Saturday, March 8, 2014

Anime Review No. 76-Baccano


Summer/Fall 2007 TV Series, 16 episodes

Studio-Brains Base, Director-Takahiro Omori, Writer: Noboru Takagi

Well, well time to put out a review on another of my Top 10 Favorites. It was FLCL in January, now for this month, its you guess it, Baccano. Its a story of love, violence, thrills and chills indeed!

Note: I am basing my review off of the US DVD Viridian Collection from late 2010 the Funimation released. The license for this show is now in Aniplex's hands so good luck getting it on BD as they charge by an arm and a leg here.

So, what's Baccano about? Well, it concerns the adventures and events surrounding a large group of various characters-some are gangsters engaged in a turf war, others are trapped on the famous train The Flying Pussyfoot with the mysterious killer The Rail Tracer, and a few observing from the sidelines while some plot concerning immortals brews about. It is a fun and wild ride to be sure, especially since Baccano is Italian for 'ruckus, quite apt for this series.

That is about all I am talking about the plot/story, because its a tad complicated and I don't wish to spoil the show for anyone. You see, Baccano relies greatly on multi threaded story lines and a large ensemble cast. Now, in the hands of a lesser production, this could easily falter into chaos. Thankfully, this is not the case. The direction is kinetic and fast-paced, not taking too many breaths in between the quick-paced action. The many story lines, though staggering at first, by the end makes sense as it reveals how intricately connected together they all are. Scenes are often played several times, but from different perspectives. In addition, the story moves almost effortlessly between past and present without causing confusion. The large ensemble cast complements the multiple story lines in that it allows most of the characters time for development.

Episode 13 is certainly a good ending point for most of the plot and character points as Episodes 14-16 are OVA episodes released after the initial TV broadcast. The remaining 3 episodes mostly tie up some of the other plot and character elements. Thankfully, its not superficial fluff and just as entertaining. Final scene ends the show as it begins-the VP and Carol talk about the appeal of storytelling and how the story never really ends. Honestly, this I quite like as it seems to me that the story may end now, but that doesn't mean its over and one should move on.

Of course, I do have some favorites in the cast. For one thing, Ladd Russo-the mad man with a plan I suppose. I absolutely love this character, as I find him to be the pure embodiment of the show: reveling in its own madness and insanity without apology or restraint. It does help that Ladd is charismatic enough for me to root, even if he is a violent bastard. Heck, he has a girlfriend that shares a relationship that is both sweet and terrifying. The guy revels in insanity, and yet seemingly aware he is mad.

Of course, he narrowly beats out the main couple of the show: Isaac and Miria, a thief duo modeled off of Bonnie and Clyde. While they serve mainly as comic relief and a respite from all the violence, they aren't too annoying. In fact, they are somewhat charming and you actually believe that they are a couple with some brilliant and heartwarming chemistry.

Granted, the story is helped by great music and animation. The Opening song is swinging and full of energy, nice and jazzy, certainly a favorite of mine right behind the ROD TV theme. The animation is fairly realistic and brutal-plenty of gory violence and grim color palette (browns, grays. Etc). Even the low budget tricks (like the repetition of scenes in episode 2 is quite clever) are impressive. Overall, its very consistent in the animation department.

The 1987 film Untouchables is cited as an influence, and especially in the NYC gang wars plot line that's certainly true. Inf fact, much like what the Gunsmith Cats staff went to Chicago, some of the Japanese staff went to New York to see the locations that show up in the series, notably Chinatown and Little Italy among others, and it certainly shows in the backgrounds and details, especially in the parts that take place in NYC.

Finally the english dub is probably the other reason to watch Baccano. In fact, you are best off watching it in english, as it is awesome. If you want proof the Funimation is the top dog when it comes to anime dub productions, look no farther then this show. Its well casted in just about every role, even the bit parts. Granted a lot of Funimation regulars appear in this dub, though you might not recognise many as they use period accents quite effectively. ADR Director Tyler Walker watched lots of gangster films in order to prep for the dub production on Baccano and he went out of his way to bring in new talent for the dub. Some standout performances include Bryan Massey as the manic Ladd Russo along with J. Michael Tatum and Caitlin Glass as the gleefully mad thief duo of Isaac and Miria. If the Ef series can be considered a definitive Sentai Filmworks dub, then Baccano is in the running for the definitive Funimation dub certainly. If you must ask, the other shows in that running include: FMA '03, Desert Punk, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt and some others I can't name off the top of my head at the moment.

Overall Baccano is a great show and I heartily recommend this to anyone asking about anime recommendations. Be sure to check this show out, if you haven't seen it. At first I felt this was too over-hyped, then after watching it, I can say that hype is well deserved.

Well next's up you ask? Well..... its certainly violent for one thing....
Surprise trailer ^_^

'Til next time, dear readers.....

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