To be honest, I didn't really notice Baccano until it came out onto DVD. I had heard the name in passing but that's really about it. I somewhat regret not watching this earlier.
To start us off, Baccano takes place in the 1930s when there's a rumor around about a group of people known as the "Immortals." It seems that it's impossible to kill them and no one knows who they are. All people really know is that they exist. In the meantime, a information gathering shop posing as a newspaper company is trying to piece together the truth about a major event that occurred onboard the transcontinental train "The Flying Pussyfoot." Coincidentally, it seems that the Immortal, many mafia families, hired hitmen, and thieves were all involved in this fiasco, and the first episode starts us off with two omniscient characters discussing who the main character is...
It's actually a great starting point and I tip my hat off to the director and author of the base material. Just from the opening alone, the introduction of the characters is almost overwhelming. What's even more unfathomable is the development of these characters and more throughout a 16 episode series. The first episode brings a brief introduction to the cast as well as the setting. It's a bit disorienting at first since it starts somewhere near the middle of the timeline but I'll get to that later.
To be honest, I haven't heard of the animation team known as Brains Base before but their style is really catchy. There's a bit of the original art they have to consider but overall, it's a relatively high budget anime with nice eye candy. It's a bit more gritty than clean but style seems to suit the anime very well.
The music is fantastic. The jazzy themes incorporated really give the anime its 30s feel. It's really too bad that Makoto Yoshimori didn't do much else. I really wanted to more of the music he could think up.
And here we come to the meat of the review: The direction and voice acting.
It seems that every episode had an individual episode director headed by one main director. The way this anime is directed is quite interesting. One could say that it's of epic fashion with pockets of flashbacks, but I'd say that it's more focused towards the characters and time simply flows around them. In that way, it seems to also emphasize the lack of focus on time itself which is a pointless concept for the "Immortals" themselves as they live forever without aging.
In general, it actually takes time for the show to pick up. To be honest, I was a bit.... (fine, I'll admit it) bored with the first couple of episodes. The pacing was dreadfully slow and having to bring in all the characters together to a seemingly pointless point in time seemed bland but I regret putting off watching this for so long because once it picks up, it doesn't stop. Just like a runaway train, scenes change to different times, stories are intertwined, and suddenly characters are brought together before your eyes in the most outrageous situations all the while the Flying Pussyfoot continues to chug along with no one noticing what's going on around them.
The biggest point of interest is how disconnected scenes and episodes are. Rather than following standard convention of following a timeline and going in chronological order (which is something we're more comfortable with, rather than believing it's "better") it forces the viewer to see the show in a different way. "Throw away all conventions of that thought process you know and follow us, just this one" the anime seems to say. It doesn't disappoint. Episodes feel right and seem to follow the pace of the company piecing together information. "Ok, so there was this guy on the train. How far back can we trace his history? What is he doing now? What did he do aboard the Flying Pussyfoot?" It's also a bit disorienting (but in a good way) that the show jumps around in time but it didn't bother me too much. It allowed me (the viewer) to associate relationships and assess character groupings better since these jumps focused more on the characters themselves than trying to impose a sense of linearity.
Voice acting was beautiful by everyone, Japanese and English. Voice acting these characters are particularly hard and I applaud the voice directors who found the matches. Each character brings to the show a different tone and color, and once all mixed together, they create a painting. But the colors themselves need to be rich and filled with an eye (or in this case "ear") catching richness that complements the others. I'm pretty sure every character had at least one monologue that rivaled that of the multi-personality disorder messes that are Shakespearean plays. Every character had a range of emotions to cover and I'm sure it really gave voice actors something interesting to work with.
There are problems of course. Certain characters seemed to have minor cameos despite being a crucial part of the story. It brings the question of "just exactly where the hell were you during all this?" There were a handful of characters I wanted to see more of but oh well. Certain names also didn't ring well with me. Certain first names didn't match last names (conflict of origin of nationality. Mind you this is still the late 20s-early 30s). Something that also happened was that I ended up forgetting parts of the beginning simply because in my mind I considered it to be pointless exposition although I'm pretty sure there were parts that hinted at relationships along with some foreshadowing. Regardless because of how droll the start was, it caused a problem for me to continue. I'm not saying that all shows should start with a bang, but there was a lack of a certain "hook" that made it worth it. When I have to say "You have to watch the first few episodes before it gets good" it leaves a bad taste in my mouth because the rest of the show doesn't really justify a bad start. First impressions are very important and what kept me watching was the opening theme as well as small quips of slapstick comedy from Isaac and Miria...
Must watch. That's all I gotta say. I'm angry that I missed this show.
- ▼ 2009 (72)
- ► 2008 (84)
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