Baccano!: The Immortal Anime of 1930s America

Baccano!: The Immortal Anime of 1930s America

In the vast realm of anime, there are series that stand out for their unique narrative style and intriguing concepts. One such gem is “Baccano!”—a show that takes viewers on a captivating journey through time, immortality, and a mysterious blend of chaos and order. In this article, we will delve into the world of “Baccano!” by providing a brief overview of the series and its central premise.

The Enigmatic Setting

“Baccano!” is a Japanese light novel series written by Ryohgo Narita and illustrated by Katsumi Enami. It was adapted into a 13-episode anime series by Brain’s Base and Aniplex. Set in the Prohibition Era of the United States, specifically in the 1930s, the series offers a rich and historically charged backdrop that serves as a canvas for its compelling story.

The Premise

At the heart of “Baccano!” lies the concept of immortality. The narrative follows a diverse cast of characters, some of whom possess a unique and unwanted gift: they cannot die. This unusual twist leads to a series of intricate and interwoven storylines that span different time periods and locations. The immortals in the story become embroiled in various conflicts, crime sprees, and conspiracies, all while navigating the complexities of their undying existence.

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The series kicks off with the introduction of a transcontinental train known as the Flying Pussyfoot, which becomes the stage for a myriad of events and fateful encounters. As the story unfolds, the audience is treated to a non-linear narrative that weaves together past and present, offering tantalizing glimpses into the lives of the immortals and their interconnected histories.

The Characters

“Baccano!” boasts a rich tapestry of characters, each with their own quirks, desires, and pasts. From Isaac and Miria, a delightful duo of bumbling thieves, to more enigmatic figures like the ruthless Ladd Russo and the gentlemanly Jacuzzi Splot, the characters bring their own unique flair to the series. And of course, there’s Firo Prochainezo, the young member of the Martillo Family, who becomes embroiled in the world of immortals and secret organizations.

Historical Context: Exploring the America of the 1930s in “Baccano!”

The historical backdrop against which “Baccano!” unfolds is crucial to understanding the series’ atmosphere and narrative dynamics. This anime transports viewers to the Prohibition Era of the United States, specifically the tumultuous 1930s. In this section, we’ll delve into the historical context that forms the foundation of the series and provides it with a unique charm.

Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties

The 1920s and early 1930s in America are often referred to as the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. It was a time of significant social and cultural change, characterized by economic prosperity, technological advancements, and a cultural boom. However, it was also an era marked by the Prohibition, which banned the sale, production, and transportation of alcoholic beverages.

Prohibition gave rise to the underground world of speakeasies, where people would gather to enjoy illicit alcohol, jazz music, and entertainment. Gangsters and organized crime thrived during this period, as they sought to profit from the demand for bootlegged liquor.

The Great Depression

The late 1920s and early 1930s saw the United States plunged into the depths of the Great Depression, one of the most severe economic crises in American history. The stock market crash of 1929 resulted in widespread unemployment, poverty, and despair. Many people resorted to any means necessary to survive, and organized crime flourished as a result.

The Transcontinental Setting

“Baccano!” takes place in a world where the Roaring Twenties and the Prohibition Era have seamlessly blended into the 1930s. The series introduces viewers to a variety of locations, including the bustling streets of Chicago, the opulent luxury of the transcontinental train, the Flying Pussyfoot, and the dark, eerie atmosphere of Alcatraz Prison. Each setting captures the essence of the era, from the speakeasies’ lively jazz music to the gritty underbelly of organized crime.

Influence on the Narrative

The historical context is not merely a backdrop in “Baccano!”—it’s an integral part of the series. The Prohibition and the Great Depression are used to create a sense of authenticity, immersing the audience in a world where desperation and ambition collide. The social and economic turmoil of the era sets the stage for the intricate web of characters and their complex relationships, driving the narrative forward.

Immortal Characters – Spotlight on Immortals and Their Roles in the Plot

“Baccano!” introduces viewers to a cast of characters with a unique and burdensome gift—immortality. These immortal individuals play a central role in the series, contributing to its enigmatic and captivating storyline. In this section, we will shine a light on some of the key immortal characters and their significance in the plot.

Firo Prochainezo:

Firo is a young member of the Martillo Family, an influential mafia organization in the series. He becomes an immortal after a chance encounter with an alchemical elixir. Firo’s character showcases the youthful exuberance of immortality and the moral dilemmas that come with it. His journey is one of self-discovery, as he grapples with the consequences of living forever.

Maiza Avaro:

Maiza is one of Firo’s comrades in the Martillo Family and is one of the original immortals. He is both a mentor and a tragic figure, burdened by the knowledge of how immortality was obtained and the sacrifices made. His story delves into the origins of the immortality elixir and the secrets it holds.

Szilard Quates:

Szilard is the alchemist responsible for creating the immortality elixir, and he serves as one of the primary antagonists in the series. His quest to obtain the knowledge of immortality drives much of the conflict and intrigue, making him a formidable foe to the immortals.

Claire Stanfield (Vino):

Claire, also known as Vino, is a remarkable character who exhibits a complex relationship with immortality. His psychopathic tendencies and obsession with excitement are heightened by his immortality, making him an unpredictable and formidable force in the series.

Czeslaw Meyer:

Czeslaw is a child who possesses immortality, but his experiences have left him deeply scarred and mistrustful. His character explores the psychological toll of living forever and being subjected to horrifying circumstances.

Ronny Schiatto (The Rail Tracer):

Ronny, known as the Rail Tracer, is a menacing presence on the Flying Pussyfoot train. He is a mysterious and relentless figure whose immortality allows him to pursue his gruesome activities with impunity.

Comparisons with Other Series – “Baccano!” and Similar Shows Exploring Immortality

While “Baccano!” stands out as a unique anime series that delves into the concept of immortality in the backdrop of 1930s America, there are other shows that also explore this intriguing theme in their own distinctive ways. In this section, we will compare “Baccano!” with a few similar series that tackle the idea of immortality.

“Ajin: Semihumans”:

“Ajin” shares the theme of immortality but in a more contemporary and dystopian setting. It follows individuals known as Ajin, who possess the ability to regenerate and come back to life after death. The series explores the societal implications of immortality and the persecution of Ajin by the government.

“Blade of the Immortal”:

“Blade of the Immortal” offers a more traditional take on immortality through the character Manji, who becomes immortal as a result of a curse. The series centers around Manji’s quest for redemption and his battles against evildoers. While “Baccano!” incorporates a wide range of characters and a non-linear narrative, “Blade of the Immortal” is more focused on one immortal protagonist’s journey.

“Highlander: The Search for Vengeance”:

“Highlander” explores the concept of immortality in a science fiction/fantasy setting. The story follows a group of immortals who must engage in sword fights to the death, with the last survivor gaining ultimate power. This series combines elements of action, fantasy, and the pursuit of power.

“Kizumonogatari Trilogy”:

The “Monogatari” series, particularly the “Kizumonogatari” trilogy, features immortality as a central theme. The protagonist, Koyomi Araragi, becomes entangled with a vampire who grants him immortality. The series is known for its unique and dialogue-heavy storytelling.

“Hellsing”:

“Hellsing” introduces the concept of vampirism and immortality, with characters like Alucard, an ancient vampire. The series is known for its dark and gothic atmosphere, as well as its exploration of the moral and ethical dilemmas of immortality.

Recommendations for New Viewers – Tips for Starting “Baccano!”

If you’re a newcomer to the world of “Baccano!” and are eager to embark on this unique anime journey, here are some tips and recommendations to enhance your viewing experience:

Embrace the Non-linear Narrative:

“Baccano!” is renowned for its non-linear storytelling, which may initially seem confusing. Embrace the complexity and trust that the pieces will eventually come together. Pay close attention to the opening scenes, as they offer hints about the interconnectedness of the characters and timelines.

Watch Closely:

The devil is in the details with “Baccano!” Be attentive to character names, time periods, and locations as they appear on the screen. It’s a series that rewards careful observation.

Patience Pays Off:

The series might seem chaotic at first, but as you progress, you’ll start to see how each piece of the puzzle fits together. Stick with it, as the payoffs are well worth the initial confusion.

Keep Track of Characters:

“Baccano!” boasts a diverse and expansive cast. It can be helpful to take notes or use online resources to keep track of the characters and their relationships.

Enjoy the Historical Setting:

Immerse yourself in the Prohibition Era of 1930s America. Appreciate the historical accuracy and attention to detail in the art and setting.

Savor the Dialogue:

“Baccano!” is known for its witty and engaging dialogue. The banter between characters can be as entertaining as the action sequences, so pay attention to the conversations.

Multiple Viewings:

Given the intricate nature of the narrative, consider rewatching “Baccano!” once you’ve finished it. You’ll likely pick up on details and connections you missed the first time.

Explore the Light Novels and Manga:

If you find yourself craving more after watching the anime, consider delving into the source material, the light novels and manga. They provide additional depth to the story.

Engage with the Community:

Join online forums, fan communities, or discussion groups to share your thoughts, questions, and theories about the series. Engaging with fellow fans can enhance your understanding and appreciation of “Baccano!”

Allow Yourself to Be Surprised:

“Baccano!” thrives on unpredictability and surprise. Part of the joy of watching is discovering how the intricate web of characters and events unfolds.

Bibliography ►
Phoneia.com (October 11, 2023). Baccano!: The Immortal Anime of 1930s America. Recovered from https://phoneia.com/en/baccano-the-immortal-anime-of-1930s-america/