This is one of those times. The times when I have so much to say about this anime, yet I find that I can only say so very little. If I said everything I wanted to say, not only would I spoil everything but it would become the size of a novel. Ah, it is such a happy thing, and yet so sad! (and I am channeling one of the characters when I say that, heh!)
So, instead of long and detailed, brief and oblique, it is! 😉
I saw the trailer for this, but still had no idea what to expect. Said trailer makes more sense after watching the show, but it’s plenty of fun anyway! 🙂
Baccano is set in America, mostly in the very early 1930’s, during the days of Prohibition and the Depression. It follows a large cast of men and women, almost every one of which plays the lead at some point, because, after all, everybody has their own story to tell. It tells a few series of events, all out of order, not at all chronological, but in a way that combines everything into an intricate story, very well-crafted and told in a riveting, thoroughly entertaining way. It combines action, intrigue, humor, love, villainy, and unusual heroism, with a bit of alchemy thrown in, all to create one of the best stories I’ve yet found in an anime. 🙂
That said, the shifting, non-chronological format can be a bit jarring at first. It takes the first episode or so to get used to it. Heck, it takes them that long just to introduce most of the characters in some way. The story itself wrestles with the question of how it can best be told, through the discussion of two characters who are talking about all of these events that we are about to be shown. All of this, however, just makes the story feel more alive, even sensible, in the way it shines its spotlight on each of the characters in turn.
Said characters are a diverse range of personalities that I don’t think fit into any of the usual tropes. There are too many to comment on specifically, so I shall simply say that they are easy to love (or hate, if they’re a villain), they are compelling, and they feel real in a very human way. They often aren’t simply good or bad, but most of them, with a few notable exceptions, fall on the better side of the line. Even those that don’t can have a perverse charisma to them, in certain situations. Thieves can be compassionate, criminals can be loyal gentlemen, and supposed gentlemen can be cold-hearted, murdering monsters. Inane depravity can dress itself up as if it were civil, while honest class can be found wearing most anything at all. There are no classic heroes here, but that just makes the heroes we find that much more fascinating.
The stories of all these characters ends up being a zany, wild ride, filled with thrills and chills, twists and turns, and some romances. Said romance is every bit as unusual and human as is the heroism, so, my cup of tea! 🙂
The environment feels like something grounded and real, with a bit of the fantastic added in. The design is vivid, the animation is fluid, and the action is realistic. The voice acting is all top-notch across the board and the music is nothing short of fantastic! The stories are intricate, interwoven, well-paced, and driven by the characters. Seriously, everything about this anime is exceptionally well done, and I struggle to name one which is better-crafted!
One does need to keep in mind, of course, that some of the content here is definitely not geared towards children. With some language, disturbing scenes, disturbing characters, and notable bloodshed, I would rate it PG-13, easily. Yet, my only real complaint is that, with enough source material to keep going, it’s relatively short at only sixteen episodes. I want more! 🙂
In short (and this is a very short summary of what I love about it), if you want something absolutely great and unusual, then I cannot be too strong in recommending Baccano!
Rating: 10 stars out of 10.
Grade: solid A-Plus!