Review: If there were Best Screenplay and Best Editing Awards for anime, Baccano! would be a locked winner. The shear strength of script, direction and unique style of storytelling is conspicuously visible throughout the show. Without these qualities, Baccano! would be just another indistinctly good anime.
If someone told me that Quentin Tarantino was behind Baccano!’s production, I would believe him without a doubt. The amount of craziness, blood and gore is phenomenal and Baccano! tells its story in a very convoluted way. Retrospectively, the plot is simple enough. The anime is about the fight for immortality between several groups of people, some of which do not know what they are dealing with initially. The show is presented as a series of shuffled short events; each one occurs in different time and place and to different set of characters. As a result, patience and concentration are required from the viewer especially during the early part of the series. In short, I wouldn’t recommend Baccano! as a gateway anime for anyone.
Luckily, the gangsters in this anime are more or less noble folks. We can be quite sure that they won’t use their newly received immortality in a bad way. I think the way this show perceives immortality is interesting. Most of other shows which also deal with similar topic usually display the dark side of immortality and try to teach the viewers not to be greedy and to live the life nature has given. In Baccano!, though certain characters suffer from being immortal, most of the time being immortal is a rather fun and useful gift. The anime does not really care about in-depth discussion about the topic but instead use immortality as a plot device to create a very unpredictable and mind-spinning story.
Honestly, the characters in Baccano! are not deeply explored and hardly have time to evolve. For a 16 episodes series, Baccano! introduces way too many characters for any normal show to handle. Given the convoluted way of storytelling, all the characters appear on screen for only a few minutes each time, like a ‘snapshot’ of them. Surprising enough, this quality does not weaken the characterization because almost every people in this show is at least borderline extraordinary. With such vivid and unique details for each character, the viewers do not require much time to get acquainted with these people. I recall I could remember the appearances and the key personalities of characters in Baccano! long before I could recognize their names; this one was the murderous bastard, this one was the hollowed head thief, that one was supposed to be dead and the list goes on.
On the down side, Baccano! can be perceived as another anime that unnecessarily over-complicates things but I feel that this show is more like a challenge to the viewers or an experimental project. The directors and the producers took huge risk doing this show and it paid off. Another thing that maybe bothersome is the theme shift as the show goes on. At first I thought Baccano! would be a classic gangster show with a nice twist on the storytelling but as time goes by, the anime completely leaves reality behind. In short, I was a bit taken aback when it hit me that it was all magic.
Animation wise, Baccano! does a fine job in both character and background department. The original soundtrack is barely visible to me but that is not the problem. Despite the general consensus of anime fans, rating Baccano! is not a simple task for me. Baccano! is not even nearly perfect but its brilliant and bold script makes all other elements of anime making suddenly seem insignificant. Baccano! only impresses me technically but I give it the A rating for its bravery and craziness. We all know that the world needs more anime like this one, seriously.
Genre: supernatural, fantasy, thriller, action
Released date: July 26, 2007 – November 1, 2007
Director: Takahiro Omori
Animated by: Brain’s Base