Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Historical
Director: Takahiro Omori
Studios: Brains Base (Animation), Aniplex (Music)
Number of Episodes: 13
Licensed? Yes (FUNimation)
After watching all thirteen-episodes of Baccano, a question comes to mind: why has no one watched this show? The mafia of Prohibition-age America – immortal alchemists – bank robbers – guns – sadistic and graphic torture – broads and dames – and that's just the first episode! This testosterone-fueled ride spanning more than two (or two-hundred) years has more kinetic energy than a barrel of gasoline-soaked fireworks.
Baccano, Italian for "cacophonous noise," follows a cast of over ten well-crafted and diverse characters across two seemingly separate stories. By the end of the opening credits, you learn how perfectly the title fits. The opening theme "Gun's&Roses" is a rhythmic brass drive that rivals "Tank!" for smoothest opening theme. Fans of Guy Richie's film Snatch will enjoy the mono-chromatic close-ups of the characters.
Did we lose the plot amidst the noise? Well, on one hand is the mystery of New York mafia playboy Dallas Genoard, whose sudden disappearance expedites a feud between crime bosses. On the other, the cross-continental train ride aboard the treacherous Flying Pussyfoot bubbles into a powder keg of violence as four colliding, gun-wielding parties struggle for control of the train and its passengers. There's also an alchemist cult crossing the Atlantic during the 1700's, but that's just baccano…
What separates this series from every other anime experience of 2007 is its groundbreaking slaughter and rebirth of story-telling structure. Baccano jumps around time with a blur that would make Quentin Tarantino's head spin. But it does this between two stories! Disorienting? Yes. Rewarding? Beyond your expectations.
Tarantino would praise Baccano for its graphic violence, barrage of badass characters, and structure that holds the same logic as a Bingo board. I do not hesitate to say that the blood-level is gratuitous and even an R rating would be generous. Therein lies the problem in establishing a fan base: even desensitized viewers today can be unnerved by Baccano's absurd level of violence, bloodshed and torture.
Without the violence, however, the impeccable humor (both character and situation-driven) would not shine through as brightly. You may cringe at Ladd Russo's gleeful puppetry of his mangled comrade's skeleton, or you may be taken by gallows laughter. Either way, the scenes move with breakneck velocity, skipping from heavy-handed to light-hearted with a masterful grace. The darkness of the comedy plays off well with the tongue-in-cheek severity of the bloodshed.
The series struggles to find a main character and, in fact, dedicates its entire first episode to guessing who should be the central protagonist. But finding the central character in Baccano is like naming the badass in Bleach: it's not gonna happen, but it's fun as Hell to wonder. I cannot mention my favorite dozen characters without leaving out my second-favorite dozen, so I will sum up the bombardment of amazing personas with four words: Sweet Suzumiya, Rail Tracer.
Even with its cluttered narrative, Baccano delivers, brilliantly wrapping itself up in a finale that is chaotic, disorienting and unquestionably satisfying. Strap yourselves in, 'cause this bumpy ride makes an offer you can't refuse.