Baccano continues to be a serious case of “what the?!” when it comes to the numerous storylines, but it’s still quite addicting.
What They Say
The immortal gangsters are still trying to rub each other out, but hoods who won't die are tough to whack. Explosions rock the Flying Pussyfoot as the train nears the station, but this caper ain't about arrivals and departures. It's about the twists and turns along the way. It's about vicious monsters, deadly dames, and the sins of the past colliding with the present.
For now, how's about we start in the alleys of the Big Apple. A notorious thug has gotten his filthy hands on a mysterious elixir and it just might mean his reign of terror could last forever. It's as good a start as any for a story where every Dick and Jane plays the lead.
Contains episodes 9-12.
FUNimation has provided for a rather good audio presentation for Baccano with its two language tracks. The original Japanese language track is given a basic stereo mix done at 192kbps which covers the bases well, letting us hear what was essentially heard during its original broadcast run. It’s a good forward soundstage mix with some placement and directionality but not too much that really sends it over the top. The English language track gets a 5.1 mix which handles the placement and depth better and overall provides a more engaging presentation when there are a lot of characters on screen. The action scenes make out better as well with a bit more impact. In listening to this release, we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With four episodes on the release, the bitrate here is regularly in the sevens and eights which gives it plenty of room to breathe. With a very strong production design about it and some great animation, this helps to make this release look very good. Outside of a bit of noise in some of the solid color backgrounds, such as the darker colors, and a touch of line noise during a few panning sequences, this is a great looking release. Colors are warm and rich and there’s really not serious problems to speak of. With a strong visual look tied to a solid encoding, it’s easy to get lost within the show itself as it gets underway.
The third installment continues with the same kind of design aesthetic that we saw with the previous volumes. The central characters for this installment is that of Nice and Jacuzzi with Nice throwing her little bombs all over the place while Jacuzzi has that sort of panicked look about him that’s almost cute. The designs are solid, but with the soft and muted colors to it, it doesn’t really stand out all that much. The back cover is darker and murkier than the front with a look at the cityscape in all its dingy glory shown along the top which descends into black as it goes towards the bottom. The summary gives you a small idea of what some of the show is about and there’s a good sideways listing of the episode numbers and titles. Surprisingly, the logo is used on the back as well and it takes up a good chunk of space. The production credits and technical grid are nigh unreadable however as it looks like it’s very small brown text on black. The reverse side uses the same artwork as the back cover but opened up a bit so you can see the building proper on the right. The left side has a pair of character profiles with some full color artwork, some sketches and a brief summary about them. No show related inserts are included with this release.
The menu design is quite appropriate though a bit deceptive since it’s so… mellow? Especially in comparison to the show itself. The main menu has the look of a photo album page with one picture set off to the left a bit which is that of the cover artwork sans logos and such. The navigation is done in a large font along the right which has the basics and is quick and easy to navigate. The layout fits with the 1930’s theme fairly well once you get into it, but it’s very tame compared to the busy nature of the show itself. Submenus load quickly and we had no trouble navigating around, though as usual the player presets were completely ignored.
The extras are fairly minimal overall though dub fans get a little extra loving here. The standard extras are the included clean opening and closing sequences which are very welcome since the opening is such a fun piece of work. The other extra included here is a dub commentary for the sixteenth episode where we do get a fairly routine discussion about the show by those involved. Fans of the English language adaptation will obviously get more out of it than those who aren’t listening to that track at all.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Baccano progresses, I’m really finding myself in a serious love/hate relationship with the show. The first volume of the series was chaotic and filled with a lot of material that made you want to see where it’ll all go and how it will eventually tie together. The second volume gave me far more meat to it as it went back to the past and really explored the immortality side of the series and how that’s going to be a key component in everything. The evolution of that storyline really fascinated and captivated me as I enjoy these kinds of tales a lot. But the material taking place in the “present” portion of the series with its shifts between 1931 and 1932 continue to be almost too chaotic for me in trying to pin it all together. There still feels like there’s far too much going on.
The bulk of this volume, at least in terms of overall storyline material, involves the time spent on board the Flying Pussyfoot. The train ride from hell only continues to get worse as those on board are carrying out their various acts. Ladd is still the main psychotic person on board the train and he’s got some fascinating ideas on how things are supposed to work for him in this life when he comes across some of his compatriots that have been killed brutally. Add in these beliefs to how he is with Lua, his girl, with how he’s the one who will eventually kill her and nobody else and you have one fairly twisted individual. Who does admittedly look good in his white suits and that kind of near crazy/sane grin that he has. I love watching Ladd chew up the scenery a fair bit as he moves throughout his scenes and the way he affects other characters.
Where a lot of the focus this time around comes with the Flying Pussyfoot is on the legendary Rail Tracer. The whispers of him in previous episodes come full circle as we find out the real story behind him and the kind of pure brutality that he has within him. There’s some really fascinating brutality in the way he operates when he deals with Dune, the man who ended up killing one of the Conductors before the train left. This is done through a creative method of showing it in bits as Ladd deals with Dune’s body later on which in turn motivates him to find out who killed him and dealing with the Rail Tracer. Dune is killed in such a brutal fashion that it really made me cringe watching it happen. The sheer amount of blood that’s spilled here, never mind the method involved, almost seems slightly out of place in the series considering what has come before. Even the carnage we’ve seen feels like it isn’t as powerful as this.
There’s a lot of the side stories getting attention in this volume as well, but it has that kind of really scattershot feeling to it that the first volume had. The Szilard and Maiza storyline is the one I want to see more of since it deals heavily in the immortality side and we do get some interesting tidbits here, but it’s interrupted by the chaos that Isaac and Miria introduce into it when they barrel into things. Literally, as they start running over some of the semi-immortals that Szilard has working for him. I enjoy all of the scenes that involve Isaac and Miria because they bring such a lighthearted aspect to the show that’s definitely needed to break up the more intense scenes. Their robberies have been amusing but seeing them flung around the outside of a train in basically cowboy gear is beyond priceless with their expressions and the way they vocalize things.
In a way, I still don’t know what Baccano is all about. Well, I know what pieces of it are about and I’ve found some storylines to latch onto and enjoy more than others. This set of episodes adds more to the general chaos of the show and there’s a lot to like, but I still don’t know how it all fits together and I’ll admit to being overwhelmed by the cast when combined with the shifting time periods it takes place in. I really feel conflicted about this show overall because there’s so much I like but it lacks something to really unify it. I continue to hold out hope that it’s a show that will play out better in marathon form or after seeing how it is all resolved. It’s got a great quality about it, but I’m still feeling the same with the third volume as I did the first.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Commentary Track
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.