Anyone who tries the first episode of Baccano! will immediately
notice one thing: the immensely huge cast of characters. I could be
wrong, but this can very well be the 13-episoded series with the biggest
amount of characters ever. While it’s incredibly hard to make a story
with so many characters that stretches over three different timelines
come together, the creators of Baccano! actually pull this off. And how!
Basically, Baccano! combines immortal alchemists with the American
Mafia in 1930. It works quite well, because there are so many different
characters, they just have to go beyond the clichés in order to prevent
characters who look too much like each other. This results in the quirky
thieves of Isaac and Miria, the psychotic Ladd and the charming Luck.
While it’s of course impossible for the character to reach the same
level of depth as, say, Toward the Terra, but the creators did manage to
give every important character (if I had to guess, there’s about thirty
of them) an identity, a clearly defined role, a small piece of
development and an actual personality.
And I haven’t even started talking about the story yet. Basically, it
goes from a completely incomprehensible first episode to a captivating
mystery-series, where all the threads of the huge amount of side-stories
end up resolved at the end of the final episode. It furthermore tells
the story of three, sometimes even four, related timelines right through
each other. Because of this, the creators are able to plan the climaxes
really well, and they turn into one huge success, with a near-perfect
combination between comedy, drama and action. I really mean it when I
say that Baccano! has some of the best writing of the entire year.
In terms of production-values, this series also shines. Especially
the character-designs: not only do the creators manage to give every one
of the about thirty important characters a unique look, they manage to
actually do this for even the unimportant and side-characters (if I had
to guess, there are about eighty of them). The animation may not look
crisp, but it’s detailed, never giving off a feeling of still-frame
abuse. The soundtrack consists out of a bunch of catchy Jazz-tunes,
which makes me wonder why not more anime turn to this, as it works great
to give action-scenes a bit of a quirky touch.
Regarding the bad points, there aren’t really any true flaws about
this series, apart from the sacrifices that had to be made for the good
points. The first episode is basically one huge puzzle, and only later
in the series will things start to make sense. The characters
individually aren’t very special either. It’s only when they are
combined with others that they become special and interesting.
Overall, there need to be more anime like Baccano! It’s not often
when you run into a series that’s as well-written as this one. It’s a
definite recommendation from me, provided that you can take a few gory
scenes that pop up once in a while.