If you watch the first episode of Baccano! and are thoroughly confused by it don’t worry, that’s supposed to happen. The story is presented in a very disjointed way, constantly jumping back and forth between years and locations. It’s all very confusing until you get far enough into the series for things to start actually getting explained. Baccano! really isn’t something you can just stick in your DVD player and let play in the background while you do something else. You’d never be able to understand what was going on as you really need to give it your undivided attention. Luckily Baccano!‘ is such completely wild, crazy, over the top fun that you won’t have any trouble putting in the time to follow it.
One of the things that can make the story hard to follow is the surprisingly large cast of characters for such a short show. With most of these characters playing a major role in the story at one point or another, it’s a necessity that you know who’s who. So many character and organization names get tossed around so frequently that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by them. With a cast as large as this it would be impossible to talk about each one and still keep this review a reasonable length. Every character is interesting in their own way, but I’ll just focus on the ones that I feel really stood out from the rest for one reason or another.
If I had to pick one character who really steals the show, my choice would easily be Ladd Russo, a central character in the story that takes place aboard a train named The Flying Pussyfoot. He’s a completely sadistic, murdering bastard, who stands out simply because he has no ulterior motive. He doesn’t kill for money, or to reach some goal, he happily slaughters people because he just enjoys it. Ladd is perhaps a bit disturbing, but he’s at least an interesting character to watch. From dancing in someone’s blood to skipping gleefully because he hears gunfire, he simply revels in the suffering of other people. He’s not a deep character in any away, but he is thoroughly fascinating in his simplicity.
The runners up for stealing the show would have to be Isaac and Miria, an oddball pair of thieves. These two are the comic relief characters of the show, giving us a break from all the blood and violence. Truth be told they’re probably a little out of place in a show like Baccano! with its rather violent nature and content. But there’s something endearing about the two that makes them such great characters that it doesn’t matter if they don’t belong. They’re both such extremely weird and entirely loveable characters that I wish they had gotten more screen time, even though they’re involved in most of the stories in Baccano!
I’ve mentioned that the series is bloody and violent, but I really need to put more emphasis on that. This isn’t necessarily the kind of violence you can just shrug off. You have the fairly standard things like characters getting shot or stabbed, but then there are things like characters having half their heads cut off, or throats being slit accompanied by appropriate ridiculous blood spray. The violence in the series culminates with one character whose preferred method of killing is hanging people over the train and dragging their arms or faces along the tracks. Needless to say it can take you by surprise if you aren’t expecting it.
Funimation’s dub of Baccano! does things quite differently than the original. They made the smart choice of giving the characters accents, though they do sometimes come off as cartoony. As far as individual performances go, once again Ladd Russo steals the show. Brian Massey gives a phenomenal performance in the role, perfectly capturing the absolutely sadistic personality of the character, which is helped by some minor script changes that really accentuate how insane the character is. Something this dub has going for it is allowing Funimations normal stable of voice actors to stretch their legs in these roles, and use voices they wouldn’t normally get to.
Extras on the DVDs include the normal textless opening and closing, trailers, and commentaries on four episodes. The set also includes the three DVD only episodes, which take place after the rest of the series and tell the story of a crazy car mechanic who really admires Ladd Ruso. Other extras include a short promotional video, and a short documentary of the production of the series titled “Baccano! Propaganda Program.” Nothing in particular stands out among the extras, though it is more than most series get.
Baccano! is an excellent series, if perhaps a bit on the violent and bloody side. Its storytelling may be a bit confusing for the casual viewer, so unless you’re really interested in what Baccano! has to show you it may not be the series for you. But, if you don’t mind all the blood and violence and are willing to devote your full attention to it, the fun and interesting characters make Baccano! a series that you absolutely must see.