I realize I'm long overdue for another review, but I've been watching fewer anime recently in preparation for the relatively weak winter release schedule. I promise I'm here to make up for it with an astounding new title, Baccano! Place your bets folks, this is going to be a bumpy ride!
Baccano is primarily set in early 1930's America, a time of when speakeasies, Mafia families, and railroads reigned supreme. But, as with most unique anime, there exists a distinct twist to this seemingly pedestrian setting. Our tale follows a merry band of "immortals", that have, through differing means, acquired a bit of the elixir of immortality. It would be incorrect to label any individual character the exclusive protagonist, because in this winding yarn each character is given roughly equal screen time and all have completely different motives.
Our story begins post res, after the events of the primary story occur. Two minor characters debate who would be most appropriate to label as the main character of the tale. Shortly after, it begins using a style that I find quite enjoyable, a style that is used less frequently in our contemporary media. Baccano utilizes a method of storytelling that jumps between major events from past, present, to future, in an effort to slowly reveal key information and unveil mysteries without info-dumping all of it and losing the viewer within the haze. It works quite well, and after a few time skips you'll be able to effortlessly pick out what the focus of the scene is within seconds.
Now, within the enveloping arc of the main story, there are three major subplots. There's Eve Genoard, who's trying to find her brother Dallas (a street thug that seems to be in with all bad sorts). Then, we have the tale of the primary villain, Szilard, who is working to steal a finished form of immortality elixir for use in his devious schemes (oddly enough he's already immortal, he just wants the elixir for his own designs). Finally we have the main attraction, the tale of the hijacking of the luxury train, the Flying Pussyfoot. There exist three factions on the train but I'll spare revealing the details because I would not want to spoil anything to those who may plan on watching later .
As far as characters go, nearly every character is likable, with a parcel notable exceptions, who shall not be named here (you'll need to discover that on your own ). I will add that I viewed Baccano dubbed and it most certainly exceeded my expectations (which were fairly high with the stellar cast list). Funimation seems to either do amazing dubbing work or they pump out garbage and this is most definitely the former. I'll list our main cast quickly, including some of the work they've been involved in previously for the sake of informing my readers =).
*PW = Previous Works
Ennis - Brina Palencia : PW Holo from Spice and Wolf, Ai Enma from Hell Girl
Firo - Todd Haberkorn : PW Raki from Claymore, Yao Ling FMA Brotherhood
Isaac - Michael J. Tatum : PW Scar from FMA, Lawrence Kraft Spice and Wolf
Miria - Caitlin Glass : PW Winry Rockbell FMA / FMA Brotherhood
Claire - Jerry Jewell : PW Kyo from Fruits Basket,
Nice - Colleen Clinkenbeard : PW Riza Hawkeye FMA/ FMA Brotherhood / Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece/
In essence, listening to the dub of Baccano is similar to submersing your head in honey, it's ever so sweet . The music was all completely fitting as well. From the belting, saucy jazz tune "Guns and Roses" for the opening to the Pink Panther-esque thumping of bass whenever tension would arise. Everything feels as authentic to the period.
If you're at all on the fence, I would suggest you take the plunge and give Baccano a viewing. It's an amazing piece, it's got some good gore (shotguns to the face will do that, and decapitation is infrequent but most definitely there) but it never feels like the gore is there for gross factor. It runs fairly short, with a mere thirteen episodes for the original story and three DVD specials (which were dubbed also) that relay events that occur after the conclusion of the main story as an epilogue of sorts (you'll know what I mean when I say "of sorts" if you watch it ). I believe I've found another top ranking series to add to my always growing list. I'd watch it again within a heartbeat. The charming tale of a mixed group of would-be criminals, spliced with just a hint of romance and intrigue =)!