I further apologize for following up on the previous awful pun.
I managed to convince my friends (who have an inexplicable masochistic desire to create self-induced cliffhangers by watching things in small doses—seriously, who intentionally cuts the finale of a good series in half?) to go on a minor binge and finish up Baccano proper. (There is, apparently, a 3-episode bonus chunk—no idea whatsoever who or what that will be, though given the series structure the three episodes could easily be concurrent with the rest of the series, postlogue, prologue, or about completely different characters. Looking forward to finding out.)
Wow is that a finale. Even though you can see 90% of where it’s going by the time the final episode comes around (since you’ve already seen half the epilogue already), the final two (or three) episodes are possibly the most weirdly-touching, violent, exciting, jump up and cheer, gasp-for-breath hilarious, intertwined mess of concentrated awesome that I have ever seen. No, really, stuff like that is why I watch anime. Hell, stuff like that makes owning a TV worthwhile.
Pure, unadulterated entertainment, in nearly every sense of the word.
Unlike Boogiepop Phantom, the puzzle does not come together to form an intricate, finished picture. Really, by the start of the climax you had enough pieces to guess more or less what the picture on the box looks like. In this case you sort of know where things are going—it’s the ride that makes it worthwhile. Heck, some of the time the fact that you can suddenly see where a particular plot thread is leading is half the fun.
Other notables are the world’s creepiest conductor, several spectacularly sociopathic yet oddly sympathetic characters, several more spectacular villains, one of the best Big Bad denouement assists ever (two entirely separate ones actually, both by the same people), immortals good-natured enough to make up for every angst-soaked, “pain of living forever” vampire movie ever (no, seriously, immortality is sweet), and one of the most conceptually hilarious post-credit epilogues of all time. I mean that about the vampire movies, too. Also, some fantastically messed-up family relationships, but only when you actually think about what’s going on objectively.
Incidentally, I’d say that the main characters actually turned out to be comic-relief duo Issac and Milly. Not the heroes, and not the central characters by a long shot, but if you look at all the major events through the story, they’re the only characters consistently present for all of them. They also directly made two of the three denouements possible and saved the lives of nearly every major “good” character (everybody is some level of grey) at some point along the line. All through a combination of ebullient kindness and crazed incompetence coupled with the simultaneously worst and beset luck in the world. These guys make Vash look like he’s got it together. (Note: comparison not a coincidence—Issac has the same voice actor, and while Milly’s voice is different from her Trigun namesake, she’s even higher pitched and just as likably ditzy.)
Anyway, bottom line is, that’s a TV series. Not often something I watch bummed off others is good enough to make me want to buy my own copy, but this is in that category. (How about a Blu-ray version, guys? The PS3 and set-tops are actually within the reach of mortals now!)