel Review: Baccano! Volume 1: The Rolling Bootlegs by Ryohgo Narita
Author: Ryohgo Narita
Publisher: Yen Press
Released: May 24, 2016
Availability: Available in print or on Kindle ebook
A Japanese tourist comes to New York City and meets an immortal mobster who tells him the story about how he became an immortal during the 1930s.
The Story is told Differently Than in the Anime:
While the Baccano! Anime told the story in a nonlinear fashion, the light novel while still starting after all the events of the 1930s they tend to show what happened much earlier sooner compared to the anime where they showed events in different orders compared to the book which only shows It set of events and the other events are shown in future novels.
While this does make the anime really interesting it can be difficult to follow because of the nonlinear adaptation, the book is much easier to follow because it only focuses on one set of events and doesn’t jump between too many different stories like the anime.
The Characters Are What Make the Story Fun:
While I won’t say that this is a literary masterpiece or anything, it is a fun story that kept me entertained during a long drive and it was enjoyable to read.
Many light novels are written because they are not full novels so they can write a lot of them and get them published in Japan. Many of them are usually Issekai fantasy stories since Sword Art Online made that a trendy story setting that doesn’t take a lot of effort to do if the author models the setting after an MMO.
Baccano is different because it uses a historical setting that required him to research the time period and he took a lot of anime tropes and used them in his story without the characters being anime tropes themselves.
It does make the book stand out for people since the story has a unique setting and fun characters. While the story doesn’t have an overarching plot, the stories separate themselves into the year they take place in or the location of the setting.
It is a fun story and what makes it endearing is the unique characters that populate the world, not just the plot.
There are Extended Dialogue Not Adapted into the Anime:
The thing that makes the Baccano! light novel a lot of fun is that it has longer conversations than in the anime. It also has a lot of inner thoughts and monologues that didn’t appear in the anime either, and it helps you understand the story better.
There are Scenes Not in the Anime:
There are scenes in the novel that aren’t in the anime, mainly to establish that a Japanese man is being told these stories by American gangsters. I can see why they did it for the novel and why they left it out of the anime. They didn’t really need it for the anime because they had some of the novels to use as material for point of view characters compared to what happened in the light novel.
Will you buy Baccano! Volume 1: The Rolling Bootlegs
The Illustrations are Nice:
The illustrations for the light novel are nice and even though they don’t appear often, I do like seeing pictures of the characters. Unfortunately on the kindle, the color pages are hard to see because the font is tiny. It’s much easier to see them reading the physical copy of the books.
The Story Does Feel Weird After You Watch the Anime:
The story does feel incomplete because the Flying Pussyfoot train arc is not in this volume buThe t it is a very interesting story nonetheless. If you’re watching the anime then you’re seeing the anime adaptation then you’re seeing the first four volumes told in nonlinear fashion. It does feel strange to not read pieces of the other stories but it’s still a fun novel to read.
This Light Novel is For Older Audiences:
This light novel series is recommended for older audiences because of the violence and language. It’s recommended for ages 16 and up.
The Price of this Book is Expensive:
Baccano! Is an expensive light novel series, and I’m not exaggerating. Compared to other light novels it is $2.00 more on Kindle than other light navels that have been likened in America. It might be because the physical light novel is only available in hardcover and not in softcover light other light novels.
Because this light novel series is more expensive to buy fans of the anime might not want to pick it up, but this is the only legal way to experience Bacano because of AniplexUSA not reprinting the Baccano! blu-rays.
What Doesn't Work:
Great story, characters and world-building
Feels incomplee being the first novel
Unique setting compared to other light novels
The story isn't as interesting when told in linear fashion
A unique and fun light novel
My Grade: A-:
Bacccano! Is a fun and entertaining series that has a unique setting and interesting characters. It stands out among the generic light novels that have come out recently that have generic protagonists and the same old videogame fantasy world setting.
If you’re looking for an interesting story with a historical setting then you’ll really enjoy Baccano! It isn’t a story for younger kids but it’s for adults that want a mature story, it’s violent because it’s about 1930s gangsters.
It is worth reading, but it is expensive. I would recommend borrowing it from your local library if they have a physical copy of it, but the Kindle is the least expensive version and it does cost more than the average price of light novels on the Kindle too.
I can’t recommend the light novel series for everyone but if you like the time period of Prohibition you’ll probably enjoy the novels, especially since there’s a unique twist to this story that makes it different from other stories set in this era.
It is worth buying if you loved the anime but it is an expensive investment for the light novels but they are worth the money if you’re willing to spend it.
I will be buying the other light novels because I love Baccano! It is worth blind buying but if you want to see if you’ll like it, you should see if your friend has the anime to try it, if you love the anime you’ll love the books that it was adapted from. It’s worth your time and money but only if you want to invest the money into the series.
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