From the page to the screen, Baccano! knows how to leave an impression.
Adaptin’ ain’t easy. That may be the most obvious sentence I’ve ever written, but it’s something we tend to forget when watching a favorite book or comic reimagined through TV or film. It isn’t just a matter of taking the original and adding motion, voices, and music; every element of the source material—from story arcs to character development to general tone and themes—has to be taken into account and converted to its new medium’s time restraints, structural limits, and narrative conventions.
So when I say the Baccano! anime is a stellar adaptation, I’m not saying it’s an exact replica or “better” than Ryohgo Narita’s original light novels. What I am saying is that it’s a prime example of how an anime can be faithful to the spirit of its source material while gleefully rearranging its pieces, preserving the original’s voice even as it adds its own to the chorus. When it comes to a great adaptation, sometimes what you change is just as important as what you keep.
General discussion of the Baccano! anime TV series and the first novel (1930: The Rolling Bootlegs) incoming. It helps if you’re familiar with the anime, but I’ll avoid any major spoilers.