First Impressions: Baccano!

Trains, immortals, vendettas, mysteries…

Your guess is as good as mine.

The title Baccano! is Italian for “ruckus,” and boy is that fitting. I wish I could tell you what I think about episode one, but to be honest I’m not sure just what the hell happened.

Carol looking (understandably) confused. I feel your pain, Carol.

We open with an older gentleman and a young girl in what appears to be an office. The old dude is trying to teach the girl (Carol) by asking her leading questions, or maybe he doesn’t even know the answers himself. Then throughout the rest of the episode we keep cutting in on all these other madcap adventures. There’s a mafia vendetta in the works, and a couple of guys are browsing in a bookstore when a car full of gangsters with guns opens fire on them. Miraculously, both men completely recover in a matter of seconds. (Ah-ha! These must be the immortals I was promised in the description I read about this series!) Then there’s a kerfuffle about waiting for a train, lawmen investigating bodies surrounding the train, a woman and man (sister and brother? wife and husband? lovers? cousins? landlord and tenant?) who seem to just run around and grin zanily, more at the train station, and back to Carol.

I got it! We're pen pals! Wait, no, that's not right, either...

I really don’t know what to say about this initial viewing. Episode one might just be the most confusing first episode of an anime that I’ve seen yet. The art looks good, the music is groovy, and I was really looking forward to watching this series. I’d read that the premise was a bunch of immortals as gangsters in the Twenties, and that’s so up my alley that I jumped at the chance to finally check this one out. And then I saw episode one, which was one giant head scratch.

Bad anime idea #46: let's introduce ALL of these characters in the first episode! Rad!

I get that it’s based on a series of light novels, which tend to become more complex anime series than originals or those based on manga (imho). I get that they were trying to really live up to their name and throw you right into this world of guns and plots and hair-raising adventures. But I’m a story/character-driven kind of gal, and if you spend the entirety of episode one half-assing about a dozen different character intros and giving me nothing more than a vague setting and mood, you’re gonna lose me. Other than Carol, I didn’t manage to catch or remember a single other character’s name, which only added to the confusion. I’m not totally giving up on Baccano! just yet, because the premise does sound intriguing, and after you’ve watched the whole series through one time, episode one would (presumably) make more sense. However, I am moving it to the bottom of my Netflix queue for now. I have too much ruckus in my life already, and I don’t need to turn to anime for more.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ee
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 15:41:03

    Good Review! I just watched episode one a few days ago and feel about the same way. I’ve decided I’ll need to watch the first episode again before deciding to watch more.

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Aug 25, 2011 @ 22:49:38

      Thanks! Yeah, I think I need to watch it again as well before moving forward. And maybe search the internet for a “Baccano!” CliffsNotes, too. 😉

      Reply

  2. jj1027
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 23:56:47

    So you know, baccano episode one is not made to make sense. The episodes get more coherent as you go along. The situations are crazy, like in a lot of anime, but baccano decided to embrace the craziness in its direction. I’ve done a full review on it. My advice is try and remeber what is happening, but don’t stop halfway through. The fast pace makes stoping and starting sort of awkward

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Sep 01, 2011 @ 12:00:39

      Oh good, I’m glad to know that it was supposed to be that way! When I return to it I’ll definitely just watch straight through. Thanks for the tip! 😀

      Reply

  3. jj1027
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 21:04:06

    Thanks its a favourite of mine. I even wrote a full review of it. I was never fond of the additional episodes they put in the dvd release, though.

    Reply

  4. ee
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 17:43:00

    I don’t know if you ever watched any more Baccano!, but I wanted to let you know that I rewatched the first episode with more enjoyment and finished the series very positively. The opening sequence shows the huge cast of characters along with their names to help you to put it all together, and the ending credits show the characters without their names to help you to practice too! I second jj1027’s opinion!

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Jan 13, 2012 @ 00:03:15

      Thank you for the positive review! Nearly everything I find about Baccano! is positive, which intrigues me. I haven’t gotten around to watching more (as the newest Legend of Zelda has been eating away at my free time lately) but it’s still in my Netflix queue, and I definitely intend to give it another try. 🙂

      Reply

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