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[In-depth Review] Baccano!

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“A story is not about facts. Nor is it a compilation of facts; It is the result of thought. For one thing, why did you believe that this story should begin in November 1930? And not a century before? Or even after? And why this particular person as the protagonist?” Vice President of Daily Days to his assistant, Carol

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Concept: 100%
Note: To avoid confusions and for easier writing, I’ll refer to the vice-president and Carol as “the pair,” while the other cast as the “Mafia gang” in the review.

Baccano! sure is one hidden gem; its concept is one of the most unique so far. The use of pulp fiction, combining of mafias and 1930s settings, is itself already very unique. On the surface, this series seems to be very simplistic and action-based, and nothing more.

I really like the theme about how people are all protagonists to their own stories, yet at the same time part of the stories of others, and it goes on and on.

What made Baccano! such a successful series is the innovative filming technique: It consists of many scenes that seemed totally random and unrelated, making the viewers curious as to how they are going to link. The curiosity of the viewers is further tested with the series deliberately messing up the chronological order. Also, the fact that it doesn’t have a visible plot makes the series even more interesting as the viewer has no idea what is going to happen and can only anticipate the progress.

Another equally, if not more, important aspect that attribute to its success, is its intriguing story-telling technique: The above quote I used in the beginning of the review is part of a dialog in the first several minutes of the first episode which many have considered as being long winded, boring and utterly pointless. That’s where they are wrong, for in actual fact, there are lots of hidden significance in that conversation. Also, that was actually what really initiated my interest towards the series.

The way the series flows, it is as though the pair is really the protagonists. And there were subtle hints of the vice-president breaking the 4th wall when he commented that they could well be the protagonists to the story that Carol wishes to write. As the series progresses, we are being drawn into the story they are sharing as we enter the world of the Mafia gang, making the Mafia gang a “story inside a story”.

Also, due to the fact that the series is very short, Baccano! progresses at a very fast pace, with no dull moments. The atmosphere is both “grim” and “fun” at the same time (more on dark humor, actually) in how the way the psychotic assassins fight match with the rather happy and Jazzy music.

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Characters/Dev: 60%
Despite having a very large cast and being a short series of length 13, the characters are not being neglected and each and every character has their unique and notable personalities. (Not to forget very odd names such as “Jacuzzi Splot”—honestly, what a weird name.) Although they aren’t that well developed in terms of personalities, that can’t be helped since the series is so short.

But my personal interest will be the presence of the pair, who, despite having only appeared twice throughout the series, played major roles; they act as the guide who begins and concludes the story. The seiyuu are considerably good. Not impressive, but nevertheless still good in portraying the emotions and personalities of the characters (particularly the psychotic assassins).

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Animation/Graphics/Design: 80%
Good use of dark colors to emulate the moodiness of the era well. Animation is fluid. The actions are also well choreographed, some of which are those nostalgic trademarks scenes from old Western films, like the one which involves the characters in tuxedos and suits doing hat tricks while dodging the enemy’s punches. Throw in insane acrobatic stunts, knife and dagger fights, and plenty of machine guns, and Baccano! delivers visually engaging and rapid actions that’ll leave the audience asking for more. In addition, I also like the animation for the OP, which literally flows from one scene to another. The only bit of problem I have is that some of the violence depicted is quite exaggerated; I know they are trying to show that the opponents are strong, but I swear, our human body isn’t as weak or fragile as to end up mutilated to the degree of some of the victims’. Also, the character designs aren’t really appealing, and that may be one of the reasons why this series is quite underrated. Well, I won’t be critical on those mentioned aspects since it does not really affect my overall enjoyment.

Music: 90%
Jazzy music deployed to compliment the noir, ol’ 1930s pulp fiction settings, helped to make lots of the scenes very lively. In fact, the jazz music played a very pertinent role here, in creating that sort of vibe in the series. Without the music, all that remains in the series is but a rather solemn and dry atmosphere.
The OP is superb too, though the ED is quite average

Summary:
Quirky and unique; definitely worth the watch. Pity it was rather underrated.
The ending for the series was surprisingly happy and light hearted, what with all the bloodshed, killings, and deaths.
This one deserves a solid 10 for originality.

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2 thoughts on “[In-depth Review] Baccano!

  1. I picked up this series after reading your excellent review, and just finished watching it yesterday. Thanks… it really is, to quote you, one hidden gem!

  2. Glad you enjoyed this (the review and the series). 😀

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