Anyone who tries the first episode of Baccano! will immediately notice one thing: the immensely huge cast of characters. I could be wrong, but this can very well be the 13-episoded series with the biggest amount of characters ever. While it’s incredibly hard to make a story with so many characters that stretches over three different timelines come together, the creators of Baccano! actually pull this off. And how!
Basically, Baccano! combines immortal alchemists with the American Mafia in 1930. It works quite well, because there are so many different characters, they just have to go beyond the clichés in order to prevent characters who look too much like each other. This results in the quirky thieves of Isaac and Miria, the psychotic Ladd and the charming Luck. While it’s of course impossible for the character to reach the same level of depth as, say, Toward the Terra, but the creators did manage to give every important character (if I had to guess, there’s about thirty of them) an identity, a clearly defined role, a small piece of development and an actual personality.
And I haven’t even started talking about the story yet. Basically, it goes from a completely incomprehensible first episode to a captivating mystery-series, where all the threads of the huge amount of side-stories end up resolved at the end of the final episode. It furthermore tells the story of three, sometimes even four, related timelines right through each other. Because of this, the creators are able to plan the climaxes really well, and they turn into one huge success, with a near-perfect combination between comedy, drama and action. I really mean it when I say that Baccano! has some of the best writing of the entire year.
In terms of production-values, this series also shines. Especially the character-designs: not only do the creators manage to give every one of the about thirty important characters a unique look, they manage to actually do this for even the unimportant and side-characters (if I had to guess, there are about eighty of them). The animation may not look crisp, but it’s detailed, never giving off a feeling of still-frame abuse. The soundtrack consists out of a bunch of catchy Jazz-tunes, which makes me wonder why not more anime turn to this, as it works great to give action-scenes a bit of a quirky touch.
Regarding the bad points, there aren’t really any true flaws about this series, apart from the sacrifices that had to be made for the good points. The first episode is basically one huge puzzle, and only later in the series will things start to make sense. The characters individually aren’t very special either. It’s only when they are combined with others that they become special and interesting.
Overall, there need to be more anime like Baccano! It’s not often when you run into a series that’s as well-written as this one. It’s a definite recommendation from me, provided that you can take a few gory scenes that pop up once in a while.