Mark Watches ‘Baccano!’: Episode 1

In the first episode of Baccano!, there’s no way I could possibly understand this ever, so let’s just accept that I’m lost and enjoy the ride. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start Baccano!

Oh my god, what the hell just happened? DON’T ANSWER THAT.

Before we begin this proper, let’s go over a few rules:

1) Do not spoil me or anyone else. If you are coming to Mark Watches for the first time, I watch shows without knowing anything about them. During the process of watching, I do not allow spoilers of any kind for any reason so that I can best provide y’all with the experience of watching a show unspoiled. You should read my Site Rules / Spoiler Policy for a more detailed explanation of how all this works, but the basic gist is this: If I have not reached it in my viewing, do not talk about it in plaintext. For any reason, in any context, EVER. It’s that simple. If it’s not in the episode I’ve seen, don’t do it. PLEASE TREAT ALL COMMENTERS AS UNSPOILED UNLESS THEY SPECIFICALLY SAY THEY AREN’T SPOILED. 

2) You may use rot13 to discuss spoilers. That’s what all the gibberish is in the comments. It’s a brilliant way to cypher all spoilers so that I can still read and respond to comments without being spoiled.

3) If you send this review project to anyone, please tell them I am unspoiled. This has become an issue of late since I’ve gotten more popular than ever. People will link to me on Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter and say something like, “This guy is reading all the Discworld books!” and they won’t mention how I’m doing so unspoiled, and then I get tagged in super spoilery conversations that I have to block or avoid, and it’s rude. Please do your part to be responsible.

4) Listen to the moderators. Moderators have blue bars in the comments. When they ask you not to do something or cypher spoilers for you, they are not doing it to irritate you. They are doing their part to make this a safe space and a wonderful community. If you ever have mod issues, bring it up with me, not them.

5) Video commissions (which are all claimed!!!) can be downloaded at the link at the end of the review for $0.99 an episode. As promised, the first episode of any new show I do is free for the entirety of the run of this double feature! Send it to your friends! Download it to your heart’s content! It’ll be in the store as well for completeness, but for the three weeks that I’ll be reviewing this show, you can download the first episode’s live commentary for free! THIS IS MY GIFT TO YOU. SPREAD IT FAR AND WIDE. Of course, please take my third rule seriously. People need to know that I’m seeing this unspoiled so that they don’t come to Twitter or Tumblr and try to spoil me unknowingly. At the end of the show, I’ll offer all 16 videos at a discounted price; you are also welcome to purchase a Video Pass if you plan on downloading them in real time, since it offers a bulk discount.

Please note that if you buy a video, it can be downloaded TEN TIMES per video. This is so that you can still give it to your friends or donate it to people who maybe can’t afford them. It pays my expensive hosting bills and allows everyone to enjoy these videos without being at my financial detriment.

6) Videos are available each week when I announce them on Mark Spoils or on Twitter. So, neat fact: In order to put a video file in my store, I have to put the option in the drop down menu on the product page, and then go and add the link to the file in the backend. This takes anywhere from 30-60 seconds, which means that for that specific time period, there’s nothing attached to the actual product in the store. It’s become an ongoing problem of mine that people sit on the store page and refresh it, waiting for it to show a new episode, and then they buy it, creating an impossible order. No matter how many times I’ve warned people not to do this, it happens every week. It creates more work.

SO! I’ll be holding off on uploading them in real time. Instead, you’ll get all of them for the following week at once, Beyoncé style. I will announce they are ready on Mark Spoils, a lovely fansite that’s run by wonderful people. They have a thread for my commissions where I post to let folks know the videos are ready. (They also have a Black Market, where people can share the extra downloads they have. Check it out!)

7) I am watching the English dub of this show. I know, I know. I’m a fan of subtitles the vast majority of the time, but I was told by my moderators that the English dub for this was particularly well-received. Plus, it makes my video commissions easier for folks when trying to sync with their own copies.

8) Running Mark Does Stuff is expensive. If you’d like to keep this project going forever and ever, please consider helping me out in some way!

And with that, let me start Baccano! and yell at all of you.

“The Vice President Doesn’t Say Anything About the Possibility of Him Being the Main Character”

That’s the episode title. That’s the episode title. And it’s not even the weirdest thing here, as the people who wrote/created this show (which I do know is based on a light novel series!) are totally satisfied dropping us into a fictionalized version of Prohibition-era New York City complete with about a quarter million characters and PEOPLE WHO CAN HEAL THEMSELVES AFTER VIOLENT DEATHS. There’s a lot here to work through, and admittedly, it’s clear that the show isn’t making this easy for me. Which is actually kind of exciting! While this was very overwhelming at times, I think that as I watch through more of this, it’ll be easier to get a hold of the various plotlines and characters. As it stands, here’s what I was able to glean from this:

  • The opening, with Gustav St. Germain and Carol, is the framing device for the whole show, and they’re in the present time. (Whenever that is.) They’re trying to piece together the remarkably complex threads that led them to… something? Where they are? What’s their role in this? Gustav owns a paper, yes? So they’re fact finders? Super serious journalists? Isn’t Carol a child?
  • Gustav St. Germain is like that drunk dude at college parties who just took his second philosophy course and is trying to explain the futility of life in an emotionless, existential universe while you’re just trying to get to the onion dip and away from him. Dude, stop ruining rainbows for a goddamn child.
  • But holy shit, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE META CONVERSATION THESE TWO HAVE AND HOW BRILLIANT IT IS FOR STORYTELLING IN GENERAL, LET ALONE FOR ANIME. Gustav and Carol discuss the possibility of who might be the main character of this story, and ultimately? It could be anyone. It could even be them. And it’s all about focus. As the first episode switches POV multiple times, we get a sense for how this story might be framed and how different it seems for each of these people. And I imagine that for each of these characters, they’re convinced that they are the main part of this tale. Right? It’s their world, it’s their experience, and they could easily be the center of this universe. But does it matter in the end? I don’t know, but I ALREADY LOVE THIS CONVERSATION.
  • What the fuck is that points system he has? You are evil, Gustav, just for that alone. evil. TELL HER OUT OF HOW MANY POINTS.
  • And then everything is chaos. Gustav tries to stress that the timeline doesn’t matter, the characters do. And then LIKE A TON OF PEOPLE DIE. A young kid has his head blown off because of fate. Isaac’s ear is cut. The Gandors are gunned down. (Or was that the “brilliant young Capo”? I’m so lost.) And then Firo is beset by a man pretending to be homeless and he has his fingers cut off and what the fuck is this show?
  • At the same time, there’s also a mafia turf war going on that’s exceedingly bloody and violent and terrifying. Really, though, that’s one of the things this episode does really well: it shows us how many things are happening simultaneously, which is super fascinating to me. There are about ten separate plot threads all tangled together and unfolding at once, and the density of this is just so refreshing to me. Yes, it’s daunting, too, but I think writing about it like this is helping me sort it out.
  • So, there are the Gandors, the Camorras, and… the Genoards? Maybe? OH GOD, I need to memorize that opening sequence just so I can tell these people apart. Actually, I think I’m right, since that one older mafioso assigns Gustavo to go kill Dallas Genoard for figuring out that Gustavo killed Dallas’s father and brother.
  • Oh. Oh god, I just understood something. Luck says that he’s lost all anxiety since he doesn’t fear death, and there’s that line later in the episode about the “immortals” and HOLY SHIT. That’s what Luck was referring to. So how the hell did all these people – who seemingly don’t know each other – come to be immortal???
  • What the fuck happened on the Flying Pussyfoot? Why are there bodies strewn for over 20 miles along the track? Why did it switch trains??? WHO IS THAT MAN WITH THE BRIDE WHO IS MISSING PART OF HIS ARM? Is the FBI investigating this, too? (Those two officers who spoke with the local law enforcement seemed like FBI, but I suppose they could be someone else. It’s just a guess!)
  • “What’s next? Doves?” Okay, Isaac and Miria are already my favorites. It helps that they’re the most distinct characters here, but goddamn, that line was so great.
  • Who’s that kid who had his head shot off???
  • Who was the man on the top of the train, and who is he looking for???
  • How are some of these people connected? Maiza appears to recognize the young boy at the end of this episode, so… what? WHAT?
  • I feel like I’ve never had so many questions in my whole life. WHAT DID I JUST WATCH?

The video for episode 1 can be downloaded here for $0.99, but is available here for free until April 15th.

Mark Links Stuff

– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next three Double Features will be: Baccano!, The Middleman, and Band of Brothers.
– I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting events throughout the US, Canada, and Europe in 2014, so check my Tour Dates / Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!
– Inspired by last year’s impromptu event in London, I am taking Mark in the Park on the road! You can see all currently planned dates and pitch your own city here.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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