What do you get when you cross alchemy with 1930’s gangsters? Baccano! is the result of this seemingly random combination, and it works together perfectly. Seeing a sliced up gangster connect back together is the type of magic which should have happened sooner. But in the crux of the matter, it doesn’t matter who happens to be immortal or not, as both sides of the coin end raveled up in a compelling adventure on a train. Grab a nice glass of rum and enjoy the jazz fueled journey.
From the first episode the events on the train have happened. Instead of going in a linear fashion from the start of the journey to the last stop, the series goes in any order it pleases, slowly piecing it all together. Jumping back and forth gives us answers quickly on who survives and in what state, but the fun comes out of going back and seeing how it all happened. While you can be safe in the knowledge some characters will remain alive, the horrors witness on the Flying Pussyfoot are things no man or woman should witness. The series doesn’t have a main protagonist, instead jumping from person to person, gang faction to faction.
For a sixteen episode series the cast is bulging, but the bits we see and the way everything connects together means no one feels wasted. Throw in a story on the land as gangs look for a jerk called Dallas and a back story on how people got to be the way they were, and Baccano! becomes a story full of multiple threads. Each and everyone worth following.
The characters themselves are a colourful bunch. On the train we have an untrustworthy immortal kid Csez. A conductor,Vino, who happens to be a violent assassin who likes to cover himself in blood. A psycho killer, Ladd, (fa fa fa fa fa…) who is going on a killing spree. A silent woman, Chane,who is wrapped up in some bad business. An information broker, Rachel, looking for a juicy reveal. Two happy thieves, Isaac and Miria, who cheer up everyone in their paths. And a group of four, Jacuzzi, Nice and their two buddies, who range from explosive to crybabies. In the city we have an immortal old man, Szilard, looking for the recipe to make more immortality juice. The creator of the immortality potion, Maiza, a lot of gang recruits and many many more it becomes hard to count them all. No one is particularly good, but many are worth cheering for.
The story is wrapped up without the confusingly vague anime ending you’d expect typically, instead the stories in the city and train collide head on making perfect sense. Clear direction despite not being in a conventional order and tidy art make it a pleasingly relaxing watch, despite the layout and intense violence. The simple art is wonderfully animated, but can come across as a little generic. After watching the astonishing Paranoia Agent, seeing pretty boy point chinned gangsters takes a little getting used to. Thankfully barrels of personality bring them to life.
Baccano! is a train ride worth taking. The story is mature, the characters celebrating the loves and pains of life and maybe you to will begin to celebrate it. Even if just a little. Like a small smile each morning. Killer, thief, assassin, immortal, doesn’t matter.