What is Baccano?
Mafia and street gangs war for a twisted sense of justice. Alchemists lust after wealth and everlasting life. Drug addicts and assassins try to rid of a lonely past. Idiot thieves spread happiness everywhere they steal... in other words, we have every fantasy film element in one smash, ready to make the stupidest commotion in history.
What feast, what drama!
Baccano! is a Japanese light novel? series, written by Dengeki Novel Prize? winner Ryohgo Narita and published by Dengeki Bunko. At first glance, this work is a collection of short stories depicting those lurking in the shadow of American history, whose actions have often brought dramatic (and occasionally, unwanted) changes to their surroundings or even better: the entire world. That being said, the various supernatural elements in Baccano! make it a much more enjoyable read than simple historical fictions, such as its regular incorporation of Immortals, Devil and Homunculi into the main plot.
After its first book met with great success in 2002, Baccano! had grown into a 10+ volumes long serialization (not counting the extra books attached to various non-paper products), winning an audience well beyond the scale of young adults. Adaptations of the series are available in various forms, many of which are slowing making their way into Chinese and Korean markets as we speak.
Note: Baccano is the Italian term for ruckus, which was interpreted and elaborated as "silly commotion" by Mr. Narita.
The beginning of all commotions
Time was 1711. Onboard a ship named Advena Avis, a group of alchemists gathered to discover the secret behind everlasting youth and life. Through a devil they summoned one night, each member is granted a cup of Elixir of Life and a method to halt its effect in case one's tired of living. The procedure of how to create more of such elixir was only taught to one person - the alchemist that performed the actual summon, who immediately decided to seal what he knew in order to protect his friends from unnecessary harm. Ironically, his effort proved to be futile within less than 24 hours: one of the alchemists started attacking his acquaintances one by one, driven by his ambition and lust after a new reign of knowledge. Frightened by this newly posed threat, the remaining alchemists quickly scattered across the world, each trying to secure a spot that hides his/her existence from the front history forever.
Yet everything was only the beginning of a greater commotion, waiting for its groundwork to complete. When time flew itself to 1930, Advena Avis survivors found themselves reuniting with their friends or foe one-by-one in Prohibition-era America, which marks the true opening of our story.