Welcome back, fledgling nerds! Having had spring break to relax—and, more importantly, try out some of the nerdy activities that I recommended in my last two posts—I’m sure you’re ready for more advanced nerd fare, right? Well, ready or not, here’s a review of the time-skipping, storyline twisting, urban fantasy series Baccano.
What do you get when you combine a mysterious newspaper and its’ employees, multiple mafia families, a couple of happy-go-lucky idiot thieves who have way more success than they should, a two-bit punk and his much nicer sister, a gang of psychos on the lookout for some fun, some oddly hard-to-kill folks, a mysterious girl with only a first name, a gang of not-so-psychos led by someone whose parents must’ve hated him based on his name, and a mysterious demon that’s said to lurk along the railroad tracks? Baccano, that’s what. The 12-episode anime series, adapted from the first few books of an ongoing novel series, covers three different yet intersecting storylines without much care for chronological order. This confusing timeline combined with the aforementioned ensemble cast and lack of a main protagonist makes the series somewhat difficult to follow at first, which is why I don’t recommend it for one’s first foray into anime.
Chronologically, the first storyline is about a gang war between two rival families in 1930’s New York and the quest of a young mafioso to become a full-fledged member of his group. The second storyline is about a transcontinental train trip in which numerous plots by several competing factions clash in a frenzy of violence and confusion. The third storyline covers the aftermath of the first two and features a young lady searching for her ne’er-do-well brother.
Despite the lack of a central protagonist, one of Baccano’s great strengths is its’ characters. They run the gamut from naive, sheltered ladies to up-and-coming gangster to cheerful psychopaths to the aforementioned happy-go-lucky idiots. Every character is excellently voiced in the English edition, with a real effort being made to capture the regional accents. You can hear the fear in a crying kid’s voice, the cunning in a master manipulator’s words, and the glee at the upcoming carnage in the voice of Ladd Russo—the psychopath-for-hire who steals every scene he’s in with his hammy performance.
Baccano is quite well animated with high-impact, fluid fight scenes balanced out by quieter moments. The soundtrack, consisting of period-appropriate jazz, is also of note, especially the opening song, which is a cheery, upbeat number.
All in all, I highly recommend Baccano. The show is a wonderful combination of gangster flick, heist movie, screwball comedy, urban fantasy, and horror story. It can be somewhat confusing at first, but stick with it to enjoy a wild ride. You can find the series in Japanese on Funimation’s YouTube page, along with the first two episodes of the series in English.
See you next time!
Nick Michel is an STS senior of Cushing. He really wants to find a job.