As one of the most twisted, brilliant shows to come along in a while Baccano! has been pretty successful for FUNimation. Joining the ranks of other more recent titles such as Claymore and Darker than Black, Baccano! is definitely one of the more unique and stylish titles we've seen in quite some time. This 16 episode show by Aniplex made some waves in Japan and it's only fitting that it receives similar critical praise here in the States. It's a complex series that will endear itself to fans of original storylines, fast pacing, interesting characters, and insane action.
In all honesty the first couple volumes of this show left me feeling dizzy. This is most definitely not an anime you can easily take in with one viewing. There are many layers of complexity to the plot and the way everything is brought together will leave you missing some of the details after only one viewing. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because the series truly has a lot going for it. Heck, over the course of the first eight episodes we are introduced to more characters than you can shake a stick at. Add to that a plot that jumps around between various points of interest in a three year period and connects each of those character's lives, and you have a show that simply begs for multiple viewings.
If you're coming to this review for the third volume of Baccano! I'm going to presume that you already know the basics of the plot, who the characters are, and generally have some sort of idea about what's going on. If not, then you'll probably want to head back to the review of the first volume to see what the premise of this show is all about. Let's just say you don't usually see anime set in Prohibition-Era America.
This third installment picks up where the previous volume left off, and in each episode here we get a confounding amount of storylines being brought together. Events in 1931 aboard the Flying Pussyfoot take most of the center stage here, but 1930 comes into focus with encounters leading up to the Rail Tracer incidents, and in 1932 we see some of the aftermath. It's so confusing to take everything in, and in all honesty I wonder if the show wouldn't have benefited from a more uniformed approach. As it stands though, the four episodes on this installment craft a masterful story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, mostly due to that seemingly haphazard presentation.
You'll literally see an event or meeting that takes place a year or two in the future, and then we'll see a shot of the year prior that set up that meeting through a series of loose connections. It's thoroughly fascinating and I can imagine the storyboard designers and script writers piecing everything together with string to keep it all straight. Like the other installments it's nice to know that despite the dizzying nature of the time jumping, the story here is utterly enthralling. Sure there's a lot more violence in this installment as the Rail Tracer claims more victims, and yes the plot basically boils down to a conflict between two factions of the American Mafia, but ultimately it's entirely engrossing and entertaining.
What does the next installment hold? You're guess is as good as mine. If this volume is any indicator we're going to see more stuff regarding the Elixir of Immortality, more of the Flying Pussyfoot storyline, and more regarding the 1932 plot with the Daily Days. One thing is for sure, even after three volumes I still don't know where this show is headed. It's such a chaotic blend of characters and ideas, and yet at the same point it's so fascinating.
If you caught the first two volumes you'll definitely want to pick this one up. However, if for any reason you missed out on the earlier installments of the show, then you owe it to yourself to check them out. Watch them one, and then again. This is certainly one of those shows that will require the whole picture being in hand before it's entirely understood. Despite that fact the show is remarkably entertaining, possess a great amount of energy, and the complex story is masterfully woven together. Check it out!
Baccano!'s third volume is presented on DVD with an anamorphic widescreen transfer. The quality is pretty good, but it's definitely not the best we've seen from FUNimation. There is a bit of noise in the transfer and it's definitely a little too grainy at times. Some interlacing is also an issue that crops up and is noticeable from time to time. Other than these flaws the rest of the show looks good. Character designs are attractive, the animation is decent, and the show benefits from an all around solid production.
The show's audio is presented with Japanese 2.0 stereo and English 5.1 surround. Both tracks perform admirably with regards to the technical quality, though obviously the 5.1 has a slight edge in that department. The music is more engrossing, the sound effects have a bit more presence, and all around the light sense of immersion helps the series. The dub quality for both is good as well, and in all honesty I didn't really have a preference. The English cast does ham it up a little more with some accents and whatnot, but for the most part the actors don't cross too many lines.
Some more clean animations and trailers are available on the third installment of Baccano!. Another audio commentary is available as well. This one is for the ninth episode of the series entitled, "Clair Stanfield Faithfully Carries Out the Mission". This English commentary is pretty good overall and there are some snippets that help clear up some of the plot, but there's also a fair amount of banter and jokes as well. Pretty much it's just like the other two commentary tracks, but with other members of the cast.
No matter how many episodes of Baccano! I see it simply fascinates me. The plot is so complex, yet simple at the same time. The manner with which the events of 1930, 1931, and 1932 come together is chaotic and matches the tone of the show perfectly. Sure it requires multiple viewings to catch every bit of detail, but it's an investment of time that seems well worth it. If you're looking for a show that marches to the beat of a different drummer, this is it. Baccano! stands out from every other series on the market and because of that you can consider it an easy recommendation.