Let’s turn the clock back to summer 2016. ONE’S Mob Psycho 100 blasted its way into viewers hearts with its wacky and creative visuals, bombastic and unique characters, and pretty interesting premise;Relife wowed some including me with its intriguing take on the overly saturated highschool romantic comedy genre; And the beloved Food wars series premiered its second season to mostly high acclaim. In between all this massive buzz; A show managed to slip through the cracks, go under many anime viewers radars, and turn into a hidden gem of sorts. That show went by a simple yet meaningful name... 91 days. To put it simply, 91 days is a crime drama with a quite fascinating premise, some what captivating ideas, and just like its title, revolves it self around an also simple yet very meaningful word... Revenge.
91 days takes place at the fictional town of lawless in the prohibition era; an era where organized crime is flourishing. Gangs, mobs, and mafia are running rampant; liquor is a vital asset that is fought over by almost every one, and the police are almost non existent to the point where the mafia have taken the reigns and are practically controlling everything. One of the several ruling mafia are The Vanetti Family that are run by one Vincent Vanneti; A completely perfect representation of how you probably envision a true crime boss looks and acts. He’s calm yet overwhelming presence who gives off this intimidating aura that makes you want to avoid being anywhere near him. Vincent is getting a bit old in age and is planning to pass on his position as don to his son Nero Vanneti. Nero Vanneti has an enthusiastic and mostly positive personality. He’s very loyal to the family and values it over everything; he’s willing to defend it no matter what. He’ll stop anyone whoever dares lay a hand on the vanetti family. This is where our protagonist comes along...On a cold rainy night, Avilio Bruno is walking back home while looking at the ground, avoiding any possible eye contact and looking unbelievably miserable. Right before going to the stairs that leads to his apartment room, an old woman tells Bruno that there is a letter addressed to his apartment that’s for “Angelo Lagusa”. Bruno immediately takes the letter from the woman and without saying a single word heads to his room. Arriving at his room, you can probably notice how empty and devoid of absolutely anything it is. The visuals are pretty foggy and dark, and only support the gloomy atmosphere the show is trying portray. After reading the letter... Angelo finally shows the first glimpse of emotions he’s ever shown since the start of the series; he flashes a heart wrenching and truly terrifying smile, and then... it cuts to a flashback.
We see Angelo with his brother, mother and his friend Corteo celebrating his brother’s birthday, and unlike the opening he’s smiling and having fun like any other kid. After Corteo leaves to tend to his sick mother, both Angelo and his younger brother realize that their father is coming and they excitedly go and hide inside the closet at an attempt to surprise him. After Angelo’s Father arrives he tries looking for them while simultaneously calling their names, and that’s when... men wearing black coats and hats come into the house. Angelo’s father offers them drinks, but then they announce to him that they’ve murdered the Don, then point the gun at him and tell him that want the ledger from him... Angelo’s dad obviously refuses to hand it over, his wife tries pleading with them to stop and she unfortunately gets struck. Angelo’s brother runs from his initial hiding place in the closet to tend to his mother’s aid... That’s when Angelo’s dad grabs a knife and attempts to stab the man but he unfortunately doges the attack and ends up shooting and killing him. His poor wife pleads for her son’s life but they refuse and site that their son won’t forgive nor forget this and will come to take revenge in the future, and that’s when they kill the both of them... All in front Angelo’s teared up eyes. Angelo ends up escaping the house. Everything that Angelo loved was taken away from him right in front of his eyes, and he was powerless, unable to do anything about it. He no longer cares about life and has a somewhat nihilistic viewpoint on it. Later on, we’re told that inside the letter was written all the names of the people who destroyed Angelo’s life all those years ago, and those people were in the vanneti family; Yes, the same mafia that practically controls everything. They weren’t just in the Vanneti family... they were Nero Vanneti the future leader, his uncle, an important member of the family, and the leader himself. After one thing lead to another, Angelo joins the Vanneti family with a plan to destroy it from the inside and murder everyone who was involved in the deaths of his loved ones. He wants to some meaning in his life through... revenge. That’s the whole dynamic of the series, Angelo tries coming with crazy yet pretty intelligent plans to destroy the family while we learn more about him as a character and see the family and the people involved in it for what they are from the inside, and it’s pretty well executed for the most part. We’re shown the politics inside the family and outside, the show also gets us pretty invested in the family and the people in it and does a really good job in building them up as believable human beings. They’re not just these big bad mafia assholes who kill innocent people for the sake of it, they face their own struggles and lift pretty heavy burdens which the show showcases fantastically.
Unfortunately, as the show goes on we’re introduced to a character called Fango. He’s 91 days’ attempt at a this “crazy edgy loose canon” character and it just failed horribly. He’s annoying and useless inclusion that just felt like an unnecessary distraction from more interesting things in the show. He really felt out of place. The show could’ve done without him and instead focused on maybe building up Angelo’s relationship with Corteo, showing us even more of the mafia members lives or anything besides his bullshit. 91 days had pretty good pacing for the first 10 episodes; it wasn’t too fast to the point where the story felt rushed, but it wasn’t too slow to the point where it bored the viewer. Unfortunately, that is absolutely not the case for the last 2 episodes. Everything just happened, everything. It was too fast; one moment something was happening then 2 minutes later we were in a completely different situation than the one before. The viewers weren’t given enough time to think about anything, everything just happened that fast. This would’ve greatly benefited if it had been 24 episodes, since they could’ve spent time building up everything instead of them cramming 10 episodes worth of things into 2 episodes and trying to make it fit.
The art in 91 is pretty well made. It’s done in an unclean manner that really helps match the dark and gritty tone which matches the dark story the series is trying to tell. It also nicely captures how that timeline really was; The way cars, guns, and the technology in general are visually presented really help make you feel like part of 20th century America; The high class women are dressed up in luxurious outfits, the men in stylish suits in contrast to the poor peoples ragged and dirty cloth really help show the difference between them; and character designs all range from serious to just plain miserable, they really help display the struggles they’re facing. While I did think the art was overall good, there were some character inconsistencies; the characters looked a bit off especially when the camera wasn’t near them, and there were some cases where it genuinely felt like they just put a couple of dots in instead of showing us their eyes. The animation in 91 days wasn’t necessarily bad, but it could’ve been a lot better. There were times where it was obvious that the studio were being lazy and cutting corners, and the biggest and most obvious offender are the CG cars that just looked really odd whenever they started or stopped especially considering the 2d backgrounds surrounding them. The editing also suffered from this; sometimes a character would be standing in a certain position then in the next shot he’d be in a completely different position. Considering the amount of effort they put into really capturing and showcasing the time period, it kind of makes you wish they put as much effort into the animation.
The voice acting in 91 days Is really good, and most of the voice actors really nailed their roles and helped display the characters personalities through their voices alone. Angelo’s voice actor really encapsulates Angelo’s dim personality and nihilistic viewpoint on life, Nero’s voice actors expresses Nero’s enthusiastic yet surprisingly complex personality, and the rest of the voice actors also did a great job excluding Fango’s... I wasn’t the biggest fan of Fango, and his voice really felt like he was trying too hard and it just came off as really unnatural. The soundtrack is brilliant and surprisingly calming, and alongside the art exhibits the shows grim atmosphere while possessing some pretty good tracks that I wouldn’t mind listening to even when I’m not watching the show. The opening is absolutely fantastic and is from a visual standpoint a perfect visual presentation of everything the show stands for and a nice preview before the episode, while possessing outstanding and almost hypnotic lyrics that are song by TK; the same person who sung that famous Tokyo ghoul opening all those years ago. The way TK sings always gives off this tragic vibe which really resonates with people and tugs on their heart strings which is perfect for a series as devastating as this.
Overall, 91 days is a great revenge story with deep and realistic characters, and masterfully executed atmosphere and tone. It was unfortunately prevented from being anything more than that by its overwhelming technical aspects, rushed last couple of episodes, and attempt at an edgy loose canon character that failed miserably.