Baccano! Episode 1

A solid, interesting, first episode for this pulp anime.

Another new anime series based on a “light novel” series. There’s an inherent failing in adapting literary works to animation, no matter how “light” they might be – taking prose (or indeed a manga page) and making it work in animation, isn’t as good as coming up with something new that is specifically designed for animation.

With The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimya we got the narrative rearranged to try and hook viewers better on TV broadcast, however they could be rearranged in chronological order. With Baccano!’s first episode we get the issue of where to start the story, and who to treat as the main character, discussed explicitly by two characters (one of whom appears to be the Count St Germain). And so we get a number of flashbacks focusing of different characters and stories, until the connection between them all becomes clear, a train called The Flying Pussyfoot.

The aim apparantly in the series is to present pastiche/homages to a number of different pulp concepts which will then interweave and wind with one another. The setting is 1930’s Manhattan (yes, Cowboy Bebop-esque ragtime abounds) and the first episode mainly concerns itself with various warring mafia families, but we get glimpses of other stories, and the title sequence gives an idea of just how many characters going to play a part here.

Yes, there is a character called Jacuzzi Sprott.

Animation is by Brains Base, who are a generally solid animation production house. There’s nothing that’s going to set your world on fire here, but at the same time you don’t feel it’s going to descend into GONZO-style mediocrity 3 episodes in. Really though, as you would guess from it’s origins as a book, it’s the story that is most interesting thing here, and how they are adapting it.