Reviewby Theron Martin, Jun 16th 2009
In New York City in 1930, Szilard Quates makes his move to recover his stolen immortality elixir, using Dallas Genoard and his crew as both test subjects and flunkies. When Isaac and Miria unwittingly get involved, however, plans always go awry; in this case, several people end up immortal who were never supposed to be that way. (And some aren't even aware of it!) Firo also gets involved when he and Ennis cross paths again.
In 1931 aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, conductor Claire Stanford (actually the assassin Vino) takes on the identity of the Rail Tracer and goes on a messy rampage. Czeslaw Meyer tries to make a move, but finds himself painfully thwarted in his efforts to ferret out the other immortal on the train. Ladd goes hunting for the Rail Tracer, only to find something even more interesting in the mute, knife-wielding Chane Laforet. Jacuzzi's team and the black suits also make their moves against each other, while Daily Days agent Rachel tries to help everyone who isn't trying to kill everyone else. And, as normal, Isaac and Miria find themselves caught in the middle.
In 1932 in New York City, Eve Genoard, freshly escaped from her Runorata captors, finds her way to the Gandor brothers, who do, in fact, know what happened to her brother but are strangely reluctant to say.
Baccano! is one of the most entertainingly complex series to come along in quite some time, but it certainly can be graphic. Volume 3 stands proudly with the great anime gorefests with scenes like two different characters experiencing an arm disintegrating from impacting with railroad ties under a fast-moving train, a little boy (who isn't a little boy) literally getting his head blown off, Szilard devouring one his victims in a thoroughly gross manner, or Ladd stomping around gleefully in the midst of a literal bloodbath. Episode 9 in particular is not recommended viewing while eating.
The story, by contrast, continues to be nothing but pure fun, despite darlings Isaac and Miria having their most limited appearances to date. They once again make the most of their screen time, however, whether it be a daring rescue, their not-so-innocuous way of searching for a speakeasy's office (and thus safe), or their propensity to gleefully seek to steal from hardened mafia members and the ridiculous ease with which they are able to pull it off. When they are on the screen, things happen, and usually things which give an entirely new twist to the events otherwise playing out normally.
With this volume the disparate threads scattered across the three main time frames gradually start coming together and the gaps between the teasing shots of later events and the circumstances which brought them about start filling in. Viewers knew as early as the first episode that somehow certain mafia members became immortal, and by the end of episode 12 exactly how and when it happened, as well as why it happened, should be much clearer. (Is it any surprise that Isaac and Miria are unwittingly integrally involved?) How Ladd and Lua ended up off the train along the railway in episode 1 also gets explained, as does how Czeslaw ended up with his head blown off, what really happened in the engineering compartment, who or what the Rail Tracer really is, what happened to the young woman with the bandaged leg who got off the train in episode 2, and why Chane is mute. Some big issues still remain to be resolved, such as how Chane also ended up off the train, how Ennis managed to detach herself from Szilard and get in tight with several other characters, who Claire is coming to New York to kill, and what ultimately happened to Dallas. (Both the opener and a certain earlier scene in the series allude to this, however.) Some fun has to remain for the final episodes, though!
The colorful and diverse cast always gives the viewer something interesting to watch, and the clever writing skillfully juggles the action, comedy, and assorted timelines without needlessly confusing viewers. The one place in this volume where the series falters even a little is in Claire's tiresomely long-winded explanation of his psychotic view of the world on top of the train in episode 12, although his conversation with Czeslaw also wears thin fast; in fact, the series seems to bog down just a bit whenever he's on screen doing anything but killing. By contrast, Ladd, who's just as psychotic and lethal, always enliven things with his dialogue as much as with his actions. He may be a crazy, bloodthirsty bastard, but at least he's entertaining anytime he's on the screen.
Of course, the English dub performances could have something to do with that. Jerry Jewell has done some fine work elsewhere (see Fruits Basket, Kodocha and Case Closed), but his turn as Claire is not one of his sterling efforts or better-cast roles, while raspy-voiced relative newcomer Bryan Massey shines as Ladd. Another relative newcomer, Maxey Whitehead, one-ups the original performance of Czeslaw by making him sound less like a girl and shifting him effortlessly between innocent and not-so-innocent modes. Other performances, aside from the occasional struggle to maintain an accent, do an excellent job of bringing the characters to life and giving a sense of period and attitude. The original Japanese performances may be just as good in a quality sense, but because they are in Japanese they cannot duplicate the more authentic-sounding American period tones and speech patterns heard in the English dub.
The music and artistry uniformly maintain the standards set by previous volumes, with the former showing a great new wrinkle with some discordant piano themes added in at one of the more insane points. Also as with previous volumes, Funimation's release includes clean opener and closer, character profiles on the inside of the front cover, and an unspectacular English audio commentary, this time for episode 9 and featuring ADR director Tyler Walker with Jerry Jewell and Ian “Dallas Genoard” Sinclair. The most notable production flaw is an errant trailer (the Claymore trailer on this volume says it's for volume 5 of that series when it actually describes Volume 6), but as Funimation has repeatedly proven, making anime trailers has never been their strong suit.
Lively characters, a mix of action, comedy, and intense violence, and a complicated story coming together piece by piece, all backed by great music and good artistry – not much more you could ask for in an anime series. With Baccano! volume 3, there's hardly ever a dull moment.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : A-
Art : B+
Music : A-
+ Strong English dub, fun characters, involvingly complicated storytelling.
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