Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Aug 9th 2009
Events on the Flying Pussyfoot come to a head as Jacuzzi Splot faces off with the flamethrower-wielding leader of the Men in Black atop the train-cars. In the meantime—or rather, about a year back—Firo squares off against the immortal Szilard, with a little help from idiot-savant thieves Miria and Isaac. Once the affair of the Flying Pussyfoot winds down, the survivors of the ill-fated train take to licking their wounds—those that don't automatically regenerate their missing limbs, that is, and with the exception of Claire/Vino AKA the Rail Tracer, who is more concerned with his budding romance with cutlery cutie Chane than with whatever cuts and bruises he received while slaughtering passengers wholesale. Unfortunately Graham Spector, one of Ladd Russo's crackpot underlings, is on the prowl in New York, and when a kidnapping scheme he hatched in a rare moment of lucidity goes predictably awry, both romance and wound-licking must take a back seat to some old-fashioned rescuing.
Baccano is, if not the year's best series, certainly its most entertaining. Populated by colorful (to say the least) characters and orchestrated with cheeky skill, it tells a gleefully fragmented tale of crime, corruption and elaborately intertwined fates with enough style and pitch black humor for a dozen lesser series. This fourth and final volume brings the television series to a rousing conclusion before delving into a three-episode OVA coda that ties up the lingering loose ends while, through no fault of its own, leaving one feeling just a little let down.
There is a very pure, very potent exhilaration in watching Baccano come together. The way its several story lines—the 18th century alchemists, the in-fighting New York gangsters, and most of all the killers, monsters, thieves and victims of the Flying Pussyfoot—converge is a thing of wonderful, brilliantly unpredictable beauty. It's also incredibly funny—in a dark, bloody kind of way. Thus the first episode on this disc—the last of the show's television run—is predictably the best. It's a clever and often hugely ironic finale that brings all the show's disparate story lines together and ties up all of the villains in very final, and very satisfying, ways (die Szilard! Die!). It also includes a reveal of Isaac and Miria's most spectacular monkeywrenching to date. The things those two can do to a well-laid plan are simply appalling. As for Dallas Genoard's fate...let's just say that immortality has its drawbacks—and that you can leave it up to Mafiosos to figure them out.
If the first episode is about straightening out the knots in the plot, the three OVAs that follow are about straightening out the characters. Most of the enormous cast gets a moment or two to shine, including everyone's favorites Isaac and Miria and even peripheral characters like Huey, but the real beneficiaries of the bonus episodes are those left hanging after the Flying Pussyfoot pulled up to the station. Namely Jacuzzi Splot and merry band, Chane, and, curiously enough, Claire/Vino. Jacuzzi and Nice's history gets some fleshing out, as does Chane's, while Claire proves to be quite the romantic when he isn't making Kibbles 'n Bits out of people he doesn't like. After thirteen episodes of supercharged madness, it's a pleasure to be able to relax and simply spend a little time with the cast. The interplay between Jacuzzi 's inclusive gang and troubled Chane in particular is an uncharacteristically sweet highlight. There is the inevitable letdown at realizing that the OVA isn't a continuation of the TV series so much as it is a coda (or for the less forgiving, an extended extra), but it passes quickly enough.
There's no real difference in visual quality between the television and OVA episodes. That isn't a slur against the quality of the OVAs, but rather praise for the quality of the broadcast episodes. Baccano has maintained an OVA-level of quality throughout, and it doesn't drop off here. Brain's Base's animation is superb as always—as showy as the writing and as polished as the lethally sexy cast. The visuals aren't quite theatrical-level, but they're close, with gorgeous period settings, Prohibition-appropriate costumes and idiosyncratic character designs, all of which are rarely simplified, even when the action hits gorily, wondrously preposterous heights.
Makoto Yoshimori's score is of one piece with the visuals. It's colorful, classy, period-accurate, and wonderfully alive. Who would have thought that big-band horns would make such great action music? The Snatch-inspired opening remains unchanged and unmitigated in its dead-on evocation of the humor, energy and lively smarts that make the series such blasted fun.
There's little new to be said of Funimation's dub. Fans irked by New Yorkers speaking standard Japanese will enjoy the accents and period slang, and there's less monkeying with the script than there might otherwise have been. Isaac and Miria steal the show in both languages, while Chris Patton tackles the motormouthed Graham (the only major new role) with suitable enthusiasm, though the comparative compactness of English and the faithfulness of the script rob the character of the intensive blabbing that made Tomokazu Sugita's performance a wonder of light-speed diction.
A commentary track featuring Tyler Walker (ADR director), Chris Patton (Graham), and Joel McDonald (Jacuzzi), comprises this volume's ration of extras goodness. Watch out for some crude humor (the name Splot does that to people) and some interesting insight into the work both Patton and McDonald put into their roles.
Bringing the television series to hugely satisfying close and then shifting rather abruptly into reward-for-the-fans bonus OVAs, this final volume may be a bit lopsided (and certainly ill-planned), but it's still a pure joy to watch. The Claire/Vino romance alone is worth the price of admission, and the closure the OVAs bring to the stories of such eminently likeable characters as Jacuzzi Splot (I just like saying his name), Nice, and Chane makes it a must for their fans. And the clever, action-packed insanity of it all makes the whole shebang a must for any fan, period.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : A-
Art : A-
Music : A
+ A slam-bang conclusion to a slam-bang series followed by a slightly less slam-bang (but still enjoyable) OVA coda filled with sweetly(!) satisfying after-crisis character byplay.
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