Proving my theory that everything can be made better with a classical jazz soundtrack, Baccano! is a story about a train ride across the United States in the 1930s. The show chooses to focus more on character and setting than bringing together a cohesive narrative, constantly switching perspective between its 20+ protagonists and 5 different time periods.
Yes you read that right.
As a whole it can be more than a little disorienting. If you had a hard time with Inception or Arrested Development season 3…stop lest ye be confused.
If you can brave the rubix cube of a structure there’s a lot of good to be found in Baccano!. The action sequences are fluid and a blast to watch, the lore is complex and well built, and the overarching conflict is unique. There’s a cohesion to the ensemble, shocking as that might seem, and even if you don’t like a character, they’ll be vital to the bigger picture. It’s a huge accomplishment in the age of muddled crossover films and forgettable sitcom b-plots.
That being said, I also have a lot of problems with Baccano!.
Moments that are clearly supposed to be suspenseful never allow enough time to land, you’re forced to accept some of the weakest motivations/plot explanations I’ve ever seen (even for anime), and the comic relief characters Isaac and Miria break the tone so hard I got whiplash.
The ending crudely bumbles around like a drunk aunt on Thanksgiving, making little to no sense even with context, and raising more than a few unnecessary questions. The Last Mimzy was more coherent…and I know that’s a dated reference but if you’ve seen The Last Mimzy you know that was a sick burn.
By far my greatest qualm is the violence. This is a BRUTAL show. Faces are grounded off by train tracks, gunshots are made as explosive as possible, and the amount of blood puts Tarantino to shame. It’s seemingly random and used mainly for shock value. It ultimately distracts from the storytelling.
Violence is a valuable tool. It can communicate a lot about certain characters or ideas or whatever. Instead, this series opts to tells you everything through dialogue and wastes a lot of its gore to get a reaction of “oh my gosh, I think I’m gonna vom”.
It’s an ambitious series but I can’t recommend it to everyone and I won’t be going back for another viewing.