When it comes to anime/manga, plenty of them dive into the familiar settings of native Japan. Whether it be romance, school, slice of life, iyashikei, or practically any genre. But every so often, there will be one that taps into the vein of other countries. From the England-based Black Butler and Vinland Saga to (ironically) one of the best depictions of New York City in Banana Fish. In that same vein, here lies a show steeped in the time period of America's 1920s Probation Era, and a dang faithful-looking one at that.
The bulk of the synopsis of 91 Days borders on spoiler territory, so I won't give much away. What I can describe it as is a revenge mafia crime-thriller soaked entirely in the influences of the Godfather films as well as the crime-genre filmography of Scorsese's works, particularly Goodfellas and even The Departed. Much if not all the story beats are borrowed from other mafia films, but are the best borrowed elements from said films combined with the more familiar positive tropes of anime usually expected.
I can honestly say the story is a rarity which I found to be completely engrossing and tense with each episode and twist revealed. Even if you've seen a mafia flick, it's still easy to be surprised at some turns the plot will take. Easily, it's the show's greatest strength, coupled with some brilliant reincorporation within the dialogue and subtle visual cues that'll make a rewatch more than worthwhile.
The animation itself more or less takes a back seat in comparison to the other elements. With that said, the finer points is the show's visual aspect lies in its framing and faithfulness to the films in which it pays homage. Part of me wishes there was a live-action adaptation just to see how many shots could've been lifted straight out of a classic film. Not to mention that the lowly-lit scenes during the nighttime sequences are pretty well done.
On top of a visually faithful look, the ambience surrounding 91 Days is just as accurate, if not even more. Shougo Kaida's score includes the sentimental traits found in most great anime scores, while featuring timbre and instrumentation that may be mistaken for the likes of Nino Rota's work. A fitting comparison that further adds credence to the show paying tribute.
It's worth noting to go for the English dub for added authenticity (the accents and lingo present are played just right), if not for the performances themselves. The voice of lead character Angelo is lended by Austin Tindle of Tokyo Ghoul fame, who couldn't have given a finer and more nuanced portrayal of a man with almost nothing to lose. Most of the performances all around, in fact, were pretty great, with the VAs for Nero, Corteo, and Fango especially being stand-outs.
Being the type of revenge story it is, I'm grateful to say that the characters were quite memorable. The dynamic between the members of the Vanetti family I found the most engaging, which my favorite character arc overall to watch being Nero's. Watching the bonds strengthened and tested between everyone only to have some of them crumble down became a highlight anytime I put on a new episode. I also found the arc of Corteo, Angelo's longtime friend, to be incredibly riveting, with the hardships the latter has strayed unto him. Saying more about the characters would spoil the best part of the show, so hopefully my word is taken.
Some of the most investing 12 episodes I've witnessed from an anime. I've heard nothing but sheer praise on the down low of the aniime community, and now I can certainly see why. Most of what you hear about this show is true. In my experience, as a matter of fact, I was also somewhat undersold. With the ever-growing presence of hype trains surrounding modern seasonal anime, this was one I board and was grateful for the journey it gave me.
(Note: For Anime-Planet Secret Santa 2019)