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DVD Review

Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 17 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 400
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Baccano!

Baccano! Complete Series

Baccano! Complete Series DVD Review

By Bryce Coulter     March 19, 2010
Release Date: December 29, 2009


Baccano!
© FUNimation

Can a story with nearly 18 main characters deliver have any hopes of being a view worthy anime series?  It can if you give it a second viewing.

What They Say
Don't let nobody tell you there's no future in a life of crime, because some rackets can last forever. But we'll get around to all that immortality jazz later. A mafia turf war is raging on the mean streets of the Big Apple, a place where regular joes bounce between backdoor booze joints and the breadline. But this caper ain't about a simple gangland brawl. It's about hoods who can't seem to die proper after catching a bullet or five between the eyes. Sadistic hit-men and the dames they love, mad bombers going boom, monsters going bump and soul sucking alchemists bootlegging an elixir of eternal life.

Just remember, Baccano! ain't about beginnings and ends. It's about the twists and turns, bub. Paths don't cross in this story - they collide. Every Dick and Jane plays the lead and it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Contains episodes 1-16.

The Review!

Audio
For this review session, we listened to the English 5.1 mix.  The English mix when compared to various Japanese segments sounds much better in the area of depth and placement.  This is due to 5.1 mixes capability of providing more directional sound especially when multiple characters are in the same scene.  The action sequences, and there are plenty, also greatly benefit from the 5.1 mix.  The 5.1 mix is solid and presents will with no noticeable problems.
 
Video:
Originally airing in 2007, Baccano is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and enhanced for anamorphic playback. The bitrate for the episodes in this release hover in the 7mbps to 8mbps range.  There is some noticeable noise in the footage which is typically accompanied in darker sequences and scenes that put the characters in tight spaces such as in the railroad cars on the Flying Pussyfoot.  The animation is very engaging and the action sequences.  Other than the noise, this is a decent video release, but one has to wonder what it would really look like on Blu-ray? 
 
Packaging
The packaging for this collection utilizes the thinpack design where two DVDs are housed in one thinpack.  There are three discs provided with this collection.  Two discs are housed in the first thinpack while the third is in a case by itself.  The slip cover for the series utilizes a wrap around image of the Baccano main characters that continues to the back side.  The image is a top-down view as if it were taken while they are preparing to board Flying Pussyfoot.  The top and bottom portions of the slip cover are colored black where you will find the series title and details about the series.  The back side of the case features some screen shots about the series and a large write up along with a huge accolade bout the series.  The technical specifications are very small and are somewhat difficult to read.  The two thin pack DVD cases that come with the collection appear to employ a reversible cover and feature the artwork from each of the single disc collections.  is awesome.  As noted in an earlier review, the cases open in a awkward fashion as both of these cases open from the left side.  Again, most DVD cases open from the right.  Most cases that I have reviewed open from the right.
 
Menu
The menu design is straightforward and easy to navigate.  Set to a photo album background, the main menu features a picture that is offset to the left while navigation features are set to the right.  The menus were easy to navigate.  As with many menus, the player presets were completely ignored.
 
Extras
The extras are fairly minimal with voice commentary coming from the English cast only.  The standard extras typically included with most collections include the clean opening and closing sequences.  If you are new to the series, there a few gems of information that you will want to listen in on. 
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).  
Are you ready for a story with lots of plot twists, foreshadowing, and back-story elements that it will make your head spin?  If so, Baccano! is a series for you.   Don’t get me wrong, Baccano! is a very inventive series that delivers a plot that is unlike any anime I have reviewed.  It has lots of action, suspense, and plenty of violence.  
 
Baccano!  is anime series based on the Japanese light novel series written by Ryohgo Narita and illustrated by Katsumi Enami.  Told from multiple points of view, Baccano! takes place during the prohibition era (late 1920’s to early 1930’s) of the United States. Mix in some interesting character types such as alchemists, thieves, thugs, and gangsters and you’ve got a proverbial melting pot that is brimming on the edge of exploding.  
 
If there is one piece of advice that I can pass along to those who have yet to watch this, make sure that you keep track of the action that surrounds the events on the Flying Pussyfoot.  The anime will oscillate back and forth to that event and does a pretty good job of setting it as the baseline for which you will put all the pieces of the story together.  There is good deal of mystery surrounding all of the characters as they are not related in any way.  What is interesting is that some have bumped into each other over the span of years and will continue to bump into each other from here on out.
 
Character-wise there is a lot to like here as Issac and Miria provide the slap-stick comic relief.  One has to wonder if they are that stupid or if they are really geniuses.  Nevertheless, everyone seems to like them regardless of their thievery.  Jacuzzi Splot is probably the most developed character as he comes off as an emotional train car full of baggage.  As the leader of a small rag-tag gang, we see Jacuzzi develop into a leader when he is faced with protecting his members from danger and the unrequited love he has for Nice. Jacuzzi is often faced with moral dilemmas that make you wonder why he is a gangster.  As for the rest of the cast, there is plenty to like and dislike as the organized crime syndicates of the Gandor and Runorata families join the fray.
 
The plot for the series at times, feels like a Swiss cheese as it can be somewhat hard to follow.   Who and what are all of these people fighting for?  Is it money? Is it power? Is it love? Or is it a mix of both.  The plot sometimes feels like it is set to the side as the grotesque killings, gun slinging, and action add up.  You can’t say that this series lacks any kind of action or cutting edge approaches.  It will definitely keep you gripped to your seat in suspense and spin you around in circles as the plot goes back and forth from past to present and back again.
 
To add more complexity to the plot, we have a group of immortals thrown into the fray.  This group, traveling to the new world in 1711, summons a demon with the aid of alchemist.  The devil gives them an elixir of immortality and the method of ending their existence, by "devouring" one another.  This key piece of information is the pivot point for the main events occurring in the series. 
 
Maiza Avaro, the alchemist responsible for summoning the devil, holds the elixir formula. Upon achieving immortality, Maiza and most of the alchemists decide that no one else must become immortal.  However, Szilard Quates does not agree.  Since the summoning, Szilard Quates has exhausted every attempt to recreate the formula.  He has even gone so far as to create develop other concoctions that all humans to become "quasi-immortals" or capable of healing from any wound, but still susceptible to aging.  He even created a homunculus or human with no soul.
 
To bring things around to the present plot, Szilard has been busy as he has devoured eighteen of the original immortals.  He is tirelessly searching for the rest as he hopes to be the only immortal.  In his search he has located Mazia Avaro as he is now affiliated with the Martillo family in New York City.  With the mafia involved everything and anything can happen.  
 
This anime does deserve a second viewing and an examination of the light novels that precede and follow the anime.  I for one am intrigued enough about how this saga really pans out as I am sure there is more to it than what we are left with as the credits roll at the end of the last episode.    The conclusion left me wanting more and a bit disappointed in no real conclusion to the story. Does that mean there will be a sequel?  Let’s hopes so, because I for one am hooked!  
 
Summary:
Ryohgo Narita describes Baccano! as stupid commotion.  In Italian it means ruckus.  It is that and everything in between.  Slick animation and a catchy musical score add to the overall appeal of this collection.  Baccano! definitely is a drastic and welcome departure from your typical anime formula and that’s what makes it so intriguing.  You have little bit of comedy, drama, action, and romance all swirled up into one giant ruckus of fun!
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, Promotional Video, Baccano! Propaganda Program, Textless Songs

Review Equipment

Samsung  UN46B6000VF 120Hz  LED HDTV, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA  2.1 Channel Soundbar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer, and Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p

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