May 14, 2013

Posted by in Movies & TV | 1 Comment

Baccano – A Review

baccano1Continuing my nontraditional series of reviews of things released a long time ago but I really love, I decided to do Baccano next.

I’ve watched (or, on some occasions, at least tried to watch) hundreds of anime series. Unlike American shows, Japanese anime normally feature only one season. Sometimes, really popular shows get a second season, but it’s not often. And that’s what I love most about it. The shows have real stories! It’s not something that is extended out indefinitely for the sake of money, resulting in rehashed storylines, incoherent cliffhangers, and ultimately devoid of a satisfying conclusion (See “Lost”). Baccano is one of the greatest examples. Only fifteen or so episodes long, it’s one of the greatest things I’ve watched in my life… period. Here is the story synopsis from myanimelist (edited by me):

“During the late 1930s in Chicago, the transcontinental train, Flying Pussyfoot, is starting its legendary journey that will leave a trail of blood all over the country. At the same time in New York, the ambitious scientist Szilard and his unwilling aide Ennis, are looking for stolen bottles of the immortality elixir. Meanwhile, mafia wars are getting worse.

Based on the award winning light novels of the same name, this anime adaptation follows several events that initially seem unrelated, both in time and place, but are part of a much bigger story—one of alchemy, survival, and immortality. Merging these events together are the kindhearted would-be thieves, Isaac and Miria, connecting various people, all of whom possess their own hidden ambitions and agendas.”

Besides the amazing story of a group of immortals trying to kill each other during the 1930s mob era, the real star of this show are all the incredible characters. From Isaac and Miria (two of the funniest thieves ever conceived) to Jacuzzi and Nice (a cowardly, tattooed mob leader and his long-time, explosives-obsessed girlfriend) to Ladd Russo (a psycho if you ever saw one) – every single character is unique and fun. The show employs a flashback-and-forth plot over a three-year period that relies on cliffhangers before switching scenes, but it never gets old, because every character is so good that switching from one to another is a joy rather than a disappointment.

baccano2Baccano is a masterpiece of story-telling, one of those rare pieces of work that is perfect in nearly every capacity. To this day I’m astounded how much story was squeezed into so few episodes. Nothing was extraneous or unnecessary, and yet the story was amazingly simple at the same time. Guided by effervescent characters, the plot moved along nicely and made your jaw drop when the final scenes came around. And while there was quite a bit of squeamish gore, there was also surprisingly very little character death, which is always a plus in my book. And yet despite that, it all was instantly acceptable because the premise of the story itself is immortality.

Bottom line: go watch this show. It will change your world. And even if you don’t like mob movies (which I don’t) or violence (which I don’t), you’re probably still going to love Baccano. It’s simply two wonderful not to.


Baccano opening: