The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: Baccano!
Genre: Action/Comedy
Company: Brains-Base/Aniplex
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 26 Jul 2007 – 1 Nov 2007

Summary: In 1711, a group of alchemists and travelers gain immortality by summoning the elixir of life. Two hundred years later, many of these individuals have scattered across the world in a range of occupations such as normal pedestrians, terrorists and members of the mafia. These forces along with many others are about to come together on the streets and in a train. With the stage set, let this debacle begin.

The Highlights
Animation and music: Above par.
Story: A massive collection of abstractly related incidents.
Characters: Eighteen main characters, thirteen episodes, so many people to kill.
Class and style: Oh yeah.

Once upon a time, I thought that a great anime needed to be comprised of an interesting plot, good character development and a focal point to tie everything together. Overtime, numerous shows came, challenged these firmly held beliefs and shredded them to oblivion. Why would a slice of life anime need a plot so long as its entertaining to watch? Why does a good comedy need character development so long as it’s funny? One at a time, these perceptions faded with the sole exception of one: a good anime needs a strong focal point. The notion made a lot of sense to me considering that an anime that focuses on nothing often accomplishes little. Then came Baccano! The show took this belief, laughed at it, then tore it limb from limb, gratuitously spraying the blood across the room, while still laughing.

A focal point? Who needs it? With eighteen different main characters playing on two massive stages, Baccano! accomplishes something I never thought possible. There is really no nexus to speak of here since practically all of the characters are of similar importance. The plot is told in about a dozen anachronistic and unrelated stories running at the same time. For a good portion of the series, this method of storytelling is quite confusing, but things become clearer over time. The only tying elements to the tale are the various coincidental associations forged in a series of extraordinary events that come crashing down in the final epsiodes. Imagine watching eighteen jumbo jets colliding midair with all the passengers miraculously jumping out with parachutes, and you’ll get a sense of what Baccano! pulls off.

Unlike many of the great anime of today, Baccano! isn’t really about psychologically profound moments or spiritual uplifitings. The anime knows how to be downright neurotic, but practically everything can be taken at face value. There is no Freudian lobotomy, Kant rhetoric, or Introduction to Psychology shoved down the audiences’ throats along with the entertainment. Connoisseurs may not like how straightforward and shallow the anime ends up being, but that was never the point. Baccano! is supposed to be clean, straightforward fun about cults, terrorists, the mafia and various misunderstood psychopaths.

“Cool” is probably the most appropriate word to describe Baccano! The slick animation and the catchy music only adds to the overall sexiness of the show. If you want a dash of style and a pinch of epic this season, pick up this anime. There’s comedy; there’s drama. There’s action; there’s romance. All you need now is popcorn and soda.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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