Baccano!

Yes, I’m doing two anime reviews in a row. Deal. With. It

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This 16-episode 2006 anime directed by Takahira Omori is based on a series of light novels written Ryohgo Narita. So you probably already know, by the light-novel/anime relationship that this is going to be a good anime.

The basic theory which I formulated is that anime that is based off of light novels are significantly better than anime produced off of manga series. Of course there are exceptions but yes.

Baccano! (which is italian for ‘ruckus’), simply put is as close to Pulp Fiction an anime will get.
The anime is filled with more than half a dozen storylines, a cast of characters numbering more than 10 (at least) and violence so rampant and raging, it can only be termed with that one term used to describe violence inTarantino movies: “ULTRAVIOLENCE”

The plotline of Baccano! is complicated to say the least. I know at least five people who’ve taken up the series and then given it up because the storyline is too complicated. Seriously, if it weren’t for my capacity to ignore initial misgivings and plod on for the sake of anime-review integrity, I wouldn’t even be here, writing this review. Baccano! takes its viewers on a storyline tying medieval alchemy, Prohibition-era gang warfare in the US and a multitude of criminal activity in between. From kidnapping a governor’s wife and kids to ransom for the head of a cult to a pair happy-go-lucky, dumb and naïve thiefs who mistakenly drink ambrosia that gives them immortality after mistaking it for wine. Seriously, it’s only until the 13th episode that the main plotline gets resolved and even, it will still leave you shaking from the rollercoaster ride you just had.

Baccano! presents the storyline from various viewpoints and angles. Twists in the plotline are only ever released after the mystery has already been shown from at least 3 character’s viewpoints. Other than building up suspense, this gives the plotline of Baccano! a gravity and depth that makes you feel like the villains in the anime are threatening not just our favorite characters but also us, the viewers.

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That’s one of our anti-heroes jumping (in joy) on his comrade’s dead body.

Of course with such a wide, huge, engrossing and detailed plotline, the anime has decided to sacrifice its focus on characterization. None of the huge cast, I’m sad to say, ever step outside of any stereotypes and while there are some moments in the anime where a breakthrough seems eminent and you are on the edge of your seat, waiting for the character to mature and turn into a human butterfly, they just settle back down into the dregs of cardboard-cutoutness. It’s a little disappointing to say the least because even two characters who weren’t simple roleplaying servants to the plot would have made this anime exponentially better.

This is a 2006 anime so the animation isn’t anything spectacular. Then again, 1980s Studio Ghibli movies look like they’re watercolor paintings in motion so, eh.
The animation in ordinaryscenes look ok, a bit choppy and blocky sometimes, reminiscent of maybe the pre-2004 One Piece era but in fight scenes or where there are copious amounts of blood pouring out, the animation smoothens out to show the details on screen in all their visceral clarity.

The soundtrack is amazing. To fit the different eras the anime cycles through, Baccano! uses a lot of jazz, classical and 1950s rock to provide the perfect ambience to the story. Of course once you’ve watched around 6 or 7 episodes, the soundtrack gets a little tired as Baccano! just keeps recycling the same tracks over and over but by then you’re nearing the end anyway.

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The writing of the anime is marvelous, mixing amazing witty comedy and occasional slapstick. Of course in dramatic moments, the dialogue gets rather heavy and melodramatic to the point of disbelief but when Baccano! is doing comedy, it damn well makes you die by laughter..

Two flaws Baccano!: Characterization and animation. Other than that, you’re pretty much fucking perfect.

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